Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro is all about one girl’s quest to tease the crap out of her nerdy senpai, often leaving him embarrassed, flustered, and on the verge of tears. I mean, some folks are into that, right? But is Nagatoro actually funny or just plain mean?
This series is streaming on Crunchyroll
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Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Glad you could join me today Jean-Karlo. We can have our meeting in the library, a safe place for a couple of nerds to talk about ani—
Alright, don’t panic. Their vision is based on movement. Just stay still and try to be quiet. They’ll leave us alone once they’re done feeding.
Too late. They already spotted us. Now we gotta talk about Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro
Beat with us folks, because this is your intrepid TWIA crew traversing dangerous territory. We are essentially mice in little news reporter costumes trying to give a live report from the inside of a cat café. This show is literally designed to chew up people like us and spit us out.
was boring, and the earlier bits of High-Rise Invasion
were frankly off-putting, but neither show was as openly dreadful and discomforting to watch as Nagatoro
got sometimes. I was already dreading this show due to the contingent of fans that were itching to make this show A Thing™ this season just like what happened with Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!
When nothing happened, I had hoped it was because Nagatoro
had some characterful bend that set it apart. After ten episodes, it turns out: nope!
I don’t want to be too mean to this show because I get it: basing an entire thing off of the appeal of a single character is basically how SNK‘s Athena maintained her relevance after all these years, and it’s how I got suckered into Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja.
But don’t make your character so despicable maybe?
If the idea of seeing a nebbish anime nerd constantly get dunked on by a domineering anime girl’s smug face doesn’t appeal to you, well, first get off of Twitter and then also avoid Nagatoro
because there is no oasis for you in the vicious desert of bully-flirting.
Now with that disclaimer out of the way: I actually really enjoy this show.
I have a closet full of skeletons that just means I have issues with denigration or being made fun of. So when the first episode shows Nagatoro having a ball while reducing the hapless senpai
to tears, suffice to say I wasn’t having fun.
Like, I don’t how many cars ran over however many of her pets: this is really beyond the pale. This and a few other pranks Nagatoro pulls are the kind where if the positions were reversed Senpai
would very deservedly be on a few lists.
Helga G. Pataki is not a role model, Nagatoro!
Personally I think it’s all about the mentality going in. This is not actually a way to build a healthy relationship or friendship, but in Anime Trope Fantasy World, I can allow myself to believe these two psychological landmines could accidentally find each other and fall in love instead of one of them (Read: Senpai
) being destroyed.
It’s like in bodice ripper romance novels. Obviously in real life you wouldn’t want any of this shit to happen with a potential romantic partner, but hey, dubcon shit sells for a reason.
If they didn’t lavish so much attention on how discomforting this was for Senpai
and how visibly distressed he was with Nagatoro harassing him, I could believe you. And while the show eventually shows Nagatoro toning down her crap to what even I could call “harmless ribbing,” you can’t unwrite what you wrote.
Full disclosure: this show activates my Brain Goblins™ in the worst way, and I already don’t like “Everyone Treats Everyone Else Like Crap” as a comedic genre (which is why I didn’t watch Community
) so I’m working as hard as I can to be charitable here. But it still leads me to ask: where’s the humor in this?
I mean this show technically started as a series of full-on masochism fetish POV images on pixiv
, so even those first episodes are the the toned down version. But yeah, those first couple ones are the harshest the series ever gets, before it turns into a more standard comedy, just instead of accidentally holding hands our lead couple flirt by, well:
It’s more of that boilerplate tsundere-comedy I already avoided like the plague back in the late-aughts. Thank God Nagatoro isn’t voiced by Rie Kugumiya and shouting “Urusai urusai urusai!” over and over. But hey, congrats on having the chutzpah to bring that dead horse back to life.
But like I said, I do actually enjoy this show once it’s past those particular hurdles. It’s simple and repetitive, but great production and solid timing makes a lot of these jokes work for me. Mostly in the Face Game.
I hope you like this face, because you’ll be seeing it a lot.
It’s a good face, tbh. Immediately tells you you’re dealing with a sleep paralysis demon that exclusively mocks your taste in manga.
I don’t want to take that aspect for granted. Plenty of shows like this are basically unwatchable because of poor, uninspired direction and animation. So having a show this well-animated and consistently expressive, even in service of a single punchline, is something I appreciate. Even the OP does a neat job of re-purposing animation from the show to tell you exactly what you’re in for.
That’s the one thing that makes Nagatoro stand out. What a lot of the angry Uzaki crowd didn’t really get was that nobody really cared about Uzaki’s proportions; the rest of the show was just dull, from a writing and visual standpoint. Nagatoro at least has production values and cinematography to help it stand out. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but I can at least point it out.
Also I do genuinely find the show funny. It’s generally got sharp timing and knows just how long to hold on a joke before moving on. Even the eyecatches have some great gags.
Though speaking of personal tastes: not a big fan of Boba tea. Don’t get the appeal.
The stray Hajime no Ippo
reference was a nice breather, I’ll give them that.
See, if this had been the launching point for the series, I’d probably not have had such a violent reaction against it. I’d still hate Nagatoro and would cheer as she cried herself to sleep because her inability to be upfront with her feelings for Senpai
drove him into the arms of a person with actual social skills, but I’d still hold this show somewhere around Vladlove
in terms of “Not sure who it’s for, but it sure is what it is.”
As it is, it just feels less like Nagatoro and Senpai developed as characters and more like Nagatoro creator Nanashi realized that he really needed to tone down the sadism.
Though at least Nagatoro gets the metatextual excuse that Senpai
‘s basically into her. Her friends on the other hand are just pure chaos. It’s like Tweedledee and Tweedledum if Alice in Wonderland
came with a “NonCon” tag.
You joke, but Nanashi
probably drew that before making Nagatoro
But as can be expected, Nagatoro gets defensive over her senpai when her friends join in on the bullying that she otherwise so-enthusiastically starts. So there are a few episodes where she… tries standing up for his character? If proving that he has a porn stash is somehow “sticking up for the guy”…
I mean, she’s also just asserting the truth. This is the boy who brought his volume of Big Boobed Vampires
to school with him.
Don’t worry though, he reads it for the articles.
Sidenote: Forget Shaman King
, where’s my modern, manga-accurate reboot of Rosario + Vampire
? The people deserve to see giant kaiju Dracula dammit.
Anyway, Nagatoro is definitely not a show for everyone. Even as somebody mostly unbothered by its harsher edges, there are definitely moments that rubbed me the wrong way and I can’t blame anyone for being put off by it. But at the same time I gotta respect something being itself so confidently. Also props to Nagatoro herself for throwing this future Pitchfork freelancer right under the wheels.
Like I said, a lot of my revulsion towards this show stems from a lot of emotional baggage I deal with. But I’m still pretty unafraid to call this the worst show of the season from how little it has to offer. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so kudos for making the show you wanted to make. But I’m quietly amused that people were so ready to tilt at windmills in defense of Nagatoro
and absolutely nothing came of it. I look forward to living the rest of my life without having to offer Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro
a second thought.
Meanwhile I’m enjoying it quite a bit, especially compared to this season’s other romcom offerings. So I say, if you’re not put off by the first episode then try letting Nagatoro
toy with you some. You might just like it.
Vertical has also brought the manga over, so if you need more of this series it’s there waiting for you. I can’t understand why you’d want it, but I can at least put it into your hands. I’m not your dad.
There’s a whole wide world of smug anime girl faces waiting for you!