This pride month we didn’t want to miss out on featuring some of our favorite non-straight anime couples and characters. There aren’t many explicitly LGBT relationships or characters in anime, despite fan theories that often go unacknowledged by the creators. No wonder, since the acceptance of LGBT people in Japan is still lower than in other countries.
Yaoi and Yuri may come to mind when it comes to LGBT anime, but these genres are still controversial and niche. However, some mainstream anime series feature healthy same-sex relationships and supportive friends. We’ve listed some of our favorite examples here—from hidden relationships in classics to more recent and open LGBT themes in anime.
1. Sailor Moon – Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptun
The Sailor Moon manga and anime, first premiering in the 90s, was at the forefront of lesbian representation. The American release of the anime tried to portray Haruka and Michiru as cousins, which led to some awkward and confusing moments. Today it is widely known that they are a lesbian couple.
2. Attack on Titan – Ymir and Christa
Attack on Titan is often praised for how the anime treats LGBT and female characters – there’s no stereotyping or fetishization here. The relationship between Ymir and Christa, unambiguous in the canon and confirmed in various Q&As, is well-written and interesting. We hope to see more manga and anime follow in Attack on Titan’s footsteps when it comes to normalizing homosexual relationships.
3. Pokémon – Jesse and James
Who could forget these gender-bending legends? While it’s true that their gender nonconformity was originally meant to make these villains seem more menacing, it’s also what made them unforgettable and beloved amongst Pokemon fans. These lovable villains break all the rules with their behavior and clothing, and that’s why they deserve a spot on this list.
4. Death Note – Rem
While Light and L’s relationship is the most widely speculated about (especially since the former has no interest in Misa Amane), there is also a character in Death Note who unambiguously loves a member of the same sex. Rem is a female shinigami who expresses her love for Misa—though her feelings are, unfortunately, unrequited.
5. Neon Genesis Evangelion – Shinji and Kowaru
Another classic 90s anime with a gay relationship—or at least the beginning of one. The main character Shinji struggles to deal with the female characters around him, but when Kaworu joins as a new pilot in episode 24, the two quickly become more than just friends—Kaworu even professes his love to Shinji in a non-explicit onsen scene.
6. Yuri!!! On Ice – Yuri and Viktor
No LGBT+ anime list can forget Yuri!!! On Ice, because it’s a game-changer for the portrayal of same-sex love in anime. Since 2016, this series from two female creators, author Mitsuro Kubo and director Sayo Yamamoto, has been delighting anime fans around the world. Although the characters’ first kiss was slightly censored and thus controversial, the creators have confirmed that the two are an international gay anime couple.
7. Wandering Son – Shuichi and Yoshino
Adapted from a 2002 manga, this anime came out in 2011 and dealt with the transgender paths of the protagonists. The tasteful and heartfelt depiction has garnered widespread attention from the global anime community. The story follows Shuichi and Yoshino who are both transgender and help each other find self-love—a surprisingly strong representation of trans people, especially considering the publication date of the early 2000s.
8. Card Captor Sakura – Touya and Yukito
Anime from CLAMP not only have beautiful art styles but also often unabashedly represents same-sex couples and LGBT characters in their mangas and animes – including Touya and Yukito. In several scenes it becomes clear that the two are more than just close friends – Touya even gives up his magical powers to save Yukito’s life.
In recent years, there have been an increasing number of anime that include LGBT themes as well as questioning and disregarding gender norms. We couldn’t include them all in this list, but some of our honorable mentions go to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Steins; Gate, Sweet Blue Flowers, and Banana Fish, amongst others. We hope to see even more anime celebrating and normalizing same-sex couples and defying stereotypes in the future.
Strong female characters, characters in androgynous outfits, and people who completely reject gender norms will hopefully continue to be normalized in anime in the future.
We look forward to expanding this list.
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