Takagi: Moreover, you acted exactly how you thought you would. That's why I won't stop teasing you, Nishikata.
Nishikata: Just wait! Someday I'm gonna get you for sure!
Takagi: I'll be looking forward to it!
Teasing Master Takagi-san (Karakai Jōzu no Takagi-san) is a manga series by Sōichirō Yamamoto. It began serialization in Monthly Shonen Sunday Mini in 2013, but later moved to the main Monthly Shonen Sunday magazine in 2016, where it is still ongoing.
Poor, harassed middle schooler Nishikata has but one goal in life: to gain vengeance upon his classmate Takagi for all the times she's teased him and made him blush. Unfortunately, she has an almost supernatural talent for turning his attempted pranks back upon him... or tripping him up by just being nice to him, or almost-but-not-quite confessing her love.
Will he ever get a reaction out of her at least once? And will these two ever stop being adorable together?
An anime adaptation aired from January 8 to March 26, 2018. An OVA was released on July 12, 2018 along with Volume 9 of the manga. A second season aired from July 7 to September 22, 2019. A third season aired from January 8 to March 26, 2022. A film premiered on June 10, 2022.
Other related works include:
- Ashita wa Doyōbi, which focuses on the misadventures of those three girls Mina, Sanae, and Yukari.
- Koi ni Koisuru Yukari-chan, a series about Takagi and Nishikata's classmate.
- Karakai Jōzu no (Moto) Takagi-san, authored by Yamamoto and drawn by Mifumi Inaba, which is set 10 years in the future and depicts Takagi's life with her daughter Chi.
Beware of unmarked spoilers, including for the spin-offs.
Let's have a contest for who can gather the most tropes:
- Actor Allusion: If you're watching the Japanese version, it's pretty much impossible to view the "Typhoon" segment without hearing Rie Takahashi channeling Megumin from KonoSuba. This video mashes the scene in question with one of Megumin's chants. This video does the same.
- Adaptational Early Appearance: Hojo and Hamaguchi didn't appear in the manga until the cast became second years. In the anime, they first appeared in the second season as first years and classmates of Takagi and Nishikata.
- Adaptation Expansion:
- The anime adapts chapters of Ashita wa Doyōbi to help fill out episodes.
- Several chapters are expanded in the anime. For example, in Episode 7, there is a scene added to Chapter 28 ("Room") where Nishikata and Takagi study in his room and accidentally touch hands.
- Chapter 21 ("Seating Arrangement") is modified in Episode 12. Originally, Nishikata tries to give Takagi a toy snake to get back at her. In the anime, he gives her back her handkerchief. In the end, she finds a thank you note from him inside.
- Season 2 of the anime shows the characters becoming second years, which happens in Chapter 107 of the manga under different circumstances.
- Season 2 includes several anime-original stories, such as the school trip and the summer festival date. The latter event is only mentioned in the manga.
- As a whole, the anime has a more direct approach to the romance aspects of the story, and further expanding them with original plotlines.
- All According to Plan: How many of Takagi and Nishikata's interactions end, with the former gleefully informing the latter that he acted exactly how she thought he would. This frustrates Nishikata to no end. Even in chapters where she doesn't say this, it's pretty clear she got what she wanted. For example, in Chapter 34, she teases Nishikata about taking pictures, and by the end of the chapter, the pair have photos of each other on their phones. Takagi leaves Nishikata in an extremely good mood, while Nishikata decides to keep the photo as a potential weapon against her.
- Anachronic Order: There's little in the way of chronology in general, with chapters jumping across different times of the year at the drop of a hat and references between them being very sporadic. The duo's first chronological meeting is in Chapter 48 (the first day of middle school), and the second is, most likely, in Chapter 81 (Takagi dropping the -kun honorific when referring to Nishikata). There have been numerous chapters expressively set in summer and autumn/winter. Everything else has been mostly up for debate until Chapter 107, when Takagi and Nishikata become second years.note
- Art Evolution: The art has progressed noticeably over the years since the early chapters: the character designs have become generally rounder and eyes proportionally enlarged. Nishikata's irises on the other hand have shrunk considerably, making him appear more standoffish or mischievous. The character designs also shifted towards making Nishikata and Takagi look younger. The early chapters of the manga were eventually redrawn to fit the aforementioned current art style.
- In Chapter 31, the Series Fauxnale, we are shown Takagi 10+ years into the future. Takagi is shown to be an adult with a daughter, reminiscing in a melancholy fashion about her youth with Nishikata, with many hints leading the audience to believe that Nishikata isn't present in her life anymore and not even revealing if he is her daughter's father or not. By the end of the chapter, her husband returns home and their front door has the name plate "Nishikata" on it, confirming the two are married and together after all.
- In Chapter 49, Takagi proposes that she and Nishikata have a contest to carry ice to the school gate. If it drops, or if the ice piece is smaller than the other, then the loser has to keep the winner's hands warm. When Nishikata (inevitably) loses, the reader is led to believe that he's going to have to hold Takagi's hand, and there's a lot of emphasis on her extending her hand to him... but he actually has a hand warmer and gives it to her when he loses.
