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Domestic na Kanojo – No Really, It’s Good

Not just good for what it was, either.

It’s always nice when a series that was totally off your radar screen manages to hook you in all the way to the end. It’s something you’d think would happen all the time, but that hasn’t really been the case with me. Maybe it’s recompense for all the series over the last year that started out in my higher expectations tier and bombed out altogether – there have certainly been more of those than usual. Mind you I’d gladly defer from that trade-off, but I’m still grateful for whatever I get where good anime are concerned.

Honestly it’s actually a bit of a misnomer to say that Domestic na Kanojo was off my radar screen. I knew about it, and I had expectations – namely, that it would be a disaster. I don’t think it has been – in fact, it turned out to be a couple of notches better than most other anime romances. It struck a nice balance between realism and absurdity and treated its characters with a surprising level of respect – the latter, I think, being a key to its success.

As for the finale, it elected to largely avoid histrionics, which again might be seen as a bit of a departure from expectations. As it turned out no one intentionally outed Natsuo and Hina, they were just unlucky. And Hina chose to deal with this exactly as I would have expected her to. Her career at the school was toast at that point, so the best possible deal for her would be to agree to leave in exchange for the affair not being made public. Of course that the school is fine with her going off to teach somewhere else is a potentially troubling matter – certainly if you believe what she and Natsuo did was wrong – but it’s a method of resolution that should be familiar to anyone who follows the news…

As to whether Hina should have buggered off without telling even her family where to, that’s more of a problem to me though I certainly understand why she did it. Natsuo going into a tailspin over this is again about what I would have expected. He did at least get an explanation from Hina (who loves writing letters, clearly), but that just means Natsuo is going to blame himself over what’s happened. Writing as therapy is obviously his path forward, and it’s good that he was smart enough to figure that out on his own.

Throughout all this Natsuo has gotten more than his share of development, which alone sets him apart from the generic passive MCs of most series like this one. Natsuo is neither passive nor generic – while his arc starts with a passive act (letting himself be talked into having sex by Rui), he ends up being pretty proactive for the rest of the series. He makes dumb decisions sometimes, as teenage boys (and everyone else) are prone to do, but he doesn’t stand idly by as what he wants slips away from him. Even if what he wants is probably not what’s best for him.

The manga is of course ongoing, so DomeKano had to conjure an ending out of nothing and I have no idea how it compared to the source material. But it’s open-ended, which I think is wholly appropriate given the premise. Neither Rui or Natsuo is giving up, but the epilogue with Hina suggests she isn’t either. And having his therapy novel win a significant prize is only going to make Natsuo more confident that he can be a partner for Hina, whose path will inevitably cross his once again. She’s going to return to her family soon enough, and then… We’ll see. It’s not like she’s 50 and he’s 15 – there’s a five or six-year difference, and Natsuo will be in college (or a full-time professional writer) soon enough. And the heart wants what it wants.

While certainly no masterpiece, Domestic no Kanojo took what was undeniably a dramatic scenario and presented it in a surprisingly coherent and measured way. As I said earlier, I have no problem with an anime showing people make bad decisions as long as they arrive at them in believable ways. Maybe there’s a voyeuristic component to enjoying DomeKano but it never felt exploitative or mean-spirited, and it was sometimes downright fascinating to watch. A pleasant surprise, certainly, and a reminder to keep our minds open when we look at the schedule for a new season.

March 31, 2019 at 3:17 am
10 comments »
  • March 31, 2019 at 6:30 amRenaSayers

    Natsuo going into a tailspin, I’m going into a tailspin. I don’t understand why can’t get transfered but continue their relationship? At that point it’s no longer a conflict of interest both Natsuo and Hina are free to love one another, but no Hina runs off. My guess is she still had lingering regrets being the lover of her student and step brother.

    How old is Natsuo? At what age are you considered legally an adult in Japan despite being a student? Natsuo and Hina should be free to pursue their love interest, instead there was no debate, no defending of what you believe, just a cop out.

    I really enjoyed this show even though the end killed me.

    • March 31, 2019 at 4:06 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

      IIRC, it’s not the age difference being frowned upon (by Japanese law, Natsuo is legal IIRC), but the very idea of a romantic teacher-student relationship.

  • March 31, 2019 at 7:13 amHenrietta Brix

    I’m going to miss this guilty pleasure

    • March 31, 2019 at 10:57 amRenaSayers

      There is always the Manga. (-_- )

      • April 1, 2019 at 4:37 amManly tear

        It certainly drew quite a few people to it. Having a blast it with so far myself. I also got a thing for Sasuga Kei’s artstyle since reading GE: Good ending. The way the characters are drawn really helps to express emotion and bring in ‘dem feels :P

  • March 31, 2019 at 9:34 amGreed

    I am on Team Hina honestly. Wonder how far the manga will go.

    • April 3, 2019 at 10:54 pmGreed

      But seriously, how can people not be in team Hina after seeing the dramatic fireworks

  • March 31, 2019 at 9:57 amIncognito

    CHUUTO HAMPA DAKE WA IYAAA~! (Chromosomes Overrated… Not Blood-Related… Incest Activated.)

    Well, picked up Domestic Girlfriend on a whim–and for that opening scene in the first episode… ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) (IIRC, the 22nd manga volume released with a more explicit version of that episode, so rejoice, Rui fans.)

    Strangely enough, I didn’t feel like facpalming over the actions of the characters and didn’t feel the urge to watch the world burn. Heck, there were a couple of episodes that I watched straight through with minimal cringe! Like the episode where Natsuo cooks a good meal for Momo instead of…err…letting his hormones do the talking. However, I’m guessing the cringe will increase going into manga territory, so I’ll be content with the anime’s ending for now.

    That said, the OP and ED music for this anime is… So. Freaking. Good. Or as Gigguk would put it, “It’s a banger.”

  • March 31, 2019 at 12:34 pmewok40k

    finally romance where pair(s) are showed somewhat realistically, not a 99 episodes of “will they kiss or not”…
    and everyone is growing up… Natsuo, to be a writer, Hina, to be better teacher, and Rui, to finally embrace love she was experiencing, even as she didnt know it
    now excuse me, I need to find the manga , there is some serious backlog to clear

  • March 31, 2019 at 7:37 pmGreed

    I felt it would have been feasible if Hina just lied, saying “I thought it was normal for a big sister to kiss a little brother” but I guess I was expecting too much.
    sigh.

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