Yuzu is a ‘gyaru’, a Japanese term for a girl who dyes her hair blonde and dresses in a Western style with lots of accessories. Her plans to meet cute boys and have some teenage fun are quickly spoiled when she has to move to a different city and start at an all-girls school. Her first day gets off to a confusing start when she bumps into the stunning class president, Mei, who scolds her heavily altered, non-regulation uniform then…gropes her?! Yuzu brushes off the incident but is rapidly intrigued by the seemingly perfect and prim Mei, especially when she later stumbles upon the girl sharing a secret kiss with a handsome male teacher.

Yep, Citrus is off to a juicy start (pun intended) and it only gets juicier. Yuzu gets home from school to find out that the new man in her mother’s life that they moved for is none other than Mei’s father, and Mei will be living with them…and rooming with Yuzu!

That awkward moment when the class president is suddenly your new stepsister

Attempting to bond with Mei, Yuzu asks about the kiss and things change quickly. Mei kisses Yuzu, but it’s not a shy or brief kiss. She presses Yuzu down for an extended amount of time, even after Yuzu begins to struggle. It’s shocking, uncomfortable and undoubtedly non-consensual. I was immediately shocked and disappointed at this point that Citrus takes the forceful approach to romance I’ve also seen in the other same-sex anime genre, yaoi, where ‘no’ means ‘yes’ and forcing kisses on people is fine.

Pinning people down and forcing kisses on them? Extremely not cool Mei.

This behaviour is unsurprisingly a plot device as the inexperienced Yuzu then begins to develop feelings for Mei, particularly confusing for her given that she is now effectively Mei’s stepsister and has to share a room and bed with her. For me the ‘sister’ element is clearly meant to be part of the salacious interest this anime aims to provoke, though it doesn’t quite work, as while Yuzu attempts to deny her feelings and encourage a sisterly relationship, at the end of the day the two of them are not related by blood and have been thrown into a familial connection unexpectedly.

Other than Mei and Yuzu’s forceful and assault-like approach to romance, Citrus is a pretty watchable teen drama. It knows how to work each character in tune to an almost ‘painting by numbers’ series of drama plotlines revolving around family and love triangle type jealousy, but the characters are nonetheless engaging enough to keep you hooked. Yuzu is a likeable protaganist – a good-hearted girl who genuinely cares for Mei and doesn’t want to overstep the line despite her feelings. Mei’s own aloof nature is believable in keeping with her own backstory, even if it’s sometimes used in a heavy-handed way to create a divide between her and Yuzu that you know will eventually be bridged.

If you’re looking for a soapy teen drama with same-sex romance, Citrus delivers.

Citrus is currently showing on Crunchyroll.


Hourou Musuko Wandering Son


Nitori is a feminine, assigned male at birth teen who likes to secretly dress up as a girl and thinks they might actually want to be one. Upon starting a new school they meet and develop feelings for Takatsuki, assigned female at birth, who prefers to dress in a masculine way and is also unsure of their gender identity.

Nitori is happiest with long hair and a skirt
Nitori is happiest with long hair and a skirt

Nitori and Takatsuki’s struggle with themselves is amplified when their class puts on a genderbent version of Romeo and Juliet, in which the star crossed lovers meet, and Romeo confesses he wants to be a girl, Juliet confesses she wants to be a boy. Nitori admits that they wants Takatsuki to be Romeo to their Juliet.

The anime also explores gender and sexuality beyond the trans identities of Nitori and Takatsuki. We also see Nitori’s male friend happily try on a clover hair clip, a female classmate wear the male uniform on more than one occasion and Nitori experience attraction to a cisgender girl as well as to Takatsuki.

Nitori opens up to friends about her wishes
Nitori opens up to friends about their wishes

The anime presents itself in a simple way, with a non intrusive piano soundtrack and a soft watercolour animation style. This allows the focus to remain on the developments unfolding between the characters, and Nitori and Takasuki’s own journeys as they slowly embrace their true selves, dealing with the fall out along the way.

Love triangles get more complex with various gender presentations thrown into the mix
Love triangles get more complex with various gender presentations thrown into the mix

Don’t be fooled by Hourou Musuko’s gentle appearance, it raises many strong points about the policing of gender, and how any deviation from this norm is either dismissed as a wacky hobby, or labelled as sick and perverted. The acceptance or rejection of Nitori and Takatsuki’s gender “deviant” behaviours come in surprising forms, with Nitori’s own sister repeatedly labelling them as sick and ‘a freak’ for dressing as a girl. On the flip side when the cis girl Nitori starts to date finds out they cross dress, she doesn’t have a problem with it. Similarly, Doi, a cis boy at Nitori’s school, encourages Nitori’s crossdressing and even calls them cute when he sees them in a dress.

The show emphasises the confusion the two feel about receiving such mixed messages from everyone around them about their behaviour. Nitori is distressed to find that their choosing to attend  school in a girl’s uniform is seen as more shocking by the adults than Takatsuki and another female classmate attending in the boy’s uniform, particularly as with the exception of Nitori’s sister, all of Nitori’s peers treat their crossdressing as normal, and their cis female friend Chiba even encourages it.

Nitori and Takatsuki have to express their genders in secret
Nitori and Takatsuki have to express their gender in secret

One of the standout scenes for me takes place between Nitori and Takatsuki discussing wearing a bra. Nitori says that they want to wear one even though they have no breasts, and Takatsuki responds that Nitori should if they want to. This simple exchange places the emphasis on gender as being a personal expression and not simply a person’s anatomy as well as prioritising personal happiness and comfort over adhering to social norms.

Takatsuki doesn’t want to wear a bra

Many of the moments of internal struggle or external drama are quite understated following the first few episodes, meaning that some might find Hourou Musuko to be a slow anime. However, anime addressing trans people and attitudes to transsexuality in a serious and sensitive way are incredibly rare, and this one quietly presents the reality of how difficult it can be to go against the grain of how your sex is expected to behave and dress when there are so many double standards and judgements surrounding gender. My only complaint about Horou Musuko would be that some dramatic moments are set up – such as Nitori’s parents finding out they went to school in a girl’s uniform – and then not followed up on, which felt like a letdown. Similarly, we are also more often than not told of Nitori’s classmates teasing or laughing at them for wearing a girl’s uniform than shown it, which prevents the anime from becoming too distressing, but also robs it of some of the dramatic impact.

If you’re looking for a high school love anime with added social commentary and respectful LGBT representation, give this one a go. I personally hope to see more anime like Hourou Musuko shedding important light on gender issues such as these. I only wish the show had been longer to provide even more character development.

N.B. As this anime features characters who present as both male and female and experience confusion over their gender identity I decided to use they/their/them pronouns for ease of reading.