Teasing Master Takagi-san’s Season 3 Premiere Hints at New Romance Developments

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 1, Season 3 of Teasing Master Takagi-san, "The Grip Strength Thingy/Tan/New Semester," now streaming on HIDIVE.

In Japan, there's a tradition that says the first dream one has in the New Year will serve as a portent of their luck and the events of the year to come. It is all the more fitting, then, that the early January premiere for Season 3 of Teasing Master Takagi-san uses dreams to remind viewers of the previous season's events and give hints at what developments may be on the horizon.

Episode 1 kicks things off with a bang exclusive to the anime, and provides the closest hint yet to a canonical confirmation of Nishikata and Takagi's feelings for each other. This is done by emphasizing the importance of their most cherished memory together -- the summer festival, which likewise never occurred in the Takagi-san manga.

Nishikata dreams of the Festival with Takagi-san

Starting the Season 3 premiere nonchalantly, Nishikata and Takagi are back in class, seemingly having returned from summer break to resume their formulaic antics at Nishikata's expense. As always, his attempts to do something cool, this time by showing off his grip strength, quickly change into him being the butt of a joke from Takagi. However, in hopes of proving his physical prowess, Nishikata ends up holding Takagi's hand, which is where things start getting weird.

The two are instantly transported back to the shrine staircase from the summer festival, which served as the backdrop for Season 2's finale and the setting of their first date. Nishikata quickly loses sight of Takagi -- just as he did during their actual date, kicking off a surreal but cartoonish pursuit through references of their shared history. Each time he's about to catch up to her, Takagi either runs off into another memory. When Nishikata finally wakes up, he frantically looks around the room for signs of the actual summer festival, and is relieved to find the mask Takagi gave him as proof that it was not just part of his dream.

Takagi-san is Kyunko from 100% Unrequited Love

Later, Takagi and Nishikata are walking to school when Nishikata attempts to surprise her with his latest "jack-in-the-box" style device, which Takagi-san fans will recall is a running gag between them. Though Takagi manages to get some jabs in at Nishikata, she does eventually open it, at which point they are whisked away to a firework show on the beach.

While the scene takes Takagi's breath away, it quickly transitions to the same shrine staircase featured in Nishikata's dream, where they saw fireworks on their actual date. The two join hands as the area around them blooms into an array of cherry blossoms and Nishikata says something inaudible to her. After Takagi wakes up, she looks longingly out the window hoping he will one day say those words to her in real life.

The differences between the two dreams are telling in regards to how they've seen their relationship up to now. Nishikata's dream is more humorous, with him on a wild goose chase to reunite with Takagi. That it's premised on Takagi making fun of his exercise progress, which he had been so proud of throughout Season 2, shows he is still unsure whether or not it is all just a game to her. Meanwhile, her changing of places with classmates makes it clear that he is still trying to sort out how his feelings toward her are different from the platonic ones he has with his other peers. Most hilariously, his dramatic reaction when Dream Takagi swoons over a character from Nishikata's favorite manga, 100% Unrequited Love, proves he can't stand the idea of her falling for someone else.

Takagi-san has a dream about summer festival fireworks and Nishikata's confession

Takagi's dream is more clearly romantic, featuring a version of Nishikata who is much more forward than his real life counterpart. Since the firework display did actually surprise Takagi, resulting in Dream Nishikata's victory, Takagi's dream reveals she will only admit defeat to him when he is able to truly be affectionate with her -- like he did in Season 2, Episode 9 when he sent her a flirtatious text.

The most significant part about these dreams and the summer festival is that none of them were actually part of the original manga, which makes these events and their implications completely uncharted territory. Nishikata's profound sense of comfort when he confirmed the festival had indeed been a reality indicates he's finally beginning to be honest with himself about his feelings.

Likewise, Takagi's treasuring of the hairpin Nishikata bought for her -- which also appeared in his dream -- shows that not only is she still carrying a torch for him, but the two of them are starting to be on the same page. All things considered, it seems like Teasing Master Takagi-san is ready to take its biggest steps toward a full-blown love story in Season 3.

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