Citrus: The Girls-Love Yuri Anime That’s Changing the Game

By Loryn Stone / Breana Ceballos

 

Citrus is a girls’-love anime about two girls kissing way more in the opening sequence than they did in the episodes that aired on Crunchy Roll. Just as viewers (all right, we) were starting to really get into Citrus and start caring about the characters, the series abruptly ended last week. Whether it was the end of the season or the end of the series, it’s hard to say. Although fans of the manga (which will come out with its 8th issue on September 11th, 2018) argue that there is enough material to make at least 2-3 more seasons, it’s currently no more than fan hopes, dreams, and speculation.

First kiss.gif

We’ve seen other reviews of this anime that more or less declare it tease fodder, like this incredible one from our acquaintance Vrai Kaiser at the Anime Feminist website. And truthfully, the show isn’t perfect. But it definitely filled a niche (with a notably high budget and animation quality), and when that trailer of the two hot girls making out started airing in our Facebook feeds, we knew we needed to know more. Neither one of us were big yuri watchers beforehand (although Loryn wants to point out that she’s a big fan of lesbian hentai, which is most definitely not the same thing).

yuzu-and-mei-seeing-their-dad

Therefore, we wanted to give our thoughts on the short series and talk about its strengths and weaknesses. Breana, for example, was told in the past to watch shows like Revolutionary Girl Utena for good girl/girl romances. Which is true, but the romance sits second to the fact that Utena is a surrealist anime. Not a yuri show.

Similarly in Sailor Moon- just because Sailor Star Fighter has feelings for Sailor Moon or Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune are essentially married, does not mean the show focuses on these relationships. They’re just part of the universe as a whole.

Although they sure helped make this pose popular.

The story in Citrus, very simply, is about two girls who seemingly have nothing in common (except an attraction to each other) who end up as stepsisters. Sharing a room. And then oops, sharing a bed. We have a hot blonde fashionista, a stick-up-her-ass rigid girl with black hair, and attraction/romance/but we’re siblings now blossoms ala Marmalade Boy or even dirtier, Immoral Sisters (one of those hentai series Loryn was spanking off about.)

While Citrus does prescribe to the all-girls’ school “where lesbian romances can only exist once males are removed”, it does it in a way that’s fleshed out and realistic.

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Yuzu is confused by her feelings, not only because she’s attracted to a girl, but because she’s never felt romantic feelings about anyone before. She’s a delightfully fleshed out/believable protagonist, especially compared to the squeaking, high energy silly main characters in other shows, like Sakura Trick or Strawberry Panic.

It does however, use other girls as obstacles that are trying to get in the way of Yuzu and Mei’s potential romance. And it introduces those characters…endlessly…every time the girls are getting closer.

Momokino

The first obstacle is Momokino, Mei’s best friend since kindergarten who suddenly decides she’s been in love with Mei forever.

Matsuri

The second obstacle is Matsuri, Yuzu’s childhood friend who decides she’s been wet for Yuzu forever.

Sara

The third obstacle, but the most compelling one, is Sara, a girl Yuzu meets and befriends on a school trip who sees Mei and declares Mei her soulmate. But we wanted to take a moment and write sort of an ode to Sara. Because really, this character is the most well-balance, well-rounded person we’ve seen in an anime in a very long time. Sara is bisexual, truly bisexual. She states “last time, I liked a guy. This time, it’s a girl.”

Bisexual representation is extremely hard to find where it’s not forced or depicted as just a horny, greedy person. Both of us writers identify as truly bisexual and seeing a character that shares our same feelings is really important. And having her be a defined, level headed person is just really nice to see. Sara also points out that both Mei and Yuzu are inexperienced and probably confused by their feelings, and she steps aside (much to the dismay of her twin sister Nina) to let these two girls figure out their feelings.

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That said, we have to move on to the not-so-good.

Mei.jpg

Mei is an absolute shit character. She’s a strange, monotoned, expressionless girl who behaves like a trauma victim, and you keep expecting some weird dark secret to emerge. But it (thankfully) never comes. She forces herself on Yuzu sexually, then pushes her away. She’s also this character that for some reason, everyone wants to fuck. It starts with her teacher/fiancé, then onto Yuzu, and Momokino, and Sara.

