Game Rant

From fantastic gay movies like Doukyuusei to manga like The Bride Was A Boy, Japan is no stranger to amazing LGBTQ+ representation in media and stories. This extends to anime series as well with shows like Yuri on Ice (which has a movie in the works) and Revolutionary Girl Utena being extremely popular among fans.

During Pride or any other time of the year, it can be meaningful to connect with characters and stories for those in the LGBTQ+ community. While there are many shows out there that qualify, some stand out above the rest for their impressive representation of gender and sexual minorities.

Related: Most Groundbreaking LGBTQ+ Movies Of All Time

Updated on May 18, 2023, by Levana Chester-Londt: Simply adding LGBTQ+ characters to a show doesn’t automatically make them allies. Objectifying the LGBTQ+ community for the sake of clickbait or fanservice doesn’t bode well with most fans. Thankfully, there are numerous LGBTQ anime series that aim to raise the standard by exploring gender issues and emphasizing well-balanced gay anime representations.

The concept of Pride has been a hot topic for the last few years, so utilizing harmful stereotypes while claiming ignorant in this day and age is inexcusable. However, oftentimes with anime, offensive statements are a result of mistranslations or cultural misunderstandings, as Japan has many gender-specific and ambiguous terms that could be misconstrued.

21 Yuri Is My Job!

A new addition to the Yuri genre comes in the form of a school-themed maid cafe that idolizes Shojo storylines. These girls do their best to give customers the full Liebe Girls Academy experience, which is easier said than done once Hime Shiraki joins the team! This inexperienced waitress and her intense kawaii factor has everyone wrapped around her finger; however, Mitsuki seems immune to Hime’s charm. Except for those moments of weakness where her anger is replaced with blushing bashfulness.

Hime, on the other hand, is determined to find a rich man and live a happy life, although she can’t seem to shake Mitsuki from her mind. Are her people-pleasing instincts simply going into overdrive, or could this be the beginning of a budding romance with a complex origin story? Or perhaps Kanoko will suddenly swoop in to claim Hime as her paramore!

20 Revolutionary Girl Utena

When the system at Ohtori Academy is rigged to objectify women as helpless Rose Brides, Utena Tenjou’s good conscience cannot allow her to sit idly by. Instead, she takes up the role of a prince and fights to free the other girls from their undesirable fate. With a sword and signet ring in tow, Utena evolves into the Prince Charming of every girl’s dreams and becomes the cog in the well-oiled machine of women’s oppression.

Anyone with Utena alongside them would consider themselves blessed. However, Anthy Himemiya receives the bulk of the esteemed prince’s affection, and their blossoming courtship is explored extensively in the film “Adolescence of Utena.” Overall, Revolutionary Girl Utena takes great care in prioritizing shojo themes over ecchi fan service and is considered by many to be the best LGBTQ+ anime of its time.

19 Heavenly Delusion

Spring 2023’s Heavenly Delusion plays around with the concept of gender quite extensively, to the point where viewers are never quite sure about any characters’ biological sex. But more importantly, these distinctions don’t seem to matter, and those who experience a big “gender-reveal” moment don’t suddenly change their personality types to better align with stereotypical expectations.

Related: Heavenly Delusion: A Smorgasbord of Genres

Kiruko and Tokio are the first to drop bombshells, proving that nobody should judge a book by its cover! Meanwhile, Maru’s reaction to the fact that he is actually crushing on a boy is wholesome and heartwarming (albeit, a bit pervy at times.) He continues to cling to his affections, regardless of Kiruko’s gender identity. Meanwhile, the Nursery is on its own mission with hiding the truth. It’s interesting to see how the children’s ambiguity impacts their sexual orientations once their hormones kick in, as evaluating individual personalities is more important than looking for a “gender-appropriate” partner.

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18 Carole & Tuesday

This music-orientated Netflix-original anime provides a bitter-sweet milestone for the LGBTQ+ anime community. While the series showcases one of the widest ranges of LGBTQ characters in a singular anime narrative, many antagonistic roles are claimed by non-heterosexuals. Some may find this offensive; however, a few bad eggs shouldn’t spoil the pot! Desmond, Flora, and Dahlia (to a certain degree) are more respectable additions to the line-up and are each celebrated for their contribution to Carole & Tuesday’s success.

