Toradora: You’re a Pain in My Back, Minorin

It’s no secret that Toradora! is among my favorite shows and that Minori Kushieda is possibly my very favorite anime character.  I loved everything about the show immediately – the style, the animation, the music, the characters – but it wasn’t until episode 12 that I knew this show would go from good to something extraordinary.

In the previous episode, Ryuuji convinces Taiga to develop a relationship with her father, whom she despises.  The next day, in the episode of note, he happily tells Minori about the reconciliation.  Minori doesn’t share Ryuuji’s happiness and thus begins discomfort and a split between the two – an unexpected development in a what was a generally light-hearted series up to this point.  Minori also starts to divulge more of her inner self and we realize that the show’s characters are not so one dimensional (in fact, they’re two dimensional!  #rimshot #crickets).

This scene never happened, but it's cute (Art by しろたか)

Ryuuji’s developing anger at Minori reminds me of a situation I went through last week.  I woke in the morning with back pain more severe than I’d ever had.  Throughout the day, there were moments where I couldn’t breathe without grimacing.  My wife was…kind of sensitive.  And then sometimes, she wasn’t.  And wouldn’t you know it, by the end of the day, in the midst of my preparation of dinner, we had an argument.   She took the kids with her to the duck pond to cool off, and I was left stewing in my juices.

What the heck? I’M the one hurting here!  Why are you so angry?

I could totally relate to Ryuuji – he had every right to be angry with Minori.  Why wasn’t she happy for her friend?  Why wasn’t she being sensitive?

The answer, of course, is that Minori knew better.  As she expected, Taiga’s father dumped her at a very important moment.  Deadbeat.

Meanwhile, at home, I came to the realization that my wife, like Minori, was right.  I was in a foul mood that day and maybe should’ve listened to her advice to go to the doctor.  I also should’ve been more consistent about taking pain medication, which did end up helping me a bunch.  And like Ryuuji and Minori, we did reconcile (actually, much better than those two, who took longer and continued to be awkward around one another).

Later awkardness... (Art by デンチ)

The big kicker, though, was that like Ryuuji, I didn’t take the other person into account.  If possible, my wife had a harder day than me, and that piled on top of one hard day after another taking care of two rambunctious kids.  I didn’t consider the stress she was under as well and the support I should’ve given her (as little as it may have been in my condition) as a husband.

A friend in high school used to say this fitting phrase would be the title of his autobiography: Don’t Judge Me Until You’ve Walked a Mile in My Shoes.  We need to put ourselves in others’ situations, as I should’ve with my wife and as Ryuuji should’ve with Minori.  But we can also go beyond empathy.  In my case, I was holding a bit of a grudge (“But still…I’m the one hurting, here!”).  But as is almost always the case, grace tops anything, and we both felt better when I started treating my wife with love, forgetting any hard feelings I held.

Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.  In fact, don’t judge them at all.  Love them.

By the way, that title for my friend’s autobiography was downright cheerful when compared to the proposed follow-up, whose title I still adore:  My Fortune Cookie Was Empty.


9 thoughts on “Toradora: You’re a Pain in My Back, Minorin

  1. It’s a good point, but Ryuuji had more at stake than a hurt back. He had daddy issues, and vicariously wanted Taiga to resolve her own daddy issues. So there’s a layer of depth here that shouldn’t be ignored. After all, Minori was doing the same thing to Ryuuji. She could have put herself in his shoes, but she was too busy being selfish and angry. So she pulled an Ami.

    1. True enough. Ryuuji may have been “more right” in being angry at Minori. His goal was altruistic and Minori’s response, without explanation, was childish.

      Part of my point is that grace says that despite a person’s flaws and actions, you offer forgiveness. “Undeserved” is part of the definition of grace. It’s asking a lot out of Ryuuji to be gracious, and no one would fault him if he didn’t (after all, it would seem like accepting guilt for something you didn’t do), but that’s the also the point of grace – it’s extravagant and just doesn’t make sense. And that’s part of why it’s so beautiful and why it can suddenly change a difficult situation into something completely different and wonderful.

      1. Yes, that was how I saw the situation – neither side was right nor wrong, just closed-minded. But in both cases, they couldn’t quite be blamed for it.. they had good intentions in mind, after all, paving their road to hell. Bringing forgiveness and grace into it is a lovely way to “Aesopify” it, though 🙂

  2. The series was pretty deep, but I am surprised that it is one of your favorites. I watched it probably 2 years ago. I did really like Minori as a character but I could not stand that dumb bird. Taiga also got on my nerves. I’ll consider watching it again, maybe I will enjoy it more.

    This was a good post, and an even better reminder.

    1. Yeah, I absolutely love this show. I’m a sucker for romantic comedies in anime, and this one, I think, is the very best.

  3. Episode #16, particularly around 17:06 – 21:00 is still the frontrunner of the anime world for me. Those four minutes excels in both technicals (cuts & editing) and storytelling – I rarely see an anime scene executed on that level.

    1. You said it! Man…when I first saw that scene, it literally took my breath away. In particular, I kept thinking that this was among the best fights I’d ever seen – so intense, so well animated.

  4. Yet another reminder that eventually I actually have to watch this show 😛 Saw some of it, and liked what I did, but it fell off my radar for a while.

  5. […] Toradora: You’re a Pain in My Back, Minorin – TWWK wrote a post recently on the same topic. I recommend checking it out because it is an excellent story of introspection and very easy to relate to thanks to the author’s personal touch. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Anime, Ano Natsu de Matteru and tagged Anime, AnoNatsu by Myst. Bookmark the permalink. […]

Leave a Reply