It’s just about that time of the year again where all of the shorter anime, usually around twelve episodes, of the winter season come to a conclusion. Today Citrus did just that. As it was a bit of an anticipated anime by manga fans and newcomers alike, I’d like to take a moment to review my final thoughts on the show, and some of the interesting ideas and themes it played with.
For the record, I will be adding a TLDR to the bottom for those who may not have as much time on their hands. Do not worry though there will be no spoilers in this review. I will be talking about the main cast and a general synopsis only.
First I’d like to say that Citrus caught my eye thanks to a promotional trailer Crunchyroll shared onto their Facebook well before it aired. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into it and never checked out the manga prematurely. It’s worth mentioning that I still have not read the manga yet, so I will only be focusing on the anime adaptation.
Citrus to be blunt is a Shoujo Ai high school romcom that revolves around teenage drama and family themes such as parental/child relationships, sibling relationships and adapting to a new environment.
The story centers around two recently introduced stepsisters who are complete opposites in every way. One is a delinquent Gyaru while the other is a rule-abiding student council president. Right from the start Aihara Yuzu, our Gyaru protagonist, realizes she’s becoming infatuated with her sister and has no clue how to respond to these new feelings as she’s never been in love before. Yuzu must learn how to adjust to her new situation and truly understand what it means to love someone.
Yuzu as a character is a lot of fun. At the start, she comes off as an abrasive, modern, stylistic Gyaru teen who values her appearance and belongings more than being studious and well mannered. At the same time, she has a loving supportive relationship with her mother and shows she actually cherishes her family above all else.
Yuzu is excited that her mom remarried and that they’re moving to a new home where she can start a new life. She’s eager to meet her new father and attend a new high school where she can finally experience romance. Till she realized she was attending a strict all-girl academy and her new dad likes to travel a lot so he’s not even there either.
While as a protagonist, Yuzu is a bit… dense. It’s still fun to cheer her on, and it’s rewarding to watch her grow as a person. Most of her problems are genuine, (Yeah even the sister crushing. I’m not judging) and her responses are fair, they certainly resemble how overdramatic a freshman in high school can be when experiencing unorthodox circumstances. She’s very outgoing, spunky, and immensely shameless often willing to make a scene regardless of where she is.
(It’s worth noting Yuzu’s previous last name is Okogi. I don’t remember if it’s ever mentioned in the anime though I got it from the wiki)
Aihara Mei is Yuzu’s stepsister. Mei is the COMPLETE opposite of Yuzu. Very calm and composed, intelligent, and hardworking. Mei has a mysterious allure to her as she speaks seldom, usually only to scold Yuzu, and never spells out her intentions for anything. She is a valued member of the student council and is well respected by the entire school. Despite all this, she never comes off as remotely happy. She never comes off as anything really. In fact, sometimes she just acts like a cold bitch. Her actions are puzzling but usually have some unseen meaning. The more you see of her the less perfect she might begin to appear. But the more you understand the more likable she gets.
Something I have to give Citrus is there are some GREAT supporting characters. Most notably is Yuzu’s best friend Taniguchi Harumi. She is the first friend Yuzu makes in her new school and shows her how to tolerate the rules and get away with breaking them. Like hiding your phone in your cleavage. Which Yuzu tries and… Well… Can’t. Harumi is more or less a “Closet Gyaru” and even calls herself something of the sort.
She is supportive, consultative, and an ideal best friend who’s always willing to help Yuzu any way she can. She’s just as outgoing and is almost always the brightest thing in the room. Often comforting Yuzu whenever she fails and encourages her to get up and try again. AND BY GOD DOES SHE KNOW HOW TO DRESS.
Every outfit this girl puts on s flawless. I swear.
I definitely say the cast is a strong point for this show.
The romance is handled in 2 different ways. It’s either cute and wholesome, or it’s ecchi AF. While I prefer the cute parts because I think they’re handled very well and usually have meaning, the ecchi is more dominant sadly. This is one of the things I just was not as much of a fan of.
Ecchi scenes in Citrus, while they don’t take up an overbearing amount of screen time, are still in abundance and sometimes seem out of place or just kind of thrown in. Some might argue they’re there to convey the more confusing parts of teenage relationships, as they tend to be awkward and befuddling. I just think they kill momentum in some scenes.
The cute side of Citrus though is heartwarming and pleasant. Scenes that convey honest affection, are relatable, and well placed. While they’re not quite as frequent as the ecchi counterpart, they’re rewarding and redeem other aspects you might not find as compelling.
The comedy in Citrus is pretty light-hearted. Often self-aware and mocking some generic anime tropes like over the top character design, unrealistic situations, and reactions.
It can pretty funny at times. I wouldn’t say the show had me dying at any point particularly, but the comedy is there.
Honestly Citrus handles its Yuri themes very smoothly. Aside from the ecchi aspects, there isn’t a feeling of stress on the same-sex relations. There’s the occasional question of “Is it okay though? We’re both girls after all.” But that’s not super frequent. It’s just a romance between two people first and foremost. If anything is pushed under the “questionable” spotlight it’s the sister aspect of their relationship. It’s never outright shamed, but it’s discussed. It’s nice to see media where despite the fact that LGBTQ themes are part of the main idea, they’re not forced down your throat or made to made a big deal of. It’s just there because it is and that’s all it needs to be.
As far as story pacing goes, Citrus does tend to jump from one arc to the next in a matter of 2 to 3 episodes, which makes me think maybe manga fans might not be huge on the anime because it’s possible they trim it up and maybe skipped some parts. But I also appreciate the pacing as it kind of resembles high school drama. Something that seemed like a big deal can just blow over the next day and people act like it was never an issue to begin with. Lessons are still learned, and you may still have some left over feelings towards whatever happened, but you may not make a big deal over it. Despite the length, the arcs never really seem rushed or anything anyway. It feels very day by day, and arcs transition into each other pretty smoothly. There’s never really a point where you feel like too much or too little time has passed between events.
There’s plenty of emotion in these scenes and I have to say I appreciate the struggles of Yuzu. It’s easy to get invested in the show.
To conclude, I’d give Citrus a 7.5/10 as a cute, short, time-killing anime that that has made me laugh at a few jokes, and shed a tear for a tender moment. I wish the ecchi parts of it were less overwhelming and misplaced, but at the same time, they’re not so much so that they ruin the experience. They might just make you turn down the volume if you live with people.
Great when it’s cute,
Not so much when it’s ecchi,
Can be funny, not super funny but it’s enough
Good cast especially the supporting roles (Mama Harumi is best girl),
Quick in pacing but never abrupt. Arcs get their point across just fine.
Show is short, sweet, and too the point.