If you're looking for wholesome, thoughtful depictions of LGBTQ+ characters in your anime binge-watching sessions, check out our beginner's guide!
We always love keeping up with our favorite anime, but those of us in the LGBTQ+ community would love to see more of our people in these shows. In a world where gay people, transgender people, and other individuals in the community are asking for, and thankfully receiving, the representation they deserve in media, we can definitely expect the same from anime.
Luckily, there are plenty of anime you can stream on Crunchyroll featuring positive LGBTQ+ characters, and story arcs that we can all feel good about. From fleshed-out character relationships to tackling subject matter particular to the community, anime certainly has its fair share of wholesome LGBTQ+ themes.
Check out some of the titles Crunchyroll has to offer:
Recommendation: Sailor Moon Crystal (2015)
If you grew up as obsessed with Sailor Moon as we were, then you’ll definitely want to check out this updated version. Crystal adapts Naoko Takeuchi’s original manga more precisely, but still follows the same overall story of Usagi Tsukino – a brash and foolhardy young girl thrust into the superhero shoes of Sailor Moon. The anime covers the first three major arcs of the story, so you can catch Queen Beryl, Chibi Moon, and the Outer Sailor Soldiers in all their glory!
Representation: When talking about LGBTQ+ representation in Sailor Moon Crystal, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune should be the first characters who come to mind. As a magical lesbian power couple, Uranus and Neptune set a new standard for on-screen romance back in the 90s, and their relationship withstands the test of time in Crystal. Between their blatantly intimate relationship and the romantic duet they sing together in one of the show’s ending themes, Uranus and Neptune remain pillars of lesbian representation in anime.
Recommendation: Cardcaptor Sakura (1998)
In CLAMP’s classic and captivating magical girl series, middle school student Sakura Kinomoto explores her father’s basement library and discovers a strange book that contains magic cards. As she picks one up, she accidentally unleashes their power and scatters the cards to the wind. Using her newly-discovered abilities, Sakura must capture all of the cards before their magic can wreak havoc on her hometown. You can stream the full first series, its feature length movie, epilogue film, and sequel series.
Representation: One of the strongest and engrossing subplots of the show is the budding romance between Sakura’s older brother Toya and his best friend, Yukito Tsukishiro. With Toya being bisexual and Yukito slowly discovering his own feelings for Toya, the two of them become closer to each other in a not-so-subtle gay relationship that’ll have you begging them to declare their love for each other throughout the show.
Recommendation: Zombie Land Saga (2018)
In 2008, bubbly and energetic Sakura Minamoto was suddenly rammed by a truck and killed instantly. Ten years later, she wakes up to find herself reanimated as a zombie by a zany idol producer named Kotaro Tatsumi. Tatsumi groups her with six other zombie girls and tasks them with creating an all-zombie idol group to save Saga Prefecture.
Representation: Zombie Land Saga is surprising in many ways, but one of its most unexpected moments is how well they treat a transgender character in the cast. Lily Hoshikawa, one of the zombie idols, is eventually revealed to be a trans girl who was assigned male at birth. Her origin, development, and gender struggles are portrayed with depth and an educated sensitivity that work to make her a unique and healthy trans character that more shows could do well to emulate.
Recommendation: Hourou Musuko Wandering Son (2011)
Shuichi Nitori is a boy who prefers to be more feminine and eventually discovers a desire to be a girl. After transferring to a new school, Shuichi meets Yoshino Takatsuki, a girl who reveals a similar wish to be a boy. As the two of them grow up, they each meet new people and discover new things that help them along their journey of self-discovery and acceptance.
Representation: As a major focus of the show,Wandering Son offers a rare exploration of a transgender person’s development and dysphoria. Each of the protagonists have unique social experiences that educate them on their gender identities. Shuichi struggles with a deepening voice and the growth of body hair while trying to present more feminine, while Yoshino goes through chest binding and grapples with menstruation when presenting masculine. While both characters strive to achieve their own levels of self-acceptance and comfort in their identities, they each exhibit thoughtful and educated illustrations of trans culture.
Recommendation: Sweet Blue Flowers (2009)
On the way to her entrance ceremony at an all-girls’ high school, Akira Okudaira is reunited with her childhood friend, Fumi Manjoume, after 10 years. As the two of them rekindle their friendship, their social lives begin to blossom in unexpected ways.
Representation: While most LGBTQ+ characters fall victim to tragedy throughout the course of their stories, the many girls of Sweet Blue Flowers get to flourish in their social lives and romantic endeavors. As Crunchyroll writer Paul Chapman writes, the narrative centers on Fumi’s identity as a lesbian and another character’s bisexual preferences without turning their experiences into major spectacles or oversexualizing their relationships. This coming-of-age story grants its characters enough breathing room to explore the complexities behind their sexualities so they can grow into more fulfilled individuals.
Have you watched any of the shows we’ve featured in our list? What other anime with LGBTQ+ characters would you include on this list? Leave us a comment and let us know!
Carlos is a freelance features writer for Crunchyroll. Their favorite genres range from magical girls to over-the-top robot action, yet their favorite characters are always the obscure ones. Check out some of their satirical work on The Hard Times.