By Brittany Vincent
The world of anime comprises a wide spectrum of different relationships.
If you want to see idol groups grow together as they perform, there’s a whole genre out there for you. If you love a furry romance, there are adorable animal stories out there as well. If you identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, you may be surprised to learn that there are plenty of stories out there for you as well.
Unfortunately, it can be a bit difficult to find queer stories among the vast amount of series out there, especially if you’re new to the anime fandom.
That’s not because they don’t exist–there’s an impressive variety of series that explore queer relationships like given and Revolutionary Girl Utena. Many of these shows revolve around the queer relationships that fuel them, making it a bit simpler to figure out if these are characters you want to spend your time with.
But there are plenty of shows out there that, based on the subtext I’ve found in watching them, that deal with concepts present in LGBTQ+ relationships.
So that’s where I come in! I’ve put together a few shows that may highlight the daily lives, personalities, crushes and relationships of queer characters, whether they’re the focus of the story or not.
While some of these relationships and subtext aren’t explicitly canon, they offer a positive message of being your true self. And, of course, they’re still well worth watching.
Cardcaptor Sakura is a bright, cheery show about a young girl tasked with collecting all of the cards that she unwittingly released from a book known as the Clow.
It’s a fantastic magical girl adventure and a veritable classic by the legendary collective CLAMP.
It’s also positively riddled with queer overtones that showcase positive interactions and affections between its most prominent characters. Though the show is primarily a “monster of the day” format with Clow cards Sakura must capture, it also focuses on interpersonal relationships.
Sakura’s brother Toya and mutual friend Yukito are extremely close, to the point where they share affectionate, longing glances and find their relationship begin to blossom over the course of the series–though the two aren’t intimate, it’s clear that the bond they share is far more than just that of friendship.
Toya lets down his guard when Yukito is around, putting up a tough front with just about every other character in the series. He shares his concern for Sakura with Yukito, and Yukito does his best to offer comfort. When a shocking revelation about Yukito happens later on in the series, Toya even gives up something massively important to ensure his best friend’s safety, with Yukito sharing in on this mutually beneficial relationship.
From a shy confession about someone Yukito “likes” to Sakura to tender touches and caresses and fun dinner dates, it’s clear Toya and Yukito were meant to be together, and you love to see every single second of their relationship play out.
These moments are positively beautiful, especially as Toya consistently goes out of his way to protect Yukito and keep him safe. These relationships communicate the subtleties of many LGBTQ+ romances and keep the positivity flowing.
Further, Tomoyo harbors feelings that might be more than friendship for Sakura. And Sakura doesn’t quite understand the type of love Tomoyo has for her, but she appreciates it just the same, and Tomoyo is overjoyed by simply being able to share her feelings with the girl who makes her smile the most.
Their relationship even mirrors that of the feelings Tomoyo’s mother had for Sakura’s late mom Nadeshiko, proving how close the daughters are to their mothers!
Yurikuma Arashi practically telegraphs the fact that it features queer relationships (the word “yuri” is in the name and it translates to “Lily Bear Storm”). But you wouldn’t expect that from its premise: alien bears who eat human flesh have invaded Earth, and society has responded by building a wall, Attack on Titan-style, in a bid to keep them away.
The series follows a student named Kureha, whose mother’s life was stolen away by one of these bloodthirsty bears. She ends up finding love, despite being bullied at school for being different, with a classmate named Sumika.
When she loses Sumika to the bears as well, she’s distraught–but finds a bright side with a bear disguised as a human. The entirety of the show revolves around Kureha working to deal with feeling ostracized by her classmates, something queer individuals unfortunately often experience.
But in a positive manner, it allows her to explore a relationship with another girl–in a way she would never have expected, and neither would viewers. It’s a colorful yet sometimes obtuse series, but it’s all about queer characters in the end. Plus, you have to expect greatness when it’s coming from the creator of Revolutionary Girl Utena.
Izetta: The Last Witch
Izetta: The Last Witch takes place during an alternate-reality World War II, though that’s not quite what’s happening in this story.
Finé, the princess of the land of Eylstadt, is having difficulty protecting her country from the advancing troops of Germania. She can’t do it alone, so she ends up calling on her friend Izetta, the last witch on Earth. While the story is set against the backdrop of a wartime scenario, it wastes no time reminding us that both female protagonists care deeply about each other.
Izetta would do absolutely anything for her princess, and demonstrates this at every turn. It wouldn’t be immediately obvious that you’d see this type of relationship in an anime focusing on a war, but the pair are so beautiful together as they spend time snuggling, airing their feelings, and having each other’s backs that it feels like it was practically built as a salve for queer audiences looking for a show that reflects just how it feels to be so shy around your crush you can barely speak to them sometimes, yet you have their back always.
The series citrus does ensure viewers know about the queer goodness it’s about to get into, but given the fact that the protagonists are new stepsisters, it may not be immediately obvious that they’re the ones in the relationship the series is promoting.
And while it’s certainly a complex situation, and some of the series’ content is problematic and controversial, it offers a compelling look at love blossoming between two students.
Yuzu Aihara breaks all the rules, while schoolmate Mei is a stickler who won’t tolerate disobedience. What happens next when they clash at school? In this situation, opposites attract. The two begin living together as sisters (a surprise which comes out of nowhere), but they still have to grapple with their feelings for each other, and that’s easier said than done.
In this case, the series featuring a lesbian relationship isn’t the part that’s hard to decipher, but how in the world it could potentially play out. That’s going to be one puzzle you won’t figure out anytime soon–plus, there’s even a manga sequel!
If you’re looking for something to settle in with for a cozy Pride weekend, why not spend some time with one of these great shows? You may end up coming away with a new favorite.
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