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.
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).
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.
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.
The first obstacle is Momokino, Mei’s best friend since kindergarten who suddenly decides she’s been in love with Mei forever.
The second obstacle is Matsuri, Yuzu’s childhood friend who decides she’s been wet for Yuzu forever.
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.
That said, we have to move on to the not-so-good.
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.”
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…
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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