I will admit that Citrus wasn’t on my “to watch list” at the beginning of the Winter anime season. It wasn’t until about three weeks in that I started to see a lot of commotion over this show. Most of the YouTubers I follow started covering the opening theme song and the anime community was talking about how this was a yuri show that had lots of promise to it. I decided to cave in and join the many others who have decided to just dive right in. Did I have any regrets about doing so?
Yuzu is a girl who moves to a new city because her mother remarried. She is assigned to go to an all-girls school and wants to make a good first impression. She dolls herself up with fancy clothes, makeup, the works. When she arrives at the school she is immediately halted by the school council. They say that she’s in violation of the school rules and when Yuzu looks around she realizes that everyone is wearing the same drag uniforms and even sporting the same hair color. The student council president, Mei, even goes as far as to confiscate Yuzu’s smartphone in the most provocative way possible.
After the day ends, Yuzu returns home to discover that she gained a new stepsister through her mother’s remarriage. In the obvious twist, Mei’s father was the person who Yuzu’s mother remarried so the cold, uncaring student council president ends up becoming Yuzu’s new stepsister. Things seem pretty awkward at first and then things turn completely weird when Mei just flat out kisses Yuzu! This, of course, plants a whole bunch of confusion into Yuzu’s head, but could there be a possibility that this is the beginning of a loving relationship between the two of them?
Citrus is that journey that Yuzu and Mei take in order to figure out whether or not the two of them love each other. Of course, there are many obstacles that the two of them have to overcome, but all of that is just part of the journey. Mei’s grandfather is the one who owns the school which makes matters really complicated, Mei’s father paying her a visit also sparks another obstacle and the fact that, at one point, Yuzu flat out rejected Mei’s feelings when it seemed like she finally caved, opened up an entirely new set of obstacles. While I felt the path to them finally getting together (and yeah, that could be considered a spoiler, but you don’t exactly do a show like this without giving it a happy ending) was well done, there were some parts that felt like they were just a bit too contrived.
In fact, I think the show should have ended at Christmas. Christmas is a magical time of the year and the perfect, albeit cliché, moment for romances to come to fruition. When Yuzu rejected Mei’s feelings, it felt like the show took a step away from the expected to try and add a bit of drama, but the resulting story arc with Sara felt completely pointless and ill-conceived. To think that Sara could fall in love with Mei at first sight and then become a love rival to Yuzu, all while ignorant of the fact that Yuzu liked the same girl she did was a nice attempt at adding extra drama, it really felt unneeded. It came across as just filling airtime to fulfill their 12-episode obligation to the network.
Granted, I did not read the source material so I can’t tell you if this is entire arc is canon, but to me, it just felt like a time waste. They could have easily set up the Christmas ending a bit better and just left the show at that. It would have been a feel-good moment, but instead, we got a sort of inconclusive ending. That’s one thing that really bothers me about some anime shows in general. It’s the fact that they, sometimes, have a very difficult time trying to commit to a relationship. It’s always implied and never confirmed. Sure, Mei and Yuzu held hands, but even Mei stated that she wouldn’t know if she loved Yuzu until they started dating. That means it wasn’t even official. All of the build-up, the confessional, all of the obstacles that were overcome all lead to a “possibility” that the two of them were dating. Yeah, they held hands. Yeah, they ended the show with a kiss. Despite all of that, they never confirmed if the two of them had officially started dating, thus leaving it up to us reader to interpret, yet, another implication rather than being able to sit back and enjoy something concrete. I know that not all shows are like this, but there are many shows that stray down this path and I find it highly annoying.
Citrus only had a handful of characters and outside of Yuzu and Mei, I don’t think they really added much to the show. The only one that really seemed unique out of them all was Matsuri, but even then she still felt rather generic after everything was all said and done.
