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15 LGBTQ+ Anime you need to watch right now

Pride Month may be nearly over, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop celebrating it, and what better way than to watch some LGBTQ+ anime? We know we’ve got you covered on Anime Impact, but why not treat yourself to something different with this list…

While it seems like half of the gays had their queer awakening while watching Disney villains, the other half of us are still talking about how we felt all warm and lovely when Sailor Moon ‘cousins’ Neptune and Uranus got so unusually close.

Here’s a set of 15 LGBTQ+ anime shows you can watch to show off your Pride, to help you feel seen and represented all over again!

Flip Flappers (2016)
Flip Flappers, Studio 3Hz

Middle schooler Cocona lives a quiet life, trying to please everybody around her and stay out of trouble – until the day an uninhibited girl named Papika blasts into her life, and forces her into a spectacular adventure. One where she’ll have to deal with conspiracies, robots, and adorable (though occasionally spicy) magical girl transformations!

For anybody sick of every gay story having to end in heartbreak or death, this quirky, colourful show is a single season of joy which romps through every anime trope and setting created. Touching on harsher concepts with characteristic lightheartedness, Flip Flappers is ultimately a whimsical tale of coming into one’s own, in a setting where the monsters of our minds can be made real. With flashy fights inspired by Gurren Lagann and a cute ending animation drawing on Studio Ghibli, it’s the romantic lesbian flash of inspiration we didn’t know we needed!

13 episodes, streaming on Crunchyroll

Licensed for home release by MVM (UK) and Sentai Filmworks (US)

You may also like: Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kill la Kill, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi

Banana Fish (2018)
Banana Fish, MAPPA

Based on a beloved 1980s manga, and supposedly considered too risky to animate until recently, this action-fuelled tale of New York crime and intrigue has always been a huge hit with both gay and straight audiences. Photographer’s assistant Eiji is helping compile a story on young gang members in the US when he meets a teenage criminal going by the name of Ash Lynx – an encounter which changes both of their lives forever.

This adaptation lightly updates the setting, but the original story is barely touched, and it’s not one to watch if you’re already feeling emotional. But despite being a notoriously upsetting watch, Banana Fish is nevertheless a tale of redemptive love. Trigger warnings apply from top to bottom, but for those willing to endure some difficult viewing, at the heart of this story is a quiet and tender romance – which still contains power, all these years after it was first written.

24 episodes, streaming on Amazon Prime

You may also like: A Song of Wind and Trees, Cipher, Your Name

Wandering Son (2011)
Hourou Musuko, AIC Classic

Shy fifth-grade transfer student Shu-chan is starting to take an interest in dresses and fashion, and wants to make more female friends. There’s just one problem: he was assigned male at birth, and he’s really not sure what happens now. Thankfully he’s got his new classmates to help him navigate this difficult time, including Takatsuki-kun, a tall girl who hates skirts…

Shuichi’s journey towards forming his first small queer community is a gentle and sweetly portrayed childhood story. The characters are early in puberty, so events are usually focused on exploring the social elements of transition as opposed to anything physical. This lends itself to the formation of a very unsensational and often quite soothing anime, making it a fantastic antidote to more garish portrayals of the trans experience. Even so, the feeling that adults really should be doing more for these young people may ring close to home.

12 episodes, streaming on Crunchyroll

You may also like: Tokyo Godfathers, A Silent Voice, Sweet Blue Flowers

Golden Kamuy (2018)
Golden Kamuy, Geno Studio

Set in and around Hokkaido in the 1910s, Golden Kamuy takes an in-depth and sincere look at indigenous cultures and the fights people have faced for their rights. Young hunter Asirpa has been raised as the hope of her village – an indigenous woman for a new era! She befriends a deserting Japanese soldier in need of fast cash, and together they begin an epic hunt for a huge trove of gold which was stolen from her people.

