by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 10 of
With the Matsuri plotline successfully resolved, Citrus finds itself in need of a new avenue for drama. As expected, that comes at least partially from introducing more new characters. For once, however, these new cast members aren't yet a source of trouble for our struggling siblings. This time, Yuzu and Mei's issues are coming from within their relationship. After several episodes of gradually growing mutual support between them, it was probably inevitable that some friction would crop up.
Perhaps most unforgivably for the audience, the girls' issues interrupt the fanservice at the beginning of the episode! No sooner is Mei ready to thank Yuzu for her solidarity in the Matsuri situation by offering her some Christmas canoodling, than Mei turns her down with an ambiguous attitude. The fallout from Yuzu's declination forms the backbone of the angst that permeates this episode. The ambiguity of Yuzu's decision to turn Mei down, and why Mei takes this so personally, puts an interesting spin on the drama this time around. Previously, Citrus had been surprisingly good at expressing clear motives for the characters' choices and emotional responses. In this situation, the story's choice to remain nebulous instead suggests either that it's building up to a revelation or that the characters themselves aren't sure why they're acting this way yet.
The latter point becomes apparent in a scene where Matsuri returns to visit Yuzu and asks how things are going with Mei. Now that she's backed off her antagonistic pot-stirring, Matsuri provides some decently amusing commentary, particularly because you can sense her frustration over this turn. Her advice to Yuzu that ‘real love doesn't go as smoothly as it does in manga’ is a multi-layered irony given this material, but Matsuri proves to be surprisingly right by episode's end.
But Matsuri is last episode's news, and this episode is dedicated to introducing the new characters Sara and Nina, another pair of sisters whose relationship is pretty much the opposite of Yuzu and Mei's. The sisters come across as interesting so far, though perhaps more pointedly ‘anime’ in a romcom way that's quite different from how Citrus has presented its cast thus far. We spend the most time with Sara in this episode, as coincidences so outrageous that the show starts lampshading how the world conspires to force her and Yuzu to spend the day together. In any case, these two seem to have a better handle on life and relationships than our protagonists, and Sara is just so full of good advice for Yuzu's situation that it's almost too good to be true.
This episode is doing a lot of setup for presumably the final arc of the season for Citrus, so it's bound to come across a bit rote and predictable, even by this show's soapy standards. The way they point out the coincidences around them are kind of funny, but that doesn't mean the audience is going to just handwave them. Sara and Nina are introduced laying out a relationship built on martyring each other to an almost absurd degree, which we can plainly see will impact their actions in the plot moving forward. And of course, as soon as Sara starts describing to Yuzu how she had a ‘fateful encounter’ with a girl she's now in love with, we can immediately guess that it must be Mei. It's all necessary for the juicy drama to unfold in the coming weeks, but that doesn't make it any less eye-rolling when Yuzu just happens to miss seeing Mei around Sara.
What saves this episode is how the characters' feelings come through much more effectively than their contrived situation. Maybe it's unbelievable that Yuzu would fess up the juicy details of her relationship with her step-sister to some girl she just met, but the resulting explanation and Sara's support are worthwhile. It turns out that Yuzu's hesitation with Mei just came from simple fear. It's a plain honesty about an understandable vulnerability for a show that's otherwise reveled in complex emotional twists. It also means Matsuri was actually right. On top of that, the dramatic irony of Sara trying to help Yuzu with her romantic woes while remaining unaware that they're interested in the same girl is a time-honored romance twist, but it should be interesting to see play out regardless.
Seeing Yuzu focus on her fears of intimacy now that her relationship with Mei is facing a crucial juncture lays the groundwork for many angles Citrus could pursue as it reaches season's end. Yuzu is actually considering why she likes Mei, an important step made far more difficult by that little ‘step-sisters’ complication. For her part, Mei still seems stuck in a dependency cycle as her primary motivation for the relationship. There's a clear divide in what the two girls actually want out of being together, and the emotional climax of their confrