Citrus is this season’s yuri anime, and it’s a divisive one!
Let’s talk about the good first: it’s not Netsuzou TRap -NTR-!
Seriously though, Citrus is one of the better “true” yuri anime to debut within the past five years. Yuzu is a great lead; she’s a bubbly, free-spirited girl trying to adjust to life at a strict school.
The melodrama can be trite (seriously, what kind of mom doesn’t introduce her daughter to new family members?) but at least somewhat engaging. You do need to suspend your disbelief and accept the initial story set up, but that’s the least of the anime’s issues.
The biggest problem with Citrus is using the tired trope of sexual assault as a catalyst for romance.
Let’s get a brief spoiler out of the way – highlight to reveal: [Yuzu and Mei’s relationship does become mutual in the future.] But that doesn’t excuse the yuri’s genre incessant reliance on sexual assault to window dress a character’s depth. Yes, we quickly learn that Mei has never experienced a healthy relationship in her life – she only knows abuse and overpowering others. Mei forcing a kiss on Yuzu is meant to be uncomfortable and sow the seeds of her development, but this feels cliched and stereotypical.
Sadly, yuri fans are often starved for content and an original story by the anime industry. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was a good step in the right direction with a loving couple but may have been too comedic and light for genre fans. Yuri teasing series like Sound! Euphonium have become popular only half satisfy fans by using it as yuri-bait without a committed follow through.
Still, Citrus could be worthwhile ride despite the melodramatic and sometimes abusive flaws that are presented as a romantic ideal. Yuzu is an extremely likable character, the animation is silky, and the story is entertaining in a pulpy view. You just have to be willing to overlook the early use of sexual assault, the flaky “surprise” step-sister introduction, and over-reliance on smut. Then it’s a series that delivers the yuri without being afraid of losing a few fans.