There are many upon many harem anime that exist today; ranging from the action packed yet ecchii High School DxD to silly but humorous Konosuba. However, they don't represent love triangles (or beyond) with actual proportions if applied in real life.
In Domestic Girlfriend, the anime features a male protagonist that isn't your typical main character in a harem with not much significant background information. Instead, Natsuo Fujii is given a lot of life for the role he plays.
He is seen to have a passion with literature from his papers he works on for his teacher Hina Tachibana. He fell in love with her ever since having her as his literature teacher. As for Hina, she is quite fond of Natsuo for his kind personality and appreciates how good of a student he is.
His life begins to change upon the first episode when he meets Rui Tachibana at a mixer. Both Natsuo and Rui don't seem to be into the mixer like their friends are, and so she offers him to get out of the place with her to somewhere else.
She then leads him to her home while none of her family members are present. Once they go into her bedroom, she asks him if he's willing to have sex with her. He is taken aback from her question, but Rui goes on about wanting to understand what it's like being an adult and thinks this experience can answer that very question.
Natsuo eventually agrees to her offer; thus changing how his life plays throughout the entire anime. The scene where they get out of bed after having sexual intercourse is shown in the very first seconds of the show.
And at the end of the episode, his father remarries after being a widower for 10 years. His new siblings then appear to be both Rui and Hina. This becomes a real shocker for Natsuo as both him and Rui both agreed to never speak of this to anyone (except he tells his close friend Fumiya Kurimoto) and there they are with both of their families intermarried.
Domestic Girlfriend Opening
Miwa "Kawakiwo ameku" MV
Domestic Girlfriend Closing
Age Of Consent And Social Norms
Let's first start off with going over the age of consent in Japan as Hina, Natsuo's teacher, is involved in the show. 13 is the minimum age of consent but can vary with certain laws called statutes. These statutes can raise the age of consent from 13 to 16-18.
"... many prefectures... have local... 'obscenity statutes' (淫行条例)... unless they are in a 'sincere romantic relationship'.... For example, the effective age of consent in Tokyo by local statute is 18. The age of marriage is 16 for girls and 18 for boys with parental permission.... (as stated in... the Child Welfare Act of Japan)" ("What is the Japan Age of Consent?" AgeOfConsent)
It is mentioned in the anime that Natsuo is a sophmore in high school; leading to the belief that he's most likely 16 years of age. Romantic relationships can be entered into from being this old within his age range or beyond as his city may permit him to do so.
This anime does reflect on the steps Japanese people take with meeting someone new to eventually form a great relationship or establish romantic relations. It is common for young people in Japan to set up mixers with friends to meet new people and get to know each other.
"Before dating there is gokon. These are group blind dates.... This lets each group take stock of each other.... After several gokon... people pair off for coffee, movies, and other typical date activities.... The couple is still not considered dating. They are only feeling each other out – rather than feeling each other up" (Chris Kincaid. "Dating and Marriage in Japan" Japan Powered).
As said before, both Rui and Natsuo don't seem to be that interested in the mixer as they don't conform to those norms; having outsider characteristics unlike common, young people going out to meet new people.
This can even apply to how Natsuo still has his childhood friend, Fumiya. Even though he has friends in school that don't fit the role "outsiders," he remains his true self for keeping his long time friend and has his interests with literature such as creating stories.
Because of this, much life is given to him; correlating to why he's in love with Hina. From time to time, they talk about how his papers are coming along and how she loves his work. She supports Natsuo's passion and, as a teacher, shows care for him.
Moments From Episode 1
Initiation Into Adulthood
Now, let's go over how the harem element plays out in Domestic Girlfriend. There are a total of four girls involved in the show: Rui, Hina, Momo Kashiwabara and Miu Ashihara. All of them play a role for Natsuo's life; all thanks to how he entered the phase of "growing up" after losing his virginity.
It can be seen from Natsuo losing his virginity as an "initiation" to understanding love and entering adulthood. From some people that no longer consider themselves virgins, they identify losing their virginity as "a right of passage." In which losing it becomes a first step to growing up.
Because of being "initiated" into "adulthood," he gains a better perspective of closeness towards all four of the girls. For Hina's case, if he never had the experience of sex, he would likely not have instigated into pushing her to tell him what's been going on with her relationship with someone as he cares for her well being.
