Teasing Master Takagi-san Season 3
Episodes 1-3

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Teasing Master Takagi-san (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.5

How would you rate episode 2 of
Teasing Master Takagi-san (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.5

How would you rate episode 3 of
Teasing Master Takagi-san (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.5

I'm going to go ahead and start off this review by plagiarizing from my own Winter Preview Guide entry: "Y'all, I can't tell you how happy I am to have more Teasing Master Takagi-san to watch this year." After all of the incredibly dumb nonsense we've had to deal with since the last time we saw Nishikata and Takagi, this brand-new dose of romantic tomfoolery is exactly what the doctor ordered. The crew at Shin-Ei Animation clearly aren't resting on their laurels either, because these first three episodes of Season 3 are some of the series' best so far.

I already wrote about how much I enjoyed the way the season premiere got a little experimental with how it depicted Nishikata and Takagi's dreams, but it's worth reiterating how refreshing it is to see Teasing Master Takagi-san switch things up this late in the game. One of my earliest criticisms of the show was that, for as adorable and heartwarming as it was, the story would probably peter out if the main duo's shtick never changed or evolved. In the premiere, not only do we get another rare look at Takagi's interior world when she dreams of Nishikata confessing his feelings for her, but Nishikata's weird and wild dream shows us that our clueless little protagonist is finally starting to recognize his feelings for Takagi, too.

Then, in Episode 2, we get the delightful “Library Duty” sketch, which solidifies how much these two kids love each other (and may or may not have elicited some very embarrassing “Dawwww” sounds from me). I remember when Takagi-san first arrived, there were folks who didn't like Nishikata and Takagi's rapport because it seemed too much like Takagi was bullying a helpless Nishikata. I understand that perspective (and it's why a lot of the show's imitators have failed to click with me), but “Library Duty” is a perfect example of why their dynamic ends up being so charming. When Nishikata freaks out about finding a dinosaur picture book in the library, he immediately suspects that Takagi could use it against him and tease him for being so immature, but she doesn't do that. Just like in the “Bewilder Ball” segment in Episode 3, while Takagi might be willing to poke fun at Nishikata's hobbies and interests, she doesn't want to put him down or make him feel ashamed of them—she just wants to participate. She trades him the dino book for some random grown-up novel that Nishikata plucks off the shelf, and she uses the opportunity to sneak an “I love you” at the kid without him even realizing it.

In other words, while Takagi is clearly the more mature of the pair (and cleverer by half, most of the time), what makes Teasing Master Takagi-san work is when the show reminds us that she isn't perfect or omniscient. She also has trouble communicating how she feels; she just expresses it in a way that our poor hero can't quite translate yet. He's getting there, though! The “Rain” segment is a standout for how it focuses on Nishikata's growing maturity, which of course manifests in him being more attentive to Takagi as a person, rather than simply viewing her as a rival. Yuuki Kaji gives one of his best performances of the series in this segment, as Nishikata slowly comes around to the fact that making sure Takagi can get home in the stormy weather is more important to him than racing back to his house so he can catch his favorite TV special. I will neither confirm nor deny whether or not I started crying and hugging my wife the moment we saw the smile that hit Takagi's face when she realized Nishikata came back for her.

A lot of anime about tweens and young teens forget that there is a lot of growing up that can happen in just a few short years, and the Nishikata of Takagi-san Season 3 genuinely feels older and wiser compared to his younger self. Takagi-san is more or less her same old self, but she's also starting to open up more to Nishikata now that the kid can kinda-sorta admit to himself that he likes this girl that he spends nearly every waking (and sleeping) moment of his life thinking about. If the rest of the season can keep up this balance of delivering equal parts character development and cozy comfort food, then it might just prove to be Teasing Master Takagi-san's finest hour.

Rating:

Odds and Ends

Girl Squad! Welcome to “Girl Squad”, the review-within-a-review where we look at the side-stories that feature our favorite crew of silly tween girls: Mina, Yukari, and Sanae. These sketches are basically their own show-within-a-show, so it doesn't always feel necessary to bring them up in a full review, but we can't just forsake the Girl Squad completely! My favorite of the asides in these three episodes is probably “Cat Rescue” because it's pretty funny and features a very good and fluffy cat. Four Paws out of Five.

• Another segment I would be remiss to ignore is “Presence," the entirely dialogue-free segment from Episode 2 that basically plays out like an old slapstick cartoon that you would have seen in Merrie Melodies and the like. The music is perfect, the shenanigans are on point, and the whole thing basically confirms my theory that Teasing Master Takagi-san is essentially just Tom and Jerry if Jerry was madly in love with Tom.

Teasing Master Takagi-san Season 3 is currently streaming on HIDIVE.

James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.


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