TITLE: Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro
GENRE: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life
Every day, Naoto Hachiouji is teased relentlessly by Hayase Nagatoro, a first year student he meets one day in the library while working on his manga. After reading his story and seeing his awkward demeanor, she decides from that moment on to toy with him, even calling him “Senpai” in lieu of using his real name.
At first, Nagatoro’s relentless antics are more bothersome than anything and leave him feeling embarrassed, as he is forced to cater to her whims. However, as they spend more time together, a strange sort of friendship develops between them, and Naoto finds that life with Nagatoro can even be fun. But one thing’s for sure: his days will never be dull again. (Credit: https://myanimelist.net/anime/42361/Ijiranaide_Nagatoro-san)
The concept is cute, but the execution is…well, see what I have to say about it below.
SPOILERS AHEAD. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro follows the formulaic storyline of the female protagonist teasing the male protagonist which leads to the development of a friendship and/or relationship. In some ways, this show is very much like Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san (Teasing Master Takagi-san). While Takagi takes a more lighthearted feel, Nagatoro takes the other extreme end of the spectrum.
Let’s discuss the female protagonist, Nagatoro. Her circle of friends definitely have a Mean Girls vibe. Nagatoro begins bullying our male protagonist who is quiet, reserved, and skittish. Right off the bat, she is cruel, antagonizing, and relentless. Nagatoro, in my opinion, engages in anxiety-inducing bullying. At one point, she makes our male protagonist cry and it appears to bring her happiness as she wipes away his tears. Honestly, the first few episodes had me cringing in many scenes.
Before I continue, let me state that I am not a prude by any means. I tend to overlook the fan service aspect of anime because it is usually a quick shot of some comically large super-jiggly boobs here, or a panty shot there. There is quite a bit of fan service and sexualization in anime, but usually, it is pretty harmless. A boob flash or a panty shot is brief and doesn’t add or take away from the story. It is simply there to please the masses.
However, what I have to say next might “trigger” people. It’s a bold statement, but I stand by it: THIS SHOW IS BEYOND FAN SERVICE.
I feel like this show supports rape culture. There are scenes where Nagatoro is purposely trying to arouse our protagonist by pretending to be nude only to reveal that she was wearing a swimsuit. She is constantly poking fun at the fact that he has never kissed a girl and that he is a virgin. This overly sexually aggressive content left me wondering whether this show is really okay. The manner in which it is done is aggressive with intent which is where my discomfort stems from. Typically, in a show that goes this route, any sexual provocation is unintentional or even, in a manner, innocent. It usually occurs just once, but in this show, it’s a theme to Nagatoro’s actions.
I’m not sheltered. I know most people have their first sexual experiences in high school. To me, this goes beyond any argument of “female empowerment”. Nagatoro consistently puts Naoto (male protagonist) as the recipient of, arguably, unwanted sexual advances. Specifically, Naoto tolerates her sexual harassment behavior. The show also portrays Naoto as a “weak” male and seems to suggest that Nagatoro’s behavior is okay because he’s too weak to fight it off. What makes it worse is the fact that the show seems to take the position that Nagatoro is somehow strengthening Naoto’s resolve with this sexual teasing. I feel like the theme of this show could be reinforcing to young people that: a) it’s okay to sexually tease the opposite sex, especially if they appear “weak”; b) it is okay to tolerate it because he or she is pretty and/or handsome and/or popular and c) that a positive outcome will bestow you by engaging in such actions.
I find Nagatoro’s teasing overwhelmingly negative. Yes, the show does have moments of redemption where you can see an actual friendship starting to blossom, but would it? Would a reasonably sound person fall in love with their tormentor? And if they do, isn’t that disturbing?
This is the first time an anime show made me feel this way. Normally, I take the stance of “it just wasn’t for me” and I move along. However, this show really had me wondering whether it is appropriate. Maybe it is the mother in me. Maybe I am starting to show my age. There are a lot of “maybes” that I might be experiencing. I can say without a doubt that I do not recommend this show if you have potential triggers regarding abuse, especially emotional abuse. This show might cause you some emotional stress. My opinion is this show is completely tone deaf and as a fairly open-minded person, that should say a lot.