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).
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).
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.