Yuzu is your typical loud-mouthed airhead character. She doesn’t really think long and hard about anything she does and just dives into things head first. She is definitely pretty extroverted and even though it is obvious that she developed feelings for Mei over time, her overall persona made it hard to accept the fact that she did. Even in the end, she came off like a little kid wanting that cool, new action figure based off of their favorite television show. The action figure sparkled brightly in her eyes and then when she finally got it she was happy. In the end, the action figure is of little importance in the grand scheme of things. Sure, it brings joy and happiness to the child, but it’s just a toy and nothing something that’s alive and with feelings.
That’s how I felt Yuzu acted towards Mei. She wanted Mei as an action figure. She was infatuated with her, but she didn’t really consider Mei’s feelings all that much. She even flat out admitted that she didn’t think of Mei’s feelings at Christmas time which lead to the two of them awkwardly growing apart. Yuzu was simply excited that someone possibly liked her and it just so happened to be Mei. I would be willing to be that anyone else could have laid a wet, juicy one on her lips and they would have been the focus of her attention and affection. It’s only because of Yuzu’s childish attitude that she came across that way. I don’t think she really understood what love truly was at first. Sure, she realizes it in the end how love is a two-way street and both people need to be committed to each other in order for it to work, but it’s because she realized that at the end of the series that caused me to believe that her love for Mei was a bit misconstrued. Then again, Yuzu is an airhead so I guess it kind of fits her overall persona. In that regard, well done.
Mei is your cold, condescending tsundere. Her shell is a bit thicker than others due to her daddy issues. She aims to become the next head of the school so she does everything in her power to impress her grandfather. Mei’s love for Yuzu is highly confusing. At first, it comes off as if she’s just using Yuzu as a plaything in order to cry out for attention, but then her feelings begin to deepen but because she’s so broken on the inside, she has absolutely no idea on how to convey those feelings in a way a normal human would. Mei’s “tsundere shell” is so thick that it was really mind-boggling as to why Yuzu even bothered. Maybe I have a different understanding of how a relationship should work, but if a girl is that dead set on being cold, callous all while throwing out a plethora of mixed signals, she’s just not worth my time or effort. I’m just saying that if it were me in Yuzu’s shoes, I would have moved on and if Mei ended up feeling guilty about being a giant bag of emo rottenness, well that’s all on her and not my problem.
Be that as it Mei (because puns), Yuzu does end up cracking Mei’s shell, but she doesn’t completely shatter it. Gone is the Christmas Mei who wanted to give everything of her to Yuzu and in comes the hybrid Mei where she accepts Yuzu, but because of her attitude, it feels like it’s with a lot of reluctance. I mean, Mei’s backstory with her father leaving for business trips and no longer being the stern figure, she loved so much does contribute a lot to her personality, but there’s also a time where you have to start thinking for yourself and Mei’s character just couldn’t accomplish that. Even in the end, Mei didn’t even know what she wanted as she easily accepted Sara’s feelings despite that fact that she didn’t even know her. Whether or not she did that because Yuzu rejected her was never really confirmed, but again, it was heavily implied. Needless to say, I didn’t really enjoy the Mei character all that much. I felt like Yuzu had to try WAY harder than anyone ever should have to in order to win her over. It just made the whole relationship seem a bit forced more than anything. It just didn’t really feel all that natural.
Oh, how I’ve waited to talk about this little pink ball of WTFery. So Matsuri is Yuzu’s childhood friend and to say that she has a couple of bricks missing from her mental wall is a gross understatement. Not only are half the bricks still in the pile, the mortar is on back order so whatever bricks were stacked just randomly fall and add themselves to the pile. That is Matsuri in a broken nutshell. Apparently, this analogy needs a little bit of context.
Matsuri loved wedging herself into other people’s affairs and takes great pride in the misery of others. In fact, her way of earning money is sending out nude photos to perverts on the internet. Even though the photos aren’t of her, she’s toying with human emotions and making money while doing it. That’s about as far as her ethics go… at first. She becomes bored one day and decides that she’s going to travel and pay Yuzu a visit. When the two of them reunite, she quickly discovers that she has a thing for Mei so she wants to do whatever it takes to drive a wedge between them all for the sake that she feels Mei will take Yuzu away from her and that Yuzu will never treat Matsuri as a friend again. Yes… all of this despite the fact that the two of them haven’t seen in other in a long while.
