This is the second anime I’m reviewing in from the 2019 Winter Anime Season where I am already familiar with the source material. I am a big fan of Kei Sasuga and have read several of her works. I remember reading -GE- Good Ending and hoping that it would get an anime but it never did. Then I read Domestic na Kanojo not expecting it to get an anime… and it did! When I love a series like Dome x Kano, I get worried about how the anime adaptation is going to go. I know how anime adaptations can butcher source material or skip over a lot of the details in order to save time due to episode counts. So how did Diomedea do with Sasuga-san’s work?
Natsuo Fujii is an aspiring writer who was invited to a mixer after school. There, he meets Rui Tachibana, a girl who lures him away to have sex simply for the fact that she wants to know what it feels like. At the time, Natsuo has a crush on his teacher Hina but feels that a teacher-student relationship would never work so he figures he has nothing to lose. He ends up having sex with Rui and goes on his way as Rui makes it clear that the act didn’t mean a thing.
Natsuo returns home to the news that his father is going to be remarrying. He knows it’s sudden but he invited his future wife-to-be over to the house along with her family. As soon as his father drops that news on Natsuo…. Ding dong! The doorbell rings. Natsuo comes down to greet his new stepmother when all of a sudden, he sees both Rui and Hina standing there in the doorway! They just happen to be Tsukiko’s daughters! Welcome to the love triangle from here!
As the show progresses, we have Rui who is completely interested in Natsuo and wants him in the worst way possible and we have Natsuo who is in love with Hina and he wants her in the worst way possible. Things get awkward as one might expect but this show isn’t exactly like a lot of the romcoms out there that target the subject of non-blood-related incest. This show actually takes the time to examine such topics as family drama, forbidden relationships, inner turmoil, and so much more than really sets this show apart from others in this genre.
People have written this show off as just another trash romcom romance show with disgusting values but that’s because people are looking at the premise on the surface and are inaccurately comparing it to other shows with a similar premise within the genre without giving it a chance. This show goes much deeper and, in my opinion, tells a story within the brother-sister love genre correctly. It’s not like they moved in and THEN the relationships happened… they were already pre-established and a sudden twist of fate caused the relationships to become “forbidden.” Because of that pre-existing condition, it makes you question whether or not the relationships are indecent. If you think about it, this would just be another normal romance series had Natsuo’s father had no involvement with Tsukiko. Take that out of the equation and you’re left with a standard love triangle.
When you think about it that way, is the premise really all that lude and morally challenging? The added twist makes an already interesting series more interesting and the show handles the premised extremely well.
Natsuo is an aspiring novelist who is love with is teacher Hina. Natsuo seems to keep a level head about him and tries to serve as a voice of reason when it comes to matters regarding his family. However, most characters of this archetype stay true to their level-headed natures to a fault. They remain within that singular dimension and don’t show any humanity and if they do, it’s only briefly and they are right back to square one by the beginning of the next episode. Here, Natsuo shows that he has a major weakness in his archetype and that’s with Hina herself. Whenever Natsuo is presented with a chance to be with Hina, all rational thought and that voice of reason disappear. He almost becomes a completely different person but not in a drastic way. Some of the things he says, the way he presses himself onto Hina… all of it shows a more immature personality. It’s like he finally got what he wanted and he has become obsessed with it.
Because of this, it adds an entirely new dimension to his character. You don’t really see this side of him come out fully until later in the series but when it does, you can seek the stark contrast between the Natsuo you came to know at the start and the Natsuo you are witnessing now. This makes him a pretty strong main character from an interesting perspective. In fact, in the final episode, you get to see the reverse effects of his obsession and it’s something not completely unexpected. Of all the talk he did about being mature for his age, he sure throws all of that out the window at the end of the season. He’s not my favorite character in this show but he is a breath of fresh air to characters who share his archetype.
Okay… nobody is going to get what I am about to say because I have knowledge of this character beyond the anime. For those who watched the anime only, you’re not going to understand this but Rui is the obvious best girl and the type of girl we all deserve in our life. She is the 2019 version of Re:ZERO’s Rem for all the things she will eventually do for Natsuo. In the scope of the anime, though… she’s just a quiet, monotone girl who realizes that their one night together after the mixer was actually the start of something special. She has a love for Natsuo born out of jealousy of the love he has for her sister Hina. However, this isn’t the type of love where she wants to date him simply to keep him away from Hina… she genuinely has feelings for Natsuo and is torn that she can’t have him.
This means we get to explore the inner psyche of a woman when it comes to feelings of love. Through Rui, we can experience what is like to experience the feeling of being in love and the pain of never knowing how it would be to actually see that love through. Because of this, the love triangle takes a little bit of a twisted turn because, with Rui’s initial personality, you’d think she would play the role of the tsundere and try to be the monkey wrench to drive Natsuo and Hina apart. That’s not the case and she’s not a tsundere at all. The fact that they portray her as one right off the bat is a misdirection. Rui is just a typical teenage girl with a deep crush but is powerless to act on it for multiple reasons. Although the final episode says different, you don’t know that until the credits are about to roll. Of course, reading the manga, I know what happens and it’s why I love Rui so much… but not much has changed with Rui, even over 100 chapters later. She still has some insecurities that definitely show a human side that we can all relate to.
Hina is the opposite of Rui… she’s very outgoing and rather immature for her age. She’s also a bit of a lush who can’t really handler her alcohol all that well. Even though she knows that the relationship is forbidden, she can’t help her feelings. I know this is kind of a spoiler but it has to be talked about in order to understand the points I’m going to make. She eventually caves in to her feelings and dates Natsuo, knowing the risks of a teacher-student relationship.
