- Alt. Name
- Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san
- Spring 2021
- No. of Episodes
- Telecom Animation Film
Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro is a 2021 Slice of Life Romantic comedy anime series from Telecom Animation Film, a subsidiary of TMS Entertainment. While the studio has been around since 1975; and has gone from subcontracting its animation to becoming one of the most leading animation studios in the east by being behind such series as Orange, Chain Chronicle, and even the more recent Lupin the Third titles. So on paper, the studio looks well run and very adaptive into whatever genre they may take, but nothing is ever a safe play when it comes to adaptations. Even the best animators may ruin a beloved series or miss the impact that the source material had.
Every day, Naoto Hachiouji is teased relentlessly by Hayase Nagatoro, a first-year student he, unfortunately, meets one day in the library while working on his manga. While Naoto is an awkward, introverted student, he can’t seem to shake off her teasing to the point where she makes him cry. After reading his story and seeing his awkward demeanor, she decides to tease him, even calling him “Senpai” instead of using his real name.
At first, Nagatoro’s relentless antics are more bothersome than anything and leave him feeling more than embarrassed, as he is forced to cater to her whims. However, as they spend more and more time together, a strange friendship develops between them, and Naoto finds life with Nagatoro can even be fun. But one thing’s for sure: his days will never be dull again.
When any series within the Slice of Life and even Romantic comedy genres are used within a story, one crucial aspect must be made clear: will it be cliché or a mix of old and new? The story is set in high school, so there will be many cliches, most of which are unavoidable, but Don’t Toy with me, Miss Nagatoro does them is what sets them apart from the rest of the pack. The biggest positive within this story is that it’s a slow burn with a few pops and cracks of romantic elements popping here and there, which is overall better than what one may expect due to so many underlying reasons shown throughout the series. For a series to take this approach, it shows that they not only have – on paper – a good road map set ahead for the series.
Another positive one will find within this series is that there are many similarities between this series and Teasing Master Takagi-san. Both have very similar premises and can easily be intertwined together, but unlike the latter, this series is more hard-hitting due to the nature of the characters. The amount of wholesomeness within this series is remarkable, given that the genres usually tend to be though this series seems to take a different approach. The teasing between two teenagers who are indeed interested in each other creates a more believable romantic setting. Having this with the additional fact that the main character is more passive, but at the same time, he’s not dumb like countless other romance series have made the main male be.
This series has set a better example for a real eros high school relationship, and the viewer can see the two characters are interested in each other. Though that hurdle has been passed, the two must figure out how to express themselves, and that’s where the story takes off. They both like spending time together, and even sharing moments alone and having a series portray someone that talks a good game when in reality they crumble on the inside when events continue. These characters are high school students with no background in love or even dating, so their awkwardness mixed with the comedy pair well together.
However, this series did have some significant problems within its story. For instance, the very first episode is a bit off compared to the others. While the characters don’t do anything different or unique, the pacing is a tad better than others. But the intensity of Nataoro’s teasing mixed with downright bullying set an ominous tone for this series right off the bat. Though this may not be a problem for some, having such a poor introduction to an anime during the first episode is a significant turn-off.
Outside of the poor first impression, the story is a little bland from start to finish. Of course, this is a problem with much romantic comedy series set in high school due to many factors ranging from predictability to even the characters being off-putting. However, this series problem was a little more on the predictability side of the scale. Another potential negative aspect that this series had that some viewers may find is that it is not so much a completed story; it is an episodic anime. If viewers are looking for a romantic anime series constructed from start to finish, this may not be for them.
Throughout Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro, the viewer will undoubtedly be submerged within its art style. The bright and cheery colors of the background bring out the happy-go-lucky atmosphere of the series. The clean and colorful character designs make these characters stand out even more within their school setting and outside environments. The most considerable praise this series deserves is the clear, smooth transition between the realistic art style, artistic drawing art style, and cartoonish style. Each has its loveable qualities, and various potential viewers will appreciate each different one.
The opening animation was beautifully crafted and very fitting for a series of this caliber, with the theme song titled “EASY LOVE” performed by Sumire Uesaka having a very pop-rock vibe. Having that mixed with vibrant punk rock animation opening gives the perfect mix of love and crazy that this series gives off splendidly. Though the ending animation was cute, it didn’t do anything for me, but that isn’t a knock on the animation production.
However, the most prominent feature of the art style that is a little offputting is that all the background characters are drawn without eyes and sometimes not even facial features. While this problem may be fixed during the physical copy, it is was still an eyesore as it shows that the viewer doesn’t need to care about anyone other than whoever has all their features.
When it comes to this anime series characters, they’re a bit odd when put together. Hayase Nagatoro is a first-year high school girl who enjoys teasing Senpai. Although it appears that she wants to torture him, she secretly harbors a crush on him and becomes very hostile towards anyone else who tries to bully Senpai. Though she is best described as an energetic, cheerful, and sarcastic young woman, deep down, she’s a sadodere, and if one has been around anime for a while, the poster character for this type is Kurumi from Date A Live.
Naoto Hachiouji is a timid introvert who tries to avoid social interaction whenever possible. His favorite pastime is drawing, and he has often been seen either doodling in his artbook or inside the art club. After meeting Nagatoro and starting to hang out with her and her friends, he progressively gains self-confidence. Though he is seen to care deeply for Nagatoro, he doesn’t muster up enough courage to tell her, only falling short. Throughout the series, the viewer will see a change in their relationship, but a character change from someone who lacks any confidence to someone who can talk to people.
Gamo is Nagatoro’s classmate and friend. She has orange hair and is the most mature among her peers despite her rugged appearance. Yoshii is another classmate and friend. She typically follows Gamo around on whatever schemes she has in mind. Overall she is considered the airhead of the group. Sakura is the last of the friend group, and like Nagatoro, she also has tan skin. She is sweet and quite relaxed on the surface, but deep inside, she enjoys sowing jealousy in any group of boys who compete for her attention. This is often for her amusement.
While there are a few other characters throughout the series that could be talked about, unfortunately, they don’t seem to last an impression. Of course, there’s the Club President. However, she only makes her first proper appearance exceptionally late into the series, episode ten, and is shoehorned in as a coup d’état for speeding up the relationship progress. Though this works in some areas better than expected, this could’ve been done slightly better if the series had one more episode to build the emotional impact a bit more instead of forcing a couple of events.
Throughout this series, the viewer will undoubtedly find entertainment and enjoyment from the two main characters, the artwork, and even the story. Though there were a couple of hiccups along the way, this series was better than what one would expect from the genre, but it’s by no means a perfect ensemble. The positives are only there for people who can get through the calf-deep of negatives, but this anime will reward them with a sweet, wholesome romantic comedy anime series if the viewer continues to go forth. A series that is similar to Teasing Master Takagi-san, but this series is more mature, age-wise, and more petite at the same time.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.