From time to time, she doesn't budge to tell him anything and casts off his persistence to know such as retorting back the issues she's dealing with are "adult problems." Yet he continues to push through; eventually becoming successful with getting her to reconcile with her problems thanks to Rui helping out.
Rui The Kuudere
Time to turn to Rui; whom Natsuo had sexual intercourse with. At first, she doesn't appear to have any feeling of attachment towards him. But, later on through the anime, she begins to have feelings for him after seeing how nice of a guy Natsuo is and how he helped her with conversational issues.
She displays as a kuudere that has trouble maintaining proper tones to other individuals. Unlike stereotypical kuuderes, she shows these characteristics as real life issues that some people have problems with; especially not growing up having a social life.
That all changed when Natsuo stepped in to teach her how to properly have conversations with other students. And because of that, her character development comes to life from having a bland personality to being a bit more lively in the show.
To take things a step further, she even asks Natsuo if they can try out kissing. He does agree to let her kiss him, just like how they agreed to have sex with each other to better understand what the feeling and "initiation" into adulthood is like.
After having kissed him, she says to him that it made her feel light and at ease. This is a sign that her attachment grew stronger for him and has fallen in love. This does display as an internal struggle for her as Natsuo becomes closer and closer to Hina and she begins to feel left out; displaying a new kind of emotion of sadness and longing for him.
Rui Kiss Scene Domestic Girlfriend
Love Upon First Sight And Sex
There have been studies shown that some women, and even men, who have one-night stands tend to feel they are in love with whom they have slept with.
"The preconception that many... have is that men are 'only after one thing....' Recent studies, however, have shown that sex isn’t strictly a physical act for men or women!
"A 2011 study conducted by psychology professor Jim Pfaus at Concordia University in Canada revealed that there is an 'overlap between sexual desire and emotional love in the brain’s insular cortex....'
"It explains why, when someone has what they think will be casual sex, he or she ends up feeling attached afterwards. These receptive areas of the brain are the same for both men and women" (Maddie Schmitz. "Getting Attached After Sex: Myth or Fact?" HerCampus).
You may have heard of the saying "love at first site." Well, despite Rui's attraction towards Natsuo being delayed, it can show off as him being "fated" for her. Their first kiss together especially affirms her personal bond she has with him.
Other than the delay, it is a fact that it can happen between two couples to fall for each other whether they have sex or not after meeting for the first time.
"... according to a study done by Match.com,.... 31 percent of the people surveyed had transitioned from a one-night stand to a long-term commitment... 43 percent of men and 32 percent of women admitted to having felt love at first sight, without even having sex" (Maddie Schmitz. "Getting Attached After Sex: Myth or Fact?" HerCampus).
As for Natsuo's case, he doesn't display any attachment for Rui. This can apply to how some men after having sex don't feel attachment afterwards while some women do.
"... women release higher levels of oxytocin than men do. This... causes higher levels of post-sex attachment in women than in men. Males... have lower dopamine levels after sex, resulting in negative withdrawal symptoms...." (Maddie Schmitz. "Getting Attached After Sex: Myth or Fact?" HerCampus).
He tells Fumiya about losing his virginity as good news to entering manhood. However, he also tells him that there wasn't much of any feeling of love afterwards. "It was like 'Huh, so that's what it's like,'" as he tells Fumiya of his sexual intercourse with Rui.
Momo The Adorable
Moving on from Natsuo's adopted sisters, Momo becomes an interesting turn of events for him. She is an adorable girl in the same school he goes to that has a history of having love affairs with other male students. Because of her previous affairs, her reputation turned downhill and is judged by others.
This can relate to real life circumstances as rumors can be spread to others such as in schools that cause reputations to plummet down. In truth, she seeks love upon first sight as to help coax with her issues of loneliness due to living alone with no family around.
Referring back to what was said earlier, there have been some cases where some may find "love upon first sight" with others. She shows to be into guys that have a kind heart, and that's where Natsuo comes in.
When asked to go to her place, he agrees to her offer. At this point in time of the show, he aims to have Momo as a form of "escapism" in order to forget about Hina after reconciling with her and Rui to be a proper family.
