why minori and ami-chan aren’t nayuki all-stars

What the heck is a pre-parade anyway?

The harem comedy genre is definitely not for everyone. Its problems have been hashed before: too stale, too sexist, too idiotic. But with its uniqueness to anime and its ability to attract hormonal teenage boys, it’s to stay a staple of anime like cop dramas and sitcoms for network TV. Nonetheless, when harem comedy works, it really works. Toradora works.

The concept of Toradora isn’t anything special: it’s about five friends and the unique soap opera-ish relationship between them (note the difference between anime and real soap operas: a kiss in an anime is about equivalent to a threesome in daytime soaps… I know… I’ve sadly watched a lot of both). There’s the lead, Takasu, who is more suited to be an Innovator and fight Celestial Being than manage a harem. (Seriously, what are the chances of finding a heterosexual 16 year old who loves to cook, clean, sew frilly dresses, and is well-versed in bra sizes from a non-perverted perspective? Zero? Or zero?) There’s the female lead, Taiga, who is an unholy combination of Louise, Shana, and Nagi, and is voiced shockingly by Rie Kugimiya. (Is it raining sarcasm?) There’s Kitamura, who is Takasu’s boring friend and object of Taiga’s affections.

And then there’s Minori and Ami-chan. Minori is the super peppy and happy and very buoyant initial object of affection for Takasu. There’s a lot to like about Minori– she’s a cross between Nayuki and Natsumi from Keroro. She’s always positive, thinks about others, and is Tomoyo’s arch nemesis in the anime girl’s softball championships. Ami-chan is in a weird sage vixen role. Imagine Asakura’s playfulness/hair and Devil Chiaki’s reasoning ability and without the psychotic bloodlust from either. She’s also a top notch gravure model and is Arita Shion’s arch nemesis in that regard. Of course, Minori and Ami-chan already have pleasing aesthetics… paired against the typical Rie Kugimiya-voiced body type in Taiga (read: “Mune… mune desu ka?!”), it’s even worse than the Nayuki / Ayu and Kyou / Nagisa mismatches from this top down view.

And I have a meme for that type of mismatch: the Nayuki All-Stars where the male lead, out of all the possible choices he could make, passes up the Tesla Roadster for a Toyota Yaris. Even though Takasu thinks he’s in love with Minori, I think the series is trending to him ending up with Taiga. But even if that happens, Minori and Ami-chan aren’t Nayuki All-Stars.

The first reason is the Haruhi Suzumiya Exception. When the cast is relatively small, it makes it harder to compare pluses and minuses. With Clannad, there’s a distinct tiering of the haremettes: Tomoyo and Kyou are in the top tier, Kotomi-chan and Sanae slightly lower, and then followed by Ryou and Yukine. And then the bottom would definitely involve Nagisa, Sunohara, and Fuko. (Yes, I’m tossing in Sanae in the “baggable” category since Tomoya could potentially poison Akio a la what Chiko’s aunt did in Twenty Faces and then marry Sanae… creepy, but short of hooking up with Kyou now, it’s the second happiest possible After Story ending.) There’s not enough characters available, and it’s hard to judge, kinda like Haruhi Suzumiya. It’s hard to tier Haruhi vs. Mikuru vs. Yuki vs. LOL FANG-TAN vs. Asakura. For Toradora, it’s even more difficult since the only prominent haremettes are Taiga, Minori, and Ami-chan. (Maybe even less if Minori comes out of the closest and reveals her intense romantic love for Taiga.)

The second reason is character development. I know, I know, talking about character development in harem anime is like talking about fiscal responsibility during a government budget debate. But Toradora is actually goes a bit deeper than more traditional harem anime. Maybe it’s due to its light novel roots so it has more meat to it than harem anime borne from titillation games. One big factor in Takasu’s life is his mom. He pretty much takes care of his mom like how Wilhelmina takes care of Shana. He’s definitely a little tired of this, and I doubt he wants to pick a girl who reminds him of his mom. What’s his mom like? She’s a very strong MILF challenger to Akiko and Sanae. She works as a well-built, flirty vixen type… maybe Ami-chan reminds Takasu a little too much of his mom, and that’s why he doesn’t pay her any attention.

