Man, it would have been perfect if “Christmas” was able to actually air, you know, on Christmas (or, like, at least somewhere within the general vicinity of December). I’m not usually one to get sentimental over any holiday celebrations, save maybe for Halloween, but I can’t remember the last time that Christmas actually felt Like Christmas. Then, all of a sudden, here comes the newest episode of Teasing Master Takagi-san, apparently hell-bent on getting my grinchy ol’ heart to grow three sizes in the middle of freaking March. Well, my hat is off to you, Takagi-san, because it worked. I’m about ready to start screaming out of my window about plum pudding and Christmas goose all up in here.
I mentioned last week that I have come to love this season’s conceit of “Nishikata Being Too Much of a Dork to Understand that He and Takagi Are Already a Couple”, and “Christmas” takes that bit to its logical conclusion by having the pair go on the most romantic Christmas date imaginable. Did you think those cutesy-woo shenanigans at the Famous 415 Step were already adorable enough? Well, too bad, losers! This week, we’ve got ferry rides, we’ve got arcade games, and we’ve even got some accidental-hand-touching-while-trying-to-snag-some-popcorn-at-the-movies action. This is about as explicitly romantic as any anime is allowed to get without introducing a tragic car accident or some kind of vaguely incurable disease, and Takagi-san is going to inject all 1500 CCs of that saccharine goodness directly into your heart, Pulp Fiction style.
In short, it’s about as exquisitely perfect of an episode as “Culture Festival” was, except this time Nishikata can’t hide behind the pretense of a school play. Here he is, with the girl he devotes more of his time and energy to than any other person or hobby in his life, and things are getting Intimate-With-a-Capital-I (though still completely G-Rated, thank God) . There aren’t necessarily a whole lot of laughs to be had this week, except for the hilarious self-own that Nishikata commits when he accidentally announces himself and Takagi to the theater usher as “The Nishikata Couple”. The bit where Takagi smokes Nishikata at the crane game is also pretty funny, though that might only be because Takagi’s skills and the arcade sound effects forced me to imagine a head-canon where Takagi’s unseen father is actually Kiryu from the Yakuza games.
The lack of overt laughs is completely fine, though, since you’ll be too busy bawling like Nishikata at the end of 100% Unrequited Love to worry about laughing. I was already getting misty-eyed when our boy actually took the time to pick out a fancy Christmas card and write a thoughtful note, but then the kids get a picturesque snowy Christmas sky to exchange gifts under, and Takagi’s perfect composure falters when she sees the lovely gloves that Nishikata bought her. In that moment, Takagi regards Nishikata’s simple gift with all of the love and certainty of a girl who knows that the dorky boy she hangs out with all the time is going to be her family, someday, and y’all…I just about lost my goddamned mind.
I don’t even know where the show is going to go from here. We’ve gotten not one, but two episodes that could have worked as perfect series finales, especially with a movie on the way. The fact that there is still more of this wonderful, wonderful show on the way is a prospect that I find both delightful and terrifying. Pretty soon, these reviews are just going to be reduced to incoherent rants punctuated by various GIFs of ugly-sobbing celebrities. Then again, there are much worse places to be as a critic, so I won’t complain one bit.
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 Twitterhis blog, and his podcast.