This is part two of a two-part collaboration post. The first half can be found over on Mechanical Anime Reviews! Without further ado, on to the rest of the collab!
- 🌸Shoujo/SJ: pink font in italics
- 🚀Scott/ST: orange standard font
Last time on Sci-fi & Sparkles 2:
🚀ST: Yeah, that episode [of Captian Harlock] was really sad. It involves Revi, that little girl again, and her dad saying ‘hi’ on Christmas for the last time even though Revi will never know that’s the case because she’s too young. It’s just a lot to take in.
🌸SJ: But before I trapes off to Google again [to look up that episode], you know what’s a staple of the holiday season? The “Toradora!” Christmas episodes! Whenever someone mentions Christmas anime episodes, they’re the first that I think of. (Not to mention, “Toradora!” is just a fantastic show all the way around!) I’m almost positive that we’ve both seen them, too!
🌸SJ: In fact, in honor of that, I almost have to include a video of the iconic Christmas song sung by Taiga and Ami! It’s practically an obligation at this point!
🌸SJ: Yes, the subtitles are only available in Spanish. *shrug*
🚀ST: (It’s annoying how that just happens.)
🌸SJ: So many plot-relevant things happen during the “Toradora!” Christmas episodes! (Also, can we talk about Kitamura’s outfit? This shirtless Santa is too much hilarity for me to take!)
🌸SJ: I think that Christmas is especially poignant for the “Toradora!” crew because of what they’re missing. For Taiga especially, it’s the happy family experience–not being alone. She’s been alone most of her life, coming from a complicated family situation. Ryuuji has filled such a void for her, and in realizing her feelings for him, she also realizes that she’s never going to be in a position to act on them, because she wants Ryuuji and her best friend, Minori, to find the happiness that they both deserve together. She wants that for them, even if it comes from a relationship that doesn’t involve her. This realization occurs in episode 19. On Christmas Eve, Taiga resigns herself to another lonely Christmas. She sets up Minori and Ryuuji by getting Minori to head to the school dance where she thinks Ryuuji is waiting. Then, she heads home alone.
She will be alone this year, she thinks, just as she has been every year prior and will be in each year following. She ruminates on this, buried in a scarf. When Ryuuji arrives dressed up as “Santa,” she’s ecstatic–very much like the lonely little child she still holds inside herself–because through that one act, all of her dreams for the season have come true. She is not alone. “Santa” has come through.
In an act of selflessness, however, she forces Ryuuji out the door and back to the dance toward his lady love. Yet, once he’s gone, Taiga breaks down, and realizes that being alone–being without Ryuuji–is not what she wants. She realizes that she’s come to cling to him, to his kindness, and has feelings for him. She wants her best friend and newly-realized love to be happy together, but in that moment of realization–of weakness–she chases him. She’s too late, however, and stands outside in the cold. She falls to the ground, sobbing for him on the sidewalk.
And that’s what Minori stumbles across, currently making her own way to the dance. She slips away unnoticed, and shortly after, rejects Ryuuji’s advances, in spite of her own feelings for him.
Just… my heart…
🚀ST: I know. Gah, you saying (or writing, samehting) that just speaks directly into my mind and awoke tons and tons of feelings that weren’t there beforehand in a very good way. Gah. Taiga and Minori are really the best and selfless kids possible and that Christmas episode in particular shows them and ourselves how you don’t know how good you have it until something is missing and that is Taiga and Ryuji even if Ryuji didn’t notice it at that point in the story. Or did he? Ah, such complicated moments there.
No matter what, it is those decisions and feelings that appeared in these Christmas episodes which lead to the happiness of the conclusion. If they didn’t realize they meant so much separated and suffered a little bit, then maybe Ryuji and Taiga wouldn’t become a couple in the end. So sometimes, I guess the lesson is that sometimes pain comes before growth. (Gah, that is like the most 2020 thing I could say.)
Does it seem interesting to you how there seems to be only two kinds of Christmas episodes because of how it is connected to family? Either very heart warming or the very depressing. It’s amazing how Toradora can have both of those and yet they work so well in a natural way. I really need to rewatch it soon. Gah…
🌸SJ: I really think it’s because Christmas brings out very specific emotions in people, even if we don’t always examine them. As touched on in all of the shows we’ve discussed, Christmas–culturally speaking–is a time that we long for togetherness. No one wants to be lonely. It’s also a time to appreciate innocence and beauty–the purity of feeling and relationships, of the childlike and the world around us. The wealth of human experience in these regards means that everyone can relate to the joy of Christmas, but also to its potential sorrow.
The Shinsengumi will seperate, Revi will lose her dad, Taiga will cry alone on Christmas. Things like this happen to all of us, in one way or another, and create a depth of feeling. Christmas anime episodes (and other Christmas media) bring it to the forefront in an obvious way. Even in sorrow, I think there’s something beautiful about that.
🚀ST: I agree with that statement and in all those sad cases, that’s humanity. All those emotions, sad or happy, are very beautiful and equal in their own right. I think there is the inherent mean thing about the holidays and birthdays which can put ourselves under a magnifying glass more than usual, which is very harmful despite the days being just days with some special events happening in them.
So in conclusion of this post from my end, be good to yourself! Even if you go through the holidays alone, you are valuable and are important. Celebrate the holidays for yourself if you are in that position and treat yourself well. If you are celebrating with your family, then enjoy the people around you for who they are and yourself for who you are as well in whatever way is possible in 2020. Anime shows and specials show us two different ways, but we can make more ways to live through the holidays ourselves.
🌸SJ: I will add that seeing beauty in difficult situations can sometimes seem impossible, but if we all just hold on and move forward in whatever ways we can, the meaning and connection in and of this life will eventually shine through the gloom. Keep going, even when it’s hard. Keep going, even when things seem bleak. This holiday season and always, remember that the beauty of humanity can be found in others, but it can also be found in you. Whether you’re celebrating solitaire or are safe to gather with your family/friends, know that none of us are truly alone, even when we feel isolated. The themes of relationship, innocence (unexpected or otherwise), beauty, kindness, and connection don’t just exist in anime. They are a part of you–part of all of us–that no one can ever remove. You are, in my belief, beautifully and wonderfully made, even on your hardest days.
Thank you, Scott, for joining me in this collab. I sincerely have a great time writing with you. I hope your Christmas is splendid! To the readers, Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and may God bless you today and always. ❤
🚀ST: Likewise, Shoujo. Thanks for asking me to collab with you again.