Don't mis-understand me, Senpai: Thoughts on extreme reactions to Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san!


So, full disclosure, I really f*cking love this show....I'm current on the manga and have the next volume on pre-order for when it drops in August.  I'm also current on the anime adaptation on Crunchyroll, and I think they're doing a fine job.

But oh my GAWD some people have some really shitty Galaxy Brain takes on this show.  The hatred for the titular character out there is REAL, way worse than Kirino from Oreimo.  It is largely misplaced, because holy fuck a lot of people simply don't understand this show or this character.

I'm going to try and re-capitulate what I (micro)blogged about obsessively on Twitter last night from memory, without too much copy & pasting.  I'm also closing comments because I don't want to deal with the haters who already don't fucking know what they're talking about.  

(Deep breath, heavy sigh)

Look, if you've never dated a hyper-aggressive flirt, it's easy to misunderstand this show.  I have.  I've dated someone who was a real firecracker and a dead ringer for Nagatoro on a number of levels.  I understand the type.  When I say hyper-aggressive I mean the kind of girl who won't take "no" for an answer, the kind of girl who tosses aside the idea she's supposed to wait for the guy to make the first move.  The ex-girlfriend in my case was someone who I initially asked out and got politely rejected by....but it put me on her radar, and when she dumped her then boyfriend she came back after me.  Relentlessly.  Now, it's pretty shitty when guys hound girls and wear them down until they finally relent and go out with them on a date.  But when the shoe's on the other foot it's disorienting.  I don't want to go into more personal detail than that but all of it is prelude to saying that people are really misjudging Nagatoro-chan from the get go.  While her dimwit friends definitely ARE traditional bullies, she is not.  Not really.  You can make the strongest case for bullying behavior in Ep.1, when she pushes him into the canal.  Except----she feels badly about doing so.  She didn't mean to, she didn't realize he was so lightweight that with her athlete's strength she could send him flying.  

Others have characterized  Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san as "Dark Mode" Takagi-San and that's a fair comparison.  In fact I'd argue Nagatoro is more directly comparable to Takagi than I initially realized.

In Takagi-san, her principal problem is the fact that girls mature emotionally faster than boys do.  Takagi-san has mature feelings of affection for Nishikata, but he's too wrapped up in their past prepubescent rivalry to notice.  She "teases" him, sure, but Takagi-san is low-key flirting with Nishikata and he's too dense and immature to pick up on it until the very end of Season 2 in a finale that's so heart warming I cried.

With Nagatoro we have the reverse problem.  She's high energy but emotionally immature.  Her body has changed, she's blossoming into a young woman with all that entails....and her libido is off the charts!  To be blunt, Nagatoro is horny as hell.  But also therefore sexually frustrated.  She doesn't have a clue how to smoothly flirt with boys or be subtle.  She's a bit of a jock so she just charges blindly forward.

Nagatoro isn't a "sadist" or "pure evil" or any of the ridiculous things I've seen some guys say about her.  She's a hyper-aggressive flirt and a handful but she's not (really) mean spirited.  Her curiosity is genuinely piqued by her Senpai.  She walks over to him of her own accord, genuinely curious.

One issue I do have with the anime adaptation, I'm not a fan of the dehumanizing language conveyed in the subtitles....the manga softens this scene....

Species?  Yikes.

Anyway, ironically I think it is self-described Incels and their internalized misogyny and self-pity that prevent them from interpreting this show in any but the worst possible light....they lambaste the titular character to an absurd degree, refusing to believe she has genuine feelings for her Senpai.

But the manga and the anime both provide ample evidence that she have to have empathy for both Nagatoro and her Senpai to truly "get" the beauty of this show.  Over and over Nagatoro, in the manga and in the anime, will "get out over her own skis" and let her real feelings slip.  Every time she goes maximum mean-girl mode in the anime, look at her face....she's BLUSHING LIKE CRAZY....because doubling down on the aggressive flirting/messing around is the only way to sustain her courage and not die of embarrassment.  

