Rating: 4/5 – Will the Real Wicked Stepsister Please Stand Up?
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.
Yuri can be a very deceptive sub-genre of manga for the unwary. Taken at its face value – girls’ love – and most readers go in with preconceived ideas – the wrong ones – about what to expect. Not that there aren’t whole categories of manga that cater to the idea of two women in a deep, passionate and yes, sexy relationship, but the true focus of a yuri book focuses on that second word: Love. In other words, if you’re looking for a quick one-night stand loaded with fanservice out of a yuri book, you’d be better served looking elsewhere. These books are about relationships, attractions, and finding love among your own gender.
Keeping all that in mind, Citrus is at least starting out to be one of the standout yuri titles to come out of the Seven Seas stable, as it attempts to tread that fine line between the prurient and the pure, giving us an unlikely love story that might turn into one of the more entertaining ones published to date. Aihara Yuzu is a transfer student, due to her mother’s remarriage, at a very strict all-girls school. Free-spirited and not willing to be hampered by any code of conduct, she soon runs afoul of the fairly grim and no-nonsense student body president, Mei. At this point it isn’t difficult to figure out that these two are the intended romantic couple of the book. This isn’t the first time the bubbly, happy-go-lucky character finds themselves paired up with the stern, emotionless rock of a counterpart in a yuri tale.
Then the book throws in its monkey wrench: Mei is the daughter of the man Yuzu’s mother married, making them stepsisters. Not only do they have to get along at school, they have to live under the same roof, going so far as to share a bed.
From that initial twist, the book falls into many standard yuri tropes: Mei and Yuzu don’t get along, but Yuzu is more than curious about her new step-sibling, particularly since Mei kissed her the first time they met. Mei herself may be unsure what to do about this new arrival in her otherwise straight-cut life where everything has pretty much been decided for her. Suddenly she finds herself able to make her own decisions, only to find out she doesn’t know what she wants at all. Yuzu herself is uncertain what to do, both attracted to this stranger, yet also repulsed by her cruel and unfeeling demeanor. Yet there seems to be a reason for Mei’s cruelty to Yuzu, and it’s drama like this that will have me coming back for volume two. Mei’s hiding a secret, and it’s up to Yuzu to find out what it is, and I plan to be there when she does.
As mentioned before, yuri titles can be a very mixed bag. Readers looking for a full-on lesbian lovefest with explicit renderings of girls in various sexual positions are likely to close the book very disappointed. They’re love stories at their core, and Citrus has the potential to be a most interesting one. While certainly not for everyone, those looking for something decidedly different might find this to be just what they’re seeking. At the same time, newcomers to yuri might find this to be a bit much for their first exposure to the genre (I recommend Girl Friends, also from Seven Seas). Having said that, Citrus stands out as not only a good yuri story, but potentially a great love story. I’m going to need to read a volume or two more before I commit 100% to that statement, though.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
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