(Since Takasu’s mom is a very well-built, flirty vixen, maybe this causes Takasu to skew towards the exact opposite physical type, which would be Taiga.)

Coupled with Takasu’s liking of Minori and Minori’s “friendship” of Taiga, it gives Minori a perfectly valid excuse to turn down Takasu’s advances. With Ami-chan and Minori eliminated by valid development, Taiga does become a palatable option. Though I don’t agree with how little of a plot role Ami-chan has compared to Taiga and Minori. This is not the same as in Kanon where there’s nothing real or imaginary stopping Yuichi from choosing anyone other than Ayu. (Okay, so Yuichi and Nayuki are cousins, but cousins are legal in Japan.)

The final reason is that the Taiga/Minori and Ami-chan disparity isn’t that bad. Taiga isn’t retarded, isn’t sick, isn’t going to die soon like other Ayu All-Stars. She’s just a different physical specimen compared to Minori and Ami-chan. Taiga can be really cute and sweet if she wants to be (and not just cute in a “best intern ever for Dateline NBC” kind of way). And because Taiga normally isn’t cute and sweet, this only makes her cute and sweet side even more syrupy. Imagine how much of a tsundere Shana, Louise, and Naga are… and then double it. That’s Taiga. Taiga is also really good at winning fights against people bigger than her. Taiga has other positive qualities too. She’s not as one dimensional as Nagisa, and she’s not sickly/looks like an eight year old boy like Ayu. (Taiga might be flat, but she would never be confused for a little boy like Ayu.) Taiga isn’t as far behind in the arms race as other Nayuki All-Stars.

(As an aside, I loved the Ami-chan vs. Minori fight. It has almost the intensity of Shannen Doherty vs. Jenny Garth for Luke Perry, though they’re fighting over Takasu… *facepalm*. Much, much better than the fight in True Tears. There’s not enough catfighting in the harem genre.)

The wild-card of all off this is if Taiga ends up with Takasu. Right now, that’s my projection, but we could also have Taiga and Kitamura with Minori with Takasu. I don’t know. The story has been okay in not being too locked into one path, and it’s fun guessing how the musical chairs would end. Hell, even the Minori and Taiga ending is still possible (I really did enjoy Minori’s “Am I a lesbian?” question a bit too much). The only one that I’ve kinda written off is Ami-chan– she’s not trying anywhere as hard as she used to in trying to seduce Takasu, and it’s probably because she’s given up herself. And that’s sad. Will it be sad enough and will she surpass Taiga enough that we can eventually reconsider her as a Nayuki All-Star? I can’t wait to find out.

30 Responses to “why minori and ami-chan aren’t nayuki all-stars”

  1. But Ami is a true Bro so she must win!

    I’ve been really digging this series too, and like how it does keep you guessing with who the lead will end up with if anyone. (Kind of like Ichigo 100%(manga)) It is really pointing to Taiga now though but I’m actually ok with that, I just hope Miniori breaks down or fights Ami some more.

  2. At this point, the chances of Taiga ending up with Kitamura are about as good as Takasu ending up with the man-harem ending of his own free will… which is to say, pretty low. Now, whether Ryuuji decides to do something after that inadvertent revelation in episode 21, or if he decides that he still wants Minorin even after all that… well, that’s another story. Plus, Taiga isn’t a complete bitch the way Louise was turned into for the anime by J.C. Staff…

  3. Ryujii cares too much about Taiga to pick a different Haramette. He’s been seen to often running to Taiga when he needs to be making his move on Minorin and he’s too dumb to realize that he has a shot with Ami. I’m sad that Ami has kind of been ruled out as well. Why the heck would he go for Taiga or Minorin when the most mature/attractive girl likes him and is right there. Then again you never know: Maybe Ami just wants him because she can’t have him and as soon as he liked her she wouldn’t like him anymore. Still this is the first time I’ve actually projected humanity on characters in a harem comedy ever. Ryujii has strange habits but he is remarkably true to them. In all seriousness though without Taiga would any of the other girls even have considered him. I get the feeling that Taiga liking him kind of spurred the other girls to give him another look.

