In recent years, we’ve been blessed with borderline yaoi anime such as Free!, Love Stage!!, and Yuri!! on Ice. And then we’ve got yaoi anime like Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi and Junjou Romantica that takes the genre one step further in its own unique way.
But while yaoi is taking over the world, it is about time that we see a bit of love for the opposite genre. Especially in the 21st Century. We’re talking about yuri anime. Yes, we can name a few shows that feature aspects of yuri such as My-Hime and Cross Ange Rondo of Angel and Dragon. But when the concept of yuri is explored in these stories, it is either 1) under the guise of fan-service or 2) just playfully treading into yuri boundaries and nothing more. So when it was announced that Citrus manga would be made into an anime, it literally broke the internet.
Across twelve episodes, CITRUS takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride, exploring the initial stages of falling in love to the downfalls of teen romance. However, Citrus isn’t your standard romance between two ordinary girls. Wait for it — they’re step-sisters as well.
Citrus revolves around the spontaneous and fun-loving Yuzu Aihara who transfers to a new neighbourhood after her mother remarried again. Her hobbies? Boys, makeup, shopping, and karaoke.
So when she gets enrolled at a conservative girls’ school, her life turns upside down. Not only does she find herself breaking school rules all the time, but she often clashes with other girls including Student Council President Mei Aihara.
How does one describe Mei? Being the successor to the school, Mei is diligent and super devoted to making sure everything runs right within school grounds. So when both Yuzu and Mei discover that they’re step-sisters, this becomes a life-changing obstacle that they must overcome. Well, that was the scenario until … Mei decides to kiss Yuzu without any warning.
Filled with tears, drama, jealousy, rivalry, and hormones raising through the roof — we have never seen a show causing so much controversy and conversation amongst viewers.
Although these two girls are not blood-related, many viewers see Yuzu and Mei’s relationship as incestuous. Personally, we were bewildered by Citrus’s story at first. Unfortunately, the whole situation of them being step-sisters was completely out of their hands. At the end of the day, it is a situation that Yuzu and Mei must ignore or confront — whether they like it or not.
Over the course of Citrus, we see these two girls living awkwardly under the same roof whilst harbouring taboo feelings. And although Citrus‘s promotional materials portray the story as heavily risque, their relationship is surprisingly mellow, heartfelt and dramatic.
Will they end up together? Will anyone else find out? Would society accept them once they accept each other? The constant uncertainty and confusion irritates the audience. Yet, it offers great amusement as we become emotionally invested in this bizarre incestuous-yet-not-so-incestuous relationship.
In addition to this romantic storyline, Citrus notably touches on a variety of real-life topics including family, trauma, assault, and self-worthiness. Disappointingly, these topics were sporadically explored across one or two episodes. With that being said, we do appreciate the story’s effort of trying to connect with its audience in different ways.
But don’t worry, the show lightens up every now and then, thanks to the occasional injection of comedy. The character design and art direction also shines in this anime, highlighting the characters’ personalities via contrasting colour palettes. From Yuzu’s girly makeup and stylish outfits to Mei’s neutral clothing and dark furniture, it breaks up Citrus’s seriousness without us realising it.
Overall: Sadly, it is a shame that Citrus is a standard twelve episode series as it has the potential to form a solid love story. It takes guts for a story to create an impact on society whilst challenging societal views towards a particular subject. And although the anime was met with plenty of criticism, we personally believe that Citrus is a fine example of paving way for many yuri stories to come.
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