NOTE — I have written a “1st Episode Impression” for citrus which you can find here citrus — 1st Episode Impressions.
As you all know from my article dealing with my first impressions on citrus, I was ready to see what the rest of the anime held due to its fantastical start. As I said before, my first shoujo-ai anime happened to be Sakura Trick, but I never finished it all the way through for one reason or another. I wanted things to be different with citrus, so I committed myself to the anime and finished watching all 12 episodes!
This is my first anime review in quite sometime, so I will be doing so in a format different from those in the past by addressing the main points I think should be explored, yet I will be leaving my final thoughts and rating system unchanged. I feel this will be better going forward, so I hope you enjoy it!
Presenting the Plot
From the very first episode the plot of citrus is laid out before your eyes; Yuzu is in a new environment, attending a new school, has a new stepfather which comes along with slightly younger stepsister that came in tow when her mother, Ume, remarried. Having to adjust to the world around her, she faces hardships with her day-to-day life attempting to meld herself into a place she feels rejects her way of doing things.
Being a Gyaru, Yuzu is outspoken and flashy, everything she is mirrors that of her new sister, Mei. Mei is head of the student council, aloof and somber, and is more of an introvert compared to her more extroverted new sibling. However, things take a weird turn when Yuzu finds herself smitten over Mei due to her seemingly random acts of depravity, leaving Yuzu in a state of sexual tension and confusion.
Within the first few episodes the entirety of the season is planned out very well, I absolutely love how things are setup and it brings a realistic look into what this situation could possibly be like; finding yourself in love with a new family member who has stolen your first glimpse into what attraction to someone is like. In romantic slice-of-life anime like this, having characters that resonate believability is so much more important than the impossible circumstances that they wind up in. From Yuzu’s reactions to Mei’s seemingly random acts of affection, to the confusion of exactly what is going inside of their heads, I was sold 100%.
The thing that made the sell so easy in the opening episodes was that Yuzu had no experience whatsoever with anyone else; she was always wanting something more and never had the opportunity with anyone she had ran across. In fact, we find this girl lying in the very beginning of episode 1 to her now-then friends about what transpired with the boyfriend she was no longer dating, or perhaps someone she had met at a mixer. Often times we can find ourselves infatuated with someone who shows us interest or awakens within us feelings and emotions we never knew existed, it is intoxicating and alluring.
Setting the stage so well is just a start, unfortunately. No matter how well things are lined up for you, how things actually play out makes a difference whether-or-not that beautifully decorated set piece was worth the trouble.
The fruit of any anime like this is going to come down to conflicts; how should you act when romantically attracted to a sibling, also it heavily leans on what should you do when it is made clear that it is taboo to be with someone of the same sex? These are very real life issues that need to be addressed, and unfortunately this anime really only touched on one of them.
Sisterly love in an impure way is one of the main conflicts within this series; though it does not appear to be done as well as it should have. While they could have mutually agreed to try and be sisters, they both instead choose it as a way to mask their insecurities and uncertainties; this seems more realistic in theory but the execution was rather poor. Mei crossed plenty of boundaries knowing what she was doing and yet she insisted on not taking things further because of being both sisters and women, yet she crosses that line even after mentioning it. Yuzu also longs for Mei, trying to think of how to be a good sister yet will let her entire being speak of how she wants Mei for a lover rather than a family member.
Do not get me wrong, I understand this anime tries to use confusion as a stepping stone but it fails when Yuzu clearly knows what she wants and attempts to build things around Mei’s fluctuating persona. This backfires simply because the series tries to use supporting characters to act as if both Yuzu and Mei do not understand each other feelings and are simply missing how the other views them; that is wrong. Mei and Yuzu are both very clear in their stances for the other, yet only Yuzu openly displays that actual goals for longevity exist within her emotions besides fleeting moments of passion.
Drama was always going to be something I expected in citrus, they needed something to shake it up; so they added in potential love interests on both sides of Yuzu and Mei. This was very cheap and a cop out, not helping the overall plot due to the fact that things were just not fleshed out enough with them; backstory, time spent with the protagonists, and their ability to lend aid were all evaluated and judged to be poor at best.
The problem is that no one seems to make a move in this show unless they see someone else has made it first; everyone is constantly chasing and pursuing without aggressively seeking things out first. Rather than a natural occurrence which was bound to happen according to the backstories they are given, conflicts appear to be happenstance that are simply convenient to whatever is relevant at the time. It feels artificial, it looks artificial, and you just want it to be out of the way. The cliché “I have been interested in her longer than she has known you, therefore she belongs to me!” is quite played out, it never works in any anime and I hated that citrus did not deviate from this age-old trend.
