「またやりましょうね、センパイっ / センパーイ、こっちこっち〜)」 (Mata Yarimashou ne, Senpai / Senpai, Kotchi Kotchi〜)
“Let’s Play Again, Senpai / Over Here, Senpai”
I had the itch to continue Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san now that we’ve hit the stretch where Senpai (who will now be referred to as Paisen to spice things up) is having a comfortable, more playful relationship with Nagatoro. But even as he grows fonder of his personal time with Nagatoro, there are still many hurdles he has to face, ranging from her abrasive friends to his embarrassment of doing anything that can be construed as perverted.
One change that made this story worth jumping back into is the reversal of fortune that they periodically give to Paisen. Most of it so far has occurred when Nagatoro’s teasing backfires and she accidentally ends up embarrassing herself as his hand veers towards dangerous paths. But this time around, Paisen found the one space where he can mercilessly bully Nagatoro; video games.
Nagatoro brandished a Guilty Gear knockoff thinking she could easily pick on Paisen in a virtual space. Little did she know he knows enough about fighting games to viciously punish her character for a number of rounds. Only teasing him in real life could get Nagatoro on an equal playing field with him. But it was nice to see Paisen put on a sinister face as he realizes it’s the one time he can confidently tease her as cruelly as she has.
We’ve also reached a point where Nagatoro is showing more signs of catching feelings for Paisen. Although their fighting game matches ended on a positive note, it wasn’t until she showed him off to her friends that she had to question herself as to what exactly her connection with Paisen is. She gets attached enough to the idea of dating him that she gets a little miffed when Paisen is quick to diffuse a fight between the girls by declaring he’s not her boyfriend. On that note, Nagatoro was also quick to be on the defensive when she regularly swats Yoshi’s hand away from Paisen.
Her one major sign of growth is when she personally stands up for Paisen after her friend Gamou takes things too far by questioning his masculinity. Compared to the girl who constantly emasculated Paisen to tears, Nagatoro has made great strides between Episode 01 and now to show him respect and never paint his sensitive side as him being less of a man. The personal offense she takes to her friends mocking him might just be a start, but it’s a good start to having Paisen and Nagatoro’s relationship be far more than just her teasing him, especially with the final skit where she coaches him through one of many ways to defend himself. The preview also hints at her not being fully OK with Paisen not seeing himself as her boyfriend, so I could see the remaining episodes focus on the ways that she’ll try to endear herself to him without being tempted to tease him from the get-go.