    Wonderful post Jason. I really like how you use all kinds of examples to analyze anime.

  4. I mostly enjoy Toradora for taking me back to my melodramatic high school days. OH WAIT THAT’S NOT GOOD.

  5. Yeah, these cat fights in harem animes really are exciting for some reason, especially in Toradora. I guess it’s because for me it’s that I can’t imagine J.C. Staff actually animating such a violent scene between two girls more so the first fight between Taiga and Ami. In most other harem animes I’d just assume that a few slaps would get thrown around, maybe a “hey bitch” here or there and then the guy would step in and just settle them down with some man love, but for Toradora they really get at it and the expressions they animate are so fierce, and didn’t they throw chairs at each other in the first fight or somethin? (It’s been awhile at this point). Either way it’s hard to see how it’s going to end since I’m so shocked from the get go to see such a scene occur.
    I wonder if there’s a hidden message to the bigger picture in life that the writers were hinting at when they involved Ami in both fights…

  6. Is it me or is there a pseudo-easter egg link in ami-chan’s side of the jpg? Not that i was clicking on her mune mune or anything… really………… DON’T JUDGE MEEEEEEEeeeeeee

    btw, welcome back, i look forward to traps and barely concealed innuendo again, especially on said traps.

  7. This isn’t a genuine harem series we are talking about, but a good drama DISGUISED as a harem series. It is totally intentional and tongue-in-cheek. Stereotypes are set up here solely to be broken.

    I am going tone TICKED if it ends up as a Ryuuji/Taiga pairing. Ryuuji is built up and made “worth” achieving “the dream” because of his consistent choices to do the selfless thing, which makes up for him being such a shy goof. If all his choices were actually made because of an unknown preference/romantic love for Taiga, it undermines not only the genuineness of the actions themselves but also the character built here. It would also mean that Taiga never grew past her previous crutch.

    They keep coming back around to Taiga, making it seem the obvious choice. Toradora has consistently surprised me, but my fear that it won’t surprise me in the end cripples my enjoyment.

    Also, I obtain a (sad) validation from relating to a character who is willing to go the extra mile for some one he is merely friends with. I don’t want to lose that!

  8. Since I suck at big posts, I will say this: Toradora is the first romance/harem/drama show I seem to be enjoying, and it’s because I can’t exactly figure out the characters fully — which is just perfect, really. After all, characters are always more exciting when you don’t know EXACTLY what they’ll do next — sure, I can kind of figure out how Ryujii will react next, but then he’s developed in the last 20 episodes too, so maybe he’ll surprise me?
    That kind of thinking.

  9. Can wait to find out either. Toradora is one of my favorite shows these past two seasons.

    Any particular reason for using last names for the guys, first names for the girls?

  10. Heh, I don’t check the site for a few days, and then come back totally confused! Can I still say derailment, or is that just incorrect now…?

    You know what would make Toradora the most awesome show ever? If, at the end of the series, Takasu picks somebody who ISN’T Taiga, in a Shuffle! like twist. Or he confesses to Taiga and she turns him down like she did with what’s his face.

    I’m rooting for Ami. She seemed psycho at first, but once you get to know her, she’s really the most normal girl character in the show…

  11. So far I’m getting really excited to see how things go myself. On Minori and Ami, I get a feeling that there are also a few more things in their minds that are keeping them out of the loop.

    Firstly on Minori I have this feeling that she thinks Takasu a friend, but would want to keep him in the friend zone is the vibe I’m getting at this point. She just doesn’t like him that way. That and the toss-out “maybe I’m a lesbian” thing, as well as even just random things like her talking about short hair and stuff, really makes me wonder if she’s just not interested in Ryuji that way and might just not be attracted to him. What she is doing is trying to keep a friend with him without causing stuff to blow up, which is also the vibe I got Ami was hinting at. Or soemthing.

