Takagi-san Series

Anime Hajime Review: Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2

Original Run: July 7, 2019 - September 22, 2019
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life
Based on the Series Created By: Souichirou Yamamoto

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

The new school year is almost here, and it is a chance for every student to reinvent themselves. For Nishikata (voiced by Yuki Kaji), he hopes to finally win one over on his long time, self-appointed rival, his classmate Takagi (voiced by Rie Takahashi).

Try as Nishikata might, he can never outwit the brilliant Takagi, and to his chagrin, Takagi can’t help tease Nishikata whenever she sees him. Even with his best-laid plans ready to go, Takagi makes quick work to upend any victory Nishikata hopes to achieve.

However, if you look a little closer, you might find something a bit more. Perhaps Takagi is merely giving Nishikata the chance to see something that she isn’t trying very hard to hide.

Series Positives

Before I utter a single word of my thoughts on Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2 (Takagi-san 2), I need to make this clear:

I did not care for Takagi-san 1.

Did I think the first installment horrendous? No. Did I think it frustrating? Again, no. Did I think it poorly made, irredeemable, or, just, flat out bad? On all accounts, my answer is still no. However, I didn’t think it was very good either, and it had problems. Fixable problems granted, but problems, nonetheless.

If you were to ask my opinion when the original series came out, I would have recommended skipping Takagi-san 1. Due to recent developments, I am rethinking that assessment. And by “recent developments,” I mean Takagi-san 2 is now a thing.

This season was much better than its predecessor.

Takagi-san 2 did have some of the same issues as Takagi-san 1 (which I will get to later). The difference was, this season was far more efficient at mitigating those issues. Takagi-san 2 did this so well that what was once quite irritating became slightly less so. More importantly, though, there was also a noticeable charm that failed to break out before.

Once again, the best thing about this series was the titular Takagi. It was she who caused me to feel a little guilty about not being able to like the first season. Takagi was great. She was smart, quick on her feet, and, rather often, adorable. Retaining all those qualities for season two, what allowed Takagi to carry this installment further than its predecessor was her unapologetic I-like-you-you-idiot attitude she had towards Nishikata.

That did exist last time, to a degree. In Takagi-san 1, it did appear as if Takagi’s relentless teasing of Nishikata was more out of self-satisfaction rather than affection, but it was obvious she had a massive crush on him. In Takagi-san 2, Takagi was more blatant in her attempts to close the gap between herself and Nishikata. Her actions were so direct this season that even Nishikata began to think that maybe she was serious.

And that was the key.

Nishikata finally began to see Takagi as someone more than an adversary. Yes, he continued to challenge her to frivolous games he had no hope of winning, and there was still a significant amount of distrust. But Nishikata didn’t need to do a full about-face. All he had to do was acknowledge there was something there, and that was what he did.

When Nishikata did that, Takagi-san 2 became a lot more fun. Unlike season one, Nishikata – albeit unknowingly – was able to land consistent hits on Takagi. Seeing the formally unflappable master teaser grow flustered showed that she and Nishikata didn’t live in a bubble. If season one was our only indication, we would be left to believe these two were perpetually in competition with each other. Almost as if they couldn’t – oh, who am I fooling – Almost as if Nishikata couldn’t let a casual, non-confrontational meeting occur.

Letting Takagi have a genuine reaction of surprise helped break that cycle.

Throughout Takagi-san 1, Nishikata was a bumbling idiot who just never learned. Apparently, he is the only person who has never heard the saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome.” Every time he wondered how it was possible Takagi could pretty much read his mind, I could feel my brain tensing up from irritation. He never figured it out. Nishikata was so easy for Takagi to understand because he hardly did anything unexpected.

Thus, when Nishikata did do something that took Takagi off guard, it was adorable. For the first time in this series, I wasn’t bored from having to watch the same type of set up over and over again. Let me say, seeing Nishikata putz around for an entire twelve episodes making the same mistakes without fail and without realizing how easy he was to manipulate was maddening.

That aspect of this series didn’t change, but Takagi-san 2 was a lot more enjoyable because Nishikata was allowed more opportunities to act on his instincts instead of his “strategic” planning.

Series Negatives

Nishikata remained the bane of this show.

Although he was wildly more competent in this go-around, Takagi-san 2 didn’t fix the underlying problem. Nishikata was not a sufficient balance to Takagi.

I’m not saying Takagi had to lose to Nishikata. I’m not saying Nishikata even needed to have one of his simple, not-at-all-thought-out plans succeed. What I’m saying is, having Takagi always be one-hundred percent dominate in every scene grew incredibly dull and tedious.

Part of me thinks this show realized that, and its why it had segments that involved Mina, Sanae, and Yukari (voiced respectively by Konomi Kohara, Yui Ogura, and Mao Ichimichi). They were a break from the one-sided exchanges between Takagi and Nishikata.

Please keep this in mind; the trio was just a side plot. They never had much importance to anything that was going on, but getting a chance not to see Nishikata tun into a bumbling moron was nice.

Also, part of me thinks Nishikata must have reached a point where he won’t be able to believe Takagi if she told him, straight to his face, that she liked him. But I highly doubt this series will go to that extreme.

Again, Takagi-san 2 was much, MUCH better at mitigating this. I wish it had eliminated it, but I suppose I will take what I can get. After all, I never felt the urge to want to beat my head against the wall every time Nishikata put his foot in his mouth.

I know that this series is well-liked by a lot of people, and after sitting through season one, I couldn’t see why. But now after season two, I get it.

Final Thoughts

Don’t assume a sequel can’t be better than the original. It does happen, and it happened here.

For its part, this season was much more balanced, it grew the relationship of its two main characters, and it was simply far more fun.

Although I may not have enjoyed the first installment of this series, I was looking forward to its continuation. Part of me wanted to like this show, and as it stands, I can finally say that I do.

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2 has earned a recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? How would you advise Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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