Toradora! – Bento no Gokui OVA

With his parents out of town, Kitamura’s lunches are being made by his grandmother Mio. His first bento is an elaborate mulit-level box full of finely-made food. Ryuugi sees this as a threat to his housewifing abilities. He answers the challenge with elaborate lunches of his own, but each time his lunches are countered with superior ones by Mio-chan, but he doesn’t give up the fight, even resorting to cooking meals in the classroom. Ultimately, he gives up the fight when Taiga offers him onigiri she herself made, realizing the war was all in his head.

First of all, yowza, has it been a long time since we’ve seen Toradora! It first aired all the way back in October of 2008, after all. Put this into perspective: that was before the Phillies broke the Curse of Billy Penn and before President Obama was even elected. We regarded it at the time as one of our favorite romantic comedies, and still do. Though it falls short of Kare Kano territory, the writing and acting were always top notch, and we quickly grew to love all five of the major characters as they wove in and out of love polygons.

This extra episode is neither a prequel or an epilogue to the series we love, but an incidental outing focusing on Ryuugi’s self-worth. He’s always prided himself on being as close to a perfect housewife as possible, and it shows in how clean an apartment he keeps, and the fact he keeps one-and-a-half women and a parakeet well-fed. He’ll answer any challenge to his culinary primacy, real or percieved. In this case, it’s the latter.

And while this episode doesn’t contain any insight or uncharted territory (everyone is pretty much in default mode here, before things get all dramatic and serious), it does reinforce certain things we know about Ryuugi and Taiga in particular. What made them such a great couple to watch is that they’re always picking one another up, sometimes without even being aware of it. Taiga helps Ryuugi see the forest for the trees. It’s not about what’s in a bento, it’s about who you make it for. Anything will taste good if it has love in it, rather than selfish obsession…and is cooked properly in accordance to food safety standards.

Rating: 3.5