Yuri Manga: Citrus, Volume 1 (English) Guest Review by Amanda B

February 4th, 2015

CitrusV1SSELast week I confessed I just wasn’t enjoying Saburouta’s manga Citrus, and asked you, my dear readers  to jump in with a review. And once again you are the best readers ever. As a result, – it’s another Guest Review Wednesday and we have another Guest Review! Please welcome Amanda B who has graciously written up her look at Citrus, Volume 1 for us!

Saburouta, who made an appearance in Yuri Hime Wildrose Volume 7 back in 2007 with a smutty one-shot, has returned to the Yuri scene with a drama-filled, pseudo-incest manga titled Citrus. Citrus is currently in its 4th volume, running bimonthly in Comic Yuri Hime, and was recently licensed in English by Seven Seas (yay for more Iuri!). It has caused such a stir in the Yuri world that a Promotional Video was created (voiced by a few notable actresses featured in various Yuri anime titles) to recount the manga up through its 3rd volume! It’s pretty obvious this series is a guilty-pleasure read. Not everyone is into the whole “incest” factor, so discretion is advised if this isn’t your cup of tea.

The carefree and fashionable Yuzu Aihara’s world is turned upside down after transferring to an all-girls high school upon her mother’s remarriage. Not even making it through her first day of school she manages to sully her reputation and anger the beautiful, but snobby student council president, Mei. After returning home, Yuzu finds out that Mei just so happens to be her newly inherited younger sister, a detail mom forgot to mention. It is made evident that evening that Mei clearly has some boundary issues after randomly kissing Yuzu, at which Yuzu becomes literally dumbfounded about her newly appointed role as the “older sister”.

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Throughout the volume, Yuzu finds herself constantly conflicted between her increasing lustful desires, and trying to gain Mei’s respect in order to increase their family’s cohesiveness. One night when attempting to kiss Mei, Mei cries out for her father, whom we have yet to see, and the matter is not discussed further (at least in this volume anyway). After a series of disastrous events, Yuzu finds Mei’s grandfather (headmaster of the school) collapsed on the floor of his office and brings him to the hospital. After coming to understand Yuzu acted as the caretaker for her grandfather, Mei appears to be somewhat grateful before instantly returning to her tsundere mannerisms. The final arc of the volume centers on Yuzu coming to the conclusion (after consulting with bff Harumin) that her attempts to become an older sister figure have failed and that she is in fact, in love with Mei.

As a fan of Saburouta’s Yuri works, I am beyond pleased with the artwork. It is gorgeous! There is quite a bit of service throughout with various kissing scenes, particularly the shower scene. The story however is very chunky with a plethora of forced drama. Mei’s cold exterior warrants the obvious dramatic plot-hole I’m sure will be explored at some point. I get the feeling a good portion of the fandom for this series are in it mostly for the illustrations – watching pretty girls go at it is something I too enjoy.

Ratings:

Art – 10
Story – 4
Characters – 5 (definitely room for character development in the upcoming volumes)
Service – 6
Yuri – 9
Overall – 7

Sometimes I can’t help but wish Saburouta would just instead collaborate with another mangaka capable of writing a decent drama (maybe Shuninta-sensei) while she provides the illustrations. Volume 2 will be available in April.

Erica here: Thank you Amanda! Much obliged for the review.

I was reading Fujimoto Yukari’s essay in Eureka magazine’s “Yuri Culture” issue and something sort of dawned on me. In Oniisama E, we spend a lot of time watching Miya-sama and Saint Just’s unhealthy relationship on screen, but there’s actually another half-sibling relationship directly in front of us the entire time that is perfectly healthy – for a number of reasons, not least of which because Nanako doesn’t know it exists. Henmi and Nanako serve as sane, healthy foils for Rei and Fukiko, letting the audience know that it’s not normal to be so weirdly manipulative of one’s half-sister. Citrus is in desperate need of a foil couple, some representative healthy relationship,  to relieve the thick atmosphere of “this is not and really cannot be a good thing.”

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7 Responses

  1. Jye Nicolson says:

    I agree that this series could use a Yuri couple that isn’t mad as a cut snake, but I don’t think it’s because Mei and Yuzu’s relationship is inherently unhealthy.

    As fans are always pointing out, they’re not even incestuous (in fact Mei x Yuzu is less problematic than you average “childhood friend” narrative in that respect!). Nor are the other barriers between them particularly significant.

    The relationship is unhealthy because Mei is a fruit loop. Yuzu doesn’t know what she’s doing but that’s hardly uncommon in a romance protagonist. Instead it’s Mei making things way harder than they need to be for reasons. But if she stops the tankobons stop and clearly that isn’t happening :)

    Good review Amanda! I think maybe an author would be a better collaborator for Saburota-sensei, since Amano-sensei’s art is too strong to lie fallow while she’s writing for someone :). On the other hand if brazenly insane soap opera is the goal Saburota-sensei is increasingly delivering!

    (Agreed the art is excellent; not my favourite in the Yuri world, but strong and with occaisonal brilliance)

  2. Well, yes. I’ll agree with that assessment. ^_^

  3. OriginalGengar says:

    “Sometimes I can’t help but wish Saburouta would just instead collaborate with another mangaka capable of writing a decent drama (maybe Shuninta-sensei).”
    You know, if Shuninta does the story, she might as well do the art, too. Her manga without her art would be weird. I really like her designs and the way they complement her characters. Saburouta can draw pretty and everything but he certainly isn’t Murata Yuusuke.

    I like reading Citrus from time to time when I feel like some overblown melodrama, which actually isn’t all that rare, I guess. But I think you can really tell that Saburatou is more or less new to Yuri as well as new to longer running series in general, with him doing only smutty het SM oneshots in the past. Hopefully Citrus helps him grow as an author and maybe in the future we’ll see some problems in his manga that aren’t love triangles that get resolved by making out.

  4. Dark_Tzitzimine says:

    I’ve never understood the complaints about forced drama on this series.

    The actions of every character are in line with both the story context and the characterization of the characters.

    Mei is a deeply troubled person that doesn’t have neither a positive view of herself or an idea of how she should act according to her age and desires.

    Yuzu on the other hand while well meaning and certainly enthusiastic, it lack the maturity and experience to adequately deal with the situation.

    This mix of personalities delivers a very intereasting story where the goal is for both of them to grow as person through their shared experiences.

    That Mei would open and embrace Yuzu’s feelings it would be betraying her character and outright bad writing.

    I also think that the incest angle is overblown by the audience. The taboo angle is pretty much irrelevant within the story and having the protagonist fell for her/his recently met stepbrother/sister is a pretty common romance trope (at least on het fiction). So why don’t treat it equally here?

    Saburo Uta art is truly beautiful but for me, the writing is the mos appealing aspect of this series.

    • I am treating it equally. In my opinion, it’s a lazy plot complication no matter who uses it or why.

      • Dark_Tzitzimine says:

        Fair enough.

        Although it hasn’t been a serious complication so far.

        Thinking about it, the biggest source of complication is how different Mei and Yuzu are thus leading to many misunderstandigs.

        • It is a “serious” complication only in that it was included at all. Had they just been in school together, Mei would be troubled, Yuzu confused and the rest on from there. It’s just a shortcut to tension.

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