By the time you read this, I’ll be on a plane to Texas. I’ll be out of town until the 30th, and mostly absent from the internet, so if I fail to address your comments in a timely fashion, that would be why. But keep an eye on this blog and pontif.us; I’ll have posts scheduled through the end of December.
With that said, today’s title references one of Schneider’s moments, which, if you’ve read it, may act as a kind of complement to this post. Though, as a Minori fan, he may not be too thrilled that I’m pointing to his moment as complementary to this one.
I always liked Minori, actually. I was prepared to like her from the beginning. Yui Horie had something to do with it, granted, but Minori was generally just a fun character. And that thirteenth episode — I mean damn. I watched it last Christmas, in the late morning or early afternoon, and I remember thinking that Japan and its media-producing machinery had given me a fine gift, and being annoyed that I hadn’t seen it early enough to include it among my twelve moments of 2008.
But this post isn’t about that episode. This post is about Ami.
You may recall the cadre of bloggers who threw their support behind Ami nearly as soon as the show introduced her. I was not among them. Toradora! seemed to posit her as a wrench in everyone’s gears, a generally not-very-nice person, and I bought it wholesale. But as the show progressed, something happened. Ami changed — either the “real” Ami began to emerge from behind her stalwart shield of bitchery, or her two personalities, the public and the private, began to merge into a more “complete” Ami. Possibly I changed, too. I finally began to get a sense of her depth. I realized at some point that her criticisms of her friends’ romantic foibles were my criticisms. She was my voice personified as a high school girl.
And when, during the eventful twenty-first episode, she just couldn’t stand for Minori’s bullshit anymore…
…her fist was my fist.
But by the same token, Minori’s face was my face, her chest was my chest. I didn’t realize this until it occurred to me how much this scene hurt.
Minori’s tactic for dealing with Ryuuji’s feelings is simple: “If I ignore it, maybe it’ll go away.” It’s rough, being on the receiving end of that. I get how Ami feels; I tend to be a little upset, too, when I see my friends being jerked around by people they have feelings for. Ami’s way of dealing with her frustration here is not exceedingly mature, no. But to her credit, Minori hit her first. And it’s not as if she hasn’t been embroiled in this tangled and sometimes melodramatic web of teenage romance all along — she just succumbs to a moment of exceptional weakness here.
But I get how Minori feels, too. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve employed her tactic. Oh, have I employed it — my talent for avoiding telling people how I really feel about them has become legendary. I’m not proud of myself, but it is what it is, and so I think I understand Minori’s reasoning. As long as she’s able to ignore it, things don’t have to change; everyone can remain friends, and everything can carry on as it always has. What’s more, she doesn’t want to cause problems for Ryuuji and Taiga, regardless of what form their relationship takes in the end. Minori certainly isn’t acting out of ill will; if anything, it’s the opposite. I’d guess that she simply doesn’t know what else she should do.
You can see how problematic this scene is for me when I relate to both characters involved. Ami, my more jaded, self-aware, reasonable side, attacks Minori, my well-intentioned but cowardly side. Who do I side with? Well, neither, ultimately, because I’m both. It was a little shocking to see one of my internal conflicts represented in animation like this. And it’s still difficult to watch; I never know whether I should laugh or cry.