A new season of anime is upon us. The first one we will be reviewing is DON’T TOY WITH ME, MISS NAGATORO.
I’m going to be completely honest here. This anime straddles the line of cute and enjoyable to unwatchable all through out the first two episodes. The story centers almost exclusively around the two main characters: Nagatoro and Naoto Hachioji. Hachioji is an awkward introvert who mostly seeks to avoid attention from his fellow classmates. Nagatoro gets off to bullying Hachioji. Why she enjoys pestering him is still open for interpretation. Something cool the show did was it did not show any character’s (except for Hachioji’s) eyes until the 5 and half minute maker. Of course, Nagatoro’s eyes are the ones we see.
Hachioji explains why we don’t see the other students’ eyes. He says “Look away, close my mind” (at the 20:06 minute marker of Episode #1). All these students have bullied him throughout his life over his mangas and drawing. So, when we are introduced to Nagatoro and we see her eyes, I assumed she was going to be nice. Boy, was I wrong.
And that’s where my problems begin. She straight up bullies him. I sat through the second episode hoping the characters would become a tad bit more complex. Meh. There is a cafe scene that gives me hope the two will develop. However, for now, be prepared. Both of these characters are hard to root for.
Nagatoro is very harsh. She degrades him, mocks him, inflicts physical and mental abuse to him. I won’t even go into detail over some of the stuff she does to him but most of it is sexual abuse or at least taunting him. Which is what makes it so hard to watch. It is more than teasing, it is dehumanizing in a lot of way. If Hachioji could defend himself or create a line in the sand, I feel like we might get somewhere. For now, he is stuck in this mindset of “eww, she’s so mean” but also “ahhh, a cute girl”. Because he has been bullied his whole life, he tolerates her behavior.
It’s interesting to say the least. The animation is great. The sound effects and visual gags are highly entertaining. Some of the scenarios they find themselves in are innocent but still have high sexual undertones. These can be okay. For example, the vampire subplot was fine before she fell and groped him. She then used this as a chance to beat him down by mocking him saying that was the first time a girl touched him. Scenes start off fine and quickly cross a line. And based off of Hachioji’s body language it is hard to tell if he enjoys it or is too scared or nervous to ask her to stop. And Nagatoro’s outward demeanor makes it hard to gauge if she hurting him out of in
I can get the appeal of this anime. Again, it can look great and be funny. A socially awkward male lead combined with a cute and confident female do create a pretty unique working dynamic at times. Some of the teasing is entertaining. And again, the cafe scene gives hope for something deeper.
Still, as of the first two episodes this is a unique rom com that occasionally rises above mediocrity. The relationship between Nagatoro and Hachioji is different and interesting enough that’ll keep checking this one out and see if it becomes a guilty pleasure or slog to get through.
Score: 6 out of 10 (For now)
Next up, we review the first three episodes of Odd Taxi (spoiler alert- I love that one!)