- Batman Gambit: Takagi's skill at predicting Nishikata's actions and precise thoughts can stretch believability at times. Nishikata tries to do this too, but he's no match for her.
- Beach Episode: Chapters 57-59 focuses on Takagi and Nishikata going to the pool with Mano and Nakai, with the first duo trying to get the other couple to hang out together.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: An extremely cute example, as while Nishikata is constantly annoyed by Takagi's teasing, he also tries to give as good as he gets. Pity he's so outgunned. This is emphasized in Chapter 21 when the class gets rearranged and he and Takagi no longer sit together. He gets jittery and tries to switch seats to be with her again. He chalks up how unnerved he is to how he had a brilliant plan, and desperately wanted to carry it out.
- Beta Couple:
- Mano and Nakai are Takagi and Nishikata's classmates who're revealed very early on to be dating.
- Hamaguchi (a friend of Nishikata's from another class) and Hojo (a girl described as the prettiest in school) are hinted at. Season 2 of the anime plays up how they seem to be headed for a relationship.
- Bilingual Bonus:
- Episode 12 has a letter written in English in a textbook that's also a Freeze-Frame Bonus, and it's quite the doozy:
How are you doing? I' m fine.
I arrived in New York City five days ago.
I' m staying with my real mom.
I called fake mother in Japan. She' s
looking for me.
Be careful. She is dangerous woman.
Please forget about me. Good bye.
Tom: This is a present for you.
- The first segment of Episode 1 of Season 2, "Textbook", has a noticeable one:
Merry: Oh! Thank you. Can I open it?
Tom: Off [sic] course.
Merry: Wow, so cool.
Tom: It's a very famous Japanese character.
Merry: What's [his] name?
Tom: His name is Action Mask Man. He is my best Hero!
Merry: I'm interested in him.
Merry: I respect him.
Tom: Me too!!
- Boke and Tsukkomi Routine:
- Nishikata and Takagi's relationship is an excellent example of this, as Takagi drives Nishikata up the wall.
- The relationship between Mina, Sanae and Yukari is like this, with Mina and Sanae usually acting as the boke to Yukari's tsukkomi. However, much to Yukari's annoyance, Mina and Sanae act as though their positions are reversed and that she's the boke to their tsukommi.
- Book Ends: Episode 12 of the anime ends referencing Nishikata and Takagi's first chronological meeting where he returns Takagi's handkerchief to her, this time showing how the two have grown closer since then.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: Not in the manga or anime, but Yūki Kaji manages to get the better of Rie Takahashi during the third and final Karakai Jōzu no Takagi-san webcast. She grumbles, "Darn you, Nishikata!"
- Brains Versus Brawn: Many of the contests which would favor strength between Takagi and Nishikata become this, as Takagi offsets her disadvantage in strength with clever strategies and trickery.
- Brick Joke:
- In the first episode of the anime, Nishikata got excited when he found a coin on the road on the way to school for day duty. He's disappointed when it turned out to just be a token. During The Stinger, Mina finds that same coin on the road going home.
- The first segment of episode 10 focuses on Takagi seeing if she or Nishikata is taller. At the end of it, she makes it seem like she's going in for a kiss, but she ends up saying that he definitely is taller than her.
- Takagi mentions to Nishikata that for the 21 counting game, there's a way to always win if you go second. Much later in Chapter 73, her daughter Chi tries to use the strategy, but her opponent sees through it.
- Bridal Carry: In Chapter 183 of (Moto) Takagi-san, Chi is pretending to be a princess, prompting Takagi to suggest getting her dad to give her a "princess carry". However, because Chi is in kindergarten, and thus much smaller than her dad, it ends up looking more like a "baby carry", much to Chi's embarrassment when her parents point it out.
- Call-Back: Stories and art covers of (Moto) Takagi-san often reference the original series:
- The first volume cover is a direct reference to Takagi-san's first volume cover, only with her daughter under the umbrella instead of Nishikata.
- In Chapter 49, Chi walks in on Nishikata hovering over Takagi with his hands on her shoulders and her eyes closed as if he's going for a kiss (he was just massaging her), much like how Yukari walks in on them in the exact same positions in the original series (he was simply trying to apply eye drops). Unlike Yukari, Chi flat out asks if her parents are going to kiss, much to Nishikata's embarrassment.
- Chapter 52 has Takagi fighting down a blush until she's out of sight after she catches Nishikata complimenting how Chi is cute just like her mother, playing out similarly to when Nishikata accidentally induced the same reaction when he told her that he wanted to walk home with her in Chapter 36 of the original series.
- Cannot Spit It Out:
- Nishikata refuses to acknowledge the possibility that he likes Takagi due to embarrassment. Takagi always stops just short, seemingly intent on waiting for Nishikata to confess first.
