She’s rough. She’s tough. She’ll eat you out of house and home and won’t even thank you for it. But hey, we all love her anyway.
And that’s why 2008 is her year.
When the Palmtop Tiger first trotted out onstage, I was quick to write her off as a lost cause. Her coarse, get-out-of-my-face manner was diametrically opposite to the sort of characteristics I normally admire in the Women of Anime: soft-spoken, submissive, preferably book-smart; the traditionally well-bred lady one sees in characters like Nagato Yuki (although in her case, it’s got less to do with breeding and more to do with programming) or Tsukamoto Yakumo.
The next few episodes tended to reinforce my initial assessment of Taiga. She seemed to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and her persistent ingratitude towards Ryuuji really grated on my nerves. I have a very strong, perhaps primitive sense of justice when it comes to this sort of thing: he cooks your meals, you act like you’re thankful for it. Not rocket science, you little brat.
But then there are Developments. Sure, she treats the Falsely Accused Delinquent like an indentured servant, but she gives him several chances to score points with the object of his affections, who happens to be none other than her precious best friend Minorin. It’s worth bearing in mind that she’s helping him get close to someone very important to her, so it’s a pretty major payback by Taiga standards even though it’s a more or less tit-for-tat arrangement (“get me Kitamura and I’ll get you my half-crazed but lovable friend”).
And as the series progresses, I begin to understand why this little mobile home of terror acts the way she does – in the process starting to love her for it. The Oguie Maniax (linked via Scrumptious Anime Blogger) puts it best, and with the sort of eloquence that makes men weep and women leap onto funeral pyres:
Taiga is a girl who has difficulty expressing her own emotions. When Taiga speaks, her words are the culmination of 1001 battles fought inside of her mind. It’s a violent battle, and the victor emerges not without a few scars. The result is that Taiga comes across as rude, blunt, perhaps even shy. Unlike many of her contemporaries at Tsundere Academy, who use their brash attitudes to actively hide how they feel, or Ogiue, whose tsundere is caused by years of deep-seated self-loathing, Taiga’s outward attitude is the consequence of falling short of a greater goal, that of being able to accurately express one’s feelings through words. Taiga is tsundere, but only because she can’t help it.
I strongly advise you to read the rest of his thoughtful, incisive and very well-written post. Never mind that it concludes with the sort of smart-arse psychoanalysing that makes one want to beat the living @#$% out of him (not because it isn’t true, but because it probably is).
And if that’s not reason enough to crown Taiga our Empress of the Known World, watch Episode 13. If Taiga’s rarest facial expressions don’t melt your heart into a steaming puddle of goo then I suggest you have a word with Dante about a day-trip through the lowest depths of Inferno; the fires of heck should do the trick.
This post might help, too. For the record, I agree with the author’s conclusion as much as India and Pakistan agree about their shared border. But hey, nobody’s perfect.
Least of all the Palmtop Tiger.
Which is why 2008 is her year.