Desmond is a particularly admirable representation of gender fluidity. Even if his experience is a result of the atmospheric radiation on Mars affecting their hormone levels, the acclaimed singer-songwriter accepts themselves completely and is beloved by all. Desmond eloquently states:

17 Nekopara’s Cat Girls

If lighthearted, ecchi LGBTQ+ anime content is on the table, then Nekopara is the perfect fit, without advancing too far into the R-Rated zone. These cute cat girls are only interested in some heavy petting (wink wink!) The overall narrative is innocent enough, whereby Kashou enlists some wayward Nekos to help in his bakery; however, he can’t seem to tame their sultry urges. (Side note: the term “Neko” can mean cat, although it has homosexual connotations, too.)

Originally a visual novel series, Nekoparais all about cat girls doing cute things, and although fanservice is a key component, it doesn’t carry the weight of the story. Overall, viewers either love or hate Nekopara depending on personal preferences, so potential fans should decide for themselves after visiting “La Soleil” themselves!

16 Tomo-Chan Is A Girl!

Even though the main premise of Tomo-Chan Is A Girl! revolves around a heterosexual relationship, nobody can deny that Tomo is a thirst trap for men and women alike! Even seemingly straight girls can’t help but fawn over this rambunctious redhead; Jun could have some serious competition if Tomo ever decides to experiment a little.

Related: Tomo-chan Is A Girl! Subverting or Celebrating Toxic Femininity?

Shane from The L-Word is iconic for making people question their sexuality, and Tomo unwittingly follows suit, gathering numerous fangirls (and boys) without even realizing it. Her Prince Charming scene is the crème de la crème and gives Tomo a much-needed ego boost. Being adored for her refusal to conform to gender stereotypes steamrolls into self-acceptance and is a beautiful tale about how insignificant many gender-specific social conventions are.

15 Sasaki And Miyano

Sasaki and Miyano conquered the boys love genre by storm releasing in the Winter 2022 season. The show not only focuses on a blossoming gay relationship but also prominently features a love of boys love manga as well — pretty meta huh? It is widely considered to be a perfectly executed romance.

Get ready for some serious chemistry when watching this one.

14 Paradise Kiss

Paradise Kiss features several openly LGBTQ+ characters ranging from the openly bisexual George to Isabella who is transgender. This show dives deep into themes of self-discovery and transformation of appearances through fashion and has some of the most believable characters in all of anime.

Paradise Kiss doesn’t pull punches on the drama either allowing audiences to experience some intensely emotional moments.

13 Patalliro! & Princess Knight – Anime Classics

The earliest Shonen Ai to ever appear on Japanese television, Patalliro! paved the way for many shows with gay characters that came after. It’s hard to define this series as one about espionage or slapstick because of how seamlessly comedy and drama are intertwined. It may have been released back in the 80s, but it’s still an incredible anime to this day.

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Those wanting to go back to something even older might also enjoy Princess Knight. Known as Ribbon no Kishi in Japan, this anime is based on a manga produced in the 50s and featured a girl “born with the blue heart of a boy and the pink heart of a girl.” Yes, the transgender vibes are real in that story. It’s fascinating to watch these old shows to see how the representation of LGBTQ+ people has changed over time.

12 Stars Align (Hoshiai No Sora)

Stars Align is about far more than just another sports anime. It tackles some of the harder parts of growing up in middle school and figuring out one’s identity with tennis as a backdrop. One character directly discusses being nonbinary while another discusses transgender experiences in that same episode.

Related: Spring 2023: Celebrating the LGBTQ+ Communit

Anime fans looking for a sports anime with fantastic representation need to look no further — Stars Align is a perfect choice.

11 Adachi And Shimamura

This show is built upon the budding relationship of its titular protagonists, Adachi and Shinamura. They slowly go from being decent friends that enjoy playing table tennis together to pass the hours to realizing their relationship might be far more complex than they could have ever imagined. One of the best pieces of modern Shojo Ai to be released in some time, Adachi and Shimamura is a must-watch for those who want a lesbian love story.

10 Wandering Son (Hourou Musuko)

Wandering Son is the best anime in terms of transgender representation in existence. Shuuichi and Yoshino’s adventures discovering their identity will hit home with many viewers as one is trans-masculine and the other trans-feminine. The struggles of entering puberty, approaching romance, and more all are shown in a gorgeous watercolor art style that viewers are sure to love.