- Hamaguchi has a more traditional take on this in that he likes Hojo, and it's pretty clear she's interested in him too, but he just hasn't been able to work up the nerve to outright ask her out.
- Cassandra Truth:
- Nishikata refuses to accept that Takagi loves him, even when she says it aloud or when his friends points out that she's always by his side:
- In Chapter 9 ("Bookstore"), she outright tells Nishikata she likes him, but as that was part of one of her schemes, it doesn't take. A pity, because he genuinely seemed ready to accept her confession at face value.
- In Chapter 66 ("Lottery"), they talk about what they'd do if they won the lottery, and Takagi mentions wanting to go on a trip with the guy she likes. She then pointedly asks Nishikata if there's anywhere he'd like to go. Despite this massive hint, he still refuses to accept the possibility that she's serious.
- In Chapter 67 ("Bicycle"), Nishikata tries to guess why she isn't riding her bike that day, and she tells him she wanted to hold hands with him. After Nishikata gives a wrong answer, Takagi whispers to herself that she'd already given him the answer.
- In Episode 7 of the anime's second season, Takagi and Nishikata find themselves alone together after lights out. Takagi says that Mr. Tanabe is approaching, but Nishikata naturally laughs at her pathetic attempt at a lie until he actually turns around and sees the telltale shine of a flashlight...
- Nishikata refuses to accept that Takagi loves him, even when she says it aloud or when his friends points out that she's always by his side:
- Childhood Friends: Chapter 119 has Hojo mention she's known Hamaguchi for a long time, and Chapter 146 clarifies that the two are neighbours and have known each other since they were kids.
- Comically Lopsided Rivalry: Takagi comes out victorious in nearly every competition between her and Nishikata; usually via various kinds of trickery and Loophole Abuse rather than sheer ability.
- Date Peepers: In Chapter 26, Yukari, Sanae and Mina follow Takagi and Nishikata around for a bit, wanting to confirm one way or the other whether or not the two are dating.
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?:
Well, so long as we're in the same class, I'll be good...
- In Chapter 36, when Takagi asks Nishikata if it's okay that he brushed off his friends, he nonchalantly replies, "I wanted to go home with you."
- When Nishikata and Takagi become second years in Chapter 107, he drops this without thinking:
- Didn't Think This Through:
- Nishikata will occasionally come up with some brilliant plan, only for Takagi to point out the huge gaping flaw or for Nishikata seeing the flaw himself, much too late to do anything about it:
- In Chapter 8, Nishikata is inspired by an episode of 100% Unrequited Love to fluster Takagi by retorting with the line "You're cute" to any teasing she might do. Unfortunately, Takagi intends to take it easy on him because he has a cold. Not realizing this, he slowly drives himself nuts with anticipation. When she glances at him, he almost blurts out the line, only to realize that it would be much more embarrassing for him to call Takagi cute than it would be for her. He spends the next few panels asking himself how he could possibly have thought that calling Takagi, an extremely cute girl, cute would've embarrassed her.
- In Chapter 23, he challenges her to doing a flip on the monkey bars, only for her to point out she's wearing a skirt. She suggests that he turn around while she takes her turn, and he agrees. However, while she's grunting, Nishikata realizes that he's basically trusting Takagi to not lie.
- In Chapter 146, Hojo thinks that Hamaguchi is hungry (thanks to his stomach growling) and offers him one of the shrimp tempura she was bringing over to her grandparents' house. When he reaches for it, she scolds him for trying to touch food with his sweaty hands (as he'd just been jogging) and instead offers it to him herself since her hands are clean. It doesn't occur to her that she's hand-feeding him until he almost bites into the tempura, at which point she jams it into his mouth complaining he's taking too long.
- Even Takagi can be prone to this, normally when Nishikata's response is something that can be seen as romantic. In Chapter 152, her plan to grow closer to Nishikata hits a snag when he declines her offer to fix his button and instead borrows her sewing kit to do it himself.
- Nishikata will occasionally come up with some brilliant plan, only for Takagi to point out the huge gaping flaw or for Nishikata seeing the flaw himself, much too late to do anything about it:
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: All the ending songs are covers of pre-existing songs (including a cover of Season 1's OP) sung by Takagi's Japanese voice actress, Rie Takahashi.
- Double-Meaning Title: The English title, Teasing Master Takagi-san, can be read two ways: as Nishikata's goal to tease the expert trickster Takagi or as a title for Takagi, i.e. the "Teasing Master".
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- The bonus chapter following Chapter 17 is a one-shot "pilot" from before the series proper. The art's a little off, Takagi looks genuinely mean when she teases Nishikata, and he's Blind Without 'Em.
- At the beginning, Takagi was quick to tell white lies in order to play a trick on Nishikata. Before long, these white lies would essentially vanish.
- Everyone Can See It:
- Nishikata's friends think that he and Takagi are dating, and several of their classmates are rooting for them to get together. In fact, when Nishikata's friends spot him and Takagi eating together at a store, they don't even ask questions, much to Nishikata's shock.
