This review is going to get a counterpoint review tomorrow, so if you disagree with this review or any of the points made here, please consider tuning in tomorrow for a Guest Review by Yurimother, with a different point of view! Today, however I felt it absolutely incumbent upon me to provide you with my view of the anime adaption of Sabuouta’s citrus manga.
I sat down to watch Citrus anime, streaming on Crunchyroll, with my wife. She has never so much as looked at this series, so I felt confident that she would bring a fresh perspective with her, while I was going into watching this anime with already negative opinion of the series as a whole. ^_^;
The anime was moderately well-animated, which was nice. I wouldn’t have paroxysms of ecstasy over the animation or anything, but it looked good.
As a modern version of the traditional dark-haired, emotionally intense classic Japanese beauty and the energetic lighter-haired girl (the same exact couple we’ve seen in many Yuri series throughout the last century,) neither Yuzu nor Mei are original character types nor particularly well-wrought examples of their types.
Yuzu is not overtly clumsy or stupid, but she is presented as critically naive. Every school I have ever even considered applying to sends parents and students a metric ton of “Dos and Don’ts.’ While things have changed, I know for 100% sure from teacher friends that – here in the US, at least – schools communicate more with parents and students, not less. A student arriving at an elite school without the slightest clue of anything at all was irritating in 2007, when Aoi Nagisa did it. In 2017 it is simply, flatly, unbelievable. That said, Yuzu’s obliviousness naivete is an important component of this series.
When Yuzu gets to school, somehow wholly unaware that the school has rules (rules that are commonly deployed as plot complications in every single existent form of entertainment in Japan and could be guessed at, even if she was too lazy to read the documentation,) she is sexually assaulted for not knowing the rules. The search she undergoes has nothing at all to do with “looking for a phone.” No one keeps their phone tucked under or between their butt cheeks.
Mei’s behavior is not sensible…except that nonconsensual, passive-aggressive assaults are wholly consistent with a girl who has endured sexual abuse. Mei’s sexual assault of Yuzu continues, moving from groping to a deep kiss and later forceful undressing, without any of the steps that must come before such behavior – knowing the other person consents, primarily. You know, the the attraction and affection of two people who are looking to learn more about one another. The entirety of the relationship that we cherish in the Kase-san series is completely excised from citrus. The narrative refuses to admit sexual assault or anything Mei does as a consequence of it, and so, it throws the premise of the story into unacceptable implausibility. Even more implausible is the narrative’s assumption that I will somehow root for these two to become a couple. The only thing I am rooting for is for them to both seek therapy.
Mei’s passive-aggression and sexual acting out works in this context because Yuzu is presented in the first few minutes as naive. She knows as much about sex as she does about the school rules. She is the kind of person who lies about her lack of experience rather than admit she has not had sex. Additionally, “having had sex with a boy” is left hanging as the benchmark for “sexually knowledgeable” as if they are one and the same thing. Let me assure you, they are not. Mei even uses this as a weapon against Yuzu. “Someone who has never kissed before can’t know anything.” Patently untrue, and it can only work if the audience as well as the characters believe that sexual experience is equivalent to knowledge is equalivalent to maturity. It is not. Neither is anything in this series indicative of “love” as Yuzu naively (and alarmingly) imagines.
We also meet Yuzu’s mother, whose behavior is likewise implausible. This is when something dawned on me.
About the time we encountered Yuzu’s mother, I recoiled as I gasped, “Oh my god, they are playing this for comedy.” I watched, horrified, as the story demanded that I find a sexual assault amusing. Oh haha, look Yuzu was just sexually assaulted on her first day of school and she gets to live with that person! Hahah. How droll! As we’re dealing with #metoo and the repeated public flagellating of people for being brave enough to talk about their experiences with sexual assault, this is so far beyond insensitive, I am gobsmacked by it. Days after watching, I am still horrified that I was supposed to find it appealing in any way. (Update: I have just watched all I can manage of the third episode and this trend continues. We are repeatedly expected to find sexual assault acceptable, justifiable, romantic and, in some cases, comedic.)
We made it through the first two episodes and then my wife and I debriefed. I offered her the chance to write part of this review. This is what she said. “I felt triggered by it.” Those of you who know my wife will understand that this may be the very first time in her life she has ever uttered this sentence. I have never heard her speak it in 34 years. She agreed with me that the assault was being played as comedy.
Along with the creepy fanservice added in many scenes, citrus anime was, in a word, grotesque.
Art – 7
Story – #metoo
Character – No. Absolutely not. This is not how healthy people behave, speak or deal with things.
Service – Infinity
Yuri – 100% Sexual Assault until Yuzu and we are groomed to believe it’s okay. It is not okay, not ever.
Overall – 1
Feel free to comment, but under no circumstances should you feel free to justify using sexual assault as a replacement for sexual attraction as a plot complication in this anime, or in life. I will not allow those comments.
For those of you who disagree, come back tomorrow for a completely different point of view!