Warnings: Nudity, Mild Fan Service, Sexual Situations
Citrus had been on my radar for a while being one of the more well-known Shoujo Ai manga available in the west. I finally sat down to read it and found myself feeling conflicted about it. The art is spectacular and the manga is worth reading to appreciate that in itself. The characters and the story can be charming and genuinely heartfelt at points, and horribly cliche and boring at other points. My ratings for each volume ended up moving up and down wildly and left me wondering how much I really enjoyed it.
The story follows Yuzu, a loud-mouth gyaru, and her new step-sister Mei, a reserved and goal-driven tsundere. The beginning is rough and the characters are so hot and cold, it takes a while for the romance to feel like it was actually developing. Though Yuzu and Mei’s parents marry, Mei’s father is barely in the picture from the onset, which really made me wonder about the convenient marriage to create a step-sibling scenario. Sibling romance in Japan feels overplayed, and the foundation was so weak in this one. Yuzu and Mei are cute in a way, but they were both so terribly inconsistent that their romance feels forced at times.
I enjoyed the fun female friendships in this series, but each character introduction was frustrating as every new female that Yuzu and Mei befriend happened to be lesbians, and all have some romantic interest in one of the two leads. Most of these brief romantic rivals have next to no good reason to be rivals; the stories that focus on these side stories are so overblown and absurd, it feels like reading a shallow harem manga at times.
The manga does seek to address issues regarding society’s views on homosexuality which I appreciated. The issue of acceptance and support from friends and family is as important as ever, as gay marriage is still not legal in Japan and many other countries around the world. I appreciated the conversation that this story brings to the table about the struggle for LGBTQ couples that have to hide who they are. However, I feel that the reality was not well represented in this series, it explores the issue, and the main characters dating in secret, but it also paints a rosy picture that is not possible for many.
In all, it is a decent series that is relatively tame in terms of sexual content. It isn’t a bad first yuri series for those that are looking into getting into the genre, especially for folks that enjoy colorful characters and plenty of drama without being too emotionally taxing.
“Unknowingly, I ended up running away from you because of my wavering feelings.”
Trigger Warning: Nudity, Blood