Yuri Manga Review: Citrus by Saburouta

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Spoiler Warning!


Title: Citrus
Artist: Saburouta
Genre: Drama, Pseudo-Incest, Romance, Yuri
Status: Completed – 10 Volumes

After so many years, ten volumes, numerous specials, and even an anime adaptation, Citrus has come to an end, and I can finally, finally review one of my all-time favorite manga.

But first things first, despite the fact that most of you probably know about Citrus already, let’s start with a short summary for those who have yet to enjoy it.

After her mothers remarriage, Yuzu is forced to move into a new home and enroll into a new school. As prepared and determined as she might be, the new school and especially the student council Mei she butts heads with on the first day, give her a hard time adjusting to this new environment. When she then finds out that said student council is her new step sister, things make an even worse turn. Now add the fact that Yuzu can’t help but be attracted to her new step sister and everything is a mess…

Oh, what joy this series brought me and many, many more of you. It’s undoubtedly the biggest and most popular yuri manga out there right now, and I can definitely see where all the love and even where some of the hate is coming from.

Citrus made its debut years ago, using the so-called incest between the two step-sisters as something along the lines of shock value to get people interested. While it might as well be love between sisters, it’s not quite the kind of genre I think a lot of people would stay away from, since it’s “only” step-sisters and the term rather transformed into “pseudo incest”, which I can work with, to be quite honest.

aggressive mei

Oh yes, I can absolutely work with that…

Though, despite this featured love between two sisters, this trope kind of became secondary, and honestly, not that big of a deal anymore after a while. What this series focused on the most—and what I adore this series for the most—is the oh-so-slowly forming bond between two people that honestly couldn’t be any more different.

Yuzu, who is this super girly girl who seemingly just did anything she wanted without second thought or any fear of the consequences, and Mei, a girl so deeply conflicted by her past and all of her responsibilities that she hardly knows how to do anything other than the work that she’s been doing all her life. Seriously, a lot of people complained about Yuzu being too childish and carefree and Mei being too stoic and not at all like a real human being. But seeing their back stories with Yuzu’s dad having passed away and she and her mom living by themselves and Mei already having her whole life planned out by others and seeing her dad, the person she always idolized, leaving her to take a different path in life without her… it’s tough. Yeah, I guess that doesn’t mean Mei has to always take advantage of Yuzu, which she probably did because she simply didn’t know any better, seeing that her first fiancée did the same to her. But despite that being the case in a lot of chapters in the first few volumes, things change, and that’s one of the aspects I love about the series the most. Things change, and we see development taking place – very slowly, yeah… 😛

mei is reacting

Yes, Mei-tron is developing human feelings, Yuzu!

Be it seeing Mei finally demanding something she wants, having her show affection towards Yuzu that is not forced, or seeing Yuzu actually putting some thought into things and planning before just charging in unprepared, it’s all part of what made the ride so enjoyable. All the frustration that this manga gave us aside, being able to witness someone like Mei, who had been denying and refusing all her needs and desires, finally opening up and showing exactly what she wants—that’s just huge! I know that a lot of these scenes were then ruined by a totally overwhelmed Yuzu that had such a hard time understanding a Mei that was finally showing affection, but isn’t that just precious and endearing?

Speaking of which, in a series running this long, it’s not always the big developments but rather the small things that make the difference between a good and a great story, and dear God did Saburouta do a great job with this. Be it a Yuzu magically enchanted by a sleeping Mei that gets angry in her dreams, or a Yuzu who enters hentai-mode just from finding her lover’s clothes laying around, it’s all so endearing and helps getting through parts of the story that you might as well not like. For me, that would have been the election arc, for example.

beautiful moment

Hands down, best scene of the whole manga for me.

Furthermore, Citrus might be perceived as this kind of ecchi and fanservice-y series, and while I did indeed enjoy their kisses and make-out scenes a lot, the story had a lot more to offer. The scene you see up there with Mei consoling a confused and frightened Yuzu was probably one of the best moments of the whole series. Not only did the roles switch for once, but without giving Yuzu false hope about their surroundings, Mei’s words were honest, encouraging, and exactly what Yuzu needed at that moment. There are a lot of moments like this spread throughout the whole manga, and I can’t help but enjoy these parts a lot more than any hot make-out scene Saburouta might throw at us.

