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A Theme I’ve Noticed – Summer 2017 is a Queer Summer

This summer’s anime has been fairly interesting thus far. As with all simulcasts, it falls into a similar category that all eventually find themselves doing; some shows continue to pander to an older running theme, such as the monster girl theme we’ve seen run for several seasons now, or produce several shows at once that all seem to be very similar, such as the “other world” theme a lot of anime have been following this simulcast.

But there’s one theme I’ve noticed and I think it’s beneficial to talk about it. Lately I’ve seen a lot of anime produced in the yuri genre or be more inclusive of same-sex couples in their shows. Of course, it hasn’t been anything like when Yuri on Ice came out, but it’s certainly been something I’ve noticed.

A lot of this has been seen in shows this very blog will be reviewing at the end of the season, but even before hand I saw there was a trend going through each season. We had Izetta the Last Witch then Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid and now we have a whole simulcast with multiple LGBTQ+ shows and characters.

Netsuzou Trap -NTR- was the first anime I’d heard about. And while it certainly has its issues, I think it’s actually a very beneficial anime to have upfront. From what I’ve seen of the anime so far, it has tried to make its theme revolve around the idea of identity; discovering who you are and figuring out your sexuality. And whether or not it was the intent of the writers, I also see a huge theme with abusive queer relationships. This is a topic we often avoid when it comes to queer media and I think that’s a shame. We put way too much stress on same-sex couples to be perfect and stay together, but just like our heterosexual counterparts, we too can get in abusive or toxic relationships. Having this kind of media can be beneficial, but I have to reserve judgement until the end of the season.

Netsuzou may have a direct theme specifically centered around queer woman, but I’ve noticed that other shows are also including queer people into their general story lines. A Centaur’s Life did this with their same-sex couple Mitsuyo Akechi and her girlfriend Inukai. The two play an important role in their friend’s lives, despite not being the center point. They often show up in episodes and help shift the story in significant ways like any other character.

Ranko from My First Girlfriend is a Gal is also queer-identified. -Spoiler Alert- She clearly states that she is in love with Yukana and is incredibly aggressive and protective around her. While her methods are certainly unhealthy, the fact that she is considered a legitimate love rival is important; though I could personally do without her sexualization. Of course, if you’ve seen this anime, you would know the whole point revolves around sex.

Sure, this theme has been around before, but not like this. We’ve all seen girl love portrayed in anime, but for once we’re seeing it in a more normal lighting more frequently. While some of these anime are certainly problematic in their own way, I definitely hold a certain amount of respect for the direction we’re suddenly heading in.

We have queer women in anime suddenly and their love isn’t considered this sexualized or a focal point for discussion. For example, while Ranko is sexualized, she isn’t for the fact she loves Yukana. There’s no point where Jun feels the need to invite her to a threesome (though in a few episodes he certainly did have the thought). And Akechi and Inukai are never looked at or treated differently than their peers, even though some of them are unable to describe same-sex love to their younger counterparts in certain episodes. In fact, something I was proud of was the fact that Akechi took time to be a teacher and show the younger girls that it was okay to be with another girl. They were normalized.

Whether or not you like Netsuzou, and I can agree that it is a little disturbing, it is certainly an anime that is showing light of a lot of very real issues queer women face. While we wait for its conclusion, I’m going to try to keep an open mind and continue to analyze its episodes for what it gives us.

I could start digging this trend and I really hope we start to grow off it. Of course the content and representation can always improve. For example, I think we could certainly use some new male same-sex characters who aren’t pure yaoi for once. And I think this trend is a start and one that’s certainly working. When you have characters who aren’t the main focus but bring importance to the story or even teachable moments to the real world, you’re onto something.

What do you guys think about this season’s portrayal of queer people? Is it doing something different and how can it improve?