Toradora!'s story begins with the male protagonist Ryūji Takasu who is frustrated at trying to look his best as he enters his second year of high school. Despite his gentle personality, his eyes make him look like an intimidating delinquent, so he is utterly hopeless about his chances of getting a girlfriend anytime soon, and does not have many close friends either. After being greeted by his hungover mother in the morning, Ryūji goes to school and is happy to find that he gets to be in the same class with his best friend Yūsaku Kitamura and a girl he has a crush on, Minori Kushieda. However, it is then that he unexpectedly knocks into "the school's most dangerous animal of the highest risk level"—Taiga Aisaka—who just happens to also be in his class, and is a good friend of Minori.
Taiga has a negative attitude towards others and will not hesitate to snap at people. After meeting Ryūji, she takes an instant dislike of him. Taiga comes from a rich family, but she has moved out to live on her own due to family issues. She is coincidentally living in an apartment next to Ryūji's. When Ryūji discovers that Taiga has a crush on Yūsaku, and Taiga finds out about Ryūji's affections towards Minori, Ryūji suggests that they cooperate to win the objects of their affections. Taiga exploits the fact that Ryūji will do anything to get closer to Minori. She makes him her personal servant, getting him to do all her household chores (cooking and cleaning). Taiga spends a lot of her time over at his house, so much that she could almost be considered a member of his family. Since Ryūji spends a lot of time with Taiga, he has opened up to her world and to a side of her that most people do not see. The two also try to help each other improve the way people view them. However people they know from school start to become curious about their strange relationship and rumors begin to spread about them behind their backs.