Imagine a world where you are a hot mess of a teen who badly just wants a boyfriend. You’re then thrown into a strict all-girls school and quickly discover that you and every girl in town are lesbians. Turns out your name is Yuzu Aihara and you are one of the main heroines in a Yuri tale known as Citrus. A coming of age mix of emotions that honestly follows a plethora of girls trying to find a lover, creating a love pentagram that was the dumpster fire I needed.
As I mentioned above this story follows Yuzu Aihara, a free-spirited girl who dyed her hair bright blond and wears way too many accessories. Trying to roll her dice in the game of love she is transferring schools, eager to meet any boys that might also attend. Naturally, once she arrives she is confronted by the harsh reality that Aihara Academy is an all-girl school, might be hard to get a boyfriend.
Out of uniform in almost every aspect she quickly learns that this school is not only all-girl but extremely strict and well regarded. Sticking out like a sore thumb she draws the attention of Mei, the student council president, appalled by the clear breaking of rules she approaches Yuzu, confiscating her phone before telling her she needs to get her act together or she won’t be around much.
Frustrated and annoyed Yuzu goes through her day cursing her luck. Meeting Harumi Taniguchi, a classmate that though follows the rules to an extent but admires Yuzu boldness, leading them to build a strong friendship. This comes to the first major conflict of the story where Yuzu accidentally finds Mei kissing one of the male teachers, embarrassed and confused she decides to keep it to herself, returning home.
Oh by the way Yuzu’s dad died, and her mom remarried. Oh and Mei’s family name is Aihara, I forgot the mention that didn’t I? Finally getting home Yuzu is introduced to her new imouto, the girl who scolded her earlier that day, Mei.
Finding that her new little sister is the stick in the mud president, and recalling the whole kissing ordeal Yuzu starts to tease Mei about it, prompting Mei to kiss her, leaving Yuzu confused and flustered.
I actually hate this shit, when I watched the anime long ago and when that scene happened I kinda blew it off. But now reading it, it upset me. I understand the whole narrative is Mei doesn’t understand her feelings and she thinks nothing of a kiss as something some people want. But this is a thing this medium does often, sexual harassment leading to love is a gross concept but as many of us who watch and read it, we have become quite jaded.
What follows is Mei still being cold to the confused Yuzu. Giving off mixed vibes, not wanting to be sisters, wanting to be sisters but not lovers, giving Yuzu all sorts of mixed lights boiling to the point where she becomes the aggressor, kissing Mei yelling at her that she was the one who did this. Her kiss and the way Mei treats her off and on at home had emotionally destroyed Yuzu and she couldn’t take it anymore. Seeming to give at least some sort of empathy Mei and Yuzu start to build a closer relationship just in time for others to get involved.
Honestly, I am not going to get that into it. Citrus at this point plays by the same rules that any trope in the genre does. Mia’s childhood friend, Yuzu’s old friend, and some weirdo that kinda just shows up are all in love with Mei. Forcing her and Yuzu to navigate this mess to try to understand who they are to one another and how they want their relationship to be. It isn’t all one-sided however, Matsuri Mizusawa, Yuzu’s (friend) “little sister” suddenly shows back up trying to force Mei out of the picture, pretty much saying she doesn’t compare to Yuzu’s standards. Naturally, she gets shut down pretty quickly as she realized that Mei, seemingly on the fence, is actually in love with Yuzu and Yuzu is every bit heads over heels for Mei.
The series closes out in the typical fashion, Mei, a daughter of a wealthy family and expected to carry the school into the future is engaged. Per family tradition her fiance was already chosen for her, knowing this she pulls a Hina, leaving a note for her stepsister explaining that she was weak and loved Yuzu but it would never work out, fate can not let them be together.
Destroyed Yuzu goes into a slump that lasts for months, changing so much that even her friends start to notice, one, in particular, Sara Tachibana. Hearing the story that Mei was living with her grandfather and everything was fine from Yuzu, Sara decides to dig deeper to bring back her old friend, learning of the letter and all it contained. This moment forces Yuzu to come to the term she isn’t going to give up, she loves Mei and nothing will stop her from her emotions reaching her stepsister.
Confronting her mom she tells her about their relationship and slowly starts to inform everyone close to the two that they were in fact lovers. Getting blessings from virtually everyone the final boss Yuzu had to confront was Mei herself. And with the help of everyone, a chance would be made for Yuzu to reach her.
But by this point Mei has cut off all forms of communication from Yuzu, changing classes so they don’t see one another, evening rushing her marriage with the hopes it will bury it all in the past.
Being approached by Yuzu and her fiance’s mansion however she tries to send her away, does everything she can to avoid the conversation but the headstrong and determine Yuzu confronts her on the balcony leading to Mei having a melt down.
She admits that even with not talking to her, avoiding her at all cost, the feelings she had towards Yuzu didn’t go away, in fact, the longer they were apart it became all she could think about. Using the breakdown Yuzu confesses her love and how she wants to be with no one but Mei, proposing marriage.
What follows is a cute coming to terms honestly, Mie calls off her arranged marriage and the couple comes out as lovers, adorably Yuri lovers.
The story ends on that note, a rather lackluster romance between two girls who are opposites of personality, trying to figure out themselves and each other. All and all I like Citrus, it’s not techincally cute but it does have sweet moment, mostly Yuzu being headstrong, and even if she doesn’t have the skillset to solve a problem she just takes it head on, sheer willpower at her side.
I like her, her partner, on the other hand, I am not so sure. Mei is quiet, stoic, and plays by the rules. She seemingly does what she wants to get what she wants and most of the time it is at the cost of others. It really makes her hard to like at the start, or hell even in the middle of the story, even telling Yuzu the only reason she kissed her was to shut her up. This of course is one of the meanest things someone could say to someone that fell in love with them because of that whole fiasco.
To be blunt, Mei shows some real ASPD issues. Rather it due to her strict upbringing or her issues with her father, but the way she approaches Yuzu off and on gives off some real sociopath vibes. Even post the proposal, even when Mei tells Yuzu she loves her it seems oddly forced. Which is fine, there are tons of people within the world that have ASPD and they function perfectly fine within it. But it does seem rather hard on Yuzu, even more so early on, but it was nice to see her grow fond of Mei’s cold side, understand that even though Yuzu’s feelings are clear and cut Mei may not be able to feel or convey in that way.
Citrus does have a follow-up, Citrus +, which follows the couple post proposal. I am reading it and plan on giving my thoughts on it at a later date. So with that, it shows the book left enough of an impression on me to keep reading more but it wasn’t anything special. The story is worthy of a 6/10 and even with its cringe moments and Mei/ Yuzu missing each other, it ended in a sweet enough that even though minor, it did feel something within my heart.
Thanks for the read!