Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san otherwise known as Don't Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro is a slice-of-life, comedy/romantic series staring the titular character Nagatoro and her often teased senpai (older classmate) Hachiouju. Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagotoro has a similar dynamic to the series Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san (Teasing Master Takagi-san). It, in essence, centres on the relationship of Nagatoro and her source of jokes (and affections) towards her senpai following all the pranks and antics the pair get up to.
I would say Don't Toy with Me, Nagatoro handles this teasing dynamic better than Teasing Master Takaga-san because unlike that series, the pranks do not always favour one character. In this anime whilst Nagatoro is often the main instigator there are numerous occasions where her plans and pranks backfire adding to a degree of suspension as we do not know how things will pan out.
Don’t Toy with Me, Nagatoro is a good series but the opening episode does have Nagatoro coming out the blocks strongly. Perhaps too strongly for some as people could construe what she is doing to be plain old bullying. I would however seriously implore you to overlook this and persevere because if you do you will be rewarded. For a start the degree of teasing is turned down a notch but in addition we quickly discover that behind the pranks, jokes and various gags it would seem that Nagatoro does display a genuine concern for her senpai. You see behind the bravado of Nagatoro we get a confused young girl who has difficulty expressing herself honestly, and in many ways, she is more like her senpai when it comes to conveying her true emotions. On this regard Nagatoro is much more like her teased senpai than she would care to admit.
Indeed, it is this lack of honesty and Nagatoro’s clumsy attempts of disguising her true emotions that is a source of comedy. As we go through this series this becomes more and more apparent and it is a fact that is even picked up on by Nagatoro’s close friends Gamou, Yoshi and Sakura who begin to create pranks of their own much to the charin’ of Nagatoro.
Behind the shenanigans however we do see that all the cast members do display a genuine appreciation of one another. This togetherness is displayed in the more serious moments that occur in the series as whenever a challenge presents itself the cast do help each other albeit in indirect and hilarious ways.
I also think that at the times the actions of the Gamou, Yoshi and Sakura trio appear to mirror the thoughts of the audience which all acts to create a more immersive experience as it feels like our voice is being heard through them. The trio goad, tease and push the relationship on and prevent the Nagatoro/senpai stagnating always moving things along. On the whole I would say the characters both main and secondary were all well written and is the biggest factor in what makes Nagatoro worth watching.
This being a slice-of-life series though means the overall plot is not so strong. It is mainly character driven with a lot of episodes, particularly in the beginning, being largely standalone. It is only near the end that we get an arc that begins to resemble a plot. That arc however is actually a good one and is a pretty faithful adaptation of one of the better story arcs found in the manga. I would leave it to you to find out what happens but suffice to say if you get there you won’t be disappointed and it does a good job of ending the season on a high. Let us hope we do get a second season as I reckon there is enough content in the manga to create a season two adaptation.
Animation wise it would seem much of the budget was focused on the main/sub characters. Anyone outside Nagatoro, senpai and the trio seems to get the no eyes treatment which can be somewhat jarring when you get climatic scenes of extra characters speaking with no eyes. It is not a big deal for me and it is something used in other anime series but I can imagine this would be off putting to some. I really liked the opening to Nagatoro as not only is the artwork great but the music does a good job of getting you in the mood in the series. The ending to me was while decent not so good.
Overall, Nagatoro is a show I would recommend. It is certainly one of the better anime series of the spring 2021 season. It is the characters that make the show what it is and whilst the relationship dynamic of Nagatoro and senpai is enjoyable by itself it is enhanced further by the antics of the supporting cast who all do a good job of fuelling the drama of the relationship and are often one of the big drivers in moving things forward. There are fanservice moments littered throughout the series but it is not done to an obnoxious degree. This is fundamentally a comedy series dealing with characters who are socially awkward individuals who both have difficulty expressing their true desires but through the use of different social crutches means the way they display their emotions is completely different. It is this difference and the way they bounce of each other that makes Nagatoro a memorable watch.
Story 8 – Most of the episodes are actually standalone but do not let that put you off. Even the standalones are enjoyable. There is one arc at the end of Nagatoro which is good and caps off on a high note.
Characters 9 – Strongest suit of Nagatoro. Not only is Nagatoro highly memorable but this series also has a strong supporting cast that gives everything more substance and flavour. This is the reason to watch the show with everything else being secondary.
Animation 7 – Good animation but limited to the main and supporting cast. Corners are cut beyond this which can make some scenes look odd. Strong opening but the ending track I was more indifferent to.
Overall 8 – One of the better series of the 2021 spring season. I would recommend this for most anime viewers. A source of good laughs and with a light hearted tone and plot that can be consumed after a long hard day of work easily. I just hope a second season comes!