When she antagonizes him with the clippers he protests loudly and she relents.  He lays down a boundary and she respects it.  It's her friends who are the bullying assholes and ignore his pleas for mercy.....She hears him in distress and comes running....and she's plenty pissed too because her friends used deception to get her out of the way to engage in their mean-spirited bullying....which is qualitatively different from the aggressive flirtation Nagatoro is engaged in.  But the incels can't see it because they're blinded to it....but that's in their heads, not in the show.

When he does finally let her cut his hair with actual scissors and a comb, she shows real skill.  He gets an actual good trim from her that improves his looks.  It's such a sweet and loving act....but others call her SADIST.  Nope.  

When they get lost in the joy of playing video games in her room during the rainy day it's such a wholesome moment & so sweet.  How could anyone hate that?  But some guys do, I guess.

The whole practical joke with the bean buns....Nagatoro is almost despondent with the idea of him touching another girl's boobs before hers, even when he explains the joke and that he didn't really do it....Nagatoro recovers enough to try and replicate the practical joke but it backfires on her when one of the buns slips out of her shirt and she accidentally gets her wish....becoming the first girl he's ever touched in that way.  He unknowingly gropes her for several seconds and of course she whacks him because this is a RomCom....but  she doesn't swat his hand away or back her whole body away from him....she's in shock but also aroused....but she can't admit she's aroused....but she is, which is why she lashes out violently.

When she's pretending to be a vampire and actually mounts him...grinds on's so overtly sexual but she's too caught up in the fantasy to be inhibited...the fantasy element just heightens her arousal.

She also coyly suggests to her Senpai that he should be bolder with her...that she could make it worth his while....she's not lying.  She desperately wants him to; their relationship won't go anywhere if he doesn't at least try.  She's trying to goad him into acting.

She has a dream that clearly shows her fears about him rejecting her, about losing him....she has genuine FEELINGS for him.  It's plainly obvious on the page & screen.  Yet there are douchey incel guys who just won't see it.

This show reminds me a little of Horimiya and how confident Hori-san is with Miyamura.  Hori knows what she wants and goes for it.  She makes Miyamura acknowledge her feelings and his own.  Likewise if Takagi-san were Nagatoro's same age they'd totally be best friends and gossip about their boyfriends, and both would probably look up to Hori-Senpai, too, if they were at her school.

This show is the surprise hit of the Spring, at least for me.  The anime adaptation is moving faster than the manga but I don't mind.  It feels very much in keeping with the spirit of the manga and its overall arc.  

I'm not claiming Nagatoro's relationship with her Senpai is completely healthy, nor is it the best way to go about things.  But I will defend Nagatoro from the charge that she's just evil and manipulative and doesn't "really" feel anything for her Senpai.  That's just patently false and all the evidence is there showing otherwise.  Nagatoro loves her Senpai, she just can't yet bring herself to say it....but she makes her heart flutter....only he gets that kind of special attention from guys she genuinely doesn't like she's much colder and more cutting.  He makes her light up with joy & excitement.   This show is so endearing and so sweet, I can't get enough of it.










  • Prede's Anime Reviews
    The purpose of this blog is to review anime movies, TV series, and OVAs which aren’t well known, but should be! So it tends to focus on the old shows everyone forgot about, shows no one ever heard of, the new stuff no one seems to watch, old classics which don’t get enough attention, and anything weird. Reviews tend to be positive because we're not going to dig up some old forgotten anime that will bore you to sleep. We tend to get a kick out of watching shows that are a little off the beaten path, a little strange, but you can’t help but love them. From time to time we do review things that get us excited about this medium, even if everyone else knows about it. But main point for this blog is to hopefully point you into the direction of some old gems, that need more love. As Justin Sevakis once famously said “Anime tastes better when you have to work for it.”.
  • LostLink, wrong way to Japan!
    Amusings from the UK and Deconstructive Criticism of Japanese Visual Culture. (in other words, a Brit anime blog)
  • Engrish (dot) com
    Because you know it's funny.
  • Star Crossed Anime Blog
    good Anime blogger; too bad you can't subscribe via click this link to get caught up, eh.
  • The Car Driver
    Anime blogger.
  • Hashihime
    English anime source from Japan.
  • Anime Princess
    Female Anime blogger.
  • The Null Set
    another Anime blogger.