Citrus

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.

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Sakura Trick

When long time best friends Haruka and Yuri start junior high together, they realise that meeting new people and forging new friendships might change their own. In a bid to remain closer to each other than they are to any of their classmates, they share a kiss in a cherry blossom strewn empty classroom.

What kiss is complete without sakura blossoms?
What kiss is complete without sakura blossoms?

And so begins what might be the start of a beautiful love story. Interestingly, Haruka and Yuu don’t put a lot of worry and thought into the kisses they regularly share, and aren’t in a hurry to try and work out or define what is going on between them. This makes a refreshing change from love stories in which characters spend a great deal of time trying to dissect everything their love interest does and work out how best to act in order to get a boyfriend/girlfriend. Haruka and Yuu’s relationship feels more organic in its progression, with each character getting jealous, or experiencing feelings they don’t understand, in a manner that is for the most part nicely understated.

Have you ever seen so much adorable in one picture?
Have you ever seen so much adorable in one picture?

Although Haruka and Yuu maintain an innocence and childlike playfulness amid their light makeout sessions, the amount of boob and general body closeup shots keep this anime walking a fine line between fluffy and adult. This can be quite jarring when fluffy cutesy scenes in which the characters playfully tease and tussle are followed by right in your face anatomical shots.

For all the fanservice-y moments, this is still very much a sweet and fluffy kind of anime, with only the sexual burgeoning of our heroines and the shameless boob bouncing providing a mature touch (this isn’t an anime that lets you forget that the well endowed girls are well endowed).

Sakura Trick would never stoop to shameless fanservice...*cough cough*
Sakura Trick would never stoop to shameless fanservice…*cough cough*

On the whole Sakura Trick is a well rounded anime centring on Haruka and Yuu’s relationship which always comes across as a genuine connection, filled with bickering, vulnerability and budding romance that all feel real and relatable. Also, the opening credits tune is awesome.

Blue Drop: Tenshitachi no Gikyoku

bluedrop2

One fateful day, Mari Wakatake is sent away to Kaio Academy by her grandmother, who is slowly dying and can no longer homeschool Mari. Mari is very upset to leave her grandmother and does not want to go, but a chance encounter with a beautiful dark haired girl surrounded by birds distracts her.

Mari meets this unusual girl, named Hagino Senkoji, at Kaio Academy. They get off to a confusing start when Hagino tries to strangle Mari. It soon emerges Hagino has a secret identity as a commander of an alien ship, known as Commander Evaril to her crew. The alien race are known as the Arume and consist entirely of women.

My main issue with this anime was that for the majority of it, it wasn’t clear where it was going. Logically, Hagino’s alter ego as an alien spaceship commander would seem pretty important, right? But even though Mari uncovers the extraterrestrial elements fairly early on, the plotline is largely put on the backburner during which time the show focuses on happenings at the school. While I appreciate them not wanting to give away the juicy bits too soon, it was incredulous that Mari would find out a girl her age is commanding an alien spaceship and not really ask any questions.

The alien race have pretty names like Tsubael

The show also falls under the shoujo ai genre. Shoujo ai means “girl’s love” and depicts romantic relationships and attraction between women. This is hinted at between the schoolgirls with the occasional blush and romantic moment such as a ferris wheel ride or an embrace. On Hagino’s ship we are also shown of a romance between two female officers, one of whom has died, leaving the other to mourn. In a way, even the small moments between the women in Blue Drop are rendered more significant as we see so few male characters. Blue Drop inhabits an almost entirely female world.

For a while it will not seem clear where Blue Drop is going, and the random story detours may frustrate some. But if you have the patience, it will reward you when it begins to tie some of the threads together. A strong sci fi anime does not always need many complex ideas, sometimes focusing on just a few can allow the emotion and message to shine through, and Blue Drop demonstrates this well, once it becomes clearer where everything falls.

Blue Drop moves to a moving conclusion and comes to beautifully portray love and goodness across human and alienkind. With a beautiful animation style and soundtrack and understated characterisation, this has the makings of a classic sci fi anime. I may need to watch it again to make a bit more sense of it, but I certainly enjoyed the ride.

If you are looking for a sci fi anime with a focus on female characters, and lesbian romance throughout, give Blue Drop a go.