- In Chapter 108, Hamaguchi tells Nishikata and Takao that it's pretty much common knowledge throughout the school that they like Takagi and Sanae, respectively.
- Evolving Credits: The end credits of the anime never uses the same song more than twice. Also, there are slightly different versions. For example, in Season 1, there's one where Takagi is biking home alone, and another where she is walking her bike home with Nishikata.
- Exact Words: One of Takagi's most potent weapons is to be misleading in the things she says:
- In Chapter 9, when she meets Nishikata after he bought 100% Unrequited Love, a shojo manga, she forces him to admit he lied to her out of embarrassment. She then promises not to tell anyone, and offers to tell Nishikata a secret about herself. She tells him that she likes him, and follows that up by informing him that since he lied to her, she lied to him. The lie was that her affection for him isn't really a secret to anybody.
- In Chapter 28, she convinces Nishikata to invite her into his house by promising to let him copy whatever homework she had on her. Once in his room, she reveals that she only has her kanji worksheets, causing him to protest.
- Exposed Embarrassing Purchase:
- This happens to Nishikata when Takagi reveals she saw him purchase the latest volume of 100% Unrequited Love, a shojo manga he secretly likes.
- Hojo has this reaction when Hamaguchi reveals he saw her buying ingredients for chocolate at the grocery store. The reason for her embarrassment is she'd somehow managed to burn all the chocolate she'd tried to make.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Takagi can read Nishikata like a book, although half the time his failures are simply from him overthinking everything. If Nishikata ever won, the series would probably end.
- Flirty Voice Ploy: Takagi will frequently use the teasing voice ploy to distract Nishikata in their ongoing (one-sided) prank war. Interestingy enough, she actually is interested in Nishikata, but she delights in teasing him for his reactions, and counts on him not realizing that there's actually something to her flirting.
- Forehead of Doom: The art style gives everyone rather pronounced foreheads as Art Evolution settles in, especially noticeable because of Yamamoto's love of characters that has this.
- Foreshadowing: Hand-holding is a frequent theme throughout Season 2; Nishikata grabs hold of Takagi to stop her from falling in the water, and afterward there's a lot of focus on their hands nearly touching each other. In the Season 2 finale, Nishikata finally gets the courage to hold Takagi's hand so that they don't lose each other in the crowd at the summer festival, much to the latter's delight.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: During the Series Fauxnale, Takagi tearfully reminisces about middle school, with dialogue implying that Nishikata disappeared from her life, not even confirming if he's her daughter's father or not. At the end when he comes home, with the entrance conveniently showing a plaque stating that the Nishikata family lives there, she gives the reader a smirk while a sidebar proclaims "How did it feel being teased?"
- Friendly Tickle Torture: Nishikata is ticklish, and Takagi is quite willing to use this against him if he's putting on too good a show of being stoic. Poking his sides is one of her favorite moves. Takagi also mentions that she's fine with Nishikata returning the favor, but since she's only ticklish around her armpits there's no way Nishikata would dare.
- Gender Flip:
- Nishikata's situation wouldn't be too out of place in other romantic manga... if the genders were reversed. This is best seen when he's caught watching 100% Unrequited Love, where the heroine is pursued by the male lead and is wrapped around his finger despite the circumstances.
- Chapter 73 gives us a peek into Takagi and Nishikata's daughter's middle school days... and while her more emotionally reserved Love Interest acts as a Kuudere, she's the one getting teased despite her efforts. Like father, like daughter.
- Yūki Kaji, Nishikata's Japanese voice actor, and Rie Takahashi, Takagi's Japanese voice actress, appear to invert the roles of the characters they voice with each other.
- Generation Xerox: Chi and a boy repeat the teasing routine several years later in middle school. Unfortunately for Chi, she lives up to her family name.
- Good Parents: In (Moto) Takagi-san, Nishikata and Takagi are very attentive, doting parents.
- Hairstyle Inertia: As we see in the Time Skip, Nishikata and Takagi's hair barely changed at all. Nishikata looks more or less the same with a squarer face, while Takagi has the same length and part in her hair, only turned into a low ponytail.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Nishikata sometimes spends a lot of time planning traps for Takagi, but she easily sees through them or twists them to her advantage.
- High-School Sweethearts: Played with. Takagi and Nishikata met on the first day of middle school, and in (Moto) Takagi-san, it's shown that they got married at some point. As far as the main manga goes in this respect, to date, it's not known when and how they became an item.
- Hope Spot:
- Nishikata generally has a moment of hope in each chapter, making it seem as though this will be the time where he'll finally be able to one-up Takagi. Then she springs her trap or he notices the huge gaping flaw in his plan...
- In the anime's Season 2 finale, Kimura creates one by helping Nishikata locate Takagi, after the two are separated before the summer festival's fireworks. Unfortunately, the two reach each other just as the fireworks end.
