WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of Don't Toy With Me, Ms. Nagatoro!, now streaming on Crunchyroll.
Hayase Nagatoro toys with Naoto Hachioji nonstop during Don't Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro!, but not because she wants him to suffer. Instead, this is her way of expressing her crush on him, and it's slow going since neither Naoto nor Hayase fully comprehends each other's mixed signals. Hayase's teasing slowly wins over Naoto's heart in Season 1, but they wouldn't have got there without their three friends stepping in to expedite the process.
Hayase's squad comprises herself, Gamo, Yoshi and Sakura, and the four are a fairly tightly-knit bunch. Still, more than once, Gamo, Yoshi and Sakura tease Hayase instead, especially in the penultimate episode. While part of it is playful jabs between friends, it's clear that in other instances, they have ulterior motives. It's also their way of playing matchmaker for their friend -- and, in some ways, it's pretty effective.
Gamo Convinces Naoto To Draw Hayase Nagatoro
A new problem arises in Don't Toy With Me, Ms. Nagatoro! Episode 11: Naoto's fierce battle with the art club president, an attractive third-year girl who is in no mood for fun and games. The art club president challenged Naoto to outdo her in the upcoming school festival, and Naoto believes that he is unlikely to make an art piece better than hers. However, Hayase Nagatoro vouches for Naoto and openly declares that she will help him take her down -- and the president accepts the challenge. Now that they're working together, the experience could bring them closer together.
Though it's never expressly stated, Gamo, Yoshi and Sakura are likely secretly hoping that Hayase and Naoto get together. Since being straightforward would fluster both Naoto and Hayase, they employ reverse psychology to help push the two closer together. They tease Hayase by comparing her to the president and outwardly discouraging Naoto from using Hayase as his art model.
Cruel as it may seem, the plan appears to work. Naoto rushes to Hayase's defense and states that she would be a perfect model for his art project, insisting that the art club president and Hayase each have their respective charms. Hayase is a bit flustered but openly grateful for the support, and Gamo and the others shrug it off, mission successful.
Teasing Hayase Nagatoro For Her Own Good
This is the most recent example of Hayase's friends using reverse psychology to steer Hayase and Naoto together, but hardly the only one. In Don't Toy With Me, Ms. Nagatoro! Episode 9, Sakura finds herself a gentle but persistent stalker. To ward them off, Sakura went on a fake date with Naoto to discourage the stalker. However, Hayase was burning with jealousy at the sight of them the entire time. Sakura, Gamo and Yoshi wanted to drag this out and see how much Hayase could take, and sure enough, Hayase rushed to capture the stalker and ended the fake date. Hayase's efforts were rewarded with a nice little walk on the sunset beach with Naoto, and that alone was a more genuine date than what Naoto had with Sakura that afternoon.
Other examples of Gamo, Yoshi and Sakura's reverse psychology mainly involve playing Hayase's own game, directing their teasing right at Naoto. Hayase is a rather defensive sadodere, believing that she alone has the "right" to toy with Naoto like that. Her goal isn't to upset Naoto but to express herself the only way she knows how, and her jealousy flares up whenever Gamo, Yoshi and Sakura join the fun and toy with Naoto, too.
Hayase often comes to Naoto's aid when her friends join her teasing, and most likely, this is no coincidence. The girls know that if they create a common enemy for Hayase and Naoto to face, then before long, the two will be two peas in a pod, totally inseparable.