R E C C O M E N D A T I O N – A N I M E
Though positive portrayal of the LGBTQIA+ community in mainstream anime is quite a rarity, it is less so in the more underrated anime sub-cultures. Explore 9 such anime picked out by the Tōron Team.
Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World
The anime offers a wide outlook into the broad spectrum of human nature through its titular, enby character, Kino. However, unlike most of its predecessors and successors, this show doesn’t use its character’s gender identity for mere comic relief or show — instead, Kino’s reluctance towards being gendered steers their stoic mentality and their perspective towards growing up as a traveller.
Ever since the genesis of toxic fujoshi culture, any shounen ai with even the slightest amount of raunchiness is deemed unbearably fetishised by the wider masses. Under Doukyuusei‘s premise, however, the brazen raunchiness makes sense. It is, after all, a tale about two teenage boys, falling in love during the summer. If teenage heterosexual romance can be clumsy and risqué without being fetishised, why can LGBTQ+ high school romance not? It is raw, natural, and to the very end, wholesome.
No. 6 manages to carve out an intricate, realistic romance between its leads, Shion and Nezumi, in an anime genre that has historically seen little queer representation — sci-fi. The show takes care to flesh out the characters’ vastly different backgrounds and personalities, while also delving into how these nuances affect their relationship, and it does so without resorting to heteronormative BL tropes. The subversion of a world full of binaries, a key theme in the series, is also likely to resonate with queer viewers.
Why must cross-dressing be harder for males than for females? A thought-provoking tale, Hourou Musuko utilises the uniqueness and eccentricity of a middle-school genderbender play to address this unfair reality as Nitori Shuichi — a boy longing to dress as and be identified as a girl — is confronted repeatedly by narrow and illiberal minds around him.
Aoi Hana is a delicately crafted story of self-discovery that explores the normalcy of Manjoume Fumi’s romance with her senior, Sugimoto Yasuko. This long-lost yuri anime series sets your perspective straight on non-binary relationships, and reminds you that love and attraction are universal and cannot be bound by conventions set in stone.
Bloom into You
In Bloom into You, Yuu and Touko, the lead couple, attempt to navigate their feelings for each other and, being teenagers, love in general, while also having to deal with Touko’s childhood trauma. As they grapple with the seeming impossibility of requited love, other characters such as Sayaka, and later Riko and Miyako, subvert conventional representation and explore issues such as queerness not being a phase, and the importance of having queer adults in one’s life.
Given is an astoundingly powerful portrayal of young gay love, amped in its delivery with the theme of music. The main character, Mafuyu, finds Ritsuka with a cherry red guitar that has strings as broken and rusted as his heart. Ritsuka acts as a catalyst in his learning to fix both. The anime’s LGBTQ+ representation comes through with heart, rather than the off-putting feeling of marketed fan-service and forced diversity.
O Maidens in Your Savage Season
O Maidens in Your Savage Season remarks on the urgency of adolescence and teenage angst as we follow five high-school girls working their way through their sexual awakenings. In the midst of her friends battling with their feelings of love and lust for the opposite sex, Momoko Sudo is left perplexed by their interest in heterosexual relationships. As she begins developing feelings for her friend, Niina, Momoko finds herself in a pool of confusion, grappling with her sexual identity in an evocative way that can resonate with queer individuals.
Gravitation explores a facet of homosexuality rarely seen in queer media — the agonising fear that someone you fall for isn’t even attracted to the same gender as you. The anime follows aspiring rockstar Shuichi and his romantic obsession with famous novelist Eiri Yuki, whose chequered past hinders him from requiting Shuichi’s affection. Under its exterior of bubbly comic routines and nonchalance, the series depicts the intricacies of gay relationships and the perpetual fear of intimacy that sexual abuse induces in victims.
Tōron is the anime team of The Dhaka Apologue.