Miss Nagatoro!’s Antiheroine Is Slowly Becoming Naoto’s Best Friend

WARNING: the following contains spoilers for Episode 3 of Don't Toy With Me, Ms. Nagatoro!, now streaming on Crunchyroll.

The high school comedy anime Don't Toy With Me, Ms. Nagatoro! isn't quite as straightforward as one might think. The premise is simple enough, at least: the wild first-year student Hayase Nagatoro teases and torments the shy Naoto Hachioji all day long, but upsetting him isn't her true goal. She's after something... else.

Hayase Nagatoro fits neatly into the sadodere type, an intense character who teases or pesters their love interest to get their attention or just burn off some nervous energy. Likewise, Nagatoro is laying siege to Naoto's passive defenses, but it seems by Episode 3 that she does have good intentions after all.

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Already, Hayase offered Naoto a little olive branch when she asked him to call her by her name, rather than the impersonal "miss." She's also taken the teasing down a notch, though she doesn't exactly let up. Hayase corners Naoto in the art room again and teases him with her school swimsuit, then follows him home as storm clouds gather overhead. They both get soaked with a sudden downpour and agree that they should retreat to the Nagatoro household since it's closer, though the idea of going to a girl's house for the first time leaves Naoto a bit flustered.

Naoto imagines Hayase's parents toying with him too, but no one else in the family is home. After drying off, the two go to Hayase's room, sending Naoto into a tailspin as his imagination runs wild. But then Hayase fires up a fighting game on the (off-brand) PlayStation and the two spend a relatively normal time playing video games. Naoto's in his element, and even toys with Nagatoro using his superior gaming skills. Despite losing to a cheating Nagatoro in the end, Naoto finally feels a bit more at ease in his bizarre reationhip with Hayase.

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The next day at school, Naoto ends up at the same lunch table as Nagatoro and two of her friends, Gamo and Yoshi. Naoto braces himself for a three-on-one assault, but to his shock, the battle lines are drawn differently. All three girls tease him at first, until Gamo goes a little too far and Hayase comes to Naoto's defense. Yoshi and Gamo are half-convinced that Hayase is Naoto's genuine girlfriend, though Naoto asserts, "I'm not Nagatoro's boyfriend, but..." and leaves it at that.

Later, in an empty classroom, Hayase uses some partner-based stand-up comedy to "train" Naoto to defend himself from constant teasing, including a gentle slap to the cheek to push back against bullying. Naoto is timid, but finally delivers a modest slap... onto Hayase's chest by accident. They're both flustered and can't meet each other's eyes, but all the same, progress is being made, and the deeper meaning behind Hayase's teasing are finally emerging. She is genuinely drawn to Naoto, possibly because of his artistic passion, and her teasing is simply her way of expressing her interest and provoking him into action. Naoto can probably expect more teasing, and more protection, in the future.

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