Six months after Netsuzou TRap began airing in Summer 2017, Citrus has received an anime adaptation which has now started airing in the Winter 2018 anime season.
Even before the first episode for Citrus aired, however, people were comparing the two shows. Admittedly, there is a considerable overlap between the fans of NTRap and the fans of Citrus so I can see why they were quick to cling onto such comparisons.
But I want to point out a key difference between the two series before I discuss the stand-alone intricacies in regards to Citrus.
Advocates for Netsuzou TRap were quick to claim that the series grimly portrays the cycle of abuse – Fujiwara physically abuses Hotaru, who in turns mentally abuses (or at least emotionally manipulates and gaslights) Yuma. To be fair, that is how the situation is presented for most of the season. But the audience also learns that Hotaru started treating Yuma that way from much earlier on, back when Hotaru grew jealous over the fact that Yuma actually has other friends besides her. There’s no cycle of abuse here – just a clingy, spiteful girl who is starved for attention from the one she loves and who accidentally pulled in a scummy man who is even worse than her. A girl who probably would have started messing with Yuma even if she didn’t date Fujiwara and who actually gets away with her appalling behavior. That’s how I see Hotaru.
But for Citrus, I would argue that the cycle of abuse, where the abused turns into the abuser, is possibly present judging by the first episode. The viewers (and Yuzu) get to witness Mei’s teacher forcing herself onto Mei, who in turn forces herself onto Yuzu after she (successfully) upsets Mei. The kiss the teacher gives to Mei, just like the kiss Mei in turn gives to Yuzu, are intrusive and sexually abusive if one considers forced physical contact to be sexual abuse. The fact that Mei mutters to Yuzu that this is what a kiss is like seemingly confirms it: to Mei, this is the sort of romantic and sexual interaction she is used to. This is what she’s been exposed to and now she considers this to be the norm. THIS is a (potential) cycle of abuse.
Which is all very well and good, but the inclusion of a character with such a twisted belief on what it means to be intimate will naturally feature instances of simply inappropriate behavior. Yuzu is already groped by Mei in public and Yuzu has little to say aside from turning red and mentally condemning Mei in her head. Mei’s actions are scandalous (which may keep certain viewers engaged) and the reason why Mei did so is somewhat practical (she was attempting to locate Yuzu’s phone), but it can also prove to be uncomfortable for other viewers to sees since Mei’s moral behavior and principles are largely unchallenged despite being seen by many others.
Such conduct is divisive – some viewers will pull away from the series while other viewers will instead lean in while being quick to assure others that they are well aware the characters are trashy but that won’t stop them from watching the series. Either course of action is understandable and you’re free to choose either or. Just don’t launch personal attacks on other viewers due to their preferences, please.
Another controversial point is the relation between Yuzu and Mei. The two girls are step-sisters and unrelated by blood, but some viewers are quick to claim that Citrus features incest. Starting a romantic relationship with your step-sister certainly is unusual and frowned upon, but I wouldn’t really classify it as incest. For those of you who are really into forbidden romance, you may even call their relationship to be a cop-out since they’re not sisters related by blood. Again, preferences regarding this, uh, drawpoint run the entire gamut.
Finally, I want to point out how Citrus takes place in an all-girls school, which is more or less the traditional setting for yuri stories. The series quickly and firmly establishes that the students and the authorities for Yuzu’s new school are strict and uptight and oppressive (save for one sleazy male teacher), which causes the interactions between Yuzu and Mei to seem even more scandalous in comparison. The fact that Mei is supposed to be the upstanding student council president doesn’t help.
At any rate, The Lily Garden will likely be (reluctantly) watching this series for now. Coverage may remain spotty like the thin layer of sunscreen you hastily apply once you’re already at the beach, however.