Holy shit, we wish there were as many hot bisexual girls running around our high schools. Do you see this?! It’s like Disneyland! For queer girls!

It’s not fully clear why everyone wants this character. The show makes it out like she has this terrifying father who did something super wrong. But when we meet him, he’s just kind of a cool hippie beach bum who doesn’t want to inheret his dad’s presteigious school. He’d rather marry some random woman and move her and her daughter into a high rise with his daughter.

There’s also a side story about Mei’s grandpa (the chairman of the school) thinking Yuzu is trash, not realizing his son married her mom. But then Yuzu helps Gramps after a heart attack and Gramps gives Mei his blessing to “Be her true self” (IE, queer). It’s out of place after meeting her dad, who is so effortless kind and cool and would clearly say “Yes, lesbian daughter. Go be with girls. All good by me.”

Kiss.jpg

Once we reach the end of the twelfth episode, Yuzu and Mei, after many human obstacles, agree to give  legitimate dating a chance, in the form of holding hands. Which is a huge surprise after all the making out and winking and door closing in the opening theme, but we get it, emotions and feelings are cooler than making out with beautiful girls. Sure. Okay, fine. Ultimately, the ending feels cheap and abrupt and we’re not sure if there’s another season coming. It feels like it’s a teaser for the story as a whole, and is telling us “If you liked what you saw in Citrus and still want more, go buy the manga!”

But believe us, you subliminal little devil you…

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We will in fact, buy that damn manga.

(Click here to buy the damn manga)

 

Follow Breana and Loryn on Twitter to see if they’ll kiss anytime soon. Loryn also has a personal blog. Her debut novel My Starlight, a young adult story about anime, cosplaying, fandom, sexuality, love, loss, and friendship will be released August 3rd, 2018 by Affinity Rainbow Publications. Pre-Orders will be available in July.

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9 Comments

  1. Mei is a enigma she actually opens up a lot more after this? (Them dating is cute) but there’s a reason why she’s *mei* is holding back, you will understand what I mean when you get to book /volume 9

    Your right about the feelings and emotions lol U will see it if season 2 or OVas in the future..

    I hope not a ploy just to buy the manga
    There is so many people want more anime. (It’s pretty popular)

    Just say right now manga wise? The shit just hit the girls big time!! .:/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like this anime, it was a breath of fresh air after Sakura Trick, which I was extremely disappointed by. (Which ended by insultingly suggesting girls who date girls are unsure what they REALLY want.)
    While Mei was infuriatingly one-note, I was mostly impressed by Yuzu, who steals the entire show- a completely unique character. I’m reluctant to call her “Western”, but she does seem like a foreigner who invaded ‘anime’… being pretty shameless about her feelings and ridiculously honest. She does not wait the 4-5 (or more) episodes a normal anime character would before confronting someone. She walks right up to them and does so. (She manages to do this without coming off as too disrespectful towards Japanese sociatal norms, as well.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellently said! We were blown away by Sara. We also liked that these characters looked like young women. Sakura Trick is just too Loli. Thank you for reading our review!

      Like

      1. There were some parts in Sakura Trick I found pretty sweet and genuine, like the girls being on the phone during New Year’s, wanting to be the first ones to wish eachother “Happy New Year”, while the family gets frustrated. I’ve been in a similar situation myself.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I only watched the first few episodes. I thought the romance was cute, if not a little spontaneous and out of nowhere. I just wanted something less cute and Citrus delivered that. Mei is one note, like you said, but if we see her get…ahem, *handled* we won’t say no to that!

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      3. One more thing- an even more believable and realistic girl/girl manga is “Girl Friends” (written like that.) It is apologetically a gritty and messy look at same-sex love, messy homes, making it possibly the best depiction of young girls in a relationship. (Making me believe the author went through similar feelings herself.) Like Citrus it avoids many anime/manga cliches, is not a harem of lesbian or bi girls, and BOTH main characters are very likable.

        Liked by 1 person

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