There’s no denying what fueled the interest in anime. It is powered by the Kamehameha attacks, the Shinobi «Ninja» Wars and the great adventures of the pirates, which make up most of the anime that were introduced to western countries long before streaming platforms made many other shows accessible. This does not mean that there are gaps for other titles that tell stories of underrepresented. Stories of gay characters are not new to the genre.
Yet many titles of the genre do not focus on the daily struggles of people in the LGBTI community. However, there are some anime that focus more respectfully on gender identity, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex relationships, or sexual orientation as a background or main plot point.
Here are some of those anime …
Yuri On Ice
Yuri on Ice is one of the most popular anime of recent years. The story is about a figure skater named Yuri who finds himself on the verge of quitting the sport. However, an embarrassing storyline causes Yuri to fly to Japan to become the coach of ice skating hero Victor.
The two eventually get very close and form a romantic relationship. While the show does this with more uncertainty than necessary, it still needs a watch for LGBT + anime fans.
The story follows a high school student known as Sora Hashiba, who fell from the fourth floor of the school building, waking up in a dorm with none of her previous memories with a strange boy Hashiba had never seen before in her life.
The show follows Hashiba trying to reclaim her memories before the fall. The child he wakes up to is Sunao Fujimori, one of Hasiba’s oldest friends, and oddly enough, both boys have alternate personalities known as Yuru and Ran. These personalities create a romantic and passionate bond.
Gravitation follows singer Shuichi Shinzo in a rock band that is romantically linked to a romantic novelist known as Eiri Yuki.
While Gravitation is an uplifting, fun and crazy anime, it also has serious homophobia and violent undertones that make it a much more thoughtful anime.
Takato Saijo, veteran actor in the brutal acting world, loses the title of «World’s Sexiest Man» to a new and aspiring young actor named Junta Azumaya. The drama follows two characters who find themselves in the middle of a scandal.
While this is far from the most serious anime on the list, it is a fun and heartthrob anime that will definitely brighten up a Sunday afternoon.
Based on a dystopian novel series No. 6 takes place in a world where class divisions become incredibly harsh and violent. The story follows a boy named Shion in the privileged class and discovers that another boy named Nezumi entered his house one night.
As the two begin to explore the problems surrounding this dystopian society, they grow closer and eventually form a romantic bond. Fans of dystopian young adult fiction will definitely enjoy this anime!
Based on the popular manga of the same name, Citrus follows a young woman named Yuzu Aihara after her mother remarries and transfers to girls’ school. Yuzu hates this school and is constantly scolded by Student Council Chair Mei (half-sister).
The two girls eventually get closer and begin to have a more romantic relationship and explore their own sexuality. Although it is problematic to some extent, LGBTI + anime fans who want to watch it can.
Antique Bakery is a comedy about four men who run a bakery. Yusuke Ono, who is Pâtissier, is openly gay. Chikage Kobayakawa, a waitress, is in love with Ono. Keisuke Tachibana is the owner of the Ancient Bakery and the only person Ono finds attractive but dislikes Ono in return.
Aoi Hana focuses on high school students Manjoume Fumi and Okudaira Akira. Fumi goes from one failed lesbian relationship to another, but Akira remains a constant source of stability in her life.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion follows a group of young people who must work with NERV, a dark organization, to pilot biomachines called Evangelions and fight monster beings called Angels to save the future Tokyo. The drama follows Shinji as he fights angels, copes with a seriously awful father-son relationship, goes through one existential crisis after another, and explores his sexuality with Kaworu Nagisa. Although Kaworu only appeared in two episodes, his relationship with Shinji had a huge impact on fans.
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Revolutionary Girl Utena follows Utena Tenjou, a young girl who has decided to become a prince. He meets Anthy Himemiya at the Ohtori Academy and fights to protect him from another student with whom Anthy has a bad relationship.
If you watched the censored English dubbed version of Sailor Moon as a kid, you may have missed the lesbian relationship between Sailor Uranus (Haruka Tenou) and Sailor Neptune (Michiru Kaioh). They were definitely not cousins.
Hourou Musuko depicts a student named Shuichi Nitori, defined as «a boy who wants to be a girl,» and Yoshino Takatsuki, defined as «a girl who wants to be a boy.» The series is about both characters who come to terms with their gender identity at the beginning of adolescence.
Sasameki Koto focuses on high school student Sumika Murasame who falls in love with her best friend Ushio Kazama. Although Ushio loves girls too, the tall and athletic Sumika is afraid to admit her love, because Ushio only loves girls she sees as «cute» and «little».
The anime explores the emotional pain of unrequited love, as well as exploring the struggles of lesbians in Japanese society.
Ouran High School Host Club
Ouran High School Host Club focuses on Haruhi Fujioka, a high school freshman going to prestigious school with scholarship. Haruhi explores the Ouran Host Club, where handsome boys romantically host the girls of the school. The children of the host club initially think he is a male but has a female identity card. Haruhi is the happiest in neutral clothes, joins the host club and entertains the girls. There are several other characters in the series who are LGBTI +, including the father of Haruhi, a bisexual drag queen who prefers to be called Ranka.