Long story short, Matsuri ends up learning her lesson and apologizes for causing trouble and then just becomes another random generic support character. Okay… I will admit. I was actually enjoying Matsuri because she seemed like a supervillain straight out of a Marvel comic. She was the perfect monkey wrench to try and destroy Yuzu’s plans of getting together with Mei. In fact, overcoming the obstacle known as Matsuri and accepting Mei’s feelings at Christmas SHOULD have been the way the show ended. It made perfect sense, but what didn’t make any sense is Matsuri just being downgraded to a generic support character. She’s been demented for a very long period of time and you’re telling me that one simple scolding about friendship and feelings erased ALL OF THAT? Part of me finds that very hard to swallow. Matsuri should have admitted defeat and swore revenge before disappearing into the night. Yeah, it would have left things a little bit open-ended, but they could have teased her return only to have her realize that she just couldn’t beat Yuzu, thus giving up on her entirely and returning to tricking horny men into thinking the naked girl she sent them is really her. There was so much potential here that it was really sad to see it all squandered.
Harumi ends up becoming Yuzu’s first friend at her new school. She’s a “Gyaru in disguise” in the fact that she acts like all of the other students, but she likes being on her cell phone and being outgoing. Outside of lending support to Yuzu every now and then, Harumin doesn’t really serve much of a function in the show. Sure, the advice that she offers is pretty sound and it helps Yuzu get filled with encouragement from time to time, but outside of this, there really isn’t much to her character.
She is the student council’s vice president and Mei’s childhood friend. She never liked Yuzu to begin with and is kind of overprotective when it comes to Mei. In fact, when she finds out that Yuzu likes Mei, she tries to enter a yuri relationship with Mei in an attempt to block her. Mei, on the other hand, just flat out rejects Himeko, sending her on her way. Despite this, Himeko continuously clings to Mei every chance she gets while silently declaring herself as Yuzu’s main love rival…. Despite the fact that she doesn’t really do anything to be a love rival outside of her initial attempt to steal Mei away from her. Once her little arc dies down, she just becomes that annoying supporting character that pops up from time to time gives a quick look of disgust and then has her involvement in the story end because she’s no longer needed.
Sara & Nina Tachibana
She’s introduced late into the show and is a random girl who Yuzu ends up running into while searching for Mei one day. They hit it off and become friends and Sara confesses that she’s in love with a girl that she refers to as “her destiny.” Little do the two of them know, Sara and Yuzu are in love with the same girl: Mei. Of course, things take an odd turn when Yuzu forgets her wallet in the bath on a school trip and Sara realizes that Mei is the girl that Yuzu loves. The cool part about Sara’s character is that she fully realizes that she’s outclassed from the moment she realizes that Yuzu loves Mei. Knowing this, she silently admits defeat and actually works to bring Mei and Yuzu together. That was actually really sweet of her to do so and I can respect her character because of her actions. She really showed what being a true friend is.
It’s kind of ironic that the character that I lauded for dragging the show across the 12-episode finish line ended up being the most likable character for me in the entire series. I actually felt bad that Sara had to give up her destiny in order for Yuzu to be happy. It was a bittersweet moment for sure and the only one that really made any sense.
As for Nina, despite the fact that she’s a gargantuan compared to Sara, she’s the younger sister of the two. She has a habit of crying loudly over every little thing and is a bit brainwashed when it comes to supporting Sara’s goal of hooking up with her destiny. She’s WAY overprotective of Sara to the point where it’s borderline serial killer levels of creepy. Honestly, the show could have eliminated this character and everything would have worked out the same. I did not like this character one bit and I felt her involvement/role in the show was not only unneeded but completely unwarranted.
