3 Episode Rule is a series in which I watch the first three episodes of a new anime and decide whether to stick with it or drop it based on those three episodes alone.
I kind of feel like this one has been a long time coming. I’ve been reading the manga for this one practically since it started and have gone through a whole spectrum of emotions regarding it in that time. I’ve very much settled into a groove with the manga, one I feel like the anime managed to thrust itself into in a much shorter span of time. But that’s just the nature of the medium I guess.
Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san, or Please don’t Bully Me Nagatoro as I knew it for a while is a romantic comedy manga from Mangaka Nanashi, also know as 774. A pseudonym he mostly used when he was drawing more… “cultured” manga let’s call it.
The few times I’ve seen this series come up in a more critical discussion, it’s been talking about Nagatoro’s treatment of the Senpai, the other protagonist and (un)lucky recipient of her attention. We’re first introduced to the Senpai, whose actual name is rarely spoken by any of the other characters in the series.
He is an introverted Otaku type character, but not a malicious one by sort. We learn early on that he has spent his youth as a target of bullies, and so spent years following into high school basically ostracising himself from his peers to prevent himself getting targeted and bullied by them.
Unluckily for him, he is noticed by Nagatoro and her group of Gal friends. Most of them end up making fun of him for his manga drawings before wandering off without a second thought of what anguish they might have put him through by making fun of his passion.
Nagatoro however hangs around and seems to take an immediate interest in him for some reason. Here’s the thing, a lot of people have talked about Nagatoro’s treatment of her sempai throughout the course of the manga, and to begin with, she is pretty horrible to him.
But Senpai is so shut down that he just tried to ignore her more and more until he breaks down in tears. I distinctly remember reading the early parts of the manga and feeling awful about what I was reading. Early on, it does seem like Nagatoro is just targeting him and bullying him, and while my bullying experiences in school were infrequent, I still felt this strong desire to see him bite back.
But her never does, and for some reason, him breaking down seems to activate something in Nagatoro. Like I mentioned at the top, the anime here does faster job of emphasising that Nagatoro might have some romantic interest in her Senpai than the manga did, and conversely, he seems to enjoys the time he spends with her a little more immediately.
Through lighting, music and the faster pace nature of the medium, it becomes apparent much sooner that this is the early signs of a romance and not some horrible abusive relationship… I say that, but Nagatoro definitely is some kind of sadist. When she is actually trying to be nice to her senpai, the sight of him tearing up again makes it so she can’t help herself but double down on her treatment of him.
This series has been really popular around anime social media due to the art style and sadistic expressions of the titular character. I mean, the guy used to draw Doujins, so it’s only natural horny anime twitter is going to be flooding the image results with art of Nagatoro.
Verdict: This might be a binger for me
When I started talking about the anime I’d been watching this season, I complained about The Way of the House Husband and why I should bother watching it when the manga is so much better. Conversely, I feel like something is added to the story through the adaptation into manga in this case.
While not a typical romance yet, the dynamic between Nagatoro and her Senpai is entertaining and feels somewhat more realistic than the average high school romance anime. I’m glad the anime gets to the point of Senpai showing he kind of gets something out of the relationship as well. Or else I’d feel a lot more uncertain about it, like I did with the early days of the manga.
It kind of reminds me of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! from a couple seasons back. Except this relationship is really a lot more toxic on the surface. Although I feel like this is much more of a tough love than an abusive relationship considering Senpai’s growth in confidence as a person as the story goes on.
I don want to keep up with this one, but I feel like it’s one I’ll end up watching in three episode chunks every few weeks than on a weekly basis.