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Citrus is Unhealthy

Citrus is a yuri anime revolving around two step-sisters, Mei and Yuzu, who find themselves falling in love. The show is taken from the perspective of Yuzu as she navigates a strange new world with her new home, school and sister. A lot of people may find this relationship to be okay because the two aren't technically related and haven't grown up together, however, there's a whole host of reasons why their relationship is extremely unhealthy.

Firstly, the argument that the two aren't related. While they don't exactly see each other as sisters right off the bat, Yuzu is continuously making an effort to see Mei as such. There's a want to be family, which makes the dynamic a little odd. Throughout the show, Yuzu tries to educate herself on her feelings by reading manga that revolves around sister relationships and expressing to Mei that they're family and should treat each other like it. Surprisingly, this isn't the worst part about this presentation.

Mei is also a huge perpetrator in this relationship. On more than one occasion, Mei has forced herself on Yuzu in a way that definitely categorizes itself as assault. In fact, Yuzu believes that because Mei forced a kiss on her, she started having romantic feelings. The implications are not only horrendous, but also a very real trope of abuse leading to preference.

As the series continues, Mei reveals that she's had some emotional abuse in her life. She experiences it from her previous arranged engagement, who was also a teacher at her school, and describes her feelings of neglect from her father. Mei ends up doing the exact same things to Yuzu, between the assaults and icing her out, while trying to figure out her own emotions.

Continuously, Mei leaves or abandons Yuzu. This usually happens after Yuzu has expressed that she doesn't want to do something or feels unsure. The moment her step sister admits she's uncomfortable, Mei takes is as she is no longer needed or useful, turning around to cause emotional distress. This is confirmed to us towards the end of the season when Mei asks her current love interest whether or not she'd be needed. This is a type of emotional abuse, but we continue to see Yuzu blame herself; something not uncommon in victims of abuse.

The situation, overall, is extremely unfair to both parties. This doesn't mention the amount of times outside parties have also been particularly toxic; Mei's best friend who's in love with her, Yuzu's old best friend who also saw her as a sister while being in love with her or Sara's sister who lied to get Sara and Mei together...

With it's first season officially over, some fans seem to have been really happy with it's story and call for a second season. Still, quite a few are concerned with how this genre played out and what the representation means. Surely, the step sister romance is a genre we've all seen before, and it won't go away anytime soon. But the blatant abuse that was romanticized in this anime is something to really think about.



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