Sometimes, I have to thank YouTube for some of the material of this website. Like it or hate it, YouTube’s algorhythm has given you recommendations for things you may not know about. This is certainly the case for Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro as clips for this anime was inexplicably popping up on my YouTube page. And, in all honesty, I’m glad it did show me some snippets of later episodes because, if I didn’t and tried to watched it starting with the first episode, I might have given up in disgust.
But there’s a lot more to this anime than its first episode. So what did I think of Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro entire first season? Well, read on to find out! And don’t worry about me revealing anything as this is a SPOILER FREE review.
Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro, or Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san in its original Japanese, follows a meek and incredibly introverted sophomore who likes to draw and keep to himself. When he accidentally spills the contents of his homemade manga in front of a gaggle of first year girls, they made fun of him but immediately brush it off. Except for one girl, who is the titular Nagatoro. She stays behind to berate the boy, her “senpai” for being a wimp and not standing up to someone a grade below him, let alone a girl. But it’s not like Nagatoro is teasing Senpai for any other reason than her being a mean bully, right? I mean, it’s not like she likes him… can it? This is the start of a weird relationship between Nagatoro and Senpai as well as Nagatoro’s friends.
In a way, Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro reminds me of another anime I watched recently, Uzaki-Chan Wants to Hang Out. If you really think about it, the premise is virtually the same. A young girl sees a slightly older boy and, for one reason or another, she just has to be at his side. Sure, she’s an annoyance for the male protagonist but he just can’t really help but bear with her. However, while Uzaki-Chan’s motivations are pure as she’s worried about her sempai, Nagatoro’s reasons are shrouded in mystery for the most part. She may not even realize why she’s doing it but it’s obvious to the viewer there’s a connection between the two.
Each episode basically deals with Nagatoro finding different ways to tease Senpai. Whether is be by daring him to touch her, teasing him for being a virgin or trying to embarrass him by making lewd statements, Nagatoro will find a way to get under Senpai’s skin. For Senpai, he basically takes it all because, for some strange reason, he doesn’t seem to mind that there’s this cute girl always by his side, making fun of him.
Now, I will say that the first episode of the anime did turn me off a lot. That’s because Nagatoro really lays in on Senpai when they first meet. She teases him to the point where Senpai is in literal tears. It’s rather brutal and someone who’s experienced some intense bullying may find it very uncomfortable. This was far removed from the cute clips I saw in YouTube! So I knew things were going to get much lighter later on but, without this prior information, I might not have continued because it didn’t look like a comedy/slice-of-life anime. It looked like it was going to be horror. So, if you want to quit after watching the first episode of Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro, I say bear with it because things do get far better.
However, I don’t advise you skip the first episode because it is someone important to the entire anime as it give you a baseline on how Senpai and Nagatoro start out and how their relationship gradually changes throughout the dozen episodes. You get to see what a spineless wimp Senpai is before meeting Nagatoro as well as how Nagatoro gradually eases up on the bullying after a while. Some would say it’s a kind of Stockholm Syndrome but I don’t their relationship change in that way. I see it more of a friendship growing between two people who are attracted to each other but can’t say it because of how emotionally immature they are. Such is the way of romance anime.
And, honestly, it’s the growth of both Senpai and Nagatoro as characters that really enamored me to the show. Senpai actually develops some backbone as the series progresses. He’s still pretty wimpy when it’s all said and done but you do see some improvement as he does show some incentive to help Nagatoro and his friends. Nagatoro, for her part, changes the way she teases Senpai as she gets more flirtatious with her taunts in a way to get a rise from him (in more ways than one). She even apologizes when she takes things too far. Her teasing also backfires on her at times, leading to some embarrassing moments shared between the two and chuckle-worthy, albeit decidedly echhi, moments.
Another thing that makes Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagotoro a fun watch are the supporting cast. I’m mainly talking about Nagatoro’s friends. They do join in on the fun of making fun of Senpai but they also develop a somewhat healthy friendship with him. They can also see the attraction between Nagatoro and Senpai, even if the two aren’t exactly aware of it themselves or they refuse to acknowledge it.
While they to razz him for the fun of it at times, you can tell that they also do it to get a rise out of Nagatoro. This is mostly through Gamo, who is very keen on Nagatoro’s true motivations for staying with “Paisen” (which is just Senpai jumbled up). She’s usually the one who comes up with the schemes. Yoshi is more of the airhead tag-along, constantly hanging with Gamo and repeating what she says and doing her bidding, such as putting Paisen in a headlock. My favorite side character as of right now is Sakura, the rather ditzy femme fatale who uses her feminine wiles to get her way. She’s not in many episodes but she’s the only one of Nagatoro’s friends who doesn’t exactly bully Senpai. I guess because she’s the kindest member of Nagatoro’s entourage I have the most respect for her character.
The animation in Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro isn’t anything exemplary. I mean, there’s nothing really wrong with it but, at the same time, it certainly isn’t anything to rave about. Some of the images look incredibly flat with no shading to feature and depth to them. I will say the facial animations, especially the ones that feature Nagatoro attempting to hide her expressions from Senpai, are really good. The same can go for when Nagatoro gets all hyperactive and starts to go all squiggly. It’s funny and does make all the bullying she does during these moments seem not too awful. The voice acting is also really good here. Then again, as the show is packed with veterans doing the vocal performances, I shouldn’t be surprised.
Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro is very light on story. In fact, each episode feels like bite-sized moments that were glued together to form a single short story each time. The only real story arc, if you can call it that, comes at the very end but even that only takes like a couple of episodes to complete. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as that leaves more time for more zany moments for Nagatoro to ridicule Senpai as well as show them, most especially Senpai, to break out of their respective shells and interact with each other.
And that’s actually the weird thing as to why I was enamored by Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro. The dynamic between Nagatoro and Senpai is very rocky at first but you can see the relationship grow from just mere tolerance to more reliance between the two. In fact, it’s usually the flirty moments that really hit hard for me. Moments like when Nagatoro gets jealous of someone who tries to get close to Senpai or when Senpai actually becomes protective of Nagatoro. However, the cutest moments in the show are when Nagatoro and Senpai accidentally show their true feelings for a moment for even just a fleeting moment. These moments hit harder when you think back to the first episode and how antagonistic they were with each other when they first met. That, my friend, is good character development.
I wouldn’t exactly recommend Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro to everyone. Like I said, the first episode can be a little rough for some people to watch. Anime fans who aren’t into the entire romance/slice-of-life story won’t get anything from it. However, fans who do like this genre or simply like bite-sized stories will get a kick out of this anime. If you fit that demographic, I will say Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro is going to be right up your alley.
Have you seen Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!