First Impressions: citrus

After her mom remarries, Yuzu moves to a new school and immediately runs into a load of troubles. Getting into conflict with the student council on her first day for her “gyaru” looks? Check. Student council president frisks her and takes her cellphone? Check. School is an uptight all-girls school, largely killing off her chances at finding love for the first time? Check. Accidentally finds the student council president kissing their hot male homeroom teacher? Check. Returns home and finds out her new stepfather’s daughter is none other than that same student council president, Mei, and will now be living with her? Check. Confronts Mei about kissing the teacher and ends up getting forcefully kissed by her in response? Hoo boy. Yuzu’s life is about to get a whole lot crazier.

Okay, so the first question you are probably asking is, why on earth am I giving impressions on a yuri (romance between two girls) series on a Christian blog about anime? Personally, I believe that such shows can give interesting insight on the nature of gender in relationships, as well as other insights as to the nature of non-heteronormative relationships. There’s also the possibility of such shows exploring themes worth exploring in any show, regardless of subject. On these fronts, citrus does hint at some deeper themes: dealing with the school’s uptight atmosphere, Mei’s estrangement from her father and dealing with an arranged marriage, and Yuzu’s lack of love experience despite wanting to appear otherwise. That said, at the moment this show seems to be running more on the spectacle of relationship drama than on a serious exploration of themes. Mei force-kissing Yuzu may make for an intriguing scene entertainment-wise, but considering the non-consensual angle that would get many complaints if Mei was a guy, as well as the incest angle given that the two are stepsisters, this show may be too much even for Christian anime viewers that would otherwise be fine with a yuri anime. As for myself, I will probably give this the good ol’ three-episode rule to see if this show could actually be a reasonably good thematic exploration of a lesbian relationship, or if it will just be low-substance popcorn drama.

citrus is streaming on Crunchyroll.


18 thoughts on “First Impressions: citrus

  1. I’m really sorry, but what is this?! I can’t believe my eyes.
    I’m not one of those perfect Christians (I’ve watched/read yaoi myself) but we have to admit this type of anime is sinful.
    I don’t even like yaoi anymore, because Christ hates homosexuality and I gave up on it because I want my soul to be saved.
    Since you were sceptic about posting about a yuri anime in a Christian blog, that means you felt something was wrong with it in the first place.

    And as far as positive messages are concerned, even hentai might have good messages. But as Christians we have to be careful of what we watch. I’m sorry if I sound rude or anything, but as a reader of your blog I would have never guessed citrus to be reviewed.

    1. Hi, Joel! Thanks for your comment and for always supporting the blog. We definitely respect your opinion, and I see where you’re coming from. In fact, there was a time in my life where I would not have let us review Citrus; at that time, I was very closely considering what series crossed that “line,” and I concluded that shows like Serial Experiments Lain and Evangelion did, since they both showed “God,” as they described him, in a negative light.

      On Beneath the Tangles, all our writers are Christians, so we don’t mean to honor sin or support it in anyway. But my feeling is this—no show, even those created by Christians for Christians, are pure. We’re all sinners. And so our approach to anime and all media is as a Christian watching media that is part of the fallen world from the start. We draw out themes from them that can teach us about God or emphasize things to us that we need to hear about our walk with Him, all while understanding that the art and the artist are part of a fallen creation, just like us.

      Still, there is a line. Certainly, hentai crosses that line. Citrus crosses the line for many of us, too, though not all of us. And it’s up to you to decide whether it crosses your line. But it won’t cross everyone’s, and we won’t dismiss it outright because of it’s homosexual content (though neither are we likely to feature it). Each person can determine whether it impacts them in such a way that leads them away from God, and I think that’s the bigger measure that’s important for us to decide.

    2. First of all, I must correct you on one thing: I was not skeptical at all about posting about a yuri anime here. I knew I wanted to bring this show up here from the start, to highlight a type of show that could all too easily be ignored, so that we can directly address the themes and issues present. Especially at a time when I believe Christians need to engage with the LGBT community beyond just blanket-branding them as “sinners” (which we all are, so it’s a bad brand to use), I think these shows can provide valuable opportunities for outreach.

      My only concern is whether this particular show will actually be capable of fulfilling such an opportunity, which will be hampered if it goes too much for just popcorn entertainment. I certainly do not intend for my posting about this show to be an endorsement for it; this first impressions post is meant to be a discerning look at what this show might offer, and what issues it may have.