    Ami’s personality being like Ryuji’s mom is a good arguement, but Taiga require smore being takne-care off then Yasuko ever did. So I’m not too sure on that. But Ami’s sort of “giving up” to me feels a bit tied into earlier things in the series about her being mature. Since she works and stuff, she pretty much has a four year or so head-start on everyone on behavior, and it really feel feels like she is an outsider looking in at all this stuff. Her adultness is not letting her really be part of the group. And so this is why she gets so damned angry at the melodrama. She sort of feels like the audience in a way, even. So what she seems to want is Ryuji to grow the hell up, but he isn’t doing it and its pissing her off. So its pretty neat there.

    But a Ryuji-Taiga ending won’t actually make me angry to be heosnt. I like Taiga. Like Jason and other posters above ntoed, she’s actually an ameable personaltiy. I think she has had more genuinely happy moments and such then I ever see a Kugumiya character usually do without food item of choice around. Her cute is actually cute, and her angry is actually more then “everyone picks on me’ feeling. And well, I just have liked the buddy vibe they have built between her and Ryuji over the episodes so far. It just feels nice and meshed, if that makes sense.

    And umm, rant. This is not my blog, so I should not rant so much in commentary. And welcome back!

    And stuff.

  12. I like Toradora for most of the reasons Jason stated, but I’m still quite a bit irked by the flagrant, and what must be intentional, thickheaded-ness of the two main guy characters. They’re sitting in the closet while the girls spill all of their deepest secrets, and they STILL don’t get it. Nothing like getting all the plot intricacies and relationship nuances being spoon fed to you and still no idea what’s going on. Dear lord, I just hate how the guys are written, granted that’s only par for the course of harem animus. But it’s tearing at my willing suspension of disbelief for an otherwise well characterized show. I’m going to (figuratively) scream if Ryuuji punts the next episode after Taiga’s confession.

  13. There really isn’t enough catfighting in harem shows. It’s an incredible disappointment. I’m just hoping we get to see some real nasty ones by the time White Album ends. It’s got so much potential for all the haremettes to go crazy like Yuno.

    As far as Toradora goes…. I’m still not exactly sold on it. It has been good (at the very least, better than I expected) but not brilliant. The big letdown really has been the characters. Ryuuji is another generic dumbass, the fact that he looks scary and is effectively a housewife really doesn’t do much to change the fact that he’s spineless and stupid. Taiga is just another abusive tsundere superbitch. Oh, but she’s clumsy you say? Well, I take it all back, clearly that changes everything. Minori…. This is just my opinion, but I haven’t seen a more annoying character in years. Just so peppy and in your face and ultra happy about everything. “Oh, doing the dishes? I LOVE doing the dishes!”, “Haunted houses? Fuck yeah I wants me some of that!”, “I’ve got a tumour? WOW! Maybe I’ll get superpowers like John Travolta in Phenomenon!”. Seriously, nobody is like that. If I ever met someone like that in reality, I’d punch them right in the face. Although they’d probably find some annoying way to turn it into a positive. Kitamura is boring, so no real complaints about him, but he’s just meh.
    The only good character is Ami. The episodes centered around her have been the only worthwhile ones. She needs a spin-off all of her own.

    I think that’s enough ranting for now. Haven’t written a post this long in ages.

    Incidentally, and totally off topic, if you haven’t yet, you should watch Skip Beat. It’s pretty thin in terms of plot but makes up for it with a very likeable, off-the-wall crazy lead. Probably one of the better comedy shows I’ve seen recently.

  14. Ruffles: have you REALLY been watching the show? Anyone who saw her during the Christmas arc and saw ‘tsundere superbitch’ as being what she was doing in the past 4-6 episodes probably wasn’t watching and only caught the posters from Megami magazine.

  15. “It has almost the intensity of Shannen Doherty vs. Jenny Garth for Luke Perry, though they’re fighting over Takasu… *facepalm*.”

    Yep. This is our blogger.

  16. Haess: Yep, I’ve really been watching the show. Also been reading the translated books over at baka-tsuki. I’m not demaning that anyone agrees with me here. But I find her personality on the whole to be goddamn awful. I’m not wild about tsunderes in the first place but something about Taiga just screams
    “bitch” to me. And she’s bitchy without being particularly interesting either.