Art, Animation, and Sound
I find it ironic that a show about lesbian love was done by a studio called Passione. Still, the animation wasn’t really anything to write home about as it was standard quality at best. Despite this, I didn’t really find any areas where the animation seemed off or distracting so I guess that would equate to a job well done. The only thing I would complain about is the fact that sometimes the facial art seemed to be a bit off in some scenes, but not in the way like it was in Fukumenkei Noise. Yeah… if you ever want a lesson in how not to do animation… go watch that show.
The art, however, was pretty good. It’s 2018 so unless someone wants to harken back to the good ol’ days of drawing backgrounds by hand rather than painting or digitally creating them, then it’s safe to say that the backgrounds and the environments looked really good. The character designs were a challenge because you had Yuzu which stuck out like a sore thumb and all of the other students which all shared the same color palette.
Despite this, Passione was able to make each character memorable and distinct. I would assume it must have been a breath of fresh air whenever they designed Matsuri and Sara’s characters because they were able to dip their digital ink into some more vibrant colors. The designs match the characters’ personalities really well from their hair all the way down to their facial expressions. Despite my feelings on the lack of substance with the characters, I can’t argue the fact that they were artistically represented very well.
The OST is pretty forgettable as there really wasn’t much that stood out. I can only recall a couple of pulls on the ol’ violin whenever a dramatic moment happened. Outside of that, the OST is one that served as background noise. Then again, with a show like Citrus, you don’t really need an OST that’s in your face like Attack on Titan. Although, that would be pretty hilarious! Someone needs to go mash that up on YouTube right now!
Despite the flaws with the roles of some characters, I still highly enjoyed Citrus… and not because I’m a guy that enjoys a couple of girls smooching.
What? I just said I’m a guy… stop judging! You all feel the same so why can’t we just admit it?
A lot of yuri shows feel a bit generic, but Citrus really did go above and beyond to bring us a compelling story. While the story did drag on for a little bit longer than it should have, I still enjoyed the series from beginning to end. The situations that Yuzu has to overcome range from realistic (as in with Mei’s grandfather and father) all the way down to the bizarre (as with Matsuri). Like I mentioned in the beginning, my only big regret with the show is the implication style ending rather than giving something that’s completely and totally concrete.
Yes, they love each other and yes, they are finally giving each other a chance, but why imply it? Just flat out state it and give everyone the FULL happy ending. To me, it seems that Yuzu reached the goal line and got one foot over and then the show ended. Sure, you know that she’s going to cross the goal and end up with Mei and everything will be happily ever after, but we never got to see that. Some hand-holding and a final kiss was that one foot over the finish line moment. What really sealed that was when Mei said she wouldn’t know if she loved Yuzu until the two of them started dating. That right there is the implication that I’m referring to. It’s not a concrete situation.
It’s fine to leave things up to the viewers’ imaginations, but there are times where it’s just more satisfying to see it all come to a conclusion. All Mei had to say was “now that we’re dating, we’ll have plenty of time to find out love for each other” and that would have been a more conclusive ending than what we were given. Just one simple line change and that would have been all this show would have needed.
Of course, this is just all my opinion and yours may be completely different. You could be satisfied with what you received and that’s perfectly fine. Again… despite my qualms, I enjoyed this show and I would still recommend it to anyone who wants a good romance series to watch that’s a bit unconventional. There is a certain intangible aura around this show that draws you in and makes you compelled to keep watching.
I know that we give our own star ratings for this show, but I decided to give something a little extra for this. I usually end my reviews on a witty note so I figured this would be fitting. Anyone who has watched Citrus will get this right away.
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Until next time,
While the characters weren't really all that deep or meaningful, they still managed to tell a rather charming story. A story that should have ended sooner than it had. Despite that, this is still a highly enjoyable romance show that is a bit unconventional. If you a fan of romance or yuri specifically, then you should enjoy Citrus!