On the Palmtop Tiger of Happiness

On November 11th, 2011, I was counting down the seconds to the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour in my eleventh grade Law class. Several weeks before, word had spread that this one moment in time would be where you could have one wish to come true. Or at least that was the hope. I was reminded of this particular moment in my long and embarrassing history of painful naivety in high school after revisiting a certain beloved series of mine once more, earlier this year. The series was Toradora and the episode was the titled “The Palmtop Tiger of Happiness”.

This was an in-between episode connecting the end of the cultural festival arc and the beginning of the infamous Christmas arc. Rumors had spread that Taiga, after manhandling more than a couple classmates during their class wrestling show, had somehow imparted a good amount of luck and fortune to all those she touched. She was a good luck charm, so long as you survived long enough to make contact with her and escape with your life. And this superstition spread far and wide throughout their school, not unlike the one that ran rampant in mine.

This episode, being right after the end of the big and messy cultural festival, found its characters all simmering in their own feelings for one reason or another. Ami wrapped up her personal business long ago and found herself wondering what was left for her at the school and if it was finally time for her to leave. Minori was a big player in the central conflict of the last arc and the intensity of her own feelings were now becoming much louder than she could normally deal with. Even the drama-free Kitamura too found himself running into his own problems with the fast-approaching graduation of his beloved student council president. The atmosphere of the school and our main cast was one in which everyone was looking for something hopeful or a guarantee of something positive on the horizon with the afterglow of the festival now behind them. And Taiga, being at the center of it all, made her a very easy target.

This idea of hoping that something actionable, something within reach would somehow bring about change in something completely unrelated or outside of one’s grasp is one that I’m sure everyone’s familiar with. It’s wishing on a shooting star, or wearing your lucky socks to an interview, or building a shrine in the hopes that the one gatcha character you want will finally come home.

As a kid and well, even now, I’ve always found myself wondering about or hoping for an invisible correlation where there obviously wouldn’t be one. There was always a non-zero chance that something as dumb as a single rumor could result in some sort of unusually fortunate event, I would always tell myself, despite knowing that there were far more realistic methods of getting what I wanted without having to rely on superstition. But action is sometimes scary, or intensely difficult from a person’s position at present. There were more than a couple times this year that I prayed to anything and everything that things would change for the better because it was all that I could really do.

And so, watching this episode back reminded me of why I loved this series. Toradora’s always been the kind of show that celebrated the sometimes trivial and often melodramatic moments of high school and this was no exception. Despite how useless betting on something intangible may be, sometimes it can be enough to move you towards what you want to change and for that reason, its not such a bad thing.

Thanks for reading,


As much as this looks like one, this isn’t a 12 days post. I decided not to stress myself this holiday season by pushing 12 posts out and at this moment, I think it was a wise decision. The 12 days is still happening though, at least at a smaller scale, and I would encourage you to take a look at the work of the participating writers here.

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