Sometimes people may use sex as a way to ease stress in life or to seek comfort. In this case, he would be using Momo for those reasons as a way to coop with a mutual relationship with Hina.
"Sexual addiction is like drugs and alcohol.... In the same way, sex is often used as a coping mechanism. People who are addicted to sex tend to use sex as a means to avoid stressful events and problems. Some sexual addicts even find relief from boredom, discomfort, anxiety, and depression" ("Signs That You May be Addicted to Sex" A Forever Recovery).
Luckily, he didn't have sexual intercourse with her as he later learns about her loneliness and aims to become a true friend for her. He even cooks her up a nice meal and she cries over his kind actions as she almost never had anyone to cook for her.
Domestic Girlfriend Momo Bed Scene
Miu The Dandere
And the last girl to be left off with is Miu. She displays as a dandere due to her shyness. She isn't a stereotypical dandere, just like how Rui isn't a stereotypical kuudere, as she is given the chance to meet with Natsuo and become friends over having a common interest in literature.
Upon first impressions, some would think that she can be a perfect match for him from how both of them love books. Natsuo especially gets along with her as they seem to enjoy being in the literature club and even have good conversations with each other.
However, she doesn't become a love interest for Natsuo as his feelings already belong to Hina. There is a point of time in the anime where Reiji Kiriya, the sponsor of the literature club, asks for the both of them to kiss to gain a better insight on romance as both of them are working on books of that genre.
They were reluctant at first, but then agree to his proposition. Just when Natsuo was about to kiss Miu, she appears to have a bit of tears in her eyes. He then recedes from her face to get a tissue for her. Reiji acknowledges his choice as he is able to tell how considerate of a guy he is based on his action.
This can show as a test of virtue where he made the right call for recognizing that Miu doesn't want to go through forced kissing. Even though the two have a common interest, it is the norm in relationships to not rush things through.
"Physical intimacy, even between professed couples, is a slow process. Kissing, hand holding, and sex do not come until after kokuhaku.... With many couples, the physical intimacy part develops slowly.
"... the idea of uchi-soto weighs heavily on people. This is a concept that outlines Japanese behavior in public. Japanese society pressures people to be respectful and considerate of others, even at the expense of your own needs (Larkin, 2005)" (Chris Kincaid. "Dating and Marriage in Japan" Japan Powered).
Natsuo trying to kiss Miu-chan
Other Important Characters
While this show truly has a great, realistic harem element, there is more to this anime that brings it to life which are the people around Natsuo and the girls.
It's not common for the parents to be featured in anime as they are usually left out to make room for the younger characters. In Domestic Girlfriend, this anime doesn't follow that format as Natsuo's father and Hina and Rui's mother play an important role.
They can be shown to be affected by how Natsuo, Hina, and Rui are to each other. If there is conflict brewing among them, then they feel they are to blame from marrying both of their families together. If everything turns out okay, then they will become happy that the family is doing well.
Not only do the parents play a big role in the anime, but so do Natsuo's friends and others. Masaki Kobayashi is especially an important character as he's there to help and counsel the main characters as he, for one, had a love life.
Whenever trouble brews in relationships or one main character feels troubled, they tend to go to his cafe. He can help to ease the mood for them and offer suggestions that can help them out (or at least talk things through).
Fumiya is another key character in this anime as he is Natsuo's best friend. Sure, Natsuo has friends in high school, but they don't meet the right criteria for him to seek counsel from as Fumiya is close to him and can help alleviate his problems such as with Hina and Rui.
He can also be great for just having someone to talk to as, knowing him for a long time, can be comfortable in discussing his issues. And there are times where the advice he offers can help him out to solve them.
Domestic Girlfriend truly stands out as a harem anime with a realistic twist to it. This anime can be a great show to watch as it brings viewers to a whole new level of realism.
The social life of Japanese culture does apply to some aspects for this anime as well.
And I hope that my blog post has given you new insight into this anime as it's great to have a deeper understanding of how realistic Domestic Girlfriend can be.
Go out and get into this show if you have never watched it as you'll see how real things get! And feel free to tell your friends about it if this is the kind of show they can get into!