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Reads 336
Total reads

Citrus: It's Exactly What You Expected.

Review of Citrus
by Zeph
Posted on April 25th, 2018
Negative 3
Overall Rating
0 of 2 people found the following review useful

Tinseltown has been coming under fire as of late. Celebrities' misdeeds are being exposed publicly on a weekly basis like a new sporting event. The #MeToo movement giving a platform to voice sex scandals that have gone unnoticed for far too long. Scrolling through your timeline, plastered on the TV screen, announced over the radio during daily commutes, the subject matter of countless memes, the focal point of water-cooler conversations; no matter where you turn, there it is. Accusation after accusation. Transforming popular figures into pervert pariahs overnight. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby, Louis C.K., Dustin Hoffman, Brett Ratner, James Woods, Bryan Singer, Casey Affleck; an endless potpourri of bigwigs—the 21st Century witch hunt in full swing. No one is safe.

And while all of this is going on, halfway across the globe, there's Citrus, minding its own business as it idly trolls along turning sexual assault into a provocative byproduct of step-sisters "bickering." While people are pooling together with torches and pitchforks in hand, shining a light on any sexual misconduct occurring in the dark recesses of the entertainment industry, Studio Passione persists with the biggest "whatever bro" shoulder shrug. What the rest of the world concerns itself with isn't going to stop them from showing girls casually molesting each other on their scheduled programming. It's actually pretty impressive. Fucked up, but impressive nonetheless. I guess you could extend that sentiment to Japan in general. Creating "fucked up shit" in a carefree manner has become something like their calling card:

Has mass-shootings and domestic terrorism been a hot-button issue? Well here, have some Inuyashiki. Concerned with gender politics? Don't worry, we got you covered with Skirt no Naka wa Kedamono Deshita. "If you want it, we got it." seems to be the motto, as they peddle anything and everything in the endless pursuit of creative freedom. Which brings us to latest foray into the "fucked up shit" unofficial canon, Citrus.

From the land that gave us distinct high-school dramas like Orange, we're handed Citrus, the undesirable fruit.

The anime tells the tale of– oh, who are we kidding? It's about sexy-time with female characters. It's all lip service unless it "services the lips" of the females involved.

It's pretty average-looking too, the ugly kind of average-looking.

Hoards of CGI models in green linen jackets. Flat buildings without detail, walls bare of personality. Real-life inspired locations washed of any distinct features. Stainless steel structures, straight shapes stretching on endlessly without purpose, without care. Floorboards and walkways copied and pasted into an endless loop of lethargic worldbuilding. A kind of artificial sheen to everything. Devoid of human touch, the undeniable look of computer-generated polish. Clinically sterile and evenly lit. The feeling of being done to the bare minimum. Uninspired. Uncaring. Unconcerned with anything unless it's "sexy-time," and even then, it's barely a passing grade.

Everyone has dark hair and moves forward in a unified step as if puppets to their boring world. A lifeless march towards an all-girl school, a place where our Yuzu would be attending. Yuzu Aihara is the rowdy rebel, our ball of "life" in a world lacking it, and unfortunately our main lead as well. The unlikable side character in any other show given a chance to take center-stage to problematic results. Makeup caked on, strawberry blonde hair puffed up, cleavage out in the sun, skirt hacked up, buttermilk tan, all manner of frilly things, school outfit altered beyond recognition, a personality as loud as her appearance; a self-proclaimed gyaru and a shameless attention-seeker at that—this is "much deep" cuz spunky gurl in a world of conformists.

And standing as her polar opposite, there's Mei Aihara, a soon-to-be molester dressed up as a Mary Sue. She suffers heavily from PerfectGirl-syndrome: honor-role pupil, top of her class, student council president, poised, admired by everyone, the chairman's granddaughter, built like a walkway model, good at literally everything she does. She probably farts out Chanel No. 5 too. You get the drill, she's as interesting as wallpaper. Perfect to a sickening degree. Well, that's all before she decided to turn her new step-sister, Ms. Rowdy Rebel, into her personal play-thing.