While Asirpa’s age is carefully kept non-specific (she conveniently eschews the traditional tattoos which would mark her adulthood), almost every other character is an adult man, and as such is subjected to extreme testosterone-soaked fanservice. Golden Kamuy is undoubtedly a culturally sensitive story – it’s been showcased in international exhibitions, and is credited as the driving force behind the revival in Ainu food culture in Japan. But it also has running jokes on everything from a character whose huge chest bursts every shirt he wears, a character so overcome by his commanding offer’s presence that he can’t speak mainland Japanese around him – and if anybody was still doubting the homoerotic credentials of the story, there’s an actual sex pollen episode. Some content is slightly toned down in the process of adapting the manga, but Golden Kamuy is a rip-roaring festival of masculine fighting and bonding aimed squarely at fans of bears (human) and bears (which will eat your face). As well as the general chaotic gay energy of the anime, a continuing minor character is refreshing both a trans woman and a truly terrible person, just like nearly every character in the story.

12 episodes, streaming on Crunchyroll

Licensed for home release by Manga Entertainment (UK) and Sentai Filmworks (US)

You may also like: Baccano!, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Berserk

Revolutionary Girl Utena (1997)
Shoujo Kakumei Utena, J.C. Staff

Once upon a time, a sad little princess received a visit from a prince upon a white charger, who gifted her a ring and soothed her troubled heart. So inspired and moved was she by this kindness that she vowed to become a prince herself one day. But it’s hard in this world for a woman to become a prince, and perhaps not every lost little girl wants to be saved…

The passion project of a director who cut his teeth on Sailor Moon, this abstract and dreamlike action show is fascinated by the way that the narratives we receive in childhood shape us. Utena’s struggle to find her princely ideal despite the male gaze is framed by other queer and coming-of-age narratives. Ultimately the most memorable scenes from the show are those where Utena relies on the Rose Bride, Anthy, to acquire her true power: drawing a sword from the chest of her bride, she demands the power to revolutionise the world!

39 episodes, streaming on Funimation

Licensed for home release by All The Anime (UK) and Nozomi Entertainment (US)

You may also like: Neon Genesis Evangelion, Princess Tutu, Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Antique Bakery (2008)
Seiyou Kottou Yougashiten, Nippon Animation

Overachiever Tachibana has never managed to settle down with the right woman, and he’s beginning to think he’ll need to start all over again if he wants to get anywhere in life. Using his family wealth to start a café to exacting specifications, he’s looking forward to the soothing effects of being surrounded by cute young waitresses. Unfortunately, he’s also determined to get the best pâtissier in the business, and that happens to be the guy he turned down in high school – a man so traumatised by his past that he can’t work with women. Tachibana’s dreams are going up in smoke, but maybe an all-male elegant café could work…

Workplace homophobia and the diminishing effect of stereotypes are core to the characters of this short series, which follows events in their lives as they begin to grow and move beyond their harmful habits. Most episodes are lighthearted, but some traumatic events in the backstories of characters mean that caution is advised. Based on a manga by celebrated queer-interest author Fumi Yoshinaga, this remains the the only anime adaptation of her work  – and this story alone has also been adapted for Japanese and Thai live-action TV, and had a high-profile (and extremely funny) Korean movie.

12 episodes, licensed for home release by Nozomi Entertainment (US only) – out of print, with copies widely available

You may also like: Working!!, Love Stage!!, Ristorante Paradisio

Princess Knight (1967)
Ribon no Kishi, Mushi Production

In the kingdom of Silverland, the longed-for royal child is finally born – not the much-needed male heir, but a girl, who can’t put an end to the succession crisis. Her parents decide to raise her to present as male, but what they don’t know is that due to a mix-up in heaven, their child has been born with both a male and female heart. Sapphire grows up a loving child, but a tearaway, making friends and getting into fights all over the kingdom!

