Continuing off of last episode’s conclusion, Natsuo and Rui have teamed up to end Hina’s affair. Though a serious endeavor on paper, the drama actually kicks in very gradually. The stakeout at the beginning is played up for some laughs what with Natsuo and Rui synchronously eating anpan as they tail their sister and watch her get drunk for four hours. Their next plan in which Rui steals Hina’s phone so that she impersonate her sister and break up the affair is downright silly but it’s actually played with a fair amount of intensity. After all, it’s the siblings’ first encounter with Hina’s boyfriend, Shuu (Daisuke Hirakawa), and due to Rui’s social awkwardness, the plan goes disastrously. I admire that Natsuo decided to call the plan off, not wanting to push Rui past her comfort zones.
It is completely coincidental that Natsuo and Rui end up meeting Hina and Shuu at the cafe but I’m okay with that. Sooner or later, these two groups were going to bump into each other anyway and Hina seems to be a regular customer at the cafe so the location kind of fits.
I was wondering what kind of person Shuu would be. Up until this episode, we’ve only seen how Hina acts around him which, so far, has comprised of bouts of crying and having an argument with the man. From what I can tell, Shuu doesn’t seem like the worst person ever. He’s polite, looks genuinely concerned when Natsuo informs him about Hina’s episodes, and strives to mend any problems he’s causing. In a way though, that almost makes it even frustrating that Shuu is still a two-timer, a man presumably bored with his wife and dragging a younger woman into his love life with promises he may or may not uphold. And sure, he plans on filing a divorce but that should’ve been step one. There’s also his attitude towards Natsuo and Rui which came across as very condescending. Sure, maybe those two are narrow minded but committing infidelity doesn’t exactly make you wiser now, does it?
Curiously, it’s ultimately Rui who drew the last straw and I’m glad that it was her and not Natsuo. Not to invalidate Natsuo’s views on the affair — he is in the right here — but his outrage might still be clouded by his own romantic feelings towards Hina, something which allows Shuu and even Hina to devalue his stance. In Rui’s case, it is 100% disapproving sister so her throwing water at Shuu lets it completely sink in for Hina that her affair is starting to tear her family apart, something that she couldn’t possibly live with. Even Natsuo seems to recognize that this entire ordeal has pained Rui more, hence his effort to comfort her after they both left the cafe. He stops saying how he feels and he just lets his sister vent.
What really caught me off guard about this episode was actually Natsuo visiting his biological mother’s grave. It is a bit preposterous that her death coincides with Natsuo’s stepmother’s birthday but I’m more stunned that Domestic Girlfriend is making a real character out of her. This show could’ve easily just said she died and leave it at that. I’m glad that they went the opposite route though; the flashback scene really helps articulate Natsuo’s desire to be viewed as an adult and hint at the void his mother must’ve left in his life. It is also really heartwarming to see Hina and Rui pay their respects as well. They are now family after all…though I must say the subtext is a little hilarious. We are technically watching a young woman visit the grave of the mother of young boy she’s aware has the hots for her and a teenage girl who lost her virginity to the same boy. Yeah, might not want to mention those details…
Which brings me once again to my usual concern with the direction Domestic Girlfriend is taking. It’s possible we’ll see Shuu again but for now, let’s just assume the whole affair plot is over. Besides, it’s a solid plot point to end on for the first third for the anime. With that whole conflict resolved, Domestic Girlfriend is truly free to pursue the love triangle it was touting in the advertisements. I’m still not sure how to feel about that. Believe me, I think Natsuo and Rui have great chemistry. In the earlier paragraphs of this post, I even mentioned some interactions between them in this episode that I really enjoyed. But it does feel inevitable that they might hook up and I really don’t want to see that route taken since they’re, you know, step-siblings now. And no, don’t give me that “they’re not related by blood” crap. It doesn’t change the fact that they’re family and I’ve had enough with anime pulling the same trite and tiresome excuse. There’s also Hina to consider. I highly doubt she broke up with Shuu because of Natsuo’s feelings towards her but boy is the possibility of them hooking up so much stronger now.
Like I’ve said before, maybe Domestic Girlfriend will be able to pull this plot off. Given it’s track record so far, the sky’s the limit really. All I know is that I’ve enjoyed these four episodes so much that should this show jump the shark, I’ll be very, very disappointed.
Thanks for reading!