Pride month is here and what better way to celebrate it if not with the best LGBTQ+ anime of all time? Thankfully, Japanese content does not shy away from queer representation, even if its societal standards aren’t always on par with the amount of incredible queer content that comes out. So the problem wasn’t finding content to review for this story, it was choosing only 10!
With all of the wonderful inclusive manga available to us, more and more of the printed works become animation eventually. That being said, a lot of good anime are released every year with diverse LGBTQ content, and even if difficult to narrow down, here are our picks for the best anime for the gay month of June.
10. Sasaki to Miyano
Sasaki to Miyano is a wholesome slice-of-life anime that depicts the story of Sasaki and Miyano, a senior and a junior in high school, respectively. This anime aired earlier this year and got immensely popular across the web due to its sweet storyline, genuine character relationships, and good animation. The love story explored here is of two high school teenagers who quickly become friends, promptly questioning whether the feelings they share are of purely friendship or if it is something a bit more complex.
9. Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime)
Quirky, funny, and amusing, Princess Jellyfish is a cute coming-of-age josei anime. Touching on several subjects that any teenager can relate to, this anime is particularly fascinating for several reasons. The story revolves around Tsukimi, a jellyfish lover, and Kuranosuke, an androgynous character who cross-dresses as a woman. Tsukumi is an extroverted character who is friends with a group of introverted women, and the dynamic among this group of people will prove to be particularly hilarious while involving extremely heartful scenes in contrast. Touching on subjects like non-neurotypical characters, this anime fits this LGBTQ+ list like a glove.
8. Shoujou Kakumei Utena
A landmark when it comes to queer representation in anime, Shoujou Kakumei Utena is a 1997 shoujo anime. Addressing themes like systemic oppression of queer people and hierarchal structures, this anime features a main character whose aim is to create a revolution and empower women, as well as racial and sexual minorities. The relationship between the main character Utena and Anthy starts off as a bit obtuse especially considering that in the world of Duelists, Anthy is being held as a prize for the strongest prince to own, and Utena is a part of that exact competition. Nevertheless, the anime ends on a very clear note regarding their relationship.
7. Adachi and Shimamura
Released in fall 2020, Adachi and Shumamura is most likely the sweetest anime on this list. Following the lives of Sakura Adachi and Hougetsu Shimamura, this adorable love story between two girls whose budding relationship is the perfect shojo ai to make the viewer giddy and rooting for this loving relationship. Starting off as two friends who enjoy playing table tennis together, the girls quickly realize their feelings might be evolving into something else. Adachi very awkwardly struggles with her sexuality, thus making for a funny and relatable story for any queer teen with a crush.
6. Wandering Son (Hourou Musuku)
When it comes to non-binary depiction in anime, it is oftentimes mistaken for cross-dressing and more often than not, there is no actual representation in them. That being said, Wandering Son is the perfect example of a brilliant trans representation anime. Showing the struggles of puberty and all of the self-discovery within, Wandering Son presents the story of Shuuichi and Yoshino, a trans girl and a trans boy. Finding solace in one another through their journey with gender identity, these fifth graders must learn how to live facing the harsh reality of growing up as trans kids.
5. Banana Fish
Ever since its release in 2018, Banana Fish has divided the internet. Some people claim it has no queer undertones, versus those who say it very clearly depicts a relationship between Ash and Eiji. Either way, everyone can agree that romance is not the focal point of this anime. Filled with an overwhelming amount of dark tones and somber tropes, Banana Fish is a shoujo anime filled with mystery and action. The anime itself shows the growing relationship between Ash and Eiji, but with a light romantic undertone that is only explicitly shown through a shared kiss, well, that was needed due to circumstances. In the manga, their closeness is definitely more explored, made evident by a character who describes the couple as “soulmates” and compares Eiji to Ash’s previous romantic interest.
4. Bloom Into You
Considered to be one of the most influential LGBTQ works in anime, Bloom Into You has an incredibly realistic approach to a struggling relationship between two high school girls. After a confession from a boy at school, Yuu Koito realized she cannot reciprocate his feelings, going as far as to realize that it may be because it is a boy confessing. Upon meeting Toukou Nanami, Yuu realizes that she can have feelings for someone else, but that person turns out to be a girl. This anime perfectly portrays a couple who has to overcome hardships in order to understand their feelings, when they still haven’t quite figured themselves out just yet.
Highlighting music and how impactful it may be in a young couple’s life, Given is a story that has been thoroughly adored by many an anime fan. Portraying heartbreak, grief, and overcoming devastating barriers, Given is a 2019 anime (and movie) that features a group of friends who get together and form a band. While dealing with school, the four friends are trying to combine their passion for making music and figuring out their own feelings toward their respective love interests. With its gorgeous animation, incredible voice acting, and interesting characters — including a possible neurodivergent main character — this anime is sure to become your next obsession.
2. Asagao to Kase-san
Adapted from the widely famous manga by the same name, Asagao to Kase-san is an anime from 2018. Although it may be an OVA, this story is in no way lacking development. Absolutely perfect for a quick watch and feeling contentment after finishing the episode, Asagao to Kase-san is a short romance that depicts the relationship between two girls, who just so happen to be the absolute polar opposites. Their contrasting personalities and the struggles that come along with entering different universities make up for a really sweet and realistic anime and an overall great watch.
1. Yuri!!! On Ice
Yuri!!! On Ice became an overnight sensation from its first release in 2016. A staple in LGBTQ anime, this show completely tore down the walls on the clichés often seen in queer anime. Most often connected to a sports anime rather than a romance, Yuri!!! On Ice represents a story filled with ambition, talent, and pure love and trust. Introducing Yuuri, an aspiring professional figure skater aiming to win the Grand Prix Finale, the anime follows the story of this promising young skater and his coach and five-time world champion, Viktor Nikiforov. Brimming with competitive and ambitious characters, this anime explores a blind loyalty between two characters whose feelings start growing more and more. The queer representation is also extremely well-explored, considering some of the secondary characters’ implicit relationship shows a completely different side to romance from the one shared by the main couple.
From the ’90s until today, queer content in anime has increased exponentially, much to anime fans’ delight. More than ever, it is imperative that the generalization and normalization of LGBTQ content on mainstream media be fleshed out, and these anime will certainly take a prime spot in the life of everyone in the alphabet community.