      The issue of “being careful of what we watch”, at least to me, is more of an issue of being aware of how the media we consume affects our way of thinking, and in particular avoiding temptation. Whereas the latter is a major concern for hentai, for someone like me, a male who’s straight as a ruler, I don’t find temptation into homosexuality to be an issue (though it may be to some people, for whom I definitely would not recommend yaoi or yuri shows). What’s left is to keep a critical eye on how this show might affect our way of thinking, which is something we should do with every show. By all means, if a show is pushing your thoughts in a bad direction, drop/avoid it. That will differ from person to person, though, and at least for me, this show has not reached that point yet (though it certainly may later).

      Finally, while I only speak as a writer for the blog and not an admin, I do believe and appreciate that our blog can talk about things without the notion that it “doesn’t belong on a Christian site”. Even way back when I first discovered this site I noticed TWWK talking about Wandering Son and its transgender themes, and we even have a post from Kaze looking at hentai scenes from adult visual novels, not as an endorsement of them but as something we must consider if we outreach to fans who consume that particular medium. Personally I hope we talk more about these things, because it’s the idea that many believe “a Christian site would never talk about these things” that makes them worth talking about.

      1. First of all, I want to thank TWWK and Stardf29 for replying and not ignoring my comment.
        I have nothing personal against Stardf29 and I agree that we’re all sinners.
        I don’t mean to judge in any way since that’s not my role, but as for me I won’t watch citrus. It’s your decision to watch it and I respect it.
        Yuri will never be my cup of tea.

        1. That is perfectly fine. There are certainly certain types of shows I’ll never touch even if other Christians are fine with it, whether it be because of personal moral qualms or just personal preference. As such, I would never hold it against anyone for not wanting to watch any given anime (not just yuri anime) for their own reasons.

        2. I’d just like to point out how this brief exchange over a disagreement (on a very divisive topic) on the internet has been conducted civilly and with mutual kindness. Kudos to the BtT staff and readers for cultivating such a fantastic community!

  2. I randomly only read 2-3 chapters of this late into the manga. I was surprised at the maturity of some of the content. At one point the main character does some soul-searching, realizing that the freedom to rebel and the freedom to submit to an authority are equally valid expressions of the self. Oddly, that reminds me of some of the later episodes of Kobayashi’s Dragon, another yuri series, which also touch upon that topic, which is strongly related to a believer’s relationship with God vs free will.

    That said, it does seam to swing between raunchy and shoujo-esque tropes for the most of its run, so I wouldn’t expect most Christian viewers to find the content pleasing or acceptable.

    1. Ah yes, I even wrote a post about that part of Dragon Maid. Good stuff there.

      I have no knowledge of the citrus manga so I’m just going to have to see how the anime adaptation does things. If things get too raunchy I may have to drop it on that basis, though as long as it’s not too visually explicit I probably can let it slide.

  3. Having read the manga several years ago, the story is more or less a romance drama with Yuzu and Mei realizing a lot of messed up things about each other and themselves (Mei particularly has a lot of issues to work through). I’m not sure good it is at like genuinely and respectfully showing what wlw relationships are like given the Marmalade Boy-esque setup and other elements, but I do remember some character growth in the chapters I read.

    Personally, I think Sasameki Koto is a sweeter and more honest representation, but YMMV.

    1. Unfortunately I never got around to Sasameki Koto before Crunchyroll lost the rights to it. If they ever get it back I’ll definitely check it out.

      For now, Aoi Hana is the yuri anime to beat for me.

  4. I have a whole BLog dedicating to epxplaining how The Bible does not Condemn Homosexuality. Called Sola Sciprutra Christina Liberty.

    I certainly doesn’t prohibit relationships between Step-Siiblings, they are explicitly left out of Leviticus 18.

    1. The step-sibling issue is an interesting one as, while I do believe that relationships between step-siblings/adopted siblings are not inherently Biblically sinful, there are dynamics in play related to their familial relationship that could be of concern and would need to be addressed. Honestly, I would love to see more anime that actually takes a hard look at a romance between not-blood-related siblings and how their family dynamic affects them for better or for worse, rather than just throwing in a not-blood-related sibling as a love interest just for the sake of it and ignoring family issues entirely.

  5. This first episode was interesting… while it’s an intriguing storyline, it seemed that there was just a ton of fanservice in there for fanservicey purposes. I plan on continuing to watch.

    As for the yuri thing, if we’re to be honest about it, practically everything except Hamtaro would be too evil to watch. Sailor Moon is full of yuri. Cardcaptor Sakura, again, full of yuri and yaoi. The book of James says that if you’ve broken even the slightest bit of the law, you’ve broken all of it. So let’s not pretend that any of us is perfect. We’re all sinners in need of a Savior, whether we watch yuri or not.

    1. I was interested in hearing your thoughts about this episode, remembering a post you wrote about yuri several years back that really stuck with me. Thanks for the comments, Tommy!

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