What They Say:
Yuzu Aihara is ready to face her brand-new school and find her first love. The only problem? It’s an all-girls’ school. Determined to at least make new friends, Yuzu puts on her best looks and winds up…in trouble! And with the beautiful student council president no less. But when this cold beauty winds up being her brand-new stepsister and kisses her, Yuzu is in for a bittersweet experience!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language in stereo along with the English language dub, which is done up in 5.1 form. Both tracks are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec though it’s not a huge game changer as it’s a strong dialogue driven show. The opening and closing sequences make out the best in fullness but the music throughout hits well and the dialogue is solidly done. Placement is spot on where needed and we get a good bit of movement across the forward soundstage with how the characters move as well. The instances of depth are pretty nicely done as well when we get a few more people on screen and the encoding captures it all as it should with clean and clear levels and no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Passione, the show has a good look about it – which can’t capture the look of the manga in the same way with its budget – but is serviceable and appealing if you’re not familiar with the manga. There’s a lot of good color vibrancy throughout this that helps to set the mood and that level of pop helps to let it stand out a bit more in a crowded field. There’s a good level of background detail to everything that gives it a lived-in feeling that it needs and I like the details we do get for the characters. The encoding is very solid with plenty to like as the colors are solid throughout and we don’t get anything with line noise or problems during panning sequences. I liked what we got here and it should please most fans with larger and small screens alike.
The packaging for this release is a slightly thicker than standard sized Blu-ray case with an o-card slipcover to it that has different artwork. Both covers are the same in design with the pinks and oranges that creates a great looking background that catches the eye but it uses different placements for Mei and Yuzu as they’re together, one pressed close together while the other has them sitting side by side. I like when they do the different artwork approach for cover and slipcover so that you get a little more out of it. The back covers are the same with some great illustration artwork of the two and more of the whole color design. There are some small shots from the show that are cute but just add to the feeling while the summary does all the heavy lifting. The extras are clearly listed and the technical information breaks out both formats clearly and accurately. While there are no show related inserts included with it we do get artwork on the reverse side with a dark and atmospheric two-panel illustration spread of the leads.
The menu design for this release brings in from the packaging as it uses the cover artwork across the two discs. With it focused on the top half of it with the characters, we get the same pinks and oranges here but with the logo mixed in a little differently and the light orange box where the navigation goes. This all looks great with really vibrant colors that draw you in and the character artwork has some wonderful pop to it because of the difference from cardstock to screen. The navigation is simple and standard with what we get here and submenus for it load quickly both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback so that it’s easy to check which episode you’re on and adjust settings. It’s a simple design but effective and easey to use.
The extras for this release are pretty basic with the clean versions of the two openings and the single ending sequence, which are definitely welcome.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Saburouta, Citrus is one of just a handful of yuri-themed shows that get made every couple of years. With the manga being released domestically by Seven Seas Entertainment, there’s some solid interest in seeing this get done and get done well. With studio Passione behind the production there’s plenty of potential to hit the right visual notes but it needs to balance it with the emotional side as well so that it has some weight and meaning to it. I haven’t dabbled in one of these shows or manga in a while since so many end up being more a tease or far more chaste than they should be that it becomes hard to really maintain an interest in it.
The show gives us a good handle on Yuzu from the start as a gal as she dislikes the standard uniform for school and opts for her own style. Life has been changing for her recently with her mother remarrying and now her ending up at another school where she intends to stand out and show off by being herself at this all-girls school. It’s no surprise that everyone does stare since she’s not wearing the full uniform and is all done up with makeup and gets into trouble right from the start with the student discipline types. While she does push back, she gets plenty of pushback from the student council president as well as Mei makes it clear why the rules are in place and then… frisks here. Very thoroughly, in order to get the cell phone from her. It’s wonderfully overplayed and far more hands-on than a lot of other shows get over the course of their entire run.
Yuzu does make a friend with Harumi, who seems to be similar to her and not part of the escalator system of this school, so she gets a few tips and learns a few things about the student council president as well. What really freaks her out, however, is when she discovers that the teacher that she has and is interested in, Amamiya, is kissing Mei behind the building and may be the one that’s part of an arranged marriage since Mei will eventually inherit the school. The real problem? It turns out that the man that Yuzu’s father has married is Mei’s father and she’s now living with Mei. The tension is hilarious especially since Mei is presented as so proper and refined here in contrast to Yuzu who is just all over the map because of this. There are complicated issues with Mei and her father that will get explored in the show to be sure but the opening sets the dynamics well. Yuzu’s mindset and daydreams make for a lot of good humor and reactions in the opening episode as well as it provides a nice contrast to Mei, setting the stage for the run.
While the series does give us the basics in a solid way, and showcases a lot of potential, we do get something that feels a little more along the lines of average or predictable to it. A decent chunk of the series deals with the way Yuzu and Mei feel about each other with a lot of denials and confusion about it that also leads to some intense moments of coming close to each other, which isn’t a surprise since they live with each other. It struggles with some of the early material in the whole school chairman thing that Mei has with her grandfather and how that plays in trying to get rid of Yuzu, which is just far too much of a cliche to work effectively here because you know it’s not going to get her tossed out. If the show had spent more time focusing on them getting closer and the passions heating up while trying to hide that, and their fear of getting kicked out because of their “scandalous” relationship, that would fit and flow better. But with the whole chairman thing also getting dealt with in just a couple of episodes early on, it rings hollow as it moves on to the other areas with some of the supporting cast beginning to expand into the relationship dynamic that hasn’t figured itself out.
You get things like Yuzu avoiding going home and you later get an amusing bit with Mei’s father actually coming home for a while and being super excited to meet Yuzu and treating her like a cute daughter. That’s admittedly fun and I think the show does a bit of a disservice to the viewers by not giving us more time with the parents because they’re just so much fun to watch. In fact, just more casual downtime showing them trying to work things out as a newly blended family would be interesting all while hiding that the two are itching to become something more and are in various stays of swinging denial about it all. But instead, we get the usual things we see in most relationship shows with jealousy of friends, such as Himeko, but we also get the problematic elements that Sara brings to the table along with her twin Nina.
This plays more of a focus toward the end of the show as the oddball twins are dealing with the way that Sara is totally in love with Mei and realizing what a threat that Yuzu is works to remove her from the equation. Nina doesn’t come across as badly as she’s just trying to help her sister and has a slightly smaller role, but Sara is what you could call the villain of the series as it hits its more serious end arc and she’s just not someone you can connect with. Her manipulations are fairly basic and Yuzu falls for things about as easy as you’d expect with her character so there’s no real tension with it and you can’t imagine Yuzu and Mei not coming back together in at least the final moments of the final episode. So it lacks what it needs there even if overall it’s nicely animated and it attempts to play the manipulation game well. It’s simply got all the opportunities in the world to do things a bit different because it is a yuri series but instead opts to go for the most basic of things.
While I do have issues with the series I also had a lot of fun with it. I love yuri shows and want more of them because they do offer new avenues to explore and provide some much-needed representation for people to see more of themselves in romantic comedies and dramas that they watch. I suspect Citrus may not click for a lot of fans of the manga simply because it can’t capture the look of the manga (you’d need a high-end movie budget for that to be done right, I think) and it’s a little too predictable for those that enjoy romantic dramedies. But what we do get is well put together with a fun cast, fun characters, and a whole lot of potential. If watched in small bursts as opposed to binging I think it might click just a bit better as you don’t quite see the weaknesses as strongly and enjoy more of the individual moments. For fans of the show, however, this release is solid and will be a welcome addition to your collection.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Openings, Clean Closings
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: January 22nd, 2019
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.