Citrus, Vol. 1

By Sabu Routa. Released in Japan by Ichijinsha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Comic Yuri Hime. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

I was in a somewhat cranky mood when I read Citrus, so wasn’t as appreciative of it as I could have been. The cover makes it seem a bit more salacious than it actually is, though that may change later. The back cover copy tells us it’s reminiscent of Girl Friends and Strawberry Panic, which is certainly true in terms of genre. But as I read it, I realized it felt more like standard shoujo with a female lead who fights back against the system and changes in her life. If it weren’t for the yuri, this could have been written by Natsumi Ando. And thus the difference between this and, say, Girl Friends is the level of drama it brings to the table.


Yuzu has just moved to an all-girls’ school, and finds that the strict regulations pretty much demand she change everything about herself. Things aren’t helped by the class president, Mei, who appears to be rather uptight and straightlaced, but is apparently having a secret relationship with the teacher. She then returns home to find that her mother, who has recently remarried (the father is absent, and honestly the mother seems a bit not all there), has asked her new stepdaughter to stay with them. No prizes for guessing who it is. Then when Yuzu, who acts worldly but isn’t, talks about a magical first kiss, Mei shuts her up by kissing her.

I like Yuzu. She’s a good heroine, easily outraged, emotional and exasperated. She is perhaps portrayed as a bit too naive, but the whole “ah, so this is what love feels like” situation is a staple of shoujo manga. In fact, most of the situations we see here are staples of shoujo rather than yuri (though the genres overlap quite a bit): outing the sleazy teacher, the threat of expulsion for doing what’s right rather than following the rules, the jealous classmate catching the lead couple in the classroom and staring at the cliffhanger ending of the volume with an “I will DESTROY her” expression…

Mei is harder to like right away, but that’s because she’s the repressed, stoic one. Her kissing of Yuzu seems oddly out of character, and you get the impression she did it entirely to drive her away and shut her up rather than out of any lingering affection. The trouble is that she also lit a fuse in Yuzu, and now has to take responsibility for Yuzu’s turbulent feelings. (This makes up the other half of the cliffhanger in Vol. 1.) She’s not quite the Sachiko-type – not enough oneesama tendencies for that – but close, and I fear that dealing with Yuzu and all her extroversion will lead to Vol. 2’s crisis point.

So as I said at the start, Citrus is a decent shoujo potboiler of a manga. It’s not very original, but that’s not unusual. If you like dramatic shoujo, and don’t mind the leads both being girls, this is a title you may want to check out. If you like yuri, of course, you’ve probably already read it by now.

(Oh yes, and Harumin is fantastic. She’s the Tsutako of the series, and plays her role admirably.)

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