Based on the manga by legendary creator Osamu Tezuka, this is the OG queer anime. It may be aimed at children, but it isn’t shy about having a genderqueer protagonist who inspires crushes from male and female characters alike. Animated on a very tight budget, it’s not always a smooth watch, but it’s an incredibly important story in the history of queer Japanese media. Tezuka grew up in Takarazuka, home of the world-famous all-female theatre, and the influence on this swashbuckling work is unmistakable. It’s also surely the inspiration behind Sailor Moon’s depiction of Haruka as “a girl and a guy – she has the strengths and personalities of both genders.”

52 episodes, streaming on Crunchyroll

You may also like: Dr. Slump, Akazukin Chacha, Le Chevalier D’Eon

NO.6 (2011)
NO.6, Bones

Privileged young prodigy Shion lives in the glittering modern city of NO.6, where life is peaceful and organised, and he finds himself haunted by the vague feeling that something is wrong. Enter Rat, a boy his own age – injured, and clearly running from something. While it comes from a place of kindness, Shion’s impulsive decision to shelter Rat has consequences neither of them could have imagined…

Based on a light novel series, this is an unusually happy dystopian setting, which takes care not to fall into traditional queer pitfalls. NO.6 is one of those narratives where love improves everything it touches – closed-off, traumatised Rat can’t help but become happier around ray of sunshine Shion, and that difference of character drives the narrative. Furthermore, Rat’s gender non-conforming traits and other trans elements in the story make it an interesting queer watch even beyond the central relationship.

11 episodes, streaming on Crunchyroll (US only)

Licensed for home release by Sentai Filmworks (US only) – out of print, with copies widely available

You may also like: Psycho Pass, Terra E, Shangri-La

Cardcaptor Sakura (1998)
Cardcaptor Sakura, Madhouse

Sakura, a cheerful girl who lives with her father and brother, didn’t mean to unleash chaos on her hometown, but darn if she won’t sort if all out herself! Becoming a magical girl to hunt down the magical Clow Cards she unwittingly set free, she goes to school by day and on adventures at night. Her best friend Tomoyo is always on hand to provide costumes and to film the night’s events, and mysterious young transfer student Syaoran soon turns out to be an earnest young magical boy, threatening to interfere with her plans.

Best described as ambiently gay, this show requires that the audience make no assumptions about who might fall for who, which keeps the subtle romantic elements surprising and fun. While always age-appropriate for the characters, there’s just one relationship which only appears in older versions of the story – the little girl who seems to be engaged to her teacher, which is wisely no longer being compared to the show’s many LGBT+ crushes and relationships. Colourful and exquisitely kind in its depictions of different forms of love, this show was a clear influence on later thoroughly queer Western animation Steven Universe.

70 episodes, streaming on Crunchyroll

Licensed for home release by Anime Limited (UK) – upcoming in 2021, NIS America (US)

You may also like: Tsubasa – RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Prétear, Delightful Moomin Family

Attack on Titan (2013)
Shingeki no Kyojin, Wit Studio

Humanity’s last stand takes place in a walled community under constant attack from humanoid monsters. Eren Yaeger saw his mother eaten alive in front of him when the walls were breached for the first time in history; now he’ll stop at nothing to become a soldier defending the precious remnants of the human race.

Known as an action show and rarely lauded for its queer content, Attack on Titan nonetheless features one explicitly lesbian relationship and at least one non-binary character amongst its major cast. While the story has fallen foul of some critics for its willingness to treat racial politics as a subject suitable for exploration through fiction, the variation between the women, men, and other characters in the Survey Corps certainly goes some way to adding to the sense of diversity in the cast, despite their nearly mono-racial makeup. A bloody, violent story, which hinges on examining what humans hope for, Attack on Titan will not suit all viewers, but it’s affirming to know that at the end of the world, the gays are still here and ready to throw bricks.