The potential love triangles caused by external sources should have been more sincere; they should have been fueled with passions or perhaps failed confessions in the past to actually add a spark of realism to them. If someone has been feeling love or admiration for someone for years, I do not think they could bottle it up for as long as these characters did without making it known in some form or another; the way they act, the way they talk, or general nervousness due to touching, how their crush looks, or even a compliment.
Seeing love and support and then a confession is much more believable than headsprung jealousy that rears its ugly head out of seemingly nowhere. Even more than that, when you introduce someone who is accompanied by a flashback that only explains things in the most simplest of terms…it does not work, and it does not work here.
More so than that, Mei’s own personality is arguably the biggest antagonist of this entire series. Without going into too much detail, it feel as though her lack of meaningful relationships makes her act inappropriately. Seeking out anyone who is in need of her, openly discarding her own feelings and anyone else who might be hurt simply because she wants to feel she matters. This makes sense to me. Often times we see people with interpersonal relationship problems with family members, or those who did not have good ones, begin to tie their world around gaining that affection. A perfectionist attitude and weakness to kind words could very well be the mark of someone who simply feels as though she is not enough.
The problem with Mei’s personality is that she does not express openly anything she thinks. This woman is the same from beginning to end with only slight changes in her character without much in the way of evolution or progress. Often times her current emotional state is declared by someone else, this makes things even worse since it leaves the audience to guess if Mei is sincere or simply defaulting to her defensive mechanisms.
Something I feel this anime fails at heavily is its supporting characters. There are quite a few of them that are introduced on both sides (Yuzu and Mei), yet they seem to only exist to further along the ploy of the protagonists. They seem simply to exist without much reason, that in itself worries me since we do not get to explore their spectrum of emotion and the things that make them tick.
In my personal opinion, only a few characters actually got a supporting role that was good; they provided good insight to their friend and furthered the plot along by allowing solutions to problems. They helped out when needed, were selfless in their actions, and they acted on what they knew without having to question why. Unfortunately, I find that these characters, as good as they are, did not receive enough screen time. A vast majority of the emphasis was put into characters who had essential conflict with one or both protagonists and were given little in terms of a personality worthy of the viewers admiration.
This show has a heavy emphasis on yuri-related content, that means that the perversions scenes we have are going to be inspired by this. It makes sense why this was the case because of Mei’s personality and how she uses the allure of sexuality as a mechanism to feel wanted and desired. Despite those reason of Mei’s, which are completely valid to the character and experience, I feel like some of the fan service was simply done to keep the audience interested. Sex sells, I know. That is all well and good, but this series was making it plain that things had reasons to them and all those acts of perversion tied in somewhere; they did not.
They did not explain a few things; how did Mei’s best friend know where her weak spot is and how did Yuzu figure that out? Why some of the random gropings? Why did no one say anything when Yuzu encountered Mei in the very first episode and openly molested her in front of the entire student body? It makes no sense and that what frustrates me; I see no purpose. Some anime do it for the shock factor, some anime do it simply because that is their whole schtick, and sometimes they do it in order to convey a message or add to the emotion of the scene… this anime has a habit of doing it for seemingly no reason.
Though, I will be fair, during some scenes it could become tense or funny as I showed in the above picture…but often it was simply a teaser that lead to nothing. More-so-than-not it was also used when the character could have spent that valuable time trying to convey themselves in a way that furthered along character development, instead it often shunts that idea and leave the viewer more frustrated than before.
STRENGTHS — Very good beginning, Nice art style and colors, Harumin is an awesome character.
WEAKNESSES — Plot unfolds poorly, Very bad supporting characters, Boring conflicts, Unfulfilling ending and poor character development.
The end of this anime makes it feel as though no true conclusion was reached; Mei showed more emotion towards someone she chose not to be with than someone she apparently chose…even that was not made readily apparent. This anime had so much potential to explore the human psyche and how it deals with loneliness and feelings of abandonment, how people deal with forbidden love and lust, and the harsh realities of unrequited love.
citrus started off brilliantly as captivating and down-to-earth, only to end up as nothing more than daddy issues and indecisiveness as their biggest conflicts expressed through half-hearted love triangles and nonsensical monologue. I had hoped for more from my first episode impression and was left severely disappointed as this anime bloomed into nothing that I thought it could be, settling instead for reused plot devices in an uninspiring way.
I cannot recommend this anime to anyone, I would not want them to sit through this and hope that the construction of the plot mirrors the thoughtful opening episode. A beautiful stage was set, all characters gained their proper position, but it quickly became clear that the writing was not up to par with the rest of the presentation.