Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Domestic Girlfriend

Original Run: January 12, 2019 - March 30, 2019
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Drama, Romance
Based on the Series Created By: Kei Sasuga

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Domestic Girlfriend. Reader discretion is advised.***

 Series Synopsis

For the longest time, Natsuo Fujii (voiced by Taku Yashiro) has had a crush on his teacher, Hina-sensei (voiced by Yoko Hikasa). Despite his feelings, deep down, Natsuo knows his love can never be. Thus, in an attempt to forget about his teacher, Natsuo attends a small mixer. That is where he meets a girl name Rui (voiced by Maaya Uchida).

Rui pulls Natsuo aside and asks a favor of him. She suggests they have sex with each other just for the sake of experience. After the two sleep together, they both think that is the end of their relationship.

Then, Natsuo’s father gets remarried to the Tachibana family. To his shock, Natsuo’s new step-sisters are none other than Hina and Rui. All hope of abandoning any lingering feelings dies in an instant.

With so many socially unacceptable routes converging at once, it is impossible to separate what is morally right and satisfying the needs of one’s heart.

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Series Positives

I need to get this out of my system right at the start of this post because it was something that kept bothering me the entire time I was watching Domestic Girlfriend. This series always seemed on the verge of doing something crazy; like, on the level of School Days crazy.

For clarification, there were some disgusting elements within the School Days story; with main character Makoto Ito being the absolute worst of them all. Domestic Girlfriend, to its immense credit, never came close to reaching that sort of mean-spiritedness. No, this series was way easier to stomach.

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While that may sound like a positive, don’t forget, I said that with hindsight. While this show was happening, there was much less certainty. During my viewing, it would not have surprised me if Domestic Girlfriend had gone off the deep end in a big way.

And returning to my initial concern, for those of you who have seen School Days, then you know precisely the size of the “big” I am referring to, and I hope you can appreciate why I felt it was necessary to point out Domestic Girlfriend was not THAT. Alternatively, if you have never seen School Days, then I am curious to know how you might react to this series.

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Then again, assuming you hold my reviews in any sort of standing, if you are that latter type of person (and this will also apply if you are the former), Domestic Girlfriend won’t be worth your time. This story suffered from a misguided fallacy:

More is better.

And let me assure you of this: Domestic Girlfriend had no qualms about adding more.

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This was a rough show to get through, and the challenge only grew more cumbersome the deeper in I went. That notwithstanding, it was because of this series’ constant additions that its most prominent feature shone as bright as it did. This show’s cast of characters – particularly its main trio of Natsuo, Rui, and Hina – were quite outstanding.

To be clear, I’m only saying everyone was a good character. I am not saying anyone was a good person. Everyone in this show had their own major personality flaws. Natsuo was spineless and needy. Rui was often needlessly aggressive. Hina – to put it mildly – was wildly unprofessional. There were no angels in this story.

But there were no demons either.

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Everyone made mistakes, and no one knew what the right answers were. And with the events of this show serving as our benchmark, who could know what to do or say when the s@#$ doesn’t just hit the fan, but rather, the fan gets crushed into oblivion? Therefore, although Domestic Girlfriend shot for the moon and a little beyond, its characters were only reacting to the drama unfolding around them. No one usually went out of their way to make situations worse.

Natsuo, Rui, and Hina behaved in manners that were conducive to their established characters. No one suddenly did something that was so unlike them. Any significant shift in personality came after a long, well-documented change. There was growth in this series.

I won’t promise you will ever come to like anyone in Domestic Girlfriend. However, I am willing to bet you can at least understand – disapprovingly if need be – why everyone did what they did. That is the mark of excellent characterization, and despite what might be said in the next section, we cannot nor should not take that accomplishment away from this show.

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Series Negatives

To give you an idea of what it was like to watch Domestic Girlfriend, I need to remind you that the very first thing this show did was introduce Natsuo and Rui right after they had finished having emotionless sex.

You are going to forget that happened pretty damn fast.

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Let’s see if I can name all the topics Domestic Girlfriend wanted to explore:

  • Remarriage
  • Becoming a step-sibling to the teacher you’ve always had a crush on
  • Becoming a step-sibling to the person you just lost your virginity to
  • Confronting a loved one who is the other person in an extramarital affair
  • Teacher-student romantic relationships
  • Step-sibling romantic relationships
  • Sexual relations with an underage teenager and an adult
  • A persistent cycle of loneliness which caused a someone to enter abusive relationships after abusive relationships
  • Self-cutting

That might be everything, but something tells me I forgot a point or two.

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Any one of those issues could have made for an interesting story. Keyword being “ONE.” Excessive much? I brought School Days up at the beginning of this review because I legitimately expected something to break.

Now, I firmly believe there is no such thing as a taboo subject when it comes to storytelling. As long as the story in question gives the proper respect to the topic at hand, there is no limit to where a narrative can go.

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In the case of this series, though, there was simply too much going on. By the time we reached the final few episodes, each new development was instantly beyond the point of shocking. Instead, it got downright hilarious when things kept getting added to the seemingly never-ending list of complications.

Speaking of hilarious, this show needed to be much more wary with its use of comedy.

Although Domestic Girlfriend never poked fun at any of its more intense story elements, I still can’t pretend that the level of humor in this series wasn’t inappropriate. There was just too much silliness for this show’s own good.

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That leads to another issue. I’m not sure what’s worse, an uncalled for joke that falls flat or one that lands. Believe it or not, Domestic Girlfriend did successfully pull a laugh out of me on several occasions.

Any intrigue or compassion that could have come from this story was diluted to the point of worthlessness. As a result, Domestic Girlfriend utterly crumbled under the weight of its overreach.

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Final Thoughts

I mean, if you’re looking for heavy, this show will give you heavy.

That’s not necessarily a good thing, though.

Yes, there was great characterization in this series, and there was nothing about it that was either all over the place or slapped together. But this show was definitely overcrowded. And thanks to the story jampacking everything it could into itself, there was no room left to explore any of the ideas it put forward.

Domestic Girlfriend is a series I simply cannot recommend.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Domestic Girlfriend? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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