Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro

Original Run: April 11, 2021 - June 27, 2021
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life
Based on the Series Created By: 774

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Naoto Hachiouji (voiced by Daiki Yamashita) is a loner, and he prefers it that way. He likes to find a nice secluded spot and work on his art when he has the chance. Unfortunately, Hachiouji’s peace of mind goes out the window when he stumbles across Hayase Nagatoro (voiced by Sumire Uesaka).

Nagatoro, a first-year, instantly notices how Hachiouji, a second-year and, thus, her Senpai, is a bit timid. As a result, something inside Nagatoro activates. She wants nothing more than to tease the living daylights out of her Senpai.

Although Hachiouji is often overwhelmed by Nagatoro’s constant toying, she soon becomes an irremovable aspect of his life.

Don't Toy with Me

Series Positives

I wasn’t a fan after the first episode of Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro (Miss Nagatoro). I was afraid this series would rely on mean-spirited humor. The “toying,” as suggested by the title, was just straight-up bullying and sexual harassment. Bringing someone to tears and then making fun of that person for crying, that left behind a pretty bad taste.

However, how characters act at the beginning of a show shouldn’t be what defines a show. In every story and series, the goal is to demonstrate growth; how do people change over time? This is the exact reason why I commit to finishing every anime I start. Things can turn around.

Miss Nagatoro turned around.

Despite my initial hesitation, I ended up liking this show quite a bit. The heavy-handedness this series began with eventually balanced out. Miss Nagatoro became something far more fun and charming than its first episode suggested.

To start, Naoto Hachiouji (Senpai), the teasing victim, grew more confident as the show went on. Although he always gave the kind of reactions that made him an easy target, Senpai soon learned how to fire back. Granted, many of his retorts were unintentional and accidental, but not all of them were. Senpai became more comfortable with calling out the titular Hayase Nagatoro’s bluffs. He finished this series on a much more even playing field.

But though Senpai’s growth throughout this show was well-done in its own right, what made Miss Nagatoro a lot of fun was Nagatoro herself.

Now, for the record, if the roles were reversed and Senpai was the teaser and Nagatoro the victim, this series would not have worked. This is a clear double standard, and it is an unquestionable mark against this show.

Be that as it may, helping to lessen the weight of this reality was Nagatoro’s clumsiness. Her comeuppances were always due to her actions.

There was a scene where Nagatoro and Senpai found themselves caught in a flash rainstorm. The two got to shelter, and, as you would expect, their clothes were soaked. Nagatoro took this chance to tease Senpai by saying her bra was visible under her wet shirt. She assumed Senpai would be too embarrassed to sneak a peek, and, yes, that was Senpai’s gut reaction.

The thing was, Nagatoro had already pulled a similar trick earlier that day before revealing she was wearing a bathing suit under her clothes. Remembering that, Senpai believed Nagatoro was doing the same thing, so he turned around. This time, though, to an unexpecting Nagatoro, she was not lying, and her underwear was on full display.

Miss Nagatoro had many of these perfect-storm compromising coincidences, the kind I have found annoying in other shows. In this series, these instances were necessary for dampening an otherwise ruthless Nagatoro.

By the way, Nagatoro was crushing on Senpai hard; that becomes crystal clear damn near immediately. This series leaned heavily into the notion of only teasing the people you like.

Incidentally, a jealous Nagatoro was one of the cutest/most intimidating things I have seen in anime. And that segues me into what I found to be the most impressive aspect of Miss Nagatoro.

This series knew how to use facial humor; Nagatoro was one of the most expressive characters I have seen in a long time. Without her needing to say a word, you knew exactly what she was thinking. But when she did speak, she did so with one of the best performances I have seen so far from 2021 (this review came out in August 2021).

Ms. Sumire Uesaka, who voiced Nagatoro, did a phenomenal job. She managed to portray a character that was both overconfident and easily embarrassed, usually at the same time.

In this series, Nagatoro would often double-down when teasing Senpai. Even when she was on the losing end of an exchange, Nagatoro tried to play things off as though they were no big deal. But through a combination of this show’s outstanding facial animation and Ms. Uesaka’s stellar performance, we got a character that was hard not to like.

And considering how cruel Nagatoro was during her introduction, that is one hell of a reversal.

Series Negatives

Again, we cannot overlook the massive double-standard in this show.

Think about it. Suppose a guy went up to the girl he had a crush on/teased ferociously and suggested they guess where the other person’s nipples were under their shirts. That’s the very definition of sexual harassment. Just because Miss Nagatoro reversed the roles, does that make it okay? No.

I get why many aspects of this show might make people uncomfortable and hostile towards it. I won’t disagree with you, even though it puts me in an awkward position by both liking this series and acknowledging its messed up nature.

My conundrum is, I don’t want to devalue the very valid issues with Miss Nagatoro, but I won’t pretend I didn’t have a ton of fun with this show either.

As such, I can only recommend watching this series at your own discretion. That said, there is something else about Miss Nagatoro that bothered me.

Although Nagatoro had a ton of growth and context to help balance out her teasing towards Senpai, the same was not true for Nagatoro’s friends, Gamou and Yoshi (voiced respectively by Mikako Komatsu and Aina Suzuki). These two were just plain meanspirited.

Gamou and Yoshi only held back whenever Nagatoro was around to stop them, and even that wasn’t a guarantee. Sometimes they would try to get Senpai on his own, and if they succeeded, nothing was preventing them from going ham.

Eventually, Gamuo and Yoshi became a permanent fixture in Nagatoro and Senpai’s relationship. Their presence and intensity cooled down as Senpai grew more confident. But unlike Nagatoro, they never really changed.

Final Thoughts

At the time this review came out, it did so in a string of good-but types of shows. Or, in other words, this series was good, but it had baggage.

We can’t deny this show walked a fine line. Although I would argue it was more fun than anything else, even I have to admit there were things about this series that didn’t sit well.

Nevertheless, I will be giving Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro a recommendation.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro? 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 Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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