Speaking of which, did they end up having sex? Nope… The story teased us about this happening in quite a few parts, and to be quite honest, I was hoping for it to happen A LOT. But in old Citrus fashion, we were only teased, and nothing happened in this department. What a letdown! And while we’re already talking about all the things we didn’t like, I will continue with how poor best girl Harumin was treated! For the love of God, I was conflicted! Seeing what a great friend she is and how she might have feelings for Yuzu as well, part of me actually hoped for them getting together, too. Of course, there’s no way of that happening. but I was at least hoping that she would end up with someone (who’s not freaking Matsuri).

Now seeing that by October we’ll get more Citrus goodness in form of spin-offs, I have my hopes high to see Harumin happy with someone. I actually hope for Sara, to be honest, even though they hardly interacted with each other at all. They both need to be happy, though!

Since the ending chapters with the “forced” marriage (and especially the events after Yuzu managed to get Mei out of it) felt quite rushed, what I’m hoping for the most is also some lovey dovey chapters with Mei and Yuzu simply going on dates, making out a lot, and enjoying life together as a free couple that is out to their parents and friends. Oh yeah, and then a sex chapter please. Or maybe numerous chapters…

me

I’m not desperate for it, you are! 😀


Story: 7/10
Characters: 8/10
Art: 10/10
Yuri: 10/10
Total Enjoyment: 9.5/10

 


ending

Yup, it was a little cliché to have them get married in the end, but damn, would you look at this picture!

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29 thoughts on “Yuri Manga Review: Citrus by Saburouta

  1. Pretty much in complete agreement. Citrus may not be perfect, but it was so damn good for so long that it really deserves all of the love it gets. I can understand some of the complaints I’ve heard, and some of them are even logical, but I think it just proves that Saburouta had a specific goal in mind and wanted to push it forward without bending to cater to those who wouldn’t have enjoyed the series even if it was the series they say they wanted. Citrus is not for everyone but that doesn’t make it any less great. Oh, and I NEED that end shot of the two of them on their wedding day in some form of frameable large print, or even a wall scroll, ASAP.

    If I had a couple of complaints about the series it start with feeling the framing at the start of the series could/should have been clearer in Yuzu’s attraction to other women. They would have really just needed to add an extra line or two of internal dialogue or two to firm that up (and it’s already in my head canon anyway). I also would have really liked to see, at least at the very end, Mei taking more initiative. I get that the mystery of Mei was a lynchpin of the series but it would have been nice to see Mei reciprocate instead of having Yuzu being the one doing the chasing every time. I was actually hoping that the reason for the meeting with her fiance in the closing chapters was for Mei to admit her feelings to her fiance and finally stand up for herself to say she wanted the marriage called off. Having Yuzu bust in there only to have Mei and her fiance basically say “sorry to worry you, we’ve already broken things off” would have been excellent.

    I do wonder what we’ll be seeing in the coming “side story.” The ending chapters definitely felt rushed and there were some moments we saw in the time skips that I would have loved to see play out in full, particularly the one where Mei’s dad and grandpa had to hash things out. So there’s ample material there to work with but it wouldn’t make much sense to cover that after the fact. Another option I’ve seen hashed about is showing at least some of the story from Mei’s perspective to fill her out a little more, but I don’t see that as likely (even if I would support it). Calling it a “sidestory” opens up pretty much any option, from pseudo-sequel to new characters/stories, to one shots with the old cast. I do really hope we get at least a bit of epilogue (and, yes, a love scene or, at the very least, a lead in and then morning after scene) Well, at least there’s a lot of potential room left in Volume 10 so maybe we’ll be getting more in there that wasn’t in the already published version.

    Anyway, great series and an easy recommend to anyone as long as they’re not just into the fluffy, drama free side of yuri.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh how much I agree with you! The one letter Mei wrote to Yuzu just felt perfect – finally a moment where we get the chance to see how she truly feels.

