I’m not very well versed in the world of yuri anime and manga; due in no small part to the fact that yaoi is simply more popular and often overshadows yuri works. Though, if I’m being honest, I never really made a major effort to widen that specific horizon. I think one part of me wants to believe that yuri somehow manages to avoid the annoying, and sometimes disgusting and damaging tropes that yaoi tends to fall into while the other part of me knows that can’t possibly be the case. Then I saw the trailer for an anime adaptation of Saburouta’s 2012 yuri manga Citrus on Twitter—I couldn’t ignore its bright colors. While fans of the series share an excitement for the animation of the manga they enjoyed so much, I couldn’t exactly share in the sentiment.
Citrus follows high schooler Yuzu as she adapts to a new high school after her mother gets remarried. Yuzu is a bubbly girl who does what she wants and shares the typical interests of high school girls—-boys and looking amazing. Unsurprisingly, her personality doesn’t exactly mesh with the conservative all-girls school she just transferred to. Making matters even harder on her is that her new stepsister is the strict and distant student council president, Mei, and having to share a room with her forces Yuzu to deal with her feelings for Mei, all the way from hatred to fondness.
While “all-girls school” is probably the most contrived set-up ever, I still eat up each and every love story that take place in a school, so this isn’t a problem for me. What is immediately a problem for me is the sibling romance thing. Ugh. Listen, I know they’re not blood related (though personally I don’t think that should matter), but it simply seems like a ploy to potentially make up for a lack of substance in the story. Adding incest to a love story, I can only imagine, is meant to add some sort of thrill to the plot—it’s taboo, after all. Still, if showing a loving and healthy relationship between two men in an anime was such a big deal in Japan as well as overseas, then I can’t help but feel that adding more layers of taboo-ness onto a wlw relationship only makes it seem less accessible and more fetishized.
Additionally in reading the admittedly very short summary of the manga on Wikipedia, I found that Citrus, too, uses the trope of the student being in a relationship with the teacher. While from the summary it does seem like Citrus manages to avoid the grossness present in a series like Doukyuusei—where the teachers are never held responsible and it’s even somewhat encouraged to date a student—I have to wonder if this issue is given the distaste it needs. I don’t have much hope; it sounds like the teacher is presented as a jerk merely because he was using Mei for her clout, and not because he’s a grown man dating a teenager.
I desperately want to watch a slice-of-life anime series with a wlw relationship at its forefront. I want this series to be cute, dramatic, and reaffirming in all the ways available in Yuri On Ice. Citrus does not look like it will be that series. If your interest was piqued and you’re still hoping for the best, Citrus begins airing in January of 2018. Maybe, just maybe, it won’t be as problematic as it seems to be.