  17. ruffles: She can be a bitch, but calling her a tsundere superbitch as she’s been depicted is like saying that Louise treated Saito with kid gloves in the ZnT anime… in other words, a statement unsupported by evidence. Ami was more of a bitch than Taiga was when we first met her, since at least Taiga COULD be sincere with people… whereas Ami was completely insincere to everyone, Kitamura the childhood friend included. She’s at least broken out of that habit, just as Taiga’s starting to become more honest with herself – which is much better than most KugiRie tsundere roles to date. Now, if you were talking about Louise from the JC Staff version of ZnT, I’d agree with you about the superbitch tsundere part, but Taiga’s much gentler than Louise is and actually HAS a good side.

  18. Clearly, the only OTP is Takasu/Kitamura. That way, everyone wins.

    Well, everyone except Ami, but that’s where I come in to take her. :3

  19. Minorin…the superior “Uguu~”?

  20. I started this series last week, and am now completely up to date on it. And I really really enjoy it, all the characters seem haremy – but realistic, like you said, all the main characters have more to them than the regular character archetypes. And Ami – I really, really detest her. I personally think that Takasu has been duped, messed with and prodded by her enough that even her real advances have become more or less homogenous with the former.

    Man though, there have been a few pretty bloody duke outs between chicks in this anime.

    Nearly forgot – welcome back Jason.

  21. Realistic, not that much. “Feeling real” is more appropriate.

    Toradora is the polar opposite of White Album. Toradora never pretended to be more than it looks to be, it never resorted to visual or artsy tricks in an attempt to make itself look deeper. Yes, it managed it offers more if you bother looking into the characters.

    Oh, and it have likeable a character cast.

  22. >> Yes, it managed it offers more if you bother looking into the characters.

    I wanted to say, “yet”

  23. kadian1364: I get a feeling its not that Kitamura at this point is desne, actually. He seems to be for a path of non-interference at this point. He wasn’t into Taiga (he put her into the friend zone pretty early, actually) for a while. And I think he still a bit latched to the class rep.

    Or something and stuff.

  24. Interesting post. After all, there’s more to evaluating a haremette than whether pulling out of her early would make you the next King of England.

    Earlier in the season, I would have said that Taiga’s personality made her much more attractive than Ami, but now that Ami is showing her mature side, it’s harder to say. I think the sheer amount of time Ryuuji has sent around Taiga gives her a major advantage though.

    As for looks, even as a guy who often values cute over hot, I have to hand it to Ami. Taiga’s just too scrawny to be attractive, although we can always hope she pulls one of these:


    Remember those whiskey ads with two pictures of a model taken a number of years apart along with the phrase, “The longer you wait, the better it gets. Aged longer to taste better.”? I can’t help but try and apply that thinking to lolis.

  25. Toradora honestly doesn’t feel like a harem series that much to me. There’s just too much good writing, character development and interesting plot developments. I barely notice or don’t care about the odd over the top scene or awkward segment. It’s a series that has managed to get me emotionally attached to the characters, I find myself eagerly awaiting every new episode. (Taiga end. Taiga end. Taiga end. It’s the only way to go!)

    Also, Ryuuji has got to be my favourite male lead in a long time. He’s almost Kyon level awesome.

  26. @Ruffles
    “Ryujii’s spineless and stupid.”

    Dumb? Maybe (nah, not really). Spineless? Really now? Really?

  27. I happened to come here in order to quote you to a friend and realized that my RSS feed hasn’t shown your updates (since the gundamu post) and was surprised by the new url/layout.

    I really like. Takes a little getting used to because it is so different from most websites these days, but I mean that in a positive way.

    Glad you decided to come back! Not sure where your fanbase could go for decent animu blogging without you.

  28. Ryuuji is NOT spineless. He ran along the top of a fence, for Taiga, for god’s sake.

    And I agree with pretty much everything Jason says.

  29. “Why the heck would he go for Taiga or Minorin when the most mature/attractive girl likes him and is right there.”

    It’s been my experience that people don’t notice these things when they’re in the thick of them but people around them do. In fact you have to be pretty blunt asking some people out. subtlety is lost on people in love/lust.

  30. Image link to replace the dead one in my last post, because I think the “aged longer to taste better” part makes more sense with it:

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