And who better to bring this together than Takeo Takahashi, a man that's equally known for his hentai contributions as he is his "safe for work" content.

Citrus certainly has that kind of attribute to it. That sort of sleazy undercurrent that flows throughout every moment, well-intention or otherwise. Camera-panning that ogles the female form without concern for respecting boundaries. Narrative threads meant to help audiences relate to the cast quickly expedited to get to the next sexual encounter. Endless monologues for every characters' dilemma—subtlety isn't allowed in this universe. A sense of objectification, even if it's in regards to actions expressed with consent. Nothing is ever pure. Everything smeared with the fingerprints of hedonistic high-gloss.

Even smut like 2017's Scum's Wish, at the very least, had small spurts of respect displayed for its cast, occasionally loosening its vice grip to allow a chance to express feelings openly. By comparison, everything in Citrus feels bought off. An act of slave-like procurement over the characters' bodies that's too readily apparent to ignore. Awkward half-chubs spurred on by involuntary stimuli. In a meta-sense, we're also made victims of visual misconduct (go figure). It's the kind of eroticism that arrives quickly and leaves you feeling dirty.

An anime that will have a heated shower scene where non-consensual groping occurs, then follow it up with this dialogue exchange:

"No!"–Yuzu pushes away in abject horror– "Why are you doing this!?"–her eyes closed, as she stands there naked and vulnerable.

Mei innocently answers back without hesitation, a tone of motherly matter-of-factness: "Because you looked like you wanted me to touch you."

The scene ends, never to properly address the disturbing exchange again. As long as the money shot was secured and a few man-tents were pitched, nothing else matters. This is the kind of "feeling dirty" I'm referring to.

I love perverted content as much as the next guy, but sometimes, what Citrus attempts to do is genuinely off-putting. Sexual harassment shouldn't be confused with love. And if it is, a level of accountability needs to be put in place to avoid idealistic handwaving. But this is a show that thinks that if it holds a "this is wrong" PSA after it indulges in sexual misconduct, that it's suddenly not culpable of wrongdoing. An anime that sells Stockholm syndrome as a shot of Cupid's arrow. Where fighting sexual harassment with sexual harassment is treated as an actual solution. Serious issues trivialized to create marketable eroticism and comedic gags.

Any act of earnestness is completely lost in a title devoid of finesse. After a while, you sort of just roll with it. Jokes at the expense of serious issues. Illogical reasoning made by characters to justify their actions. You might even buy into the lack of audiovisual effort as a part of the "theme" to contrast everything against Yuzu's personality. Of course, you'll be wrong, as even her living quarters and look has been rendered flaccid, lacking in any sense of creative vitality or noticeable effort. It's all very surface-level. Pedestrian sleaze that isn't arousing enough to keep the Kleenex nearby nor respectful enough to genuinely stimulate discussions regarding the content on display.

And that's perhaps this show's biggest downfall in a nutshell: it's vanilla, but a souring type of vanilla.

A type of middling existence occupied by works of far more distinction than itself. If you're interested in the taboo themes that this anime addresses, there's no need to compromise with inferior goods to get your fix. There are better alternatives out there for those actually seeking integrity (Koi Kaze) or far more titillating eye-candy (Scum's Wish). Why settle for vanilla in a world full of flavor just waiting to be discovered? Is Citrus entertaining? Sure, at times. But when 17-minutes of content is glazed over just for 3-minutes of "sexy-time," and the "sexy-time" itself is neither well-animated or concerned with addressing the elephant in the room that surrounds its content; at that point, what you're left with is a show whose sole purpose for existing is left dead in the water from the moment it dives in. 

Professional bullshitter... racist towards blue people .. part time Pokemon master, full-time sassy elephant.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful to you?
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