Love is irrational, as we see in Citrus by Saburo Uta. It can suddenly spring up faster than you notice it. It knows no borders in gender and can stand many trials. But not all love is equal. Some are greeted with open arms by society, and seen as cute, or sweet, while others are shunned into oblivion for being unnatural. Worse, you don’t have a choice of which one it’ll be until you realize it’s love. So when your love can be seen as obscene in the eyes of even those closest to you, will you give up? Or will you stand firm, trusting your feelings and heading forward, hoping to see it requited one day?
We begin with Yuzu, a young girl who has yet to fall in love. Her friends have left her behind, and are already in relationships, making Yuzu have a hard time with them. To make it worse, her mother’s remarriage has made her transfer into an all girls school, lowering her chances of getting a boyfriend anytime soon.
However, upon entering the school on day one, she’s already made a bad first impression on the students and the student council president, Mei. To make things worse, Mei is actually her new stepsister! On top of that, Yuzu can’t seem to get Mei out of her mind. Is it because she’s stone cold? or maybe because she’s possibly in a relationship with a teacher? After their first day together, Yuzu decides to talk with Mei and start the road towards sisterhood, but after provoking Mei, Yuzu gets a surprise kiss!
Yuzuko Aihara is a proud Gyaru, or a person who dresses in a flashy manner. She has a high sense of pride, and hates following orders, even if they’re from the chairman of the school. Yuzu also has a problem with getting full of herself, as she tries to get cozy with the Chairman only for it to backfire. However, that’s really all she’s got bad with herself, as Yuzu is actually quite caring. After seeing Mei being used by a teacher to get money, Yuzu tells Mei all about it. And when that doesn’t go anywhere, Yuzu takes it upon herself to tell the whole school, freeing Mei from him.
The best part of her though, is her innocence and tenacity in love. Even when Mei teases her and badmouths her, Yuzu get back up the next day and tries again, being hopeful that Mei will come around. Yuzu’s love for Mei is so strong, she decides at one point to set aside her feelings to help Mei fix her broken relationship with her father. Because of this, Yuzu feels conflicted, as she can’t give up her love, but she also wants to act as the familial support Mei never had. As such, Yuzu never uses Mei for her selfish desires, instead wanting Mei to be just in love with her as she is.
Mei Aihara is the student council president, and Yuzu’s new sister. She is the model student, and always takes school work seriously. As Student Council President and the Chairman’s granddaughter, Mei does her best in school to eventually be able to run it as Chairman herself. The stress from all this though causes Mei to lash out at times, often hurting Yuzu through her actions. On top of this, Mei knows of Yuzu’s romantic feelings toward her and tries to push her away when Yuzu gets serious. This doesn’t work though, as while it will get Yuzu down for a bit, she’ll still stands up, making Mei slowly regret what she’s doing.
Thankfully, after a few chapters, Mei opens up to Yuzu slowly but surely. However, it’s still unsure whether Mei’s feelings of affection are as strong, or even the same as Yuzu’s affection toward her. This bridge that must be crossed however, has yet to be trekked.
Taniguchi Harumi, or Harumin, is Yuzuko’s classmate and her closest friend in school. She introduces herself as Harumin, and a Gyaru in disguise. She was also a transfer student, joining at the start of high school (note that this school is a escalator school, meaning those who enroll usually stay from grade to high school). As a fellow Gyaru, Harumin gets along perfect with Yuzu, and is often at her side. She often listens to Yuzu’s love problems, but doesn’t know who Yuzu loves. There’s a running gag that Harumin hides things in her chest, from her cellphone to random papers.
Momokino is the student council vice president, and Mei’s childhood friend. She knows of Mei’s strained relationship with her father, and does her best to support her. Momokino has a crush on Mei, and tries to break both apart, only for it to backfire as Mei becomes cold to her. She hasn’t given up though, so don’t forget about her!
Matsuri Mizusawa is Yuzu’s childhood friend, and a troublemaker. She does extremely questionable things to get spending money, showing how little she cares about the methods. So long as Matsuri can enjoy herself, she doesn’t mind the rest. Matsuri is quite perceptive, as she instantly knew who Yuzu loved based off only her phone wallpaper. She is also manipulative, and wants Yuzu all to herself, shown at the end of Volume 2.
Thoughts on the Series
After finishing volume 1 and 2, I can’t help but cheer on their love. Yuzu is so sweet and adorable, I hated whenever she was saddened to the point of crying. Her love is a pure love, as Yuzu doesn’t do anything that could harm Mei, such as taking advantage of her during her sleep. On top of this, Yuzu is extremely considerate of Mei, as she always puts Mei’s feelings over her own. She even sets aside her feelings at times in order to support her when she needed familial affection over romantic.
If anyone made me angry at times, its Mei, since her constant hostile attitude makes Yuzu suffer more than she should be. Yuzu doesn’t deserve the harsh treatment given by the one she loves, Mei. It’s pretty clear early on though that Mei only does these action in order to push Yuzu away. Luckily though, This treatment seems to calm down after Mei reconciles with her father, thanks to Yuzu. Though there’s still some things that need solving, their relationship takes a much needed step forward.
The character art in Citrus is amazing, as the author puts heavy detail in facial expressions, and has many pages being of only a character’s reaction. I personally love this, as you get a good look and feeling of how the characters reacted and felt during those moments. Especially the kiss scenes, since they take two pages at times, making for a beautiful scene. Detail is always put on the characters, which look nicer than some action manga out there.
To be perfectly honest, Citrus is by far my favorite Yuri and Romance manga. Why? well what love can be stronger than one that can withstand the pain from not one but two “forbidden” aspects? Yuzu and Mei are not only girls, but they’re step siblings. And while it is legal here in America to be with the same sex, in Japan, it’s not. On top of that, the step sibling part is even worse, since anyone who finds out will instantly be appalled to put it nicely. Even if they’re not really related, just the word ‘sibling’ will always have that ring to it.
I highly recommend this manga to those looking for a romantic story. Please, please, please don’t overlook it just because it’s a Yuri. After all, not all great stories follow the norm. You won’t regret this sweet and, at times, bitter story. Go on, grab a volume and give it a read!