OP: 「言わないけどね.」 (Iwanai Kedo ne.) by Oohara Yuiko
「消しゴム / 日直 / 変顔 / 百円」 (Keshigomu / Nicchoku / Hengao / Hyaku En)
“Eraser / Day Duty / Funny Face / One Hundred Yen”
Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san is easily the cutest show about psychological warfare. The first episode establishes the tumultuous yet close relationship between Takagi and Nishikata as they work to try to pull the wool over each other’s eyes. Unfortunately for Nishikata, Takagi always has the upper hand in teasing him, and counters every attempt he makes to get her back with a clever plan to use his decisions against him. It’s a slightly more mischievous version of Tonari no Seki-kun, but it’s also extremely adorable in how smitten the two seem with each other despite Takagi’s pranking and Nishikata’s failed counterattacks.
Takagi helps the show work at its finest with how charismatic she is as she playfully teases Nishikata, reveling in every victory she has against him. Takahashi Rie does a particularly good job evoking both the devious delight she has in teasing Nishikata and the warmth that gives us a slight hint that she does have feelings for him in the reverse notion of the “teasing because they like you” trope. In a way, the anime’s ultimate trick is how stricken we are by the cuteness of how Takagi occasionally lets it out of the bag that she likes him. Writing his name on the side of the eraser that Nishikata didn’t see after planting the seed in his head to give hers a check was one small inkling, but the small moment they have before classes alone and the couple seconds before Takagi challenges him to a staring contest were extremely cute, and have me hoping that there will be some romance along the way.
While Takagi is the source of many of the show’s laughs and feels, Nishikata is our eyes and ears in the anime, and acts as the perfect target for her pranks. I’ve heard some talk that there is a mean tinge to Takagi’s teasing, but it is depicted in the show as being good natured, and the first episode has most of her trickery stem from Nishikata’s attempts to get her back. For instance, Nishikata only gets fooled by Takagi’s paper spring after trying to make his own, and the trouble he got into for making funny faces was because he was so determined to make her laugh in class that he didn’t realize the best way to get her to giggle is to have his prank attempts backfire. It also helps if you want to hear Kaji Yuki get mercilessly teased. However, his feelings for her are a little more on the surface as her hints at interest make him very blushy and taken aback. Had Mina, Yukari, and Sanae not come in, it looked like we were this close to seeing him ask if she likes him.
Speaking of the three, sadly the only flaw within the first episode was how short the Ashita wa Doyoubi segment was. It did explain where the token Mina stepped on came from, but they wedged in the spin-off’s adaptation near the end, and didn’t give us nearly enough time to get a good feel for what the tone and humor of the three girls antics would be like in relation to the trickery between Takagi and Nishikata. It was funny to see Mina act suspicious about hiding the token under the assumption it was a 100 yen coin, but it went by so fast that it was hard to gauge what the group dynamic is. Mina’s the spontaneous one and Yukari is the pragmatic one, but they don’t give those two or Sanae as much to work with as our leads, and it dampers what the Ashita wa Doyoubi section has to offer by being regulated to a minute or two. The good thing is that even with Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san‘s formula being rooted around seeing Nishikawa’s prank attempts used against him, it didn’t feel like it needed to be a shorter series, and I’d be perfectly fine with spending a half hour a week with those two tricksters. I’d just hope that the three girls are incorporated more smoothly throughout the season.
ED: 「気まぐれロマンティック」 (Kimagure Romantic) by Takahashi Rie