The Winter 2022 Preview Guide
Teasing Master Takagi-san Season 3
How would you rate episode 1 of
Teasing Master Takagi-san (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.5
What is this?
Nishikata is a middle school student who has suffered humiliation due to being teased by Takagi, the girl who sits next to him. Since then, he has vowed to one day do the same to her and succeed in teasing her. (from manga)
How was the first episode?
First, the standard grain-of-salt warning: this is the first episode I have ever seen of Teasing Master Takagi-san. Beyond the general concept of “girl teases boy,” I knew nothing else about the series. Despite its critical acclaim and overall popularity this one never really interested me: I just don't find bullying—even light-hearted teasing—to be all that funny. However, coming out of this episode, I have a different reason for not wanting to watch this series: Nishikata is insufferable!
Now, don't get me wrong here: this is very clearly by design. The character is well-written and developed. He suffers from an obvious inferiority complex—especially in regards to the girl he likes, the titular Tagaki-san. He feels so inadequate that he turns everything into a challenge, even when he's at a stupid disadvantage from the start. Moreover, he's a pushover that allows rule changes—and then pouts when he inevitably loses. Being around him must be exhausting! I suspect that your supposed to dislike him to a certain extent so that you can forgive Tagaki whenever she tortures him with her teasing. Unfortunately, I dislike him so much that I feel I would be firmly rooting against him, even reveling in his pain, if I continued to watch the show.
The other issue I have is that Takagi and Nishikata's relationship has by this point developed into a will-they-won't-they dynamic that I loathe: the only reason they're not together is because he's too scared to ask. And, of course, she doesn't want to take the next step until he can summon enough self-confidence to actually ask her. This means, to continue the status quo, we're stuck in a perpetual Schrodinger's box in regards to their relationship which prevents any meaningful growth. That said, if the two ever do get together, I'd actually tune in for a few episodes. I'd love to see how their dynamic changes as a couple—especially if he can get his inadequacies sorted out.
Y'all, I can't tell you how happy I am to have more Teasing Master Takagi-san to watch, this year. I'm usually not the critic that falls head over heels for slice-of-life anime, but I am just a helpless sucker when it comes to cheesy romance, at least when it is done right. As I've been saying for the past few years, despite rough impression that some folks have with the whole “constant teasing” element of the premise that Takagi-san and its imitators have made into a whole sub-genre of anime lately, this show wins out over all of the rest purely because of how sweet it really is, at its core. Nishikata may play the role of the beleaguered straight man/victim/rival to all of Takagi's antics, but these two kids just love each other so darned much, and it's enough to make your heart melt. Takagi just has to wait for another year or two for the poor boy to mature enough to figure out his own feelings.
That particular aspect of the characters' dynamic is what makes the Season 3 premiere of Teasing Master Takagi-san so delightful to watch. Finally, after two whole seasons of never quite being able to connect the dots, our wonderfully dumb little hero is starting to get the picture. The first and last segments of this episode both follow the show's usual formula – Takagi teases Nishikata for being an unrepentant dork – but then they both end up delving into the dreams and psyches of both characters in a way that I don't think we've really seen before. Not only does this allow for some very playful editing and pacing, but it also gets at the heart of what makes Nishikata and Takagi's relationship so endearing.
Yes, Nishikata is so obsessed with getting one over on Takagi that he's literally dreaming of it on a regular basis, but he also really wants to hold that girl's hand. Takagi is equally eager to get to some serious hand-holding, and it's more clear than ever that part of why she teases Nishikata so much is that she wants him to beat her, someday. For Nishikata to declare his love for Takagi would be the Ultimate Prank that he has spent years trying to perfect; he just doesn't know it, yet. For the kinds of goofy saps that go for these sorts of shenanigans (i.e. Me, every day, forever), then Teasing Master Takagi-san looks to be as fun and as charming as ever. Between this and the upcoming new season of Kaguya-sama: Love is War, it seems like fans of goofy rom-coms will be feasting like kings in 2022.
Teasing Master Takagi-san is an odd, unassuming franchise. Back when the first season aired, I never would have expected it would catch on well enough to get a sequel, let alone two of them and an upcoming movie. Yet somehow this little go-getter of a show has not only managed to stick around, but has only gotten stronger, sweeter, and more engaging as it's skipped along to its third season.
As for this opener, well it's finally happened: After just over two seasons, that ingenious maestro of micro-bullying has at last broken Nishikata's brain once and for all. Or at the very least she's conditioned him so effectively that he teases himself in his own dreams now. But the prolonged dream sequence that opens this premiere is actually a great reminder of what makes this show so incredibly precious, showcasing our leads' infectious young-love dynamic while flexing the excellent animation and imaginative direction that has carried this simple premise for so long.
It also spoils a couple of minor developments from the end of the second season, so if you haven't caught up that's something to look out for. But this is a show all about character interaction, not plot progression, so even if you don't have a Netflix subscription to binge season 2, this is a perfectly fine place to hop back on. From there it's business as usual as Nishikata embarks on his Sisyphean attempts to outsmart the girl he's in love with and Wile E. Coyote's his way into her tricks. If you've seen any other episode of this show, you know the drill, but that's also probably exactly what you're here for.
Really, I'm surprised at how happy I am to have this show back. I remember liking the previous seasons, ooh-ing and aww-ing over these kids clumsily trying to tiptoe around their obvious crushes while playing one-sided games of wit. But it's only when watching the whole thing in motion that I remember just how charming and infectiously sweet Takagi and Nishikata are, as well as just how good the whole production looks from top to bottom. This isn't going to knock your socks off if you're not in the mood for a cutesy little romcom, but as somebody who inhales that kind of show, Takagi-san remains a stellar entry.
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