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Manga Review: Domestic Girlfriend Chapters 101-114

Year: 2014 (ongoing)
Author/Artist: Kei Sasuga
Genre: Shounen, Drama, Romance, School Life

Reviewer’s Note: This review covers the last few chapters of volume 11 and all of volume 12. This review contains spoilers.

After helping reconnect Rui with her father and in the pursuit of her culinary career, Natsuo continues her writing apprenticeship. Following the end of summer break, the students return to school. With three days all to themselves, Natsuo and Rui are interrupted during pre-coitus by the storm outside. After Al learns that their parents are away, he uses it as a chance to gauge Natsuo’s interest in Rui and lays down the gauntlet for Natsuo to make his feelings clear to Rui or step out of the way. As the school’s cultural festival arrives, several of the cast will make their move, leading up to Natsuo finally making a decision about Rui.

Chapters 101 to 114 did a good job of making things come to a head for several of the series couples. Whilst our male protagonist Natsuo made numerous mistakes throughout, we see noticeable change as he finally makes a decision regarding Rui. As for Al, we see him doing what he can to make Rui happy, even if that may lead to her ending up with Natsuo. Whilst he would prefer her to choose him instead, he is willing to set his own feelings aside because he genuinely cares for her. This makes Al the best boy in the series. It will interesting seeing how he will be dealt with moving forward in the story.
We also see several other characters to make their own decisions about their love lives. The choice to either confess and/or actively pursue the person we have feelings for is something we can all relate to. The first step is determining if it is a simple crush or love. The next step is making a decision as to how to move forward and sticking with it. The latter is one of the big focuses of this series as that transition from child to adult. By making a choice we are also the consequences of that choice.
Which brings us to the biggest thumbs up for this week’s collection of chapters. Two words: No Hinata. Hinata Tachibana is one of the more irritating parts of this story. She is a train wreck that continually makes her own problems. She rarely follows through with her decisions, which makes her annoying to watch. Thankfully, chapters 101-114 only eluded to her by mentioning the incident in Oshima where she tells Natsuo to move on. The story is much better without her messing things up.
Finally, chapters 101-114 also added a ticking clock before Natsuo, Rui and several other cast members graduate. We see a certain degree of urgency on the part of several characters to make the most of that short period of time before they have to transition to the next part of their life. In the case of Natsuo and Rui, they’ve also decided on their future vocations.

In conclusion, chapters 101-114 did a good job of moving the story forward and in helping several characters grow. Whilst there were a couple of WTF moments (one of which brings back Masaki Kobayashi wearing his infamous duck cod-piece), it was a really enjoyable reading experience that moved along at a reasonable pace. I look forward to reading more of this series.

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Manga Review: Domestic Girlfriend Chapters 1-100

Year: 2014 (ongoing)
Author/Artist: Kei Sasuga
Genre: Shounen, Drama, Romance, School Life 

Reviewers Note: Chapters 1-100 include part of the way through the eleventh volume of this ongoing character-driven series. The first episode of the anime adaptation also went live this current anime season.

A few weeks ago, I spent a bit of time checking out some English translations of various manga series over at MangaRock. There was a lot of franchises that I was unfamiliar with across the wide spectrum of genres but I ended up with my usual focus on romance titles. One of the manga that I ended up giving a run was the curious series of Domestic Girlfriend. I won’t bother writing a quick synopsis of this series as MyAnimeList did a pretty good job of explaining the premise of this series. You can find it here.
What I will say is that this series was oddly compelling and managed to quickly turn into a drama rather than my initial expectation that it would simply be another ecchi harem comedy. In many regards, it reminded me of Scum’s Wish but with significantly less bitchiness. Sure, the love triangle of Natsuo and the Tachibana sisters is frustrating, but it quickly becomes an exercise in voyeurism at the bizarre love life of three rather troubled human beings.
The art in this series is decent enough, pretty similar to Kei Sasuga’s GE: Good Ending, which I read years ago. I do, however, have issues with the periodic fanservice panels included in between scenes as they feel out of place. Sure, the story deals with adult themes such as sex, but the sequences that are included in this manga are tasteful. Perhaps it is some attempt at further convincing the reader that the series is Shounen.
To the elephant in the room, what is up with the cafe that most of the characters frequent? Many of the cast confide in the gay former-Yazuka and occasional crossdresser Misaki Kobayashi well within the earshot of other customers. All a character would need to acquire all of the neighborhood drama and gossip is to either leave a listening device in the cafe or simply hang out there. With all of the secrets floating around the place, how on earth do they remain secret? Just sayin…

Anyway, I would best describe Domestic Girlfriend as entertaining trash. The drama is compelling even if a bit drawn-out at times. I also didn’t hate the cast of characters because we can understand the motives of the people that inhabit the world of Domestic Girlfriend. As such, I will be continuing to read this series. I look forward to reviewing more of this series in the coming weeks.