- Hypno Fool: In Chapter 63, Nishikata tries to hypnotize Takagi into acting silly.
- Hypocritical Humor: In Chapter 80 of (Moto) Takagi-san, Sanae, Yukari and Mina are tailing Takagi and her family. Mina states that looking at Takagi makes her think that everyone has grown up; cue Sanae eating Mina's ice cream, just as she used to do when they were in middle school.
- Inner Monologue: Much of the narrative is told through Nishikata's thoughts, particularly when he plans to get one over on Takagi and when he reacts to her actions.
- Ironic Echo: Takagi is not above throwing Nishikata's words back in his face, particularly when she feels he's being a bit too confident. For example, in Chapter 49, Nishikata asks her if she'd like him to take it easy on her. Once the tables have turned, she grins at him smugly and asks him if he'd like her to take it easy on him. Nishikata can do nothing but weep internally.
- Kid Hero All Grown-Up: (Moto) Takagi-san taking place ten years after the main series, the middle school-aged characters are now young adults with a daughter.
- Like an Old Married Couple: A quibbling duo who are otherwise close to each other is how the rest of their class sees Nishikata and Takagi. This is played literally when they do marry in the future and the dynamic of their relationship doesn't change.
- Love Confession:
- Takagi has directly told Nishikata that she has a crush on him several times in clever ways. For example, in Chapter 28, when she comes over to study with Nishikata in the summer, she notes that his room is very much "him", and states how much she likes it while staring directly at him.
- Chapter 108 has Hamaguchi try to pressure Nishikata and Takao into confessing to their crushes (Takagi and Sanae, respectively) if he manages to confess to Hojo. Nishikata worries about how to go through with it because he's not sure he actually likes Takagi, but luckily Hamaguchi chickens out at the last minute. Much to Hojo's annoyance.
- In the anime's Season 2 finale, Takagi gives Nishikata a subtle one as Nishikata has the two play a game with fireworks on the beach to make up for missing the fireworks from the summer festival. Still not ready to admit his feelings, Nishikata insists the game—whose firework will go out last—is to give him a shot at winning as he always loses to Takagi. Takagi responds that Nishikata hasn't been losing at all. Her words then distract Nishikata, causing him to lose and allowing Takagi to claim another win.
- Love Epiphany:
- Nishikata comes close to realizing his crush on Takagi on several occasions, but can't quite bring himself to believe it.
- Hamaguchi apparently had his in regards to Hojo long ago, as in Chapter 119, he mentions he fell in love with her due to her kindness.
- Luminescent Blush:
- With Takagi around, Nishikata blushes madly at least one per chapter.
- Takagi, despite usually being the teaser, has shown a few rare blushes thanks to Nishikata unknowingly embarrassing her. The first time this happens is when Nishikata tells her he rejected hanging out with his friends to walk home with her. She gives a small blush after he leaves. The second time is in Chapter 76 when we finally have a good look at Takagi blushing madly after she has a text conversation with Nishikata.
- Hojo and Hamaguchi are prone to this when they're together outside of school.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Takagi knows Nishikata so well she often knows exactly what he's thinking before he even says anything. Nishikata almost suspects she's a telepath.
- Metaphorically True: In Chapter 9, Takagi tells Nishikata that she's never lied to him. However, she does often twist words and the like, such as in Chapter 20, when they stand back-to-back to measure their heights (Nishikata claimed he's now taller than Takagi). When he realizes they're still the same height, he outright asks if she was standing on tiptoe, but she simply asks if he doesn't trust her (as opposed to denying it). When she then stands right in front of him almost nose-to-nose, he finds he's now quite a bit taller than she is. He expresses confusion, which is when Takagi says that's because she was standing on her tiptoes.
- Minimalist Cast: The only major characters are Nishikata and Takagi. All the others, named or unnamed, range from Those Two Guys to Recurring Extra. This was played up during the Karakai Jōzu no Takagi-san stage event at AnimeJapan 2018, when Yūki Kaji (Nishikata) and Rie Takahashi (Takagi) were the only two cast members on stage, and they both poked fun at how empty the stage was compared to some of the other stage events.
- Moment Killer: In Chapter 79, the look on Hamaguchi and Hojo's faces when Nishikata tumbles out of his hiding place and Takagi stands up right after suggests that they think they were this to Takagi and Nishikata. Nishikata's protests that nothing was going on don't help. Ironically, Nishikata was trying to avoid becoming one of these to Hamaguchi and Hojo, since he's aware that Hamaguchi has a huge crush on Hojo.
- "No Peeking!" Request:
- In Chapter 10, Takagi and Nishikata are Caught in the Rain, and he realizes that the rain has made her blouse translucent. He offers her his gym shirt, and she requests that he not look while she changes. He naturally complies.
- In Chapter 23, Nishikata proposes that he and Takagi each attempt to do a kick-flip over a high bar at a playground. Takagi agrees on the condition that he not watch her as she's wearing a skirt. He initially agrees, but then comes to the conclusion that she might not be doing the flip since he can't watch. During their second round, he turns to confirm she's doing the flip, to find that she was prepared and wearing shorts under her skirt. He admits to looking, and declares himself the loser in their contest.