      I would highly appreciate a chapter of just her inner dialogue. What goes on in the head of Mei when she’s with Yuzu. I’m pretty sure we’d be pleasantly surprised how much Mei actually longs for Yuzu but just can’t act on it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! I agree with many things u said. Well, Citrus was the manga that brought me back to yuri (blessed Saburouta), so It’s one of my favorite. About the finale: no surprises and was really rushed, but the news of the spin off was a relief. Everyone was expecting a sex scene… sighs ~ Time to look for the doujins (I’m not desperate for it, you are).
    And finally: Harumin and Matsuri need to happen!! For the sake of the yuri nation. Harumin best girl needs another best girl, uh.
    Now I just hope that Saborouta does not force much drama with the spin off. Let’s wait!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yeah I think a lot of us are done with the drama now – what we need is to see what happened between the marriage and the time Mei finally confessed her love. There was so much going on that I would have loved to see play out fully.
      And of course more time to focus on Harumin (not Matsuri though, didn’t like her :D)

      And yeah… uh… sex chapter(s) please 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Citrus’ greatest legacy imo is giving us Yuzu as a character, probably my favourite Yuri character of all time or one of the top 3 at least, she’s selfless and always puts everyone before herself, but also assertive enough to try to fight for her love whilst still keeping her innocence. I think they really messed up not having them finally cosummate their love, but at least they got Married and Mei confessed her love to Yuzu at last.

    Ending was super rushed and I kinda’ hated that (Why were Yuzu’s homophobic friends at the wedding? Why was the Grampa built up to be such an obstacle then glossed over?) but it kinda’ slips by through the godwill of that genuinely heartwarming final panel. Ultimately I think Sabu dropped the ball a little on the storytoward the end and then finished it off with the rushed ending so I can’t really say it’s the best Yuri STORY at least since the whole wedding thing makes no sense to me anymore but it doesn’t deserve the hate I see it get from ‘Yuri snobs’ everywhere.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yuzu is definitely the high spot of Citrus isn’t she. You worded it perfectly why she’s so likeable. At times i felt she deserved better then Mei (i think the lack of what was going on in her mind is Citrus biggest weakness for me) but I’m happy Yuzu got the ending she deserved.

      Maybe you know this already. Seen that we’re getting a sequel to Citrus, called Citrus Plus, and Mei/Yuzu will be back. And rumors that it’s going to be more adult in tone, you might get that wish of them consuming their love. Also it might answer the questions some of us were left with at the end. Also depends where Citrus Plus takes off storywise, before the wedding or after it. So i give the ending of Citrus a pass right now as we might get more answers in the new Manga.

      With Citrus Plus, i’m hoping it’s able to take things in a different way so it can stand on its own. Maybe not focus entirely on Mei/Yuzu, give some side characters a bigger story arc, bring in new characters. Personally would love to see Harumi become Citrus Plus main character. But I have a feeling it be just be a new chapter of Mei/Yuzu’s life.

      Citrus does seem to split a lot of Yuri fans down the middle doesn’t it. But for me it’s great moments outweigh it’s negatives, I hope we get a second season of the anime as i feel it stopped before it reach some of it’s greatest moments. But it definitely be top 5 Yuri for me, not quite Bloom Into You, Girlfriends or Aoi Hana level of greatness but far better then some give it credit for.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yeah, I was so confused to see Yuzu’s two friends from back then at their wedding. But then again who knows if they were actually totally fine with Yuzu being gay (and dating such a hottie after all) 😀
        But that Mei’s grandpa would be there too… yeah that was a biiiiiig stretch. He would have been furious to see that she declined the wedding and on top of that to get married to a girl, a trouble maker and her own step sister 😛
        But then again, we saw one panel with her dad actually having an argument with him – just wish we actually saw a bit more of that scene.

