Content Warning: Bullying/humiliation
What’s It About?: Nagatoro is known for constantly bugging her nameless upperclassman. Question is, is she just trying to torture him to get a reaction, trying to make him generally miserable, or does she actually well… like like him?
I went into Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro! expecting to get this season’s Uzaki-chan. In fact, I was kind of depending on it to fall straight into the tropes, especially after seeing the splash images. While Nagatoro isn’t as… buxom as Uzaki-chan, she has that Flesh Fang O’Death, as I’ve personally come to call it. Worse, she’s got fangs-on-fangs since she has both a skin fang and actual teeth fangs.
Horrific, am I right?
Anyways, I’m going to spare you a lot of background on the anime. It’s a Telecome Animation Film production, so like, duh, it’s gorgeous. Anyway, with no further hesitation, let’s dive into episode 1.
Episode 1, “Senpai is a bit… / Senpai, don’t you ever get angry?” is a two parter, in case the title didn’t give that away. The first half introduces us to Nagatoro, her not very nice friends, and her nameless upperclassman, who she… likes? I think? I don’t know, I’ve never bullied a crush, so I’m inexperienced here.
Let’s actually come back to that point, and by come back, I mean not let go of it because like… the bulk of this show is Nagatoro bullying this poor senior student, save for the times that they’re alone and she’s actually quite a genuine girl. You might be asking, “Well Mercedez? Why does she bully him? Is he like… a nerd or something?”
Well, yeah, that kind of seems to be partially why she likes getting a rise out of him.
You see, our nameless upperclassman… likes manga. He likes it so much that he carries his sketches around, and when Nagatoro and her friends find them, they become instant ammunition for her to dig in and ruthlessly dunk on this guy. And like I said, he’s also a bit nerdy, which is why I think he’s an easier target for Nagatoro and her clique.
This kind of becomes the entire basis for episode 1. Nagatoro finds some ammunition and makes this poor guy downright miserable, to the point that he cries or generally looks like he wants to cry. At many times, he’s distinctly uncomfortable around her, and almost constantly looks high-key stressed.
And while yeah, this could absolutely be the foundation for a dynamic relationship–and probably is–I’m still not here for Nagatoro fucking with this dude. And y’all know I’m mad: I don’t think I’ve used a swear in any of my reviews here on AniFem. For me to drop an f-bomb probably means I really don’t like her behavior.
And I don’t.
It’s here that I feel that I need to say something about Nagatoro, who is a dark-skinned Asian character. Specifically, a dark-skinned Japanese girl. I think there’s something to be said about having a dark-skinned character play the lead in a rom-com. In fact, I think there’s something really, really important. And while I can’t speak to that on a personal level since I’m Black, I won’t: but I’ll recognize it.
That being said, something sat wrong with me seeing Nagatoro, the solely dark-skinned character in the cast, at least thus far, be the most irritating girl on the planet. Even amongst her group of slightly tanned friends, she surpasses tan and is just a darker-skinned girl.
It feels… I don’t know, discomforting? Yes, discomforting, to see the sole dark-skinned character be the bully. I’m not sure what else to say here, other than the simple fact that this felt like a major ding as a dark-skinned person myself. Like I said, I can’t place my finger on it precisely, but… something something, dark-skinned girls shouldn’t be the bullies in your story because of colorism.
You get where I’m going.
All in all, Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro isn’t bad. In fact, I’d actually kind of say it’s average, in many ways. It’s not breaking the mold on rom-coms, but it’s not exactly wash-rinse-repeating the genre either. It’s a rom-com with a fairly irritating lead that will probably mellow out by the time we’re at the end of the cour. Okay, maybe not irritating because high-key, I liked Nagatoro… when she was just being her actual self and not being a bully.
Will I continue to watch? …Probably. I think that’s because I’m so into rom-coms that I can’t help myself. After all, I’m that one person who watches The Proposal literally anytime it’s on.
However, I’m really not into Nagatoro as a mean girl character. I don’t like mean girl characters: I don’t find them compelling or even enjoyable, not when they’re just constantly at a simmering level of not-nice. I like girls like Jabami Yumeko, but they have other traits that balance out their edge: they’re not 100% salt or spice or just plain ol’ meanness. They might dial up the nastiness at times, but it’s never without meaning.
And before you say it, rogue commenter: yes, I’d be the same level of upset if the genders were reversed, just in case you thought about pulling that bullshit on me. I’m not just hating on her because she’s not your typical anime girl, whatever that nonsense means. I’m not beating up on Nagatoro’s character because she’s not feminist: I’m breaking it down because I don’t think bullying is romantic. Don’t get it twisted. Remember, I watched Koikimo, and laid into that show. You ain’t gonna trip me up on your strawman this time!
So yeah, I guess I’m gonna watch because I kind of want to see Nagatoro become a better person. I’m actually hoping that this is a front and that she’s actually not a mean kid at heart. I’m hoping that by like, episode six, she’ll start to let up and maybe, give me some heavy backstory as to why she’s a brat. There’s gotta be a reason why this child keeps pushing her upperclassman: is it some weird thing she has about guys she likes? Is it just for fun?
I don’t know, but I’m gonna find out by watching this entire cour, aren’t I?
But don’t you dare take that as me liking this. I’m just so tied to the genre that I can’t help myself, okay? I’m doing this just for you, AniFam.
Get it straight.