25 episodes, streaming on Crunchyroll

Licensed for home release by Manga Entertainment (UK) and Funimation (US)

You may also like: Tokyo Ghoul, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, Claymore

Fushigi Yuugi (1995)
LGBTQ+ anime
Fushigi Yuugi, Pierrot

Whilst frantically studying for her high school exams, student Miaka falls into the world of a book – an ancient fantasy tale, where a priestess matching her description is needed to save a warring nation. Faced with no other choice, Miaka begins to assemble the seven warriors prophesied to assist her in the fight – and the fact that they’re an attractive bunch threatens to add further drama to the situation!

Fushigi Yuugi is remembered by many viewers as the story of a young woman surrounded by good-looking young men, but maybe the most notable member of Miaka’s harem is Nuriko, a genderfluid warrior who swears to protect her. While Nuriko may not be the main character, her* depiction is complex and highly interesting, and she* remains a favourite for many fans. Perhaps the reason the character seems so close to reality was revealed when, in 2019, creator Yuu Watase came out as x-gender herself. Unlike some earlier shows such as Ranma ½, which were able to serve as queer mirrors for viewers despite their comedic roots, Nuriko’s story feels grounded and touching in an otherwise fantastic world.

52 episodes, streaming on Crunchyroll

You may also like: Re:ZERO -Starting Life In Another World-, The Twelve Kingdoms, The Vision of Escaflowne

Yuri!! On Ice (2016)
LGBTQ+ anime
Yuri!! On Ice, MAPPA

Athlete Yuri’s life has come to a crossroads; with no international achievements to retire on, he’s starting to realise his days as a professional ice skater are coming to an end. Suffering from mental health difficulties and poor self-image, it seems clear that he needs to retire before he faces ridicule – until a chance encounter from one evening in his past comes back to bite him. His idol, the Russian champion, is on his doorstep and wants to coach him personally!

This groundbreaking show overcame fears about what could or couldn’t be shown on TV by smashing down barriers and becoming an international hit. Instead of relying on placing same-sex characters close to one another and inviting viewers to join the dots, Yuri!!! On Ice is the first mainstream TV anime queer sports story, in a genre otherwise riddled with queerbaiting. With a setting written to be devoid of homophobia, any problems in Yuri’s life are from within; his refusal to see himself as he really is marks the core conflict of the series. In some scenes, the intensity of Yuri’s emotional struggle can make the show a hard watch, but it’s essentially a joyful story about people finding their own paths. Minor self-censorship from Studio MAPPA is occasionally evident, but the meaning and promise of it all is plain to see – as both a very important story, and as a milestone in anime.

12 episodes, streaming on Crunchyroll

Licensed for home release by Manga Entertainment (UK) and Funimation (US)

You may also like: Free! Iwatobi Swim Club, March Comes In Like A Lion, Sk8 The Infinity

Princess Jellyfish (2010)
LGBTQ+ anime
Kuragehime, Brain’s Base

Since the death of her mother, with whom she was particularly close, Tsukimi has retreated to the comfort of the special interest they used to share: jellyfish. Having moved to Tokyo to try and make her way in the world, she’s instead fallen in with an all-female houseshare of similarly obsessive types. But when their safe haven comes under threat, this squad of hapless otaku are going to have to put lives in the hands of the most glamorous woman in the neighbourhood – even when she turns out to be their local politician’s hard-partying son, Kuranosuke

This romantic comedy takes a sideways look at femininity, and how fashion can be weaponised. The fact that every bit of expertise and enthusiasm in the show comes from Kuranosuke is a constant reminder to the audience that gender is a construct in which we can choose to participate. Any attempts to make the otaku ladies over are doomed to failure; they have to sink or swim based on their own comfort levels. A fundamentally kind story about found family, safe spaces, and the choice to participate in gendered activities or to step back.

