** Warning: There may be spoilers ahead. I did my best to avoid them, but some may have slipped through the cracks. **
When looking over the list of spring anime this season, one series in particular caught my eye. Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san (or, Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro) seemed to have moe interactions written all over it, and you KNOW I love some good moe-ness. In my research, though, there was a bit of controversy about it being about bullying. That struck me as odd, based on my first impressions from the trailer, so I knew I’d have to check it out. Well, sometimes you just need to trust your instincts.
Being a school romantic comedy, there weren’t any crazy surprises with the events. A lot of the intrigue revolved around the characters and their relationships. While a bit stock and standard, it did everything on point.
A brief intro, to those who don’t know about the series. The story follows Senpai, a quiet loner in the arts club, and his interactions with a mischevious underclassman, Nagatoro-san. Nagatoro-san loves to pick on the timid Senpai, but it becomes clear pretty early on that there’s more to this than just harassment.
For starters, the comedy was great. I’ve always enjoyed the situational humor, with characters basically walking in at the worst imaginable point. Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san had this in spades. I literally laughed out loud on numerous occasions.
I also got a kick out of Nagatoro-san’s reactions when it came to her Senpai. Namely, when her friends were involved. She was comically overprotective of him when her friends tried to join in picking on senpai. Essentially, “he’s MINE to bully, and no one else’s!”, which could be construed as cute, but I just found hilarious.
Now the other half, how was the romance? One word: excellent. Along the same lines as with the comedy, it would often start as a harassment bit, then something unforeseen would occur and shatter her defenses. It was these interactions that really gave away her feelings, and it was so cute. Heck, I’d call it a very moe moment when she’d break down and blush as her scheme backfired.
We even see it reciprocated from Senpai. You see him repeatedly stand up for her, or enter into these situations almost willingly. However, it was the times where he seized the moment first and put her on the ropes that really made it awesome. Seeing her get nervous and uneasy when he took the high ground was adorable, and he showed his hand emotionally as well when he would inevitably crumble under his own scheme too.
For a character-driven series, the supporting cast was okay but served as support for the two leads admirably. And add to the comedy, of course. Gamo-chan was an instigator, regularly starting things to amplify a scheme. Yosshii was the tag along, but often used as something to provoke Nagatoro’s protectiveness of her toy. Sakura was the flirt, used to get Nagatoro-san to show her jealousy. Then there was the art club president, another one to activate Nagatoro-san’s defensive mechanisms. They all had their role to play. As an aside, can I ask how the HELL was her painting allowed in the school festival??
With all that said, now let me talk briefly about the bullying claim. Frankly, I disagree whole-heartedly. While there is some bullying going on, at no point did it strike me as taking it too far. From Nagatoro-san, it all came across as the trope of a girl too shy to admit her feelings. Her friends, however, you could make an argument for. But even then, it was always within reason, seeming more like just mischievous play. Especially as the series went on, and they became closer to friends than random people. As someone who has experienced bullying himself, I would not flag this as such. I believe such claims are missing the intended and presented mark the series sets.
Let’s wrap this up with final thoughts. Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san was an incredible romantic comedy. It had solid jokes, employing the whole cast to really nail it. The romance was also great, with evolving and strengthening relationships, right through to the end (no spoilers!). This series reminded me a bit of Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Ren’ai Zunousen in the approach to the comedy and romance. Overall, an excellent series, and will definitely find it’s place on my shelves. Now, I need to go check out the manga. Catch you in the next post!