*It’s quite rare for an anime storyline to feature multiple transgender experiences within a single storyline without falling into stereotypical pitfalls. However, Wandering Son provides a well-executed rendition of Nitori and Takatsuki’s journey toward self-acceptance as they take the leap of faith to cross the gender spectrum.

Nitori normally hides his feminine side, but the urge to present as a female is becoming greater by the day. Meanwhile, Takatsuki finds encouragement in Anna Suehiro’s blatant approach to gender fluidity and decides to embrace this lifestyle wholeheartedly. This coming-of-age tale discusses the growing pains of transitioning delivered by a lovable cast of colorful LGBTQ+ friendly teenaged characters.

9 Beryl And Sapphire (Xiao Lu He Xiao Lan)

Beryl and Sapphire proves Chinese anime has just as much to offer LGBTQ+ viewers as shows out of Japan. This series is an ONA, an original net animation, with episodes only eight minutes long.

These short snippets allow the show to show the two actors in various movies they play in while still presenting an amazing overarching story. With multiple overlapping stories crossing various genres, the presentation of Beryl and Sapphire is like nothing else out there.

8 Ranma ½ (Ranma ½ Nettou Hen)

Ranma ½ is a story that teaches about genderfluidity, and it’s easy to see why. Being able to transform between a man and a woman at will would be an attractive possibility to many people.

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While the show does have its rougher moments due to how long ago it was produced, it’s hard to deny just how many people learned a lot about themselves from watching Ranma ½. Ranma even canonically eventually accepts their “curse” saying it may not have been a curse at all and the girl side of him was always a part of him.

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7 Land of the Lustrous

Land of the Lustrous is often mentioned in terms of non-binary representation as it has genderless gem people similar to those seen in Steven Universe. While this kind of representation does have its flaws, a show where a majority of its main characters use they as their pronouns in both the sub and the dub is incredibly rare.

While the manga did receive an adaptation as an ONA back in 2013, the full TV series explores the story far further and is certainly the superior choice to watch.

6 Flip Flappers

While not as overt as some other shows, Flip Flappers certainly has LGBTQ+ themes fans have picked up on. Cocona and Papika’s budding relationship feels like something deeper than just friendship as they have to go so far as to synchronize their feelings to use their powers.

These vibes of this show are especially apparent in episode 7, “Pure Component.” Papika ends up changing between multiple personalities, including being a boy at times, and Cocona still cares about them deeply no matter their presentation. It’s the kind of acceptance any LGBT+ person longs for in their relationships.

5 Yuri Kuma Arashi

Humanoid bears, lesbian lovers, and a “Wall of Severance” that keeps the societies of humans and bears people apart? This extremely anime concept is something only found in Yuri Kuma Arashi. The story is jam-packed with symbolism and contains multitudes for those who are able to read between the lines.

Its themes involving societal mistreatment, exclusion, and sexual liberation ring particularly strong in today’s world.

4 Given & Given Movie

Given features fantastic moments of gay romance while exploring the character’s worries, struggles, and everyday lives while forming a band. The romance between Satou and Uenoyama is just gay icing on top of the cake of this dramatic music anime.

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There is also a movie about the series that focuses on Nakayama and Kaji — the bassist and drummer of the band. Fans that enjoyed the original show are likely to find this movie an excellent supplement that extends the story.

3 Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime)

Princess Jellyfish is a fascinating josei anime that follows what happens when the cross-dressing androgynous Kuranosuke meets Tsukimi and helps her save a jellyfish in a pet store. Tsukimi lives in Amamizukan, an older building filled with introverted women that would rather focus on their special interests than interact with the outside world.

Bringing an extrovert like Kuranosuke home makes not only some silly antics ensue but provides moments for deep self-reflection amongst the characters. Studies have shown that non-neurotypical people are more likely to be LGBTQ+ as they are less influenced by social norms making this show hit on a whole new level for many viewers.

2 Bloom Into You (Yagate Kimi Ni Naru)

What happens when a girl who adores romance stories and love songs finally has a boy confess his love, only to feel nothing? Bloom Into You focuses on a high-schooler named Yuu coming to terms with the fact that she might have more feelings for her classmate Touko than any man could muster.

It’s a fantastic coming-of-age lesbian romance sure to stir the hearts of viewers.

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