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This Week in Anime
Is Nagatoro's Second Season Actually...Wholesome?

by Nicholas Dupree & Christopher Farris,

Nagatoro and Senpai are basically a couple at this point and the playing field has evened out. Their relationship is practically...pure now. Well, almost.

This series is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @BeeDubsProwl @NickyEnchilada @vestenet

Nick, I know that Steve and Nicky just rang in Valentine's Day with Tomo-chan, but I'm still in the mood for romance, myself. Just a nice story about two kids in puppy love as they sweetly, innocently come to understand their feelings for one another.

Look at these two. What could be more wholesome?
Just a couple of innocent kids on their sugary sweet journey to holding hands - maybe even kissing! Such wholesome little cherubs.

No room for naughty thoughts when memories of the dotcom bubble clearly occupy Nagatoro's mind.
Given how far back in anime fandom Natagoro's origins stretch, I'm not surprised she can recall such events.

That's right, everyone's favorite avatar of horny chaos has returned for a second season of Senpai being tortured, tormented, or, dare I say, even...toyed with?

I mean, there are definitely going to be toys involved whenever these two finally hook up. Senpai better make sure he's not allergic to silicone lubricant.
So the last season climaxed (as it were) with Nagatoro and Senpai seeming for all the world to have made their feelings for each other clear and at least tacitly entered into a relationship. So it is a little odd that so much of 2nd Attack here still gets by on a healthy (again, as it were) dose of will-they-won't-they? Not that they don't warm up in some other ways.

I'm not sure exactly where putting in someone else's contacts ranks compared to brushing someone else's teeth on the odd intimacy scale, but these are the questions anime prompts us to ask.
Considering these two aren't siblings, I'll give it a pass. As to why they aren't technically dating, that's the question that basically every other person in this show keeps asking. It's obvious to everyone that they're in love. Still, teenagers are nothing if not irrational hormone cocktails, so neither Nagatoro nor Senpai has been brave enough to break out of their bully-dere dynamic.
Look, sometimes your Friends With Bullying Benefits setup is comfortable enough that you don't want to risk complicating things with more intimate emotions. It was amusing last season to watch Senpai and Nagatoro settle into their odd arrangement after realizing how mutually "Into It" they were.

So it makes sense to find an emotional escalation for this second season. Sure, this couple of beginning kinksters have seen Nagatoro use Senpai as a seat or step on him several times. But him asking her out on a d-d-d-date? Scandalous!
It's a solid twist to add their already infinitely riffable dynamic. Now, every encounter isn't just a chance for Nagatoro to tease her crush but also for both to tiptoe closer to outright stating their feelings. Of course, they're both too chicken to do that, and tiptoeing leads to incredible misunderstandings. For instance: Nagatoro mishears something and spends half their zoo field trip waiting to get her back blown out.
It really says something that Nagatoro gets flustered multiple times throughout this season when she thinks Senpai might be on the verge of a romantic confession. However, she was still totally down for a trip where she was under the impression that he would pull her aside for a public quickie on Nana Mizuki's orders.

Nagatoro's facial expressions are one part of this continuation that hasn't missed a beat. Here we witness the anticipation of a girl who has been trying to provoke this guy into taking action for two seasons now.
That bit is odd at first. But it makes sense an episode later when we find out Nagatoro has no dating experience. She's winging this as hard as Senpai but has the added distortion of her (very) sexually active friends who have regaled her with stories of their love lives. So, of course, she'd leap to such a ridiculous conclusion as "Senpai's club president has ordered him to do it with me like they do on the Discovery Channel."
Nagatoro's friends aren't making as many regular appearances as last season (notably, we have yet to get an instance of Gamo doing her schtick where she NTRs Nagatoro by bullying Senpai in her place), but I'm still happy to hear from them when they're around.

Honestly, good for Sakura. Nagatoro might be splashing around in the kiddy pool, but this girl knows what she's about and goes right into the deepthr- I mean the deep end.
And it's all fine because that framing of Nagatoro being inexperienced does help carry so much of what's 'new' about this season. It allows for the tables to turn and for Nagatoro to end up the one toyed with at times, thanks to Senpai toeing the line on those romantic advances.

It's funny since much of the earlier parts of the first season were predicated on effectively making Nagatoro the aggressor in some bodice-ripping scenarios. And now all of the entertainment value comes from these two dorks being mutual disasters around each other.
Every episode is one or both of them accidentally ripping their OWN bodice now! Heck, we almost get a moment of Senpai being princess-carried.
Though it must be stressed that this seemingly sweet moment comes after Nagatoro and the other girls run a train on Senpai.
Honestly, that's just nature taking its course. Even Senpai realizes now that it's not in his nature to be a top.
To his credit, Senpai has seen some fair degrees of growth so far this season. Like those escapades with the race up there come because he decides he wants to try to impress the athletically-minded Nagatoro for once. And before that, he sticks up for her when she tries her hand at the art thing.

Miss Nagatoro always carried a bit of the air of the ol' life-coach girlfriend confidence-boost fantasy, so it's nice to see Senpai making some progress from that.
It's cute! Something I appreciate about this season is the little ways that Senpai is trying to get out of the rut of his comfort zone, and while it's thanks to Nagatoro's influence, it's not like she's actively working on getting him to improve. Instead, he wants to try new things and get better because he realizes sleeping where he lands means he won't be as close to her as he wants.
Becoming closer to someone means making an effort to know them more intimately. That means talking to them about their deepest loves and fears for the future...actually, maybe Senpai ought to start by just learning this girl's friggin' first name.

The boy doesn't even have his own name, so, understandably, he'd forget to ask. His quest for answers leads him to another shocking fact about Nagatoro: two of her.

Does this mean the noodle limbs are genetic?
This is how I know Natagoro's cultural cache has lessened since I have yet to see a single piece of fan art of her sister on my timeline all season.
That or all the fan artists for the series are too intimidated by somebody powerful enough to bully the bully.
It's perhaps not unexpected, but it is extremely amusing to get a sense of the kind of family members Nagatoro grew up with that would equip her to act the way she does.

Anetoro joins the increasing number of characters this season who can see exactly what's developing between Senpai and Nagatoro and does her best scheming to smush them together.
Granted, that's less out of some desire to help her little sister and more out of a thirst for something juicy to dunk on her with. You can only get so much older sibling mileage out of mocking your sister for playing Blazblue.
On the one hand, I feel bad for Senpai since the world's cheapest Guilty Gear knockoff here was one of the few things he had up on Nagatoro. And now he finds out that she's spent time labbing specifically to bully him at that too? But on the other hand, if that ain't a loving relationship commitment, I don't know what is.

I like the detail that Senpai's main is a bad matchup against the Legally Distinct Neko-Arc. It's another little area where, if he wants to advance, it means branching outside the rut he's made for himself. Like, c'mon man, watch some Hungrybox or aMSa matches and learn a new character.
Don't Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro is about gitting gud. At love.
Show this boy Hi-Score Girl and teach him you can't turtle your way through love.
He can at least learn to counter with all the precision of Anetoro's comic timing.

For weebs, this is effectively the equivalent of when we found out what Kramer's first name on Seinfeld was.
It's pretty funny that Senpai has one of his rare, romantic moments immediately destroyed by a nosey sibling. But that tees up the perfect setup for an accidental armor-piercing shot in the next episode.

My dude finally landed a direct hit and didn't even remember it. Classic Senpai.

Like Senpai's dawning realization of his own predilections last season, it's great to see Nagatoro understanding how much she might enjoy some earnest affection from this guy she started out just treating as a toy.

It's a super cute moment and leads into what I know is your favorite trope: the out-of-season Christmas episode.
Truly, as it always is, I am being toyed with by this show.
Though sadly, there's not much Christmas stuff. It's mostly a comedy of errors where these doofuses try to privately exchange gifts while the entire school gets busy with their less-than-immaculate conceptions.
That, thankfully, lets me give this misplaced Most Wonderful Time Of The Year a pass. And that's fine since the segment doesn't overstay its welcome and is as super-cute as the rest of this season. It's even got an instance of Nagatoro's friends calling out her and Senpai's obvious relationship status and doing their best to wingman for them!

It also hits us with another Nana Mizuki guest appearance, and I must confess, every time she's done one of these bizarre fanservice bust-ins this season, it's caused me to burst out laughing.
I love that she was introduced as some stern authority figure but has since transformed into a sort of horny cryptid that wanders the halls offering unexplained cheesecake to the world at large.

If you're gonna have a dedicated T&A character, you should at least have fun with it.
We spent the whole final arc of Miss Nagatoro's first season meditating on the perception of salacious art as viewed through the question of the President's intent with it, and now the apparent answer is she was just Sexy Banksy the whole time.

Though hey, she also provokes Senpai to start thinking about his future and what that might mean for him and Nagatoro.

I love how literally everyone else in the show is telling Senpai to take the leap already; Nagatoro's friends, the president, the gods of fortune on New Year, his mother, and his friends.

Wait, holy shit Senpai has friends?
Do they actually know what his name is?
If Nagatoro is Kramer, I'm pretty sure Senpai's name is like the Janitor from Scrubs. Even if we get an answer, we'll never truly be sure if it's true or not.
That makes sense since Senpai is, as we know, a scrub.
Nagatoro would never have fit in with TLC. A scrub is exactly the kind of guy that can get some love from her.
Truly, her ideal is someone for whom she can say, "Excuse me, he asked for no pickles."
No pickles, but he will take a radish.
It says a lot that the produce-packaging scene in the first episode is still about as kinky as Don't Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro 2nd Attack has gotten. Yet swapping out much of the self-insert bully-fetish content for simpler but still saucy rom-com antics hasn't diminished my enjoyment of this one. It works since a second season can trade on your appreciation for these characters, especially since their relationship was sold so well through that first season.
I don't know, I think the implication of Senpai mpreg was pretty kinky too.

But yeah, while the particular bite of season one might have softened some, that leaves room for these characters to be endearing and funny. This show will never be for everyone, but there's a genuinely sweet sense of humor at the core.
And like a nebbish nerd swapping out his glasses for contacts and maybe working up to finally taking the next step with the girl of his dreams/nightmares, this show reaching for those more earnest heights shows that everyone has the potential to grow.
I'm excited to see what happens first: their first kiss, or them accidentally 69ing. It's pretty even odds on either one.
I think Nagatoro will eventually be down for any position. Stuff's easy to pull off when you aren't limited by having bones.
Remember my advice about the lube, Senpai.

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