The fact that Hina takes a ton of steps to conceal their love shows just how much she really loves Natsuo. I really do think that there is true love there, no matter how illegal and morally decrepit it may be. Plus, Hina just came out of a relationship where she was aiding her boyfriend in an affair with his wife. All of these decisions speak to Hina’s immaturity. With someone as level-headed as Natsuo, I can’t see the appeal in wanting to date someone like Hina. This all ties into what I was saying about Natsuo thinking he’s mature but he’s really not. The fact that Hina is this immature and she attracted Natsuo in such a way… and then indulged him… is a complete paradox to Natsuo’s established character archetype and that’s why it makes him feel more human than most righteous characters. Hina simply exists to expose that side of Natsuo but it doesn’t mean she isn’t a fun character. Still, despite how fun she is, she lacks that drawing power to really get you to care about her. The fact that she gives into childish impulses and then drowns those decisions in alcohol make you pity here more than root for her.
Side character time! Fumiya is Natsuo’s best friend and a waiter at a café that Natsuo & company frequent. He’s a single loner and kind of a nerd with a stash of porn magazines but he also gives Natsuo advice from time to time and is always there for him when he needs him. In order words, Fumiya is the friend each and every one of us deserves. He’s lewd and will make you shake your head in one moment and then turn around and make you realize that he was there helping you all along with solid advice. He likes to keep Natsuo in check but at the same time, will sometimes egg Natsuo on knowing chaos could ensue. I think he’s a well-balanced and dynamic character and a pretty good supporting character!
Masaki “Marie” Kobayashi
Masaki is, hands-down, the BEST character in this entire series. He is great for being the true voice of reason, comedic relief, and the fact that he’s gay and teases the absolute HELL out of Natsuo makes him one of the most diverse supporting characters in anime history. Okay, maybe that’s stretching it a bit too far but needless to say that any time Marie is on screen, you know you’re in for a good time. Plus, his backstory of being an ex-mafia member and his stories of being in the mafia to help Natsuo through one of his darkest times really show what kind of character he really is. Yes, he’s out there… WAY out there, but Marie’s gifts come in many forms and they make you appreciate them each time they’re delivered.
“SHE’S SWALLOWED SO MUCH SEMEN” – Gigguk
I think that pretty much sums her up… well… not really. Momo is the kind of girl who wants to find love but she’ll date anyone in order to find it without any type of consideration for the relationship she’s getting herself into. Because of this, almost every single one of the boys she has dated treated her badly or even abused her. Instead of making her give up, it drove her to keep trying, thinking that she would eventually land the one meant for her. Because of this, she’s built an ill reputation for herself but that kind of changes when she meets Natsuo. Natsuo ends up showing her what friendship truly means and Momo ends up better off because of it. However, now Natsuo has a third girl pining for him (and if you read the manga, Momo won’t be the last.)
That wraps up the most important characters. There are other side characters but they only start to play bigger roles towards the end and if there is going to be a second season, they will be more prominent at that point in time.
Art, Animation, and Sound
Diomedea did a decent job with this show. Sure, nothing was out of whack animation or art-wise but nothing really stood out, either… except for Rui’s design. Man, I just love that dark blue hair and violet eyes combo!! Masaki’s portrayal in the anime was better than I could have ever hoped for and his design only accentuated that character even further. Plus, whoever was in charge of doing the art on his tattoo… hats off to you because you, sir or madam, nailed it.
The animation was pretty standard.. nothing super fluid but it also wasn’t budget quality either. It made everything flow together nicely and that’s something you would typically expect from a slice-of-life show like Dome x Kano.
For the soundtrack, it was hit or miss for me. Most of the soundtrack was rather forgettable with the exception of a couple of songs that drove home the emotions right when the show needed it. Most SOL shows have an OST that’s nothing more than background music but this one was a bit different. While most of the tracks belonged in the background, it came through brilliantly on those few and far between tracks. Enough so to where I think it’s worth a listen once the official album drops. I don’t think it’s good enough to buy so if you can find this on a legal streaming service, I’d say give it a once over.
Domestic Girlfriend is one of those shows that’s going to take you by surprise. What seems like just another trashy incest show on the surface turns into a beautiful love drama that only gets better over time. Not many shows take you into the characters and how they feel as much as this show does within the drama. Most of the time, the feelings experienced are nothing short of petty, short-sighted teenage high school problems but this show tends to explore deeper issues meant for a more mature cast of characters. Because of that, it elevates this genre nicely and offers up a compelling story that anyone can enjoy and/or relate to.
My only wish is that this show gets a second (or even a third) season to really explore how the story takes off. Without spoiling too much, Rui and Natsuo do end up together (as if it wasn’t obvious from the cliffhanger they ended the series on) and you get to see the trials and tests of their relationship all with our characters remaining as down-to-earth and as human as possible. Plus, we will get to see Natsuo during his time at college and all of the friends and situations he ends up in. All of which makes this already great series even better.
The anime does a pretty faithful job sticking to the manga with some edits as expected for a 12-episode series. What was skipped isn’t series-breaking but purists will probably have a field day complaining about it. It’s kind of funny that no matter how many animes they watch, after how many times a show cuts something due to budget or time constraints, that they still haven’t learned to come and accept that this is just part of the anime industry. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.
Anyway, great show. Worth a watch if you want to see a romance drama that does things just a bit differently. If you were put off by the initial premise, look past it and give it a shot. If you still hate it afterward, oh well. Can’t change your mind but if you end up liking it, be sure to thank me later.
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Domestic Girlfriend takes the trope of trashy incest love stories and turns it on its head by providing us with a story containing real drama, down-to-earth characters, and a certain charm that will make you come back and watch more!
Felt a little rushed
Characters felt a little ignorant in relation to the situation