You don’t have a dirty mind, or a weak constitution, or lack of morals—you simply find the forbidden so tempting, just like the rest of us. Looking for something scandalous? You know the kind. The ones that have you connecting to the characters and their plight, despite your initial reaction to the “subject matter”. Taboo stories, from teacher-student love to problematic age differences etc., they take you out of your comfort zone, make you squirm, squick you out and give you stomach pains. Yet they still tempt us, draw us in, like moths to a lantern. We know the destination to these stories, yet we can’t help but watch. It makes you think, gasp and cringe—even though your brain is scolding you for even going there.
Its risqué and trashy premise is enough to turn people away, it has FUBAR written all over it, but it turns out that Domestic na Kanojo (DomeKano) is a really good risqué and trashy anime. Let me explain. Most relationship anime could take a lesson here. Despite the premise, it’s less demeaning to the human condition than most of them. Because of the solidity and restraint in the writing, it’s less preposterous than many of the more “serious” romances out there. And the big factor is that it doesn’t feel the need to humiliate its characters the way too many romantic stories do, whether is for melodrama or for “laughs”. It sits at the nexus point where numerous dark paths converge but manage to avoid getting lost in any of them. There’s something of the soap opera to this, with drama dripping from every random event, which is where the guilty pleasure comes from, but somehow it manages not to feel manufactured.
There’s a sort of stunning authenticity to the way this series presents things. One reason we reflexively accuse shows like this of being scummy or melodramatic is that what we’re used to in anime is seeing teen and family relationships either sanitized or overplayed to the point of unintended comedy. DomeKano doesn’t do either—it’s very direct, in fact. It portrays these events in all their messy, sometimes ugly glory. And there’s a sort of courage to that which appeals to me. That says something about the series that it can even play the wincest card and make it appealing, but let’s be clear here—the main characters are not related by blood (yes, that matters), they never met till they were young adults, and they were lovers before they became step-siblings. But hey, wincest is okay as long as you say, “No Chromo bro”. And it’s not even full-on smut either, the characters know its wrong, they know the consequences but they can’t help what they feel for each other.
I’m almost shocked by how well this series treads the line between drama and realism, to the point where what we get feels like a realistic drama. I don’t have a problem with basically smart people doing dumb things, because that happens all the time in real life. It all comes down to how it’s written. Most of the “dumb” mistakes committed by our characters seem totally in-character. For example; Natsuo should certainly know enough to make sure his alibi knew he was being used as such—Fumiya quite rightly berates Natsuo for that after the fact. But he’s 17 and actually managed to finagle his way into a sexual relationship with the older woman, and new sibling by marriage, Hina, whom he’s pined for lo these many years—it’s a miracle there are enough brain cells left over to put his socks on in the morning. Admittedly, the moments where Rui, Hina, and Natsuo decide to take in private pleasure while leaving doors and curtains open is rather ridiculous, and hilarious.
In trying to capture what it is that makes this show work when it so blatantly shouldn’t. First, we have an utterly preposterous premise that’s treated in an extremely realistic manner. You have characters acting like real people probably would. And second, almost everyone in the cast has a stake in the game. Even the supporting characters have actual personalities and opinions, and they’re not overly obnoxious or stupid. If you’re going to do a show about a teenager whose first sexual partner and crush-teacher coincidentally happen to be sisters who coincidentally happen to be the daughters of his father’s girlfriend and move in with him, DomeKano is taking the best way to go about it. It stubbornly refuses to turn the parents into ornaments, and never ignores the impact the decisions their kids make have on them. When first Natsuo and then Rui leave, they both assume what most people would—their kids are upset that they remarried without giving them much notice. Choices have consequences for the people around us—it sounds so obvious you’d never need to think about it but believe me, a lot of series act like it’s not the case.
When applying the eye test, DomeKano has very appealing female characters. To put it simply, they are total hotties. Distinctive looks by hair shape and color, eye color, figure and dress style. Features a lot of different outfits ranging from modest to trendy. The male characters didn’t really receive such treatment, they are just standard across the board but that is to be expected. Studio Diomedea did their job in trying to stay true to the source when it comes to the art style. The animation was an issue at times, some inconsistencies throughout where you start to notice full pan shots are becoming a bit more prevalent to hide the stiffness but not an on-going problem. The seiyuu team had good performances. Taku Yashiro was about to capture Natsuo’s sensitiveness, active imagination, and insight. Yoko Hikasa brought Hina’s cheerful, clumsy and stoical behaviors to life. Maaya Uchida nails the awkwardly social and caring side to Rui’s personality. The soundtrack is complementary that hits all cues and the OP "Kawaki wo Ameku" by Minami is the best of the season.
The scenario that the characters are put into has disaster written all over it. But we’re talking about the “good” kind of disaster if you know what I mean—the kind that’s supposed to happen, not the narrative kind, so with all things considered, DomeKano is still doing a remarkably good job avoiding those. For me, the enjoyment of this show comes down to a combination of a couple of different elements. There is a certain voyeuristic side to it, a guilty glee is enjoying all this melodrama playing out. But it’s also the fact that the characters are acting like real people, warts and all, and it’s very good at highlighting both the similarities and differences between the mistakes adults make and those teenagers make, which is pretty rare in anime. If you are in need of some juicy drama, then look no further.