        But I have my hopes up high for Citrus Plus and maybe we’ll see just that~

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s amazing the effect this work has had on they yuri community at large (and for so long). Like you say, it really has been polarizing for everyone – you either love it, or you hate it.
    There were things about it that I enjoyed a lot, and things that just frustrated me, but overall I fall on the ‘love it’ side. It’s been a great read! 😀
    Can’t wait for the new spin off, who knows what we will get!? 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think overall it was a great Yuri Manga but i definitely think it has weaknesses but i don’t understand the hate it gets from some. Sure it’s no Bloom Into You or Girlfriends but it’s still of high quality. I’m hoping we get a second season of the anime to wrap the story up as some of my favourite moments from the second half of the Manga.

      Well for one, If it was up to me for what i wanted from Citrus Plus would for it to spin things on it’s head and for it to stand on it’s own, rock the boat a little. For one Mei/Yuzu wouldnt be the main focus, they still be there but Citrus plus shouldnt be based entirely around them. Maybe bring in a new character as the main focus, maybe move up a side character like Harumi as the main focus. Just make it different so the manga can stand apart. You can still have the Yuri in there but just take it in a different direction.

      But what i think will probably happen that Citrus Plus is set before the wedding, and you can deal with the questions left unanswered by the end of Citrus. Or it be set after the wedding and making it’s way up until their graduation. I’m throwing this out here I bet they throw a third wheel into Mei/Yuzu situation, maybe Mei’s first Lesbian love.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I really hope they will stay away from drama a little and just give us some stand alone one-shots.
        Like seeing how they were able to get Mei’s grandfather on board, seeing what’s in store love-wise for characters like Harumin, hearing a little more about Mei’s feelings, and yeah the hopefully inevitable sex chapter 😛

        I hope it won’t pick up where Citrus left off, neither storywise nor dramawise – though I still hope that the main focus will stay with Yuzu and Mei.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’d be very surprised if it isn’t based around Mei/Yuzu, just don’t understand why have ended it at the wedding and just continue Citrus on. As you said and I agree, I don’t want it to be a continuation of Citrus. I want it to be a totally different beast, you can have Mei/Yuzu there but I’d like a new character or a side character like Harumin to maybe become the focus, doesn’t mean taking away Mei/Yuzu as the main characters that you won’t have the Yuri. Maybe skip a year or two, with one part based in University with Mei/Yuzu along with Harumin and Momokino, and still have another part based in the High School with Nene and even move Matsuri over to the school, and some new characters. Personally I’d would love Citrus Plus be about Harumin and Matsuri falling in love lol.

          I like the idea of one shots for Mei/Yuzu scattered within Citrus Plus, but to keep them away from drama and heartbreak at least for Citrus Plus, you can have Mei and Yuzu be involved in other characters problems. Let them be loved up and let Mei start showing Yuzu a good time as I feel it’s all come from Yuzu’s side.

          But definitely looking forward to it, As much as i loved Citrus it definitely wasn’t perfect. Fingers crossed that Citrus Plus tops it.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. That was quite a rollercoaster, but in the end, for me, there was still more positives than negatives, and even being cliche the last page brought a smile to my face. And loving or hating the series is undeniable that Citrus had quite a impact in modern yuri, and not a negative impact. Im hoping that the spin off can compensate for the rushed ending, and I will look forward for what Saburota will do after that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, as much as I hope for more Citrus, I wanna see what else Saburouta might bring us.
      She’s a great artist and I think she might have learned from some of the mistakes she made in Citrus.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. great review as always! man it really has been a long ride, ive been following citrus for the past 6 years since it came out and now that its over i have many feelings, im happy sad and many more feelings, i really do love citrus with all my heart even with its ups and downs, its had such a huge impact on me as a yuri lover and i still think its a solid manga with a great story and characters, that final chapter made me cry sad and happy tears even if it ended up being a bit cliche and honestly im happy that saburo uta-sensei got the ending she wanted in the end and i can confidently say it is one of my favorite mangas ever. im now super excited for the spin-off (please give best besty harumin more page/screen time she so deserves it!) also with citrus also being a huge impact on the yuri community as a whole maybe we will see more bigger things when comes to yuri in the near future (MORE ANIME PLEASE!)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So we have finally reached the end. It has been so many years since this fun series started, seeing it finally come to an end it almost doesnt feel real! 😛 The series overall was a bit uneven for me but I still had a lot of fun with it and I loved the characters and art. I do agree with everyone the ending is definitely rushed but dammit I just can’t help but smile at the fact we got a happy end with a wedding at that! 😀 Saburouta sure gave us what we wanted but I do wish the ending at least played out across another chapter. I do think a couple of extra chapters are left so we might get a bit more closure with those. I also think the chapter said a spin off was happening in Winter so this may not be over yet! 😀

