I won't cling to you the way Taiga does
And I won't become your shining sun, the way Minori is
I, Kawashima Ami, will walk the same path as you.
It's just that I'll always be one step ahead.
So I had a chance to revisit Toradora (again) and I must say that while it's pretty flawed on many levels (mostly thanks to the irritating abusive overtone that just gets in the way of what it is trying to convey), I don't think I can ever grow to hate it for 2 reasons namely:
- It's one of the first anime that got me into this 2D thingy, so in some way, it carries a certain amount of "weight" within.
- Ami is just fucking amazing.
It's kinda weird that on my first two watches, I was totally into Taiga, overlooking all of the ruckuses that she tended to cause along the way of the story.
However, things changed drastically on the 3rd time I set foot in this series (but gosh just how much time have I wasted on watching anime 😂😂).
It probably had something to do with how Ami was such an annoying character in the beginning (many people share the same view I believe) that simply made me went full bias mode against her.
But what the hell do I know, as I decided to "switchgear", things developed in a completely unexpected route.
Think of a situation where you don't wanna eat steak every day, and instead, you just want to get a salad for a change of pace.
That's exactly what I did to Ami. In other words, I gave her another chance, or more like, I decided to "imbue" a positive opinion on her as I initiated my 3rd Toradora rewatch.
The result? Hoh boy, absolutely astonishing.
One of the main selling points of Ami is, without a doubt, her whimsical interaction with Ryuji.
Think about it; these two arguably have the least "forced" moment together, as they always pour their heart out, mocking and teasing and "bullying" each other like it's just another day at the office, which is just something in all honesty.
I mean yeah, some people argue that Ami never changed, and she still had that "queen bitch" attitude toward the end of the show, but they often forget that it was just the surface of her character and how deep down there she does care for her "crew", the real one, and how she was even willing to go all out to display her resolve, just goes to show how serious she was at that time.
You can't expect people to change at the drop of a hat, and while I do agree that Ami's personality can be prickly sometimes, the big picture here is that she wasn't that same selfish, egotistical person as she once was during her introductory arc.
Speaking of being not selfish, what truly sold Ami's character to me isn't her witty chemistry with Ryuji, but more so about her dynamic relationship with Taiga. It was wholesome to see Ami gradually making progress toward her bond with Taiga as the anime pressed on.
I mean yeah, they did occasionally have some random quarrel there and then, but those moments are more or less banters between the girls, just like how men tend to piss off their co-workers by faking a window update or some sort 🤣.
On top of that, seeing Ami going out of her way to support Taiga in her romantic solution with Ryuji was fascinating and a bit heart-wrenching at the same time.
On the one hand, Ami simply flexed her sis-hood (if that's even a thing but you get the idea) for Taiga, acting as a true "bro" in aiding her from either the shadow or directly.
On the other hand, Ami herself was forced to give up on her (possibly) first love after concluding that she wasn't the chosen one.
Better wake up, before someone gets hurt
Forget this ever happened, and start over
Then maybe I could get a fresh with you, too
Seriously, though Ami never got into an emotional outburst like Minori or Taiga, the cleverly distributed closed-up shots featuring her subtle expression, gesture, and behaviors are more than enough to tell how much suffering Ami was holding within.
It had got to the point that, oft times, Ami would fail to restrain herself and be forced to vex out her long-pressed feeling and sentiments, albeit in a cryptic manner beyond Ryuji's understanding (lel).
Despite the tough front that Ami put on, how she always remained positive and cheerful, or how much of a "goddess" that people were making her out to be, Ami, after all, was just a teenage girl.
Therein, even she herself could not shake off the impact of *insert 101 dilemmas that high-schoolers have to endure*.
She thought she knew everything. She was sure she got it all covered. Most of all, she felt no need for anything else in her life. Notwithstanding, the truth is far bitter than that.
Long story short, Ami was utterly defeated.
But So What?
YES, She neither relied on pointless ranting nor underwent some sort of youthful crisis period. Maybe she did it offscreen, but the fact remains that she got over it and held her head high like a model she is.
And that's why when I saw Ami went out of her way to back Taiga up, I could not help but be "YES, YOU GO GET IT, GIRL".
It's funny how Toradora kinda parodied the common trope that only men can reinforce their bond after beefing, because that's exactly what happened to Ami and Taiga who are two girls with opposite personalities, went through so many arguments, physical abuse, and even an all-out competition, turned out to be best of friends (sort of) by the time the show crossed the finish line.
Meanwhile, Ami held nothing back against Minori, and they even got into a brawl (literally). However, that didn't last long, as the two of them made out in the end for being in quite a similar position.
From how I see it, they both got it all figured out from the start, but each chose to have a different approach to tackle the group's problem.
Minori prefers standing from afar to watch things unveiled, whereas Ami is the more active one and feels the need to take matters into her own hands.
I'm not going to argue who was in the right or wrong, but overall the two of them did harbor good intentions for Taiga and Ryuji in the end, so yeah, I think it wasn't too spooky for them to settle the conflict in a short time (which was like 4 episodes).
Lastly, I also find the central theme revolving around Ami to be very compelling and poignant.
To make a long story short, it encompasses the transition of a girl who went from "I'm the best of the best" to questioning her own existence (Ok that's a stretch but something like that) and advanced on an endeavor to re-discover herself.
It might not have anything to do with the overall plot of Toradora, but it sure as hell gave Ami the substance to elevate herself above the tier of a mediocre secondary heroine who we always see getting sidetracked toward the second half of a series.
As proven by her interactions with the main cast, she has self-awareness of her shortcoming and is very observative of her surroundings.
She might not have been able to fix and prevent unnecessary group feuds that were to come at the climax of the story, but damn, still, a job well done with her unwavering effort to do something about the gang's "unusual" atmosphere.
Apart from Ami's intricate character development in store, she also has the best character design IMO (thanks to the fancy add-ons outfits) and that magnificent hairstyle.
Additionally, she can also be a fucking savage with some seriously sick burn or fax spitting section once in a while.
That said, seeing her getting rekt
and exposing her soft side randomly was also oddly pretty satisfying 😂
All and all, much of a big fan
boi I am to Ami, I felt like it was alright for her to have not won the romantic battle.
Heck, I don't even know if her ship would have worked out because there's always that "distance" between her and Ryuji
(definitely not a 5cm/s reference), and I'm sure that Ami herself was aware of that too, which is probably why she resigned herself from the game and got over it like a true chad she is.
In the end, what truly matters is Ami got to be herself.
As a standalone instance and throughout roughly 20 episodes since her entrance to the anime, Ami had slowly yet surely carved her path to achieving the status of an outstanding instrument to the story of Toradora.
And with that, to hell with the tragic heroine trope, Ami rocks!