New this month from Vertical is Don’t Toy With Me Miss Nagatoro by Nanashi – a manga series that has built a big following on the Pixiv online manga platform and explores the trials and tribulations of upperclassmen. Nagatoro is a freshman in high school who loves teasing and torturing her older male classmate (Senpai). What is her motivation and why does Senpai put up with her? Does Nagatoro just want to create misery for Senpai? Or maybe she secretly likes him?
Nagatoro is very much an archetypal manga character. Loud, boisterous and possessing some very sharp canines – she is unlikely to be the first encounter manga readers have had with this character type. Likewise, it is a common trope for a character to annoy someone they may have romantic feelings for. However, Nanashi lays all the cards on the table in this opening volume without beating around the bush. As a result, the series already has a fun dynamic going forward.
Nagatoro’s antics remain entertaining throughout as she finds new ways to mess around with Senpai. Senpai fits into the typical introverted nerdy character, but Nanashi gives him some initiative so he’s not the complete pushover you usually encounter in this sort of series. He is relatively quick in working out that there might be other reasons for Nagatoro’s constant teasing, and he doesn’t allow himself to become a doormat. Nonetheless, the main entertainment factor in this opening volume is Nagatoro’s abrasive personality and the memorable ways she makes Senpai uncomfortable including harshly critiquing the manga he is writing, forcing him to draw her at art club and making fun of his reading habits. Nanashi does a terrific job of balancing the humour with the clearly deeper meaning behind Nagatoro’s antics.
The series is equally strong on the art front with Nanahashi excelling particularly in character design and expressing over the top emotions. Nagatoro is one of the most mischievous looking characters to appear in manga in recent memory whilst Senpai is exactly what you’d expect. There’s also some surprisingly subtle moments that revolve around Nagatoro’s true feelings that show far more restraint than you’d expect from this genre.
This is a fun new comedy series that has far more layers than you’d expect. Any fans of romantic comedy manga should definitely give this one a look.
Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro by Nanashi is out 21 November from Vertical
(9781947194861, p/b, £10.99)
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