While we certainly aren’t going to complain about seeing yuri bait or one-sided lesbian relationships for the sake of moe or comedy, variety is the spice of life and we often find ourselves wanting more. Too often, these relationships are never realized or fleshed out beyond one girl giving another unwanted attention when what we’re looking for is a discussion of feelings or at least a little heart-felt action. 2018 gave us some jokey, merely suggestive girlxgirl relationships but we were also blessed with the more mature and definitely more exciting relationships seen in Citrus, Yagete Kimi ni Naru, and Asagao to Kase-san.
3. Mei and Yuzu from Citrus
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2018 – March 2018
Stylish, flashy Yuzu and reserved honor-student Mei have nothing in common until they become stepsisters. At first, it seems like they’ll never see eye to eye, especially with Mei being particularly cold, but an aggressive kiss meant as a warning only serves to make Yuzu obsess over Mei. Why is it so easy for Mei to be physically close but emotionally distant? What do her actions mean? And just why does Mei only show Yuzu such a pained expression when she claims to have no interest in Yuzu?
Let’s start off by saying this is not a particularly healthy relationship as their first few physical encounters are just plain assault on either end so, for those that do not enjoy watching such scenes, this may not be for you. However, this isn’t the typical case where one forcing themselves on the other is painted as a good thing, like in many particularly older anime. Mei has had other people force themselves or their wills on her from a young age and when she physically assaults Yuzu, it’s framed as an act of aggression or control rather than love overtaking her. One good aspect of their relationship is that Yuzu doesn’t just change Mei into a better person, but helps her return to her previous self before she was so hurt. Yuzu also encourages her in her other relationships instead of just trying to get Mei to be particularly nice to her. It’s a little uneven with Mei rarely showing affection, but at least Harumin is there to support Yuzu. Mei also never tries to come between Harumin and Yuzu and though she is bad at showing it, does want to protect Yuzu from unnecessary suffering. Their relationship deals with many other complicated relationships, like childhood friends that have drifted apart and an estranged father and daughter. And honestly, if you’re just looking for some kissing and touching, you’ll get a good amount of that!
2. Yuu and Nanami from Yagate Kimi ni Naru (Bloom Into You)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2018 – December 2018
Yuu longs for the day when she can experience the love she reads about in novels and hears in love songs. She becomes despondent when it seems that she’s incapable of feeling romantic love the way normal people are meant to but when she meets the beautiful and cool Nanami, Yuu hopes that she’s met someone like herself. However, even though Nanami has never had a crush before, she develops strong feelings for Yuu that she’s never experienced before. Yuu is saddened by the thought that she truly is alone, just as Nanami is saddened thinking that her love can’t be returned. But as two people wanting to escape loneliness, the line between real and fake love becomes blurred.
This ‘couple’, for lack of a better word, really makes us question what love is and if there’s really no value in staying in a one-sided relationship. Does going through the motions amount to just empty gestures? or is it enough for someone to recognize that they’re needed and respond accordingly? Both girls are surprisingly honest with each other about their concerns and their feelings which usually doesn’t happen in the most loving of relationships in anime. As Nanami says, she’s grateful that she could even feel these emotions and thus it’s enough that Yuu allows Nanami to love her. Yuu herself wants to learn about love and wishes she could experience those same feelings and hopes Nanami might be the one to change her. In a way, they’re both using each other but they’re also exceedingly honest about their intentions and very considerate of each other. The bitter-sweetness of every kiss and embrace is sure to move you.
1. Yui and Tomoka from Asagao to Kase-san
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: June 2018
Yui is a quiet girl who tends to the school’s plants and Tomoka is a popular track star. While they seem to be very different, they both have eyes for each other. After deciding to go out, they spend their senior year trying new things and figuring out just what it means to be a couple. Misunderstandings and bad luck may threaten their relationship, but both girls know their happiness lies with each other.
It’s a pretty simple premise but this OVA has a lot of good points. At the start, Yui and Tomoka are already dating so we don’t have to sit through 30 minutes of them asking what their own heartbeats mean. Despite being so different, they both are obvious and honest about their feelings for each other and even the tomboy Tomoka gets flustered easily. Tomoka is pretty horny, which makes for a more believable romance but she’s also very respectful of her much less experienced partner and often ends up accidentally hurting herself at the thought of her being physical with Yui. They have their misunderstandings or moments where they feel unsure, but we aren’t forced to suffer any drawn-out stupidity for the sake of drama as they pretty quickly pick up on each other’s feelings. If you’re looking for a cute lesbian romance to enjoy without a lot of unnecessary heartache, this hour-long OVA is perfect.
Anime like Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san may flirt (pun intended) with the idea of lesbian romance but stop short of both girls pursuing a serious relationship. Thankfully, we have the girls in Citrus, Yagate Kimi ni Naru, and Asagao to Kase-san who are all-in. Explore the more serious, thought-provoking relationships these series have to offer as well as just enjoy girls kissing other girls. It’s a beautiful thing!