OP: 「LOVE CRAZY」 by Uesaka Sumire
「センパイと私の仲なんスから~」 (Senpai to Watashi no Nakanan Su Kara ~)
“It`s You and Me, Senpai~”
Nagatoro is coming in for a second attack in, you guessed it, Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san 2nd Attack. With the first season ending on a note where Naoto and Nagatoro are starting to develop more sentimental feelings for one another, the first episode of Season 02 picks up from that level of momentum by showing us a Naoto who is both better acquainted with Nagatoro and relatively chummy with her popular friends.
RETURN OF THE NAGATORO-SAN
I often take notes of the shows I’m covering, and right out of the gate, my first one was a kudos to Gin of Busted Rose for returning for the soundtrack once again bringing their A game to the show. I wish I gave Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san’s first season a louder shoutout during the AOTY for 2021 for being some of the best comedy anime music I’ve heard within the last decade. I’m genuinely surprised to listen to the first season’s soundtrack and not hit a song that just felt like scene filler like with many other seasonal comedy anime out there. If I were to sell anyone on what it sounds like, imagine if someone inserted a Pokemon soundtrack into a school romcom.
Each of the songs on the soundtrack has a punchy, expressive feel to them that commands your attention, ranging from the dark, foreboding music that revels in the meanness to these grand, sweeping piano tunes that play during the kinder, simpler times in the story. This episode even had a few wonky Earthbound-esque hijinks tracks when they meet Yoshi and Gamo. Next time you watch an episode, keep your ears open because you’d be surprised by how good the music in Nagatoro-san is.
ATTACK OF THE NAGATORO-SAN
As far as how much you’ll like the regular show, that’d all depend on how much you were able to tolerate Nagatoro the last time around. She still gives Naoto a ton of tough love that ranged from being a little too harsh to fairly innocuous. There is also a lot of weird fanservice this time around for those who are overwhelmingly into feet and stockings. But what I discovered with the loafer scene was that much of what makes Nagatoro more appealing than your average mean girl in anime is that she winds up embodying the same kind of attitude you’d get from a tsundere cafe.
She’s going to come off as harsh and abrasive but ultimately wants to get better acquainted with Naoto so she’ll usually present kind gestures in a rude way. She’ll pretend to want to reenact a mean scene from a Nagatoro-san clone named Slave of Love, but as soon as she accidentally sets the scene for it to go down, she’s in meltdown mode as she’s actually deeply worried about her and Naoto going that far.
It sounds like a cope, but Nagatoro has too many hangups and personal flaws to ever have full reign of the cruelty she’s capable of having. Aside from the segment where she teaches Naoto about greetings, Nagatoro always finds herself too caught up in her own joke that she winds up sabotaging her own joke. She had to give up on humoring the Slave of Love joke the moment she was scared that Naoto was actually going to lick her shoe. Her seething jealous of her friends offering tasty hybrid sushi to Naoto pushed her to make one as a crass pregnancy joke only for all of her friends to be creeped out that she’d make a nasty joke out of her food.
The first season had traces of this as Nagatoro would get so lost in the sauce that her pranks on Naoto would wind up backfiring on her or make her out to look like the silly one for even thinking that a particular prank was a good idea. But it’s hilarious how being this far into the story means that there’s bound to be a better mix of segments where Naoto’s begrudging acceptance of Nagatoro’s wild schemes is as equally represented as Nagatoro having a situation blow up in her face the moment anyone else catches what she’s up to.
REVENGE OF THE NAGATORO-SAN
A few other things I wanted to shout-out before calling it a day is Yamashita Daiki’s performance. I’m already used to Daiki putting his nervous, exasperated voice into a lot of his characters, but his take on Naoto has gotten funnier over time as he starts playing with his delivery as he starts to be more transparently fed up with Nagatoro and her friends’ nonsense. All of the other VA’s are still very nice in the show, but I always like to give kudos when you start to see more range from actors who often play things safe.
I also wanted to show my appreciation for Gamo and Yoshi. I was just complaining about friend characters in romcom anime last week, but I believe that Gamo and Yoshi are some of my favorites because of how they develop over time. The outright hostility they used to have towards Naoto is long gone as the two start doting on him as their friend’s shy boy-toy. They still put high expectations on him as they ask him for sushi, but they look out for him enough that they actually put effort into treating him to makeshift sushi they improvised.
It was heartwarming to see how much play Yoshi got in this episode considering how she had mostly been a hanger-on who couldn’t say anything else but whatever Gamo had just finished saying. But rather than parroting her best friends, she’s been chiming in with her own original thoughts and winds up capitalizing on her own wildcat tendencies to do fun things like smack her body against a falling Naoto or offer a hamburg sushi with corn mayo as a topping. It’s also hilarious to see how she has her own priorities set as she’s only willing to part ways with one lone karaage when the other girls try to offer more of their food to him.
Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san 2nd Attack is definitely an acquired taste with how abrasive it can get, but if you’re able to overcome that aspect of the series, you’ll find it to be a surprisingly endearing romcom. Again, it’s hard to sum up why I prefer something this outwardly aggressive over some of the more innocuous romcoms out there that I’ve criticized harshly. But if I were to wager a guess, I’d say that Nagatoro-san is a nice, controlled space where you can watch a character be both unreasonably rude and nervously sweet. Like a sour candy or a tattoo. There’s some pain to be had, but there’s a therapeutic side to the end result.
ED: 「MY SADISTIC ADOLESCENCE♡」 by Izawa Shiori, Komatsu Mikako, Suzuki Aina, and Uesaka Sumire