Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Domestic Girlfriend
Anime Studio: Diomedia
Publisher: MVN Entertainment
Released: August 10th, 2020
Language: Japanese / English
Don’t have sex with people who could become your relatives!
Natsuo Fuji has a serious crush on one of his teachers, Hina Tachibana, but since he knows he has zero chance of ever being in a relationship with her, he lets his friends talk him into going to a party where he meets Rui. One thing leads to another and then, well, neither of them is a virgin anymore. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what they expected, but that’s fine. They’re just ships passing in the night and they’ll never have to see each other again, right? Except when Natsuo’s father announces that he’s getting married again, Natsuo discovers that he’s getting two new step-sisters as well. Now there’s a problem, because one is his teacher, Hina, and the other is Rui. Yep, the family dinners at Natsuo’s house are about to get REALLY awkward!
Domestic girlfriend is a series that really surprised me. I actually expected to get a lot less enjoyment out of it than I did, largely due to it covering one of my least favourite story topics. But, this managed to not only keep me interested throughout the twelve episodes but also managed to get me invested in the story, albeit not in the way I’m sure was intended.
When it comes to the romance side of the story, this dealt with two taboo subjects: step-sibling love, and romance between a teacher and a student. Now, when it comes to the step-sibling side of things, I should make one thing clear: while not technically ‘wrong’, it’s a subject that I hate. It feels morally off to me, and I honestly can’t get passed that. When you add in that one of the two step-siblings – both of whom are interested in the male lead – is a teacher at his school, and the morality of it all comes into question even more.
Like I said though, this got me invested in the romance. The reason for that isn’t that I was rooting for the characters to overcome adversity, but rather that it all felt very realistic. The three people involved acknowledged the moral issues, and it all got very messy very quickly. There was doubt, and fear, and it always seemed like it could come crashing down around them if they continued. That was all aided by the characters acting in ways that I could actually see people acting in real life. It was this feeling that it would reach a realistic conclusion that kept me watching, and in some ways, I wasn’t disappointed.
I won’t spoil exactly what happened, but there were parts of the final episode that drew this to a conclusion that I was happy with. Natsuo’s response to the events too came across as very real, and the way he eventually dealt with it all was absolutely positive. I was also a fan of the supporting cast. Momo and Masaki are given more depth than their initial appearances let on, for example, and it was nice seeing them get moments to shine.
Throw in that the animation and OST are decent, and that both the original and dub VAs do well, and it was all surprisingly watchable. The opening, Kawaki wo Ameku by Minami, is worthy of particular note. It was very stylised, both vocally and visually, and the use of colours in the video really summed up the mood of the series well.
Now, it should be noted that the series gets a little raunchy at times. There are sex scenes, and while they don’t quite stray into hentai territory, they’re about as close as you can get without doing so. So, if that’s likely to put you off, be aware that there are a few of these scattered around. It’s also worth noting that the subject matter means the characters are going to be making constant miss-steps, especially as they all know that what they’re doing would be viewed negatively. That includes Natsuo attempting to kiss a sleeping character, which would, of course, mean a lack of consent.
Some of the supporting cast members don’t quite get the time I would have liked either. Miu is a prime example, as I felt like she would have been an excellent character for Natuso to grow closer to had he not continued to pursue the main arc. My biggest issue though was actually with the ending. If the final episode had ended just a little sooner or cut one particular scene, it would have been far more to my liking. Again, I can’t say what exactly happened without diving into spoilers, but I will say it was enough to make me sigh.
So, how do I rate this one overall? It was never going to get full marks from me. Anyone that’s read my reviews or seen me comment on this sort of story subject before would know that. I’m also not a fan of explicit scenes, which drags things down a little for me. However, I am aware that many won’t be bothered by the step-sibling romance or the adult content. When you look at it, Domestic Girlfriend takes a fairly realistic approach to its subject matter, and it does deserve some praise for that. I’ll give it a solid 3.75 out of 5.