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Review: Toradora!, vol. 1

Takasu Ryuuji is a nice guy; he takes care of his flighty mother, is a good friend to those who’ll have him, and has a sweet personality. Unfortunately he inherited his father’s thug-like glare, so no one at school believes that he’s anyone but a killer. Things seem to be looking up at the beginning of the school year when Ryuuji is assigned to sit between his friend Kitamura and his crush Minori. But everything takes a turn for the worse when Takemiya ends up on the wrong side of Aisaka Taiga, the smallest and meanest girl in school…and Minori’s best friend.

Toradora!, vol. 1
Story by Yuyuko Takemiya; Art by Zekkyo
Age Rating: Teen
Seven Seas, March 2011, ISBN 978-1-934876-94-7
192 pages, $10.99

Toradora! (the title is a play on the word “tiger” from Taiga’s name and the word “dragon” from Ryuuji’s) is a terrific romantic comedy that combines all the right amounts of cluelessness, pratfalls, angst, misunderstandings, and over-the-top plans. When Ryuuji and Taiga find out that each of them likes the other’s best friend, they form a somewhat reluctant partnership to try to get the love they desire. The problem is that both of them have rather strong personalities and both of them are feared and gossiped about by their classmates, which creates difficulties when they start spending large amounts of time together. This is obviously not a love that is going to go smoothly and even though romance fans may have a feeling about who will end up with whom, the true enjoyment lies in watching the two leads bungle things. Adrienne Beck’s strong translation keeps the silliness moving smoothly and makes the characters come alive.

Zekkyo adapted Takemiya’s light novel series so smoothly that it’s hard to believe you’re reading an adaptation. There aren’t any moments where we’re told rather than shown and the humorous elements are timed perfectly. The character designs are strong. It’s easy to believe that Taiga is feared at her school, even as you are fully aware that she is not even five feet tall. Ryuuji’s squinty, “dangerous” eyes are never allowed to soften, even when he’s dreaming of Minori or trying to help the prickly Taiga. Romantics will appreciate the gentle, first-love quality of Taiga and Ryuuji’s crushes, which contrast nicely with man-crazy behavior of Ryuuji’s well-endowed hostess mother. Recommend this one to fans of Love*Com and other romantic comedy mangas.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Seven Seas Manga.

Snow Wildsmith About Snow Wildsmith

Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.

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