- No Periods, Period: Zigzagged. In Chapter 2, Nishikata is sitting out as the class is enjoying the pool because of an injury. Takagi also sits out, and dares Nishikata to guess why. She holds her stomach while saying this, and looks a bit morose. Nishikita figures it's either due to her being on her period, or she's feeling self-conscious about her figure. It turns out that it was neither as she just wanted to sit with him to tease him a bit.
- Not a Date: With the amount of time they spend with each other, some of their hangouts naturally give a feel of a date, much to Nishikata's chagrin:
- In Chapter 18, when Takagi and Nishikata meet up, he realizes that it's the first time they've actually agreed to meet up, as they normally run into each other by coincidence. He then wonders if it counts as a date, but then shakes those thoughts out of his head by reminding himself they only met up because she's helping him learn to ride a bike with a passenger. The pair then wind up walking through a supposedly-haunted tunnel, and upon emerging on the other side, a passing little girl points them out to her brother saying, "Oh, another couple is dating in the tunnel!" Nishikata freaks out.
- In Chapter 53, the two of them are having ramen together and Takagi points out it's the first time the two of them have sat down to eat together. Nishikata insists it isn't a date, and Takagi wonders aloud what their classmates would say about that... just before two of Nishikata's male friends walk into the shop.
- In Season 2 Episode 12 of the anime, Nishikata insists that Takagi and him going to the summer festival together is not a date, despite his asking her to the event, Takagi seeing it as one, and many other passerbyers seeing them as a couple. Takagi naturally turns the issue of whether they look like a couple to others into a game, while Nishikata ultimately changes his mind about their outing by the end of the episode.
- Not What It Looks Like: The people around them often get the wrong impression when seeing Nishikata and Takagi in suspicious-looking situations:
- In Chapter 53, Nishikata's friends see his upset expression and assume it's because he was having a date with Takagi and they interrupted it. In reality, Nishikata's upset because he thought they'd think he's on a date with Takagi, and he's not. But he can't explain that to them without looking paranoid.
- In Chapter 56, Nishikata and Takagi are playing a game where they try to drip eye drops into the other's eye. Alas, Yukari walks in as Nishikata looms over a sitting Takagi, reaching for her face. She takes one look, comes to the logical conclusion he was about to kiss her, and then hurriedly leaves again.
- In Chapter 79, the pair are hidden behind some barrels when Hamaguchi and Hojo come along. Takagi suggests that if they came out the others would get the wrong idea. Her solution is to do something to make that idea right. Nishikata doesn't go for it. It gets worse when, in response to Takagi's suggestion, Nishikata falls out from behind the barrel and Takagi stands up, making it look like they really were up to something behind the barrels.
- Oh, Crap!: During a Halloween special comic, Takagi greets Nishikata by asking him if he knows what day it is. Nishikata responds by handing her a piece of candy, smirking to himself that he's stopped her from playing any tricks on him. Takagi then says "Trick or treat". When Nishikata protests that he already gave her candy, she points out he's supposed to give the candy after someone says it. Cue Nishikata freaking out and desperately asking if the candy he gave her counts. Takagi's response?Takagi: Trick or treat.
- Origins Episode: Chapter 48, which shows how Nishikata and Takagi first met, and how Takagi gained her crush on Nishikata. On the first day of school, Nishikata ended up being late for class because he'd found Takagi's handkerchief and brought it to the lost and found. Takagi was charmed by his kind heart and his absentmindedness.
- Paranoia Gambit: Yet another of Takagi's most potent weapons. She'll hint at something, and Nishikata will drive himself nuts trying to figure out what her plan is. In the very first chapter, she asks Nishikata to lend her his eraser, then casually mentions a rumor going around that writing someone's name on an eraser and then using said eraser up will get the person to like you back. Nishikata claims that he doesn't believe in such nonsense, only for Takagi to make a big show of uncovering his eraser and studying it carefully with a smirk on her face, leading him to wonder if he'd written someone's name and just completely forgot about it. He hadn't.
- Playful Pursuit: In Chapter 30, while they are participating in a marathon, Takagi offers to make it Nishikata's win if he can touch her. Just as he's about to do so, he realizes what the situation looks like. Instead, Nishikata proposes a bet to Takagi where she'll win if she can get at least 50 meters away from him, which she ultimately does when she reveals the girls don't have to run as far as the boys.
- Real Men Take It Black: In Chapter 39, Nishikata tries to appear more mature to Takagi by drinking canned black coffee from a vending machine. He nearly instantly regretted it.
- The Rival: Nishikata sees Takagi as his rival, hence their never-ending contests. She kind of plays along, but clearly doesn't take it as seriously.