11 episodes, streaming on Funimation (US only)

Licensed for home release by Kazé (UK, out of print) and Funimation (US)

You may also like: Ouran High School Host Club, Paradise Kiss, Fruits Basket

Fake (1996)
LGBTQ+ anime
Fake, J.C Staff

Since they were first teamed up, loose cannon cop Dee has been trying to get into his rookie partner’s pants – but work, bomb threats, and Ryo’s recent adoption of a child have all combined to scupper every previous attempt. Now he’s cashing his vacation time, he’s paid the kids off, and he’ll do absolutely anything to convince Ryo that the two of them are meant to be! If they don’t get distracted by any police work, that is…

‘No Cops At Pride’ is a respectable slogan, and anybody keeping strictly to it had better scroll to the next entry. But Dee and Ryo’s odd little England adventure is a strange artefact from the days where you couldn’t do this sort of thing on TV, and worth a look for that alone. Yet ultimately, Fake is barely titillating – and therein lies its charm; it’s just a silly, sexy story like any of the equivalent heterosexual content of its day. In many ways this OVA is nothing special, but it’s based on a more respected manga which has been translated in its entirety, and it has a little place in history – all the more so because every attempt Dee makes on Ryo comes down to the establishment of consent between the two. It’s also rare even in 2021 to find many explicitly bisexual characters in media, making this an absolute unicorn of a story – a bi/bi romance.

1 episode, licensed for R1 home release by Anime Works (US only) – out of print, with copies widely available

You may also like: Golden Boy, Patalliro!, Kochira Katsushikaku Kameari Kouenmae Hashutsujo

The Rose of Versailles (1979)
LGBTQ+ anime
Versailles no Bara, TMS Entertainment

When his sixth child in a row is born female, General de Jarjayes decides he’s had enough, and that this one will be raised as his son whether she likes it or not. Thankfully young Oscar François takes to military training like a duck to water, and soon finds herself working as a part of the personal guard of the Dauphin’s young bride – a woman history will soon come to know as Marie Antoinette. Swept up in more courtly drama than you can shake a stick at, Oscar comes to rely on her morality and sense of purpose to guide her, even as the Revolution draws ever closer…

Perhaps the most influential queer anime ever created, the seminal The Rose of Versailles is even now a byword for gender non-conformity and bisexual attraction. Oscar’s gender identity is a mystery even to her throughout much of the story, as she relishes masculine freedoms while finding herself attracted to men, causing half of Paris to swoon at her feet. Internationalised as Lady Oscar, the story took decades to appear in English, in the form of a few short-run home releases, with long-term streaming still unlikely. That aside, just about the only barrier to a modern audience might be Oscar’s irritated insistence that, despite the propaganda, she has never made love to the Queen, perish the thought! And if that’s the worst one can say about a daring story first put to paper in the early 1970s, then that’s honestly not too bad. The Rose of Versailles is still eminently watchable, and a spectacular example of the joyfulness and drama of queer anime.

40 episodes, licensed for home release by Discotek Media (US only)

You may also like: Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Saint Seiya, Romeo x Juliet

But that’s not all, we even have some other recommended viewing for you to check out if you’re still looking for some incredible, LGBTQ+ anime.

  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans contains continual positive references to polyamory which are never played for drama, and become increasingly significant as the story continues.
  • One Piece is known for being an incredibly long anime following a pirate crew searching for the greatest treasure in the world – but fewer people remember that this incredibly prominent anime is considered to feature an asexual protagonist! Author Eiichiro Oda’s handwave explanation (that Luffy is only attracted to adventure) may not have been intended as a statement of queer intent, but it’s consistent with over a thousand chapters of Luffy’s behaviour and actions, and he’s since been embraced as an asexual icon.
  • My Hero Academia is a laid-back superhero show which hasn’t got a controversial bone in its body, and (one dramatic Twitter row about kanji aside) is generally considered about as challenging as a cup of lukewarm tea. Yet as part of the large cast of heroic and villainous characters, there happen to be trans people on either side of the divide – a pleasing sign that trans representation continues to move towards the mainstream in the anime medium.

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