In Nanashi’s Don’t Toy With Me Miss Nagatoro, a bullied, geeky, socially awkward teenage boy enters the library at his school after classes are over. He wants to be alone, and the library generally usually deserted at this time. Today, however, there’s an unexpected crowd: four popular girls who are sitting at a table and chatting amongst themselves.
Intimidated, he takes a seat away from them, trying to stay invisible. Unfortunately, he knocks over his bag, and a page of a manga he’s been drawing flutters out and hits the floor. The girls immediately pick up the page and begin making fun of him when they see the contents.
Three of the girls eventually lose interest and leave. One, however, takes a keen interest in the boy and stays behind to talk to him. So begins Don’t Toy With Me Miss Nagatoro, one of the worst manga volumes I’ve ever read in my life. This is a story with a despicable message: physical, verbal and emotional against boys is okay, as long as the bully is a girl. Let’s remember that abuse against anyone, in any form is disgusting.
Miss Nagatoro & Senpai
The story revolves around two characters only: Miss Nagatoro (we never learn her first name, although we see her nickname mentioned twice) and Senpai (whose name we never learn).
There’s not much character development here. We only learn one thing about Senpai: he’s a talented artist who likes manga. And we only learn one thing about Nagatoro as well: she likes hurting Senpai, verbally, emotionally, and physically. And that’s it. Those are the characters personality traits. These are two of the worst-conceived, most one-dimensional characters I’ve ever seen in manga.
Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro’s story
Each chapter follows the same basic pattern: Nagatoro bullies Senpai. Senpai doesn’t lift a finger to defend himself. Nagatoro pushes further until Senpai finally breaks (he winds up in tears in the first two chapters). Here’s a sample of some of the heinous things she says and does to her target:
Again, this is the plot of the entire book. She never lets up, and he never does anything except stand there and take her abuse like a human punching bag. I hated Nagatoro by the end of the volume. I was praying for some moment when Senpai finally stands up to her.
Don't Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro Spoilers
By the end of the volume, I also started disliking Senpai because the moment where he stands up to her never comes. Senpai takes the abuse and moves on. We understand that abuse is a complex thing, but this is a “light-hearted” manga and not real life.
Ah, but there is a twist. It turns out that Nagatoro actually likes Senpai – not that she would tell him this, of course. Three chapters end in one of these sketches, where she shows just a hint of remorse for what she does to Senpai, as well as dropping hints about her real feelings for him. However, it’s not enough to stop her from bullying him the next day.
It’s never explained why she’s attracted to him, especially given how abusive she is. The reason could be explained in a later volume, but you’ll get no hints here. And then there’s this golden moment, where Senpai accidentally eavesdrops on Nagatoro in a diner and realizes that he’s the only one she bullies, which somehow makes him special:
Teasing versus Abuse
There are many manga series where a girl constantly teases a boy that she likes. But where is the line between teasing and abuse, and how does Miss Nagatoro cross it? Here are some examples.
There’s nothing light-hearted about any of this.
The art is fine. It’s not the best-drawn manga on the market, but it isn’t the worst, either. The character design is a bit bland, but you’re not here for the art. You’re here for abuse, and that is where this book excels.
Is Don’t Toy With Me Miss Nagatoro #1 worth reading?
Absolutely not, unless you think a boy getting bullied by a girl is hilarious. Because that is all you will get. “Toy” isn’t a strong enough word for what’s happening here. The Japanese title of the book translates better as “Please don’t bully me Miss Nagatoro”, but the word “bully” more than likely had to change for the book to appeal to a Western audience.
If you want a manga that tackles this subject – girl messes with a male senpai whom she secretly likes – then read Uzaki-Chan Wants to Hang Out!, also reviewed on this site. That book has a likeable cast, real humour, and two main characters who have genuine respect and affection for each other, even if they’re slow to show it.
I’ve heard that the Miss Nagatoro series eventually gets better, and that may be the case. Volume 1, however, deserves to stay on the shelf, next to all the other books that aren’t worth your time or money.