Review: Citrus, Vol. 1

If you listened to this week’s podcast then you already heard about Citrus Vol. 1 (you can listen at the bottom), but if you didn’t then let me introduce you to the world of Yuri manga. Yuri is the opposite of BL or Yaoi manga which I was introduced to through Love Stage!! Vol. 1. I wanted to check out Citrus because I had seen some great feedback about the first volume and frankly the coloring on the cover was fantastic. Before I talk about the story I would like to talk about the book itself. This was my first purchase from Seven Seas and I instantly liked the fact that it was bigger than what’s become the standard sized manga. It fits in the hand nicely and it gives the art room to breathe. This is one of those manga that starts off with a few colored pages which is really just a terrible thing to tease because as good as the art is in black & white, it’s a lot better colored. In fact if they did a colored edition I would buy it. I loved the cover though as the art was great, but it was also glossy and nice to the touch.

The story follows Yuzu Aihara. A high school girl whose life is turned upside down when her mother remarries and she’s forced to move and start at a new school… an all-girl school. The story follows her as she enters the school for the first time and is confronted by another student about violating the rules. Unbeknownst to Yuzu, by dressing cute she’s in violation of the school dress code. She causes a scene because obviously she didn’t know or care to find out and this draws the attention of the Student Council President Mei. She comes over and says that today is her one and only warning and gets extremely close to her and takes her phone out from the back of her skirt.

After a miserable first day Yuzu gets her phone back and is walking home when she sees her hot teacher kissing Mei. It’s 50/50 on whether it’s consensual or not, but we learn that they’re engaged by Mei’s grandfather the Chairman of the school. Yuzu sees this and obviously she’s not supposed to, but she thinks she has something over Mei now.

Citrus Vol. 1In what’s some questionable storytelling, Yuzu heads home and her mom drops a bomb on her… she’s a big sister now. Enter Mei who is a few months younger than Yuzu and her new step-sister. At first Yuzu is dreadful of the situation considering how strict Mei is, but then she remembers her ace up her sleeve and instantly uses it. The response is Mei kissing Yuzu when she asks too much about the kiss between her and the teacher. Now Yuzu can’t stop thinking of Mei and what the kiss meant or if it meant anything at all.

There is a whole hell of a lot going on in this story. The pacing is choppy at best because the story lunges forward rather than building anything up. After a time Yuzu is telling the entire school everything she knows about the teacher and trying to basically save Mei from the relationship and her grandfather.

It’s not a bad story, but stuff like the mom failing to mention that she’d have a sister before the sister just shows up was intentionally dramatic. It’s clearly there to surprise the reader, but in execution it’s illogical. Then when you add in the fact that she hasn’t met her new father and it really weakens the plot.

The narration all comes from Yuzu which is a shame. Not that it’s bad, in fact it saves the story a lot, but because we never get a good idea of where Mei stands. What she actually feels. What she wants. We’re just as lost and confused as Yuzu and maybe that’s the point. It really captures relationships in that regard because especially new relationships you never really can tell what the other person is thinking.

As for the Yuri elements they’re pretty tame. Nothing graphic and really I could have done with more build up to the moments. The first scene between Mei and Yuru was solid, but then when they first kiss it wasn’t as much as a shock. It was like, “oh were to this already… um, I guess that’s cool.” With Love Stage!! it was the chase that made the story interesting and here the chase is still present, but maybe not as interesting or likeable. I’m not directly comparing the two, but rather given a reference point of what worked and didn’t. Citrus has a bit too much Yuri at times and could do with a slower build which will make the payoff better.

The art is really good. I wish it was in color because that would add to the story in my opinion, but I get that budget and time is an issue. Otherwise it’s very detailed. The backgrounds are decent and the entire page is used rather than shortcut line work. I liked the character designs as they weren’t too genre looking and actually came across as realistic at times. The art could be confusing at times; I couldn’t always tell what was happening in a panel just from looking at it. I needed context and to really look at it to understand the movement on the page. Overall though it’s solid and conveys the story visually.

The first volume has been out for a while now, but the second volume is out soon and I actually already started reading it. I think that says more about this series than anything else, I wanted to read more and since I had the chance I took it. Much like I said with Love Stage!! I don’t know if I would seek out more Yuri titles, but I’m enjoying Citrus and will stick with it.

Score: 3/5

Citrus, Vol. 1 Writer/Artist/Creator: Saburouta Translation: Catherine Ross Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment Price: $13.99 Release Date: 12/14/14 Format: Trade Paperback; Print

Listen to more about Citrus on this week's CBMFP...