I didn’t realise it at the time, but much of my earliest anime experiences were comic romantic stories with a soap opera structure, often built around heavily marketed characters. After Ranma 1/2 and Inu-Yasha, two series for which I have varying degrees of passing, retrospective affection, I lost my taste for truly long-running series, especially ones where the core relationship dynamic was a relatively fixed pair of constants. A character dynamic that is unchanged or uninfluenced by the things surrounding it is less of a dynamic than it is a very static relationship, and while there is some joy to be had in reliable characterisation, I found a taste I did not well understand at the time for character development.
When a series has other elements going on, such as the shonen-action genre fare I’d known, there’s a lure to the writer to treat story elements as large blocks; a block of action, then a block of comedy, then some character development, then another block of action. This process hardly hurt those lighter, episodic and serialised series. As I grew older, though, this structure started to wear on me. This soap-TV series structure was designed to perpetuate rather than resolve. A series that didn’t have a plot-progressing storytelling device, like Evangelion‘s war against the angels or Mahoromantic‘s steadily impending doom made it all the more acute. When character development is made the focus of a story, it needs to be good, or the series isn’t good.
Toradora is a good series.