- Romantic Ribbing: The series is practically built out of this. Takagi and Nishikata are in middle school, and she clearly has a crush on him, which she shows by teasing him relentlessly throughout the series. Nishikata is initially unaware of her genuine feelings towards him, but after a Time Skip, a spinoff series shows the two of them married with a child, so he figured it out at some point. Takagi is still the master of teasing her husband, though.
- Romantic Ride Sharing: Takagi convinces Nishikata to practice riding double on her bike with her to invoke this, as she has something of a crush on him, and it's not exactly hidden, though she's also aware that Nishikata is oblivious.
- Rules Lawyer: Takagi often takes advantage of the wording of their little games to get one over on Nishikata. For example, during a rock kicking contest, Nishikata says the challenge is to get their rock to the finish line in the least number of kicks. However, he failed to mention that it had to be the same rock they start out with. As a result, when Takagi accidentally kicks her rock into a drain, she simply pulls out another one.
- Running Gag:
- A few recurring gags exploited by Takagi at Nishikata's expense:
- Nishikata's guilty pleasure is 100% Unrequited Love, a romance manga series popular with girls.
- Nishikata having ticklish sides and Takagi poking them.
- Nishikata being too embarrassed to drink from the same can of juice Takagi already has.
- Nishikata's self-inflicted punishment of doing push-ups after being teased getting progressively more egregious.
- Non-Takagi and Nishikata-related running gags include Yukari desperately wanting to find someone to talk to about romance and Hamaguchi somehow chickening out whenever Hojo is involved. Hojo's inability to cook is one that comes up quite often as well.
- A few recurring gags exploited by Takagi at Nishikata's expense:
- Series Fauxnale: Chapter 31, a.k.a. the last irregular chapter before the comic started a regular publishing schedule, flashes forward to ten years in the future when (née) Takagi has a young daughter. She's still her old teasing self with her, and it ends with her giving an Aside Glance to the audience when her husband, Nishikata, comes back home with the shopping.
- Shared Universe: It is implied that Teasing Master Takagi-san is part of this with Fudatsuki no Kyouko-chan and to an extent, In the Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki:
- For Kyouko-chan, Nishikata and Takagi are The Cameo in the final volume. Additionally, the Ashita wa Doyobi spin-off reveals that Mina Hibino and Haruka Hibino are cousins.
- In the Karakai Jōzu no (Moto) Takagi-san spin-off and in Kunoichi Tsubaki proper, it is revealed that the latter series is a Show Within a Show in their universe, one in which Nishikata and Takagi's daughter, Chi, gets a bit too obsessed with.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Nishikata vehemently denies they're a couple, and on the few occasions someone outright asks Takagi whether she and Nishikata are dating, she denies it as well. Everyone Can See It, though.
- Ship Tease:
- The numerous hints of potential romance between Nishikata and Takagi is the focus of the series, though it's mostly on Nishikata's side. Mainly because Takagi actually does like Nishikata. As of Chapter 34, Nishikata now has a picture of a smiling Takagi on his phone. He's worried about what might happen if people saw the picture, but as he prepares to delete it, he falters and decides to keep it. As a potential tool against Takagi, of course.
- Played with concerning Mina and Sanae. In Ashita wa Doyōbi, they have the occasional romance tease, as they have a similar relationship to Nishikata and Takagi's. However, in (Moto) Takagi-san, Mina is married and has three kids, while Sanae remains single.
- While it's no secret Hamaguchi has a massive crush on Hojo, Hojo is implied to be more than willing to reciprocate.
- In Nishikata-chan, it's implied that Chi's deadpan next-seat neighbor (from the main series' Chapter 81) likes her.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Nishikata and Takagi's rivalry consist of them trying to one-up each other (the trying is more on Nishikata's side) in very mundane contests, from games to things like guessing each other's test scores. Nishikata gets hilarious petty and worked up over them, and Takagi happily pushes his buttons in return. Possibly the cutest example of such a rivalry ever.
- Karakai Jōzu no (Moto) Takagi-san (Teasing Master (Former) Takagi-san) is a spinoff manga about Takagi's married life with Nishikata and teasing her kid Chi.
- Koi ni Koisuru Yukari-chan is another one, which takes Ashita's Yukari and has her follow Nishikata and Takagi around due to her love of romance stories.
- Nishikata-chan is a one-shot depicting Chi in middle school.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: In Chapter 26, when Sanae, Mina and Yukari spy on Takagi and Nishikata walking home, the first two try to dub their conversation about a challenge of who can run to the shrine first. Yukari refuses to believe they would say something so unromantic, but it is remarkably close to the actual conversation.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: One of the ways Nishikata often leaves himself open to Takagi's teasing is by denying things that are most definitely true:
- In Chapter 32.5, he pretends to not like cats while Takagi is petting one. Takagi is well aware he's holding back out of fear of looking unmanly, and takes full advantage to tease him about it.
- In Chapter 34, he decides to keep a photo of Takagi smiling and flashing the V-sign by justifying it as a bargaining chip for the future. This despite the blush on his face as he realizes he now has a picture of the cutest girl in the class smiling directly at him.
