First Look: Domestic Girlfriend

Alternative title(s): Domestic na Kanojo, DomeKano
Manga Adaptation by Diomedea
Streaming on HIDIVE

Premise

Natsuo has a crush on his teacher, but he knows it’s unrequited. He ends up attending a mixer, where he meets a girl and has sex with her. It’s then revealed that his father is remarrying, and I’ll give you three guesses who his step-mum’s two daughters are.

Euri’s verdict: I Can’t Believe I Had Sex With My Crush’s Younger Sister, And Now I’m Their Step-Brother!

On paper, this show sounds pretty dreadful. Natsuo (our protag) has sex with a girl he barely knows, who turns out to be the sister of the woman he has a crush on, who is also his teacher, whose mother is marrying protag’s father, who hasn’t mentioned a word of this prior to them physically showing up at the house. Crushing/dating on soon-to-be step-sisters is somehow cliché for anime romance shows, and I don’t think it was that long ago that I last watched one of them. However, I did find myself intrigued by Domestic Girlfriend, and was somewhat impressed for a good chunk of it. Somehow.

The initial meeting between Natsuo and Rui, before any of the marriage stuff shows up later in the episode, is pretty well done. They’re both bored teens wanting to escape a mixer they’ve been forced into, and they both feel general social pressure to have sex – Rui because she feels like an outcast because her friends are doing it, and Natsuo for perhaps worse reasons, even though he fights with himself about whether he should do it, because there’s someone he likes. But they do it anyway, and they move on with their lives. Natsuo even confides in a friend because of these events, unsure that he made the right decision, showing some weakness but making our protagonist a little more human. I should point out that the sex was completely consensual even though I hate that I might need to clarify this, but that’s anime.

Natsuo’s relationship with his teacher, the woman he’s crushing on, is… interesting. She does make it very clear that she’s not interested in kids when some of her students start to tease her, but she does seem to flirt with Natsuo in a way that makes it seem like they have some history. We do learn a bit more about that in a flashback about Natsuo’s writing hobby, but I don’t think it really explains why she acts so casually around him. At the same time, I don’t think she has any romantic interest in him either, at least not yet, but the show is very obviously going to go there.

The turning point of the episode comes, of course, with the sudden announcement of Natsuo’s father getting remarried, and the revelation his new step-mum’s two daughters are the only two women we’ve seen in the show for more than ten seconds. The whole ‘surprise remarriage’ trope is completely unnecessary though – the reveal of who the two daughters are wouldn’t change if Natsuo was privy to the knowledge that his father was dating someone. It’s obviously going for comedic effect, but it just doesn’t work when this is the second or third show I’ve seen that has done that.

Natsuo and Rui pussyfooting around the whole sex thing is good though, and almost refreshing that it’s Natsuo fretting about it and not Rui. To Rui, the meeting truly didn’t mean anything beyond a means for them both to lose their virginity, and thus doesn’t feel any awkwardness around him. We then get a nosedive towards the end of the episode, where the show decides it needs to perv on the older sister a bit, and Natsuo feels like it’s okay to try and kiss his sleeping teacher (and is interrupted and caught by Rui to close off the episode).

My opinion on this show is all over the place, honestly. It never gets to a point where I’m actively enjoying what’s going on, but it does have a good approach to certain topics and treats them in a serious manner, without feeling the need to force bad jokes into it to diffuse the awkwardness. On the other hand, it’s incredibly cliché, feels the need to ogle the women towards the end of it, and is almost certainly going to involve a teacher falling in love with her student while he slowly falls in love with her sister.

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