Is Citrus as bad as the community marks it to be?

Yuzu Aihara. (Image credit goes to Passione Studios)

Citrus is a Japanese manga series, originally written and illustrated by Saburouta. It was serialized from November 2012 to August 2018 and was licensed in English by Seven Seas Entertainment. Citrus also came out with a 12-episode-long television anime series from January to March 2018. Citrus has been condemned by a large chunk of its viewership for the portrayal of sexually abusive scenes in a romantic light. But Citrus might not be as bad as the community marks it to be, for the story holds a much deeper agenda than just the surface-level graphic scenes.

Citrus’ plot – How does the story introduce its darkness?

  • Citrus introduces us to a girl named Yuzu Airaha, whose mother remarried during Yuzu’s freshman year and they move to a new place. Yuzu sees this as an opportunity to socialize, make new friends, and have her first kiss.
  • But little did she know that this new school of hers is filled with shut-ins and grade-skippers, and life turns upside down for her on the very first day itself.
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Mei and Yuzu. (Image credit goes to Passione Studios)

Her fashionable appearance also grabs the attention of the beautiful yet imposing student council president, Mei Aihara. Mei proceeds to sensually caress Yuzu’s body with the excuse of confiscating her cell phone, but this doesn’t end there. Yuzu finds out that Mei is actually her stepsister, and therefore she attempts at establishing a cordial relationship between the two.

Yuzu discovers this truth upon reaching home, but as tries to make conversation, Mei forces her to the ground and forcefully kisses her. Mei storms out of the room after this incident and Yuzu is forced to ponder upon the actual nature of this interaction and abuse, as she tries to dive deeper in character and desire.

Is Citrus as a series misunderstood by most viewers?

Citrus is tragically misunderstood as a show as most viewers tend to take it in as a story that glorifies and romanticizes sexual assault in the form of Stockholm Syndrome. But, in reality, the show examines Mei and Yuzu in a much more complicated relationship dynamics.

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Mei and Matsuri. (Image credit goes to Passione Studios)
  • Citrus is more than just mere fetishism of sexual actions and doesn’t promote any romanticism of sexual assault.
  • It is a deep and substantial analysis of both internal and external conflicts of an individual and it examines these conflicts through the representation of repressed sexual desires.
  • The characters of Citrus are naive misunderstood students who are confused and conflicted, and their misplaced ideas and ideals are challenged when they interact with their fears and traumas. Citrus is rough around the edges, but it is definitely worth the watch.

Is Citrus as bad as the community deems it to be?

Citrus is a show which explores the conflicts of children in the light of their flaws and fallacies. It is not just fetish material, and it does not promote sexual assault or romanticize it. Mei might be a character who navigates her way through borderline sexual assault, but the show does not romanticize it in any form. It condemns it in a different manner, so much to say that it goes on to examine the traumas of Mei which leads to her actions. This is not justifying her actions but trying to find the roots behind a teenager’s behavioral patterns.

Citrus
Mei and Matsuri. (Image credit goes to Passione Studios)
  • Citrus is not as bad as the community deems it to be. There are shortcomings, but that is true for all stories and all imaginative creations.
  • The case with Citrus stands out from the rest because people think it is just a casual work about the fetishism of lesbian sexual relations and an added angle of sexual assault.

But this anime is more than just these angles and their conclusions, it is about its contradictions with consequences and the exploration of the ordinary mind.

Conclusion

Citrus might have received severe backlash and people have condemned and disliked it a lot. But above all, the anime stands out in the sense that it is not just the portrayal of problems but the examination and analysis of them to properly understand the host itself. This anime is a piece that gives us an opportunity to learn and unlearn, to put the pieces together ourselves, and to overcome the challenges of our imagination.

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