Thanks to the likes of Caitlyn Jenner and other members of the LGBT community, many more people have a clearer image of gender identity struggles. Although LGBT anime is not a new topic, a significant number of titles within the genre do not focus on the daily struggles that an LGBT person goes through. However, there are some anime that focus on gender identity, LGBT relationships, or sexual orientation – either as a backstory or major plot point – in a more respectful way. Here are seven anime titles that do just that.
No. 6 takes place in and around a seemingly utopian city called No. 6. On Shion’s 12th birthday, he finds an injured young boy named Nezumi, aka Rat, in his room. After nursing Nezumi’s wounds, Shion finds out that Nezumi is an escaped prisoner. Unwilling to give up Nezumi’s whereabouts – due to an unexplainable bond between the two – the government strips Shion’s privileges and banishes him and his mother to the lower levels of the city.
Four years later, the two meet again, but this time, they are about to embark on an adventure to uncover the secrets of No. 6. Although the series centers around the city’s secrets, it also sheds light on gender identity.
Sweet Blue Flowers
Sweet Blue Flowers tells the story of Fumi Manjoume, an introverted, intelligent teenage girl dealing with a bad breakup, and Akira Okudaire, a first-year high school student. After ten long years, both of them reconnect and try to help each other go through romantic relationships and figure out their sexual identity.
Cheeky Angel is a 50-episode series centered around a beautiful girl named Megumi. She’s so stunning that some people even call her an “angel” (hence the title). However, behind that beautiful face lies a shocking secret: Megumi used to be a boy!
When Megumi was nine, he came across a magic book with a genie inside. When blood is applied to the book, the genie grants one wish. So, Megumi made a wish to be the manliest man in the world, but instead, the genie transformed him into a woman. A few years later, Megumi is an attractive high school student who’s still a boy inside. As a result, Miki – Megumi’s best friend who is a girl – tries to turn Megumi into a sophisticated young woman. But Megumi is determined to stay in touch with her masculine side.
Cheeky Angel addresses several gender identity questions, such as, what does it mean to be a woman/man and how does a person decide who they are inside?
Nabari No Ou
Miharu is a mischievous boy who unknowingly possesses a powerful technique known as hijutsu – a skill that many ninja clans desire to become the ruler of the ninja world. One day, Miharu’s classmate Kouichi and English teacher, Kumohira, start a new club called “Way of the Ninja.” They both try to persuade Miharu to join the club, but he keeps rejecting them. Unbeknownst to him, both Kouichi and Kumihora are Banten clan ninja. After numerous ninja attacks, Miharu has no choice but to join their club as a means of survival.
Bit by bit, Miharu comes to understand the powerful technique that he possesses, and for him to survive these attacks, he has to become the ruler of Nabari. Although the premise of Nabari No Ou is Miharu’s hidden technique, it also focuses on bisexual and homosexual relationships between the characters.
Wandering Son is one of the highest-rated LGBT anime out there. The series follows Shuichi, a shy preteen boy who transfers to a new school. There he meets the tomboyish Yoshino who sits at the desk next to him. Soon they become great friends as they share one thing in common – they both are transgender.
The two classmates become close friends and learn to deal with the realities of growing up, transsexuality, relationships, and acceptance. The journey of Shuichi and Yoshino serve to educate and entertain viewers about gender identity as it addresses gender identity themes through both of these characters.
Yuri!!! On ICE
Yuri!!! On ICE has amassed much popularity in the fall of 2016 that it reached our list of best anime of the year. And although there are many reasons for Yuri’s success – animation, soundtrack, and choreography – it was the relationship between the two main characters that made the series revolutionary and famous. The bond between Yuri Katsuki and Victor Nikiforov did not fall prey to the cliches plaguing Yaoi (Boys’ Love) and Yuri genre (Girls Love). Instead, the gay anime series offered a view on the emotional rollercoaster ride of a couple. With both of them helping each other through major life obstacles.
Revolutionary Girl Utena
While Revolutionary Girl Utena has received much praise due to its LGBTQ themes, the series goes much deeper than that. After Utena’s parents died, she’s consoled by a traveling prince who gives her a ring bearing a strange rose crest. Moved by this mysterious prince’s chivalry, Utena vows to become a prince herself one day. A few years later, Utena attends Ohtori Academy where she dresses in a boy’s uniform so she can be like the prince she met long ago.
Aside from breaking gender stereotypes, Utena participates in a dangerous duel for a unique prize: the Rose Bride, Anthy Himemiya, and her mysterious powers. But, as she gets closer to Anthy, she must now fight for her friend’s safety and discover the dark secret that the Academy holds.
Revolutionary Girl Utena, in every sense of the word, revolutionized the anime industry. The series explores a plethora of themes from feminism to queer topics to deconstructing the Prince fairytale genre.
There you have it, seven must-see LGBT anime that shows the struggles that people in this community go through.
Need more anime for your watchlist? You need these anime shows in your life immediately.