Yuzuko Aihara, a high school girl interested in fashion and fun, is transferred to a conservative all-girls school following her mom’s sudden remarriage. On her first day of class, she manages to make enemies with the beautiful but serious Student Council President Mei. At least she doesn’t have to deal with Mei at home, right? Wrong!
Just when Yuzu’s thought she’s escaped the Student Council President’s serious rules, Yuzu comes home to discover that Mei is actually her new step-sister, come to live with her. Even more surprising is when Mei catches Yuzu off guard and kisses her out of the blue. But what should have been the end to an argument only confuses Yuzu. What did the kiss really mean, and why does she want Mei to do it again?
CITRUS by Saburouta is one of the hottest yuri manga on the shelf right now. Updated once every two months, Volume 3 is the most recently translated novel to come to the United States.
Volume 3 begins with a dream. A fantasy, really. Following a steamy kiss with Mei at the end of Volume 2, Yuzu can’t bring herself to focus on anything until she finds out what the kiss meant. Was it real or was it fake? As little experience as Yuzu has, she can tell that something about that kiss was different. When she asks, Mei reminds that of course it didn’t mean anything—and even if it did it wouldn’t matter. They’re sisters. And sisters can’t do things like kiss. Or touch. Or hug each other around the waist. Or…well, you get the idea.
Yuzu’s puzzled reaction and her desire to know the truth, while humorous and relatable, really sets the tone for the rest of the novel.
The pacing in this volume is better than it has been in the last two, at least when it comes to plot. Now that the shock of “OMG MY MOM REMARRIED AND DIDN’T TELL ME I HAVE A HOT YOUNGER STEP-SISTER” has passed, the story has finally shifted, refocusing on the girls’ developing relationship.
Essentially, Volume 3 can be renamed CITRUS: A CHALLENGER APPROACHES. Following Yuzu’s dream, we’re introduced to her childhood friend, Matsuri, a girl Yuzu used to babysit. She’s also girl who has trouble written ALL over her—made obvious when she declares she’s come for Yuzu’s heart.
Even though Matsuri is still in middle school, she’s clearly more experienced in the complexities of love…and manipulation. After failed attempts to spend alone time with Yuzu, Matsuri attempts to blackmail Mei into leaving Yuzu alone.
Up to this point in the series, Yuzu has been struggling to sort out her feelings for Mei, while Mei has been learning to recognize what love is and accept that she’s worthy of it, even from a platonic standpoint. But with Matsuri entering the picture (and as twisted as her character behaves), it forces the girls to come to terms with some undeniable truths: while Matsuri helps Yuzu to recognize that her feelings for Mei are in fact romantic, Matsuri forces Mei to admit that she cares for Yuzu, and gives Yuzu credit for cracking the ice around her heart.
Not only that, but Mei realizes that if she wants Yuzu she needs to open the lines of communication and meet her half way, marking real progress in her character’s development—considering the fact that Mei has always been a girl of few words. For the first time we see Mei initiate casual conversation with Yuzu, a scene which culminates into the most frustrating cliffhanger in the history of romantic cliffhangers. Seriously. Excuse me while I go flip a table.
In terms of art, Saburouta’s style is hands-down one of the most appealing things about the series. It’s gorgeous. Whereas the majority of yuri on the shelves are more shojo in style—light, a little goofy, and utterly adorable—CITRUS’ style is more mature (read: hotttttttt), matching the serious, almost forbidden tone of the story. However, there’s still a fair amount of cute, silly pictures and faces, capturing the quirks of each character, especially Yuzu. Just ignore the covers of the books: in my opinion, they’re uncomfortable and don’t quite match the tone of the story, not to mention they do little justice to the art in the actual panels.
However, as much as I enjoy CITRUS I have to admit the story isn’t great—a lot doesn’t realistically (and emotionally) make sense or only happens for the sake of drama and sexual tension. (I mean, what mother wouldn’t tell their daughter that she not only has a step-sister but that said step-sister is going to be living with them THE DAY THAT SHE MOVES IN? A plot device, that’s what.) Yuzu and Mei could also use more heart-to-heart bonding time to make the reader believe that they’re supposed to be together (especially since their personalities are polar opposites).
But despite all that, there’s still a lot about it that sucks you in and gets you excited to keep reading. There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular yuri right now, after all!
Overall, for a yuri, CITRUS doesn’t really offer anything new to the genre, but the series—especially Volume 3, with its new source(s) of drama—is definitely worth the read!
Story: 4 out of 5 stars
Art: 5 out of 5 stars
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
Guest writer Emily London has a degree in Netflixology and spends copious amounts of time watching shows that sexually frustrate those with heightened shipping senses. When not waiting for the next volume of CITRUS to be released, she can be found studying Walt Disney World history or training unpopular Pokémon. Find her online @london_emi or at A Spoonful of Words.
In a previous guest post, Emily shared some great F/F romances with happily-ever-afters to check out — including yuri classic GIRLFRIENDS by Milk Morinaga.