    With the manga finished I hope they do more seasons for the anime to complete the series too. We need that wedding animated! Overall I loved the series and I can’t wait to see what Saburouta does next! hopefully something with sex scenes? 😉 I agree with Lena 100% on that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hehehe Chimeko, finally someone who outright said it without being embarrassed about – yes we want that freaking sex chapter and we want it now! 😀
      Oh and yes, please let us have another anime season… or two? 😛

      Liked by 2 people

      • And we just got conformation of a Citrus Spin off! 😀 Life just gets better and better doesn’t it?

        https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2018-08-22/citrus-yuri-manga-gets-citrus-plus-spinoff-in-winter/.135714

        And don’t be shy about wanting things like that Lena! You are among friends here, some like minded people! 😛 Saburouta did do a NSFW yuri one-shot before so there is that slim possibility of getting a sex chapter of Citrus! 😀 Also I want one with Harumin and Matsuri!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t get why some Yuri fan’s get embarrassed about wanting some Sex in their Yuri stories, sex is a important part of an relationship is it not lol. For me if when it’s not earned and doesn’t bring anything to the story, that’s when I have a problem really with Sex in Yuri. But I think it has to happen in Citrus Plus, I’m happy they left the first sex scene for the spin off , and that the rumor that it’s going to be more adult in theme makes me happy.

        Do you know when they usually announce if Anime’s get renewed in Japan?. I don’t know how popular Citrus was as a anime, it’s definitely got mixed reviews for sure. But it be a shame if we don’t get at least one more season (definitely more then 12 episodes) to wrap things up. They have enough material for two seasons at least.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s not about the yuri sex, but the sex in general. Who wants to come off as someone who’s into porn? Especially as a girl 😛
          I guess for me, it’s a little too late to worry about that though 😀

          As for the second season, I’m unfortunately not sure. There’s plenty of material to have two more seasons even, though as you said, the anime got mixed reviews and I think the sales looked pretty bad…

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent review and mostly agree with you, except for the need for sex scenes. For me Citrus was a wonderful, heart-felt story between two amazing characters of Yuzu and Mei. Very carefully and delicately designed with great complexity. Who would have thought at the beginning that the airhead gyaru Yuzu had such a wonderful and iron core moral code inside. For all of her duty and honor, Mei is much less moral than is Yuzu. And even more, you could literally watch the characters change as each affected the other. Its so rare to watch that sort of character development in story telling. I hung on every scene where the two of them were interacting. It was delicious and I miss them. My favorite scene is where they are trying on Wedding dresses, and Mei hides in the corner, and breaks into tears, she has finally admitted to herself if not to anyone else, that she is indeed in love with Yuzu. Great scene. But as most commenter’s are commenting here, the ending was rushed. And that is very much so. You build up this great conflict in Mei over 40 chapters between duty and love, and then in one chapter you suddenly resolve it all, everyone is accepting (even the Grandfather), and they live happily ever after.
    Ouch! That plays like a Drop-in. In Hollywood, when the suits come to the artists and demand changes, the artists are forced to drop-in a scene, usually a happy ending. They are usually obvious and rarely play right with the forgoing story. Chapter 41 felt like a Drop-in. The conflict and drama in Mei had to be worked out in detail, and come on, there is going to be conflict with someone over a marriage between Mei and Yuzu. Citrus needed at least 5-10 more chapters to work all of its ending into a completely satisfying ending. Still all in all, a great manga and story and I will always have Mei and Yuzu, and thanks for the review and my Citrus vent.

    Like

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