WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 9 of Don't Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro!, now streaming on Crunchyroll.
Hayase Nagatoro was introduced in Don't Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro! as a classic "sadodere" character: someone who expresses their affection through excessive force and dialogue alike. Her target of choice is the hapless but artistically inclined Naoto Hachioji, but this sheepish boy is unwittingly putting up a great defense.
Sadodere characters don't usually expect their target to fight back, and while Naoto is a pacifist, he's learning to not be such a doormat. Half the time, he gets help from Hayase herself. But by Episode 9, it's becoming clear that Hayase is getting in over her head, and she repeatedly falls into her own traps.
Hayase Nagatoro Has The Highest Stakes In The Show
Ever since Miss Nagatoro! began, Hayase has made it her mission to toy with Naoto and have fun with him, provoking him in different ways to get a reaction for her own amusement. At first she seemed like an outright bully, but it soon became clear that something else was going on. Hayase is actually drawn to Naoto and his artistic side and is already viewing him as someone special -- even if she calls him a sheep and a pervert on the outside.
Hayase wants to be the only girl by his side, and her jealous streak is quickly taking shape. She's outraged every time her friends Gamo and Yoshi have their turn messing with Naoto, like in Miss Nagatoro!'s recent beach episode when they all slathered him with sun lotion. In fact, Hayase scowls when Gamo, Yoshi and Sakura even mention having alone time with him.
However, Hayase can't easily express her true feelings, making it tough for her to shield Naoto from her rowdy friends and their antics. She wants to be his best friend in a sadodere sort of way, and while they are making progress, Naoto hardly sees her as an exclusive friend. This all puts Hayase in a surprisingly vulnerable position. Out of all these characters, she's the one with the most to lose, and it shows. Even Naoto himself unintentionally puts pressure on her, so Hayase finds herself on the defensive again and again.
Hayase Vs Naoto: The Messy Battle Of Wits
Miss Nagatoro! would be a bit stale if every episode simply showed Hayase messing with the hapless Naoto and getting away with it. Luckily the narrative is slowly establishing Naoto as someone who can fight back, whether on purpose or by accident. He is almost like Hayase's rival by now, playing tug-of-war with her heart. Hayase wants to express her affection through teasing, and Naoto wants to get some peace and quiet while proving to her that bullying doesn't pay off. And he's succeeding -- in every recent episode, Naoto fights back and puts her on the defensive.
In a recent scene, Hayase is mimicking boxing and wants to spar with Naoto, using this as an excuse to flail her fists at him. But Naoto slips and falls right onto her, and she's overwhelmed with shock and flustered feelings, rushing off to tell all this to her friends. Then her jealous side rears its head when Gamo and Yoshi try to spar with Naoto next, aiming to do a clinch or body press on him. And Hayase was more than a little perturbed when Sakura went on a fake date with Naoto to discourage a stalker who had started following Sakura around.
Time and again Hayase tries to make a fool of her artistic senpai, only to stumble into her own traps. She once called Naoto while in the bath and accidentally turned on her camera, and also got embarrassed and flustered when Naoto admitted he wouldn't mind being her classmate next year. Hayase has an invested interest in Naoto that she can't easily express, so she's the one who's vulnerable when he finally returns fire and toys with her in his trademark modest fashion.