This year will be the fourth consecutive year in which I’ve participated in the 12 days of anime making it very much a holiday tradition now. But even before all this I occasionally took part in a different anime-related holiday tradition, something called: the Toradora Christmas Club. As the name suggests, it involved watching Toradora over the holiday season; the twist being that episode 19 – titled “Christmas Eve Party” – would be arranged to land right on Christmas day. In retrospect, this might have been a little inappropriately pain-inducing for such a day with the content of that episode, but it did make for some emotionally charged holidays.
I have many fond memories of the tears shed and laughs shared while returning to this beloved series year after year, and with friends and family alike. And while I don’t quite have the time to indulge in this tradition again this year, I figured I’d honor the series in its own way by cheating a little and talking about this delightful 2008 show which has never quite left my mind over the past decade.
Amongst the many high points and heart-wrenching moments of the series, oddly enough, the most memorable for me was a conversation that happened right in the middle of the summer vacation arc. This would be the two-episode arc in which Taiga tried to bring Minori and Ryuji closer through horror-themed antics while the gang hung out at Ami’s family vacation home. Here, finding a moment alone with Minori, Ryuji worked up the courage to ask if she had a boyfriend.
She responded, “Have you ever seen a ghost?”
Love, marriage, and the stories of happily ever after were as magical and elusive as ghosts were to her. She wanted to believe in the superstitious and had searched long and hard for these mysterious apparitions but to no avail, to the point of nearly giving up.
Ryuji’s reply was the kind of naïve honesty that was as true to his character as the show tends to be. He wanted to be able to see ghosts someday but recognized that there were many paths to finding that which you seek; some long and winding, others obscured and unclear. But to him, it was certainly not worth giving up.
The younger version of me that first watched this scene was lacking in any kind of experience, direction, and sureness in what he wanted to do. Only the vague outline of the future defined by the expectations of teachers, family, and the media existed as any sort of compass. Far from even considering whether these romanticized ideals of relationship milestones were healthy or even worth pursuing at all, watching this scene back then had me hoping that I would eventually be able to find any kind of goal worth pursuing as much as the idealized ghosts of Minori and Ryuji.
In preparation for this post, I watched over this episode once again and the questions posed by my younger self came flooding back to mind. I can proudly proclaim to my younger self now that I have found the desire to seek the very same ghosts that the pair had been looking for, as well a number of other intangibles that are equally hard to find. Funnily enough, the frustration of feeling slow and behind the curve has become more relatable than ever, which is both painfully ironic, and a little comforting. I too want to believe I’ll find reasons to be proud of myself, things to be excited about, and people to treasure. And these too, are definitely not worth giving up on.
Thanks for reading,
This is post number ten of twelve that I’ll be writing as part of this year’s 12 Days of Anime. Be sure to check out all other amazing writers that are participating in this year’s event here.