- Swapped Roles:
- In Chapter 19, Nishikata attempts to make himself unteasable by acting like the Clint Eastwood-like character Dandy of the movie Dandy of the West. He and Takagi wind up playing a game based on a scene from the movie where Dandy and a traitor question each other. While Nishikata starts as Dandy, his inability to answer Takagi's questions has him take the traitor's role while Takagi takes over as Dandy (who then "shoots" the traitor by poking the ticklish Nishikata in the side). The entire sequence is made funnier by the Imagine Spots they have, which starts with Nishikata as Dandy but as Takagi asks her first question, Dandy "morphs" into the traitor!
- There are several chapters where Nishikata initiates one of their little contests, usually because he's confident he's found a path to victory.
- Amusingly enough, in the third Karakai Jōzu no Takagi-san webcast, Yūki Kaji successfully teases Rie Takahashi repeatedly. He even teasingly refers to her as a "real life Nishikata", much to her protests.
- Chapter 81 depicts Takagi and Nishikata's daughter Chi in similar circumstances as they were in middle school, attempting to tease on her next-seat neighbor. However, he is considerably more rational and collected than her, effectively inverting her parents' roles.
- A Taste of Defeat: Nishikata certainly would like to finally defeat Takagi already. There have been a few times when she "lost", but she never seems to be bothered by it, depriving him of the satisfaction of "winning".
- Time Skip: Chapter 31 jumps to the future where Takagi's married and has daughter. After a false lead up, it's eventually revealed that she married Nishikata.
- Umbrella of Togetherness: In Chapter 7, a sudden rainstorm hits and Nishikata learns that Takagi didn't bring either an umbrella or a raincoat. He tries to tease her about it, but she quickly convinces him to walk her home using his umbrella. As they are walking home together, Nishikata becomes self-conscious about how close the two of them are, and Takagi being Takagi takes full advantage to tease him.
- Unreveal Angle: We never get to see Takagi's infamously funny face she can make.
- Valentine's Day Episodes:
- Two stories revolve around Valentine's Day. The first is an extra comic while the second is a regular chapter. Both of them follow the same premise, though— Nishikata is antsy and a bit upset about not receiving chocolate, Takagi tricks Nishikata into thinking she didn't give him romantic chocolate, gives him a small obligation chocolate instead, and teases him about the chocolate in his locker, which came from her.
- Chapter 119 is one starring Hojo and Hamaguchi, with Hamaguchi getting depressed when Hojo offers him chocolate. When Takao threatens to punch him for not being satisfied at getting chocolate from the prettiest girl in school, he explains that he saw Hojo buying ingredients for chocolate the day before but she only gave him store-bought chocolate.
- Wedding Episode: Chapter 140 of (Moto) Takagi-san takes place during Yukari's wedding.
- Will They or Won't They?: While Takagi is pretty obvious in her interest in Nishikata, Nishikata is either unable to accept she's genuinely interested in him or brushes it off as her teasing him. Chapter 31 and (Moto) Takagi-san reveal that they do get together.
- Willfully Weak:
- Both Takagi and Nishikata make use of this strategy, though Takagi is vastly more successful. Typically, either or both of them will act as though they aren't particularly good at a particular activity, only to then turn the tide. This is sometimes played with, though. There are times where it isn't so much Takagi is more skilled than Nishikata, it's just that she's able to distract him at just the right moment to completely negate any advantage he might've had.
- In Chapter 79, Hamaguchi and Hojo are walking home when he asks her if she'd like to take a break in the empty lot where Takagi and Nishikata often have their contests. She comments that he must be pretty out of shape to need to take a break just walking home, but it's abundantly clear from his reaction that he just wanted an excuse to spend more time with her.
- Wrong-Name Outburst: A variation occurs in Chapter 42 of (Moto) Takagi-san. Nishikata accidentally refers to Takagi by her maiden name when she brings him his lunch, a result of the two of them being back at their old middle school.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: The few times Nishikata actually has the upper hand or comes close to it, he fails to capitalize on it or gets outsmarted by Takagi:
- In Chapter 36, when Nishikata brushes off a group of his male friends to walk home with Takagi because his horoscope said that it would be his lucky day and he interpreted it as him finally beating Takagi. Takagi asks if it's okay that he didn't join the other boys, and Nishikata offhandedly replies he wanted to walk home with her. He quickly realizes what he'd just said and performs a Verbal Backspace. Unfortunately for him, he fails to notice Takagi has been stunned into silence, and after he leaves, she reveals she was fighting down a major blush.
- In Chapter 109, Nishikata and Takagi make their way home after running into each other at the public bath, and he offers to walk her home because it's dark. Takagi declines, teases Nishikata by saying he's acting like her boyfriend, and then runs off, claiming she's flushed from the bath. Just like in Chapter 36, Takagi was stunned into complete silence by Nishikata's gesture, needing a long time to recover from the surprise.