Chances are I’ll end up thinking that Domestic Girlfriend had a stronger start than finish. The show is still not the miserable experience I originally feared it to be and it still exercises more thought than you’d think it would. However, watching the love triangle in full swing is becoming more eye-rolling than the time spent leading up to it.
At least, it’s not boring. In fact, the only times I seem to truly zone out are scenes relatively self-contained from it. Take the introduction of Alex J. Matsukawa (Tasuku Hatanaka) for example. The guy is alright as far as foreigner archetypes go but he does feel superfluous. I get that he’s there to fall for Rui and in turn, cause Rui to snap at Natsuo at the idea of hooking her up with a different man but we kind of already have that sort of tension thanks to Momo and Miu. There’s also this brief subplot about an underwear thief which, while amusing, is so out of the blue. The only way it feels justified in my mind is if it’s to prove that this show could get dumber if it wanted to which uh…hmmm…
To come back to the love triangle, this episode marks the point where Hina learns about Natsuo and Rui’s make-out sessions. It does happen randomly but that’s the point. Natsuo and Rui are giving into their attractions to each other; they’re careless and that’s bound to come with a consequence. Everyone’s reactions in the ensuing aftermath is in-character too. Natsuo feels extremely guilty, Hina is at a loss of words, and Rui tries to calmly take the brunt of the incident. The only thing I take issue with is Rui trying to pull the “but we’re not related by blood” card (spoken like a true anime character). I know this is her trying to follow her heart and be assertive for a change but after disapproving Hina for participating in an affair, it kind of rubs me the wrong way seeing Rui defend her own actions so nonchalantly.
I say that but really, no one has beaten Hina as Domestic Girlfriend‘s drama queen. For an adult, she sure struggles with acting mature. The fact that she was planning on moving out is something a teenager would consider when they feel discontent with their life at home. Yes, Hina claims she’s been considering moving out for a long time but who honestly buys that? This was never brought up before and it’s far too coincidental for her to drop it right as Natsuo tries to reconcile with her. A couple of other actions come across as childish such as her simply walking away from Natsuo as he tries to talk to her to actually biting Natsuo’s hand to shrug him off. Even the way Masaki catches her is like an adult restraining a child as the latter throws a tantrum. I know Hina is still young for an adult but given her experiences, you’d think she’d handle these current feelings better than simply ignoring them.
While there is surprisingly no kissing (at least onscreen), it’s safe to assume that Natsuo and Hina hooked up at the end of the episode. Hina pours her heart out to Natsuo, the two hug it out again as the (admittedly effective) music kicks in, and they hold hands as they walk back (behind Rui’s back no less). No way in hell any of this is platonic.
The funny thing is that despite my own reservations over these taboo relationships, I still found myself angrily shaking my fist in the air over which ship is apparently sailing. Believe me, Natsuo x Rui is risky but those two do have great chemistry together, a genuine connection despite the rather loveless beginning. Had they not become step-siblings, I think this relationship would’ve gone steadily. By comparison, even if you put aside the fact that Hina is family and Natsuo’s teacher, she’s undeniably high maintenance. She gets very moody when things don’t go her way, she’s prone to hiding how she truly feels, and the way she has tested Natsuo’s maturity and commitment can come across as overbearing. And yet, Natsuo keeps coming back! It’s astounding, really.
Most nagging is that it hardly seems that neither Natsuo nor Hina have learned their lessons. Hina still wants to engage in a sketchy relationship that could cause a rift in the family. Natsuo continues to pursue impractical feelings despite many, many scenes encouraging him to give up. Did the past few episodes just not happen? Do we need to drag Natsuo into the damn ocean again? Then again, I’m under the impression that this song and dance is a point that Domestic Girlfriend is trying to make and to be fair, there’s some truth there. Love can die hard, no matter what form it takes.
Thanks for reading!