I think quite a few guessed this anyway, but it is truly a gem of a Xmas episode...

*

#1
TORADORA (EPISODE 19)

Prior to episode 19 of Toradora, preparations for the Xmas party were being made for our favourite rag tag group of friends. This led to the star being broken accidentally by Minori on the tree, Taiga's surprising love for Xmas and wanting to be 'a good girl for Santa', we learn of her generousity in giving presents to children, but most importantly, the turn as both Taiga and Ryuji begin to wonder if their feelings for the others is like a parent and child or romantic in comparison to their genuine feelings towards Yusaku (Taiga) and Minori (Ryuji). This is probably why this episode holds a real place in my heart because it actually builds up to what Xmas does represent in Japan, the fact it is a romantic holiday at heart for the Japanese, yet the spirit of Christmas never leaves Taiga in terms of the spirit of giving.

Anyway, the episode itself is basically a Xmas party episode. Which of course forces me to put this link up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bkwZoVt9lQ

O.K, now you've seen that song of awesome, you see even there some subtle difference - Taiga and Ami singing a duet. How was that even plausable near the beginning of the series, how well have the two been developed to be close enough to do that WITHOUT losing any of their original characteristics? For that matter, how have they been practicising this in secret as no-one knew about this, even Ryuji. We also get the subplot of Ryuji wanting to invite Minori to the party (this is probably where Minori was dropping down my list of fave characters) yet at the same time wondering about his feelings for Taiga. Taiga in turn leaves the party early to go home.

This then leads to one of, if not my favourite heartwarming moment(s) in anime. We get Ryuji dressing up as a teddy bear Santa Claus to go see Taiga. The look on Taiga's face is just pure. ADORABLE. She goes squee-mode, we see her genuinelly happy and my god, she is beautiful like this! This is rare for Taiga as despite character development, we see her still mostly as a bit snarky, tsundere, etc. Here, she is pure dere with added moments of squee and genki, even though she knows it's Ryuji quite quickly, it doesn't matter. She is absolutely ecstastic and happy and you can see how it means to her so much.

But what puts this above the classic AMG episodes is what happens AFTER. It DOESN'T have the happy ending at that point the two realising their feelings. No, the opposite - Taiga actually sends Ryuji back to the party, being unselfish and wants him to wait for Minori. Her reaction after this is similar to Minori's near the end of the series - wondering if she has lost both of them, and then she realises her true feelings for Ryuji. To add even more heart wrenching, Ryuji and Minori DO meet up, and it appears Minori rejects him...yet she never actually admits it. Which of course leads to the final arc of Toradora.

To say this Xmas episode had it's ups and downs emotionally is an understatement. Combine it with some fantastic fun moments (the song, Yusaku being well...Yusaku ^^) it's the Xmas episode that sticks in my head the most, and hence it's #1 inclusion.

*

Hope you enjoyed it and happy holidays from the British Isles!