Having been surprised by how much I enjoyed Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro and with the2nd Attack having finished streaming (not to mention needing a distraction from a GI bug), it seemed the perfect reason to get back into Nagatoro toying with her Senpai. Even if it meant actually watching something via streaming and not... physical media... (I mean, the shock was almost too much.)
First-year high-schooler, Nagatoro, continues to taunt, tease, distract, disturb, batte and bemuse her nervous, socially awkward art-loving Senpai. Can Senpai continue to get over his naturally introverted character and face up to the fact that he might actually rather like Nagatoro?
We all know where this is going over time, so it’s all about how the series is able to provide more than just the taunting of Senpai, as we all know that has no legs, comic as it may be. So, I have to admit to some small discombobulation as the 2nd Attack assaulted the screen because it seemed to forget the character development of teh first series, where the relationship between Nagaroto and her Senpai had subtly moved on. No, the start here was curiously similar to how we first came in, with Nagatoro’s antics being closer to sadism than a form of tough love.
After about the first couple of episodes the show does move on from this, but it’s almost as if someone’s thought that they had to reinforce how the relationship started rather than continue the gentle, gradual shifting of it, which would have been a more welcome place to start. The blunt start also coincides with the 2nd Attack introducing more overtly sexual moments (excluding anything in the prior series relating to the art club president whose pervy antics continue, as does the occasional unnecessary intrusion of her cleavage), some of which are a bit too close to the trope, though it does manage to make it so that in teasing her Senpai, Nagatoro manages to embarrass herself too.
But again, this teasing itself is not enough to carry the whole series, so good thing that our pervy art-club president also has a heart and pushes Senpai into asking Nagatoro to the zoo, ostensibly to sketch animals. This leads into the series starting to think more about not just Nagatoro clattering Senpai over the head whilst calling him a creepy creep (I’m not knocking it but I need more) but forcing Senpai to come out of his shell, and then to see how Nagatoro reacts. It’s a delight then to see Nagatoro take to the offensive and her ability to intimidate those who are genuinely asking for it in defence of herself and of her Senpai. This is a romance even if neither will admit it, but it’s apparent when she goes the other way, in those moments where she could be genuinely cruel in front of others, but instead without teasing provides Senpai an escape route. It's an endearing quality that's very much needed to make our heroine more human and avoid becoming an outright bully.
This also opens a small gap through which to glimpse into who Nagatoro is, elements of her past and also to her equally force-to-be-reckoned-with older sister. This slow peeling back of the layers of Nagatoro allows for a slight softening of her character and a gentle series of shifts, that never detracts from who she is but gives her greater depth at just the point where she starts to need it, as otherwise her antics would have started to drag. As always it’s in the simple things, and often these stories follow the expected story-arcs: the visit to the shrine, the buying of a Christmas present; one visiting the other with a cold; yes, it’s nothing new on one level, but it shows different sides of Nagatoro and Senpai, and then it’ll shift gears and go into some of Nagatoro’s history and suddenly giving her an aim, even if short term, in life that folds into her relationship to Senpai, that again highlights this is a unadmitted romance.
With age comes greater complications, as they both advance a school year, and so an interloper, and – shock horror! - a second member of the art-club appears on the scene to shake up their club-tease-space, and who just so happens to be the club president’s equally pervy younger cousin. That said this interloper and Nagatoro’s dread friends often are far more good-natured in their antics than it appears at first sight, arguably having both Nagatoro and Senpai’s best interests at heart.
If you enjoyed the first series it’ll be a no-brainer that you’ll enjoy the 2nd Attack. True, I wanted it to pick up more fluently from where the first series left off and for me that is a bit of a point-dropper, but the 2nd Attack did ratchet the character and relationship development up a notch so that, as we finished, it was beyond where we started. That said I cannot deny that each episode slid by easily. 20-minutes can be purgatory in the wrong hands, but with Nagatoro there is no let-up in pace or even in enjoyment, and the humour very much picks up where it left off. The show is willing to show a softer side to Nagatoro which can displace any comic beats entirely, giving way to something close to... whisper it... sincerity... Senpai, too, shows that his inner emotional life exists, continuing to develop his own character as well as his feelings for the teasing ball of energy that's latched onto him.
I admit some other reviewer might likely focus more on the humour, but for me it needs the character development to go hand-in-hand because there is only so much teasing that can happen without repetition, so many times Nagatoro can embarrass Senpai and call him a creepy creep without it being same shit different day. The 2nd Attack never becomes that, with its heart mainly in the right place (again after the slightly more sadistic intro), and provides some surprisingly tender moments. All of which makes you wonder what will happen in the 3rd assault, which I am sure will come to pass.