The yuri drama/romance series Citrus has continued to impress over the season, continuing the trend of brilliant art, stellar character design, and a gripping love story between a host of unique characters. I wrote some glowing mid-season opinions of the show, which you can read here. To briefly recap the premise, the series follows Yuzu Aihara, a self-professed ‘gyaru‘ or ‘gal’, who’s never experienced love before and hopes it will happen just like in manga. When her mother remarries, she moves to the step-father’s house and transfers to an all girls school. There she butts heads with the student council president Mei who just so happens to be her new step-sister, and their initial feelings towards each other quickly develop into love. Just as in the mid-season review, there will be considerable spoilers here.
Citrus features generous fan service for those into the yuri genre, from frequent fervent kisses to convenient shower censorship. However it never feels cheap, and the dominant part of the show is a rather mature love story between well developed and realized characters. Yuzu’s feelings are laid to bare through her inner thoughts, and her constant struggle with who she is and why she feels this way towards Mei are a highlight of the show. The series excellently shows Yuzu’s mental wrestling with her feelings, her sexuality, and what her relationship with Mei should be. As two girls, and as new step-sisters, Yuzu is confused with how they should proceed, and having never been in love before she doesn’t quite understand Mei’s actions to begin with. They take the romance and build it into Yuzu’s discovery of herself, and her encountering love in a way she would have never thought of before.
Past the mid point of the season there are two distinct ‘arcs’ the show goes through. The first finds Mei effectively at war with Matsuri Mizusawa (Yuzu’s childhood friend) surrounding their feelings for Yuzu. Yuzu becomes the one fighting for Mei’s love in the second as Sara Tachibana (a girl from another school) falls in love with Mei after bumping into her once. Sara musters up the courage to confess, which Yuzu has struggled to do all this time as she tries to understand her feelings. All this time the relationship between Yuzu and Mei themselves develops, even through the troubles, finding rough patches and progress alike.
Citrus is about relationships, first and foremost. From romantic to platonic to familial, the relationships and the characters are focused in on. The development of each character is handled extremely well, fleshing out the main cast with every side character contributing to developing Yuzu and Mei especially. Yuzu, having to deal with a host of new feelings as she grows to understand herself, finds strength from her friends. For example, Himawari and Himeko see she is struggling with something, and probably have an inkling that it has to do with Mei, so they give her matching charms on their school trip to a shrine.
Other characters, such as Sara and Matsuri (as well as Himeko Momokino from the first half of the season), have feelings towards one of the two main girls. However, after they make their own advances, they come to see the bond between Mei and Yuzu and exactly how much they care for each other and turn from pursuit to gentle support of them. Yuzu is struggling with her feelings, which Sara can see. She offers some advice along with her support in her newfound friend as she could see that what Mei wanted was truly Yuzu. And when Matsuri was making her devious advances on Yuzu, even going as far as to attempt to blackmail Mei, she was eventually thwarted by Mei’s protective nature towards Yuzu. This, coupled with her realization that Yuzu’s desire lay solely on Mei, led to her bowing out and even offering some advice to Yuzu.
After Sara selflessly gives up her own brief love for one she feels is stronger and more needed for Mei and Yuzu, Yuzu heads to a shrine to finally confess her feelings. For a moment it seems like Mei doesn’t want to be hurt more, and she runs away, but Yuzu finally finds the courage to truly tell her how she feels. She chases Mei, yelling out what she needs to say, and on the note of Mei’s own feelings she stops and the two collide. In an emotional denouement, Yuzu sits atop Mei and opens her heart fully to her and asks for a kiss if her feelings are shared. Adorably Mei uses her beloved bear keychain to accept the kiss, before Yuzu takes the kiss straight to her.
The ending is a sweet note and the right amount of closure, with Mei and Yuzu finally getting together and deciding to openly date. Whilst the manga continues past there and is an interesting look into a young lesbian romance in Japan with all the trials and tribulations they go through, this does feel like the best place to finish off the season at. If a second was made it could feel along the lines of the start of Clannad: After Story, in that it’s no longer a show about the pursuit of romance, but instead an inside look into how their relationship develops after getting together.
I’ve not enjoyed a series this much in a long while, being drawn in not only by the amazing character designs and the comedy, but also through the gripping and mature romance story. Citrus comes highly recommended for not only those into the yuri genre, but also to those into romance and captivating characters and narratives.