Oh, Citrus. Oh boy. This is a lot.
As an actual girl who likes girls, I have kind of a tricky relationship with these kinds of anime/manga. There are a few different kinds of yuri media – there’s yuri that actually tackle subjects like coming out and how society treats women (Aoi Hana, Revolutionary Girl Utena), yuri that’s just cute and fluffy (YuruYuri), and then you have stuff that is very, very obviously pandering to male viewers and fetishizing female homosexuality. Guess which one Citrus is?
Bingo, it’s the pander-y fetish-y one!
Deep down in my bisexual bones, I know I should hate stuff like this but…I don’t. I love trashy girl-on-girl stuff, and I also know I’m gonna love Citrus. Maybe in a future blog post I’ll get into my deep, conflicting feelings about this problematic-as-hell section of the yuri genre, but today…today, I just want to enjoy my garbage lesbian anime.
We start off with our gyaru hero Yuzu doing that weird yuri thing where the show pretends the main character is interested in getting a boyfriend, and then proceeds to transition into an opening sequence that shows her kissing a girl multiple times.
A lot happens in this episode. I remember reading some of the manga a few years back and being surprised by how much drama they managed to cram into just one volume. Over the course of one episode you see Mei go from scary student council president to scary student having an affair with her teacher to scary step-sister to scary lesbian lover. Hoo! That’s a lot of drama.
This is one of the things that really cracked me up when I read the manga, and still cracks me up now. I mean, how do you forget to mention something like that? The plot is very obviously set up to put these two girls in a situation where they can get it on on the reg (and to cater to the incest crowd without isolating everyone else by keeping them step-sisters) but it’s also…strangely engaging, in a soap opera kind of way. You know it’s goofy and dumb and unrealistic, but you really want to know what’s going to happen anyways.
What I really want to talk about, though, is the way the show handles the first kiss scene between Yuzu and Mei. Their first kiss is…well, non-consensual, to say the least. Casual sexual assault is pretty common in anime (unfortunately), and this episode already had a steamy scene where Mei feels up Yuzu in front of the whole school. This, of course, gets brushed off because, “oh she’s just weird and wanted to confiscate my phone and also who cares she smells nice.” After Yuzu brings up that she saw Mei kissing a teacher, Mei kisses her essentially just to piss her off.
However, this scene isn’t really treated as being sexy. Even when Mei dives in for the kiss, she looks terrifying, like some kind of evil lesbian schoolgirl demon ghost.
Throughout the kiss, Yuzu is very clearly uncomfortable, and the scene plays out more like she’s being suffocated than being kissed. You can see her struggle to pull away, and awkward shots to stuffed animals around the room increase the discomfort levels of the scene before Yuzu abruptly kicks her makeup over. If a kiss is making the other try to kick free…you know that can’t be good.
And so, their love story begins with…hatred and pettiness and forced kisses. Like I said before, stuff like this happens in anime a lot, and it comes up in yuri regularly, too. I didn’t watch last season’s Netsuzou TRap, but I know this sort of thing was present there, and I remember there being some kisses of questionable consent in Strawberry Panic!, as well. This is the first time I’ve seen it framed in such a way, though. The anime wants you to know this is not good, and that this relationship is about to be founded on some rocky grounds. Does the fact that this kiss is less-than-sexy make the upcoming tale of a steamy emotionally abusive relationship less weird and problematic? Is this supposed to be a subversive nod to the icky ways other yuri romances begin? Am I giving this show way too much thought? Does any of it matter, since I’m going to watch this entire series regardless and low-key squeal every time something gay happens?
Ah, shit. I said I just wanted to peacefully enjoy my trashy yuri and instead I sat around and dissected a kiss scene. Uh, here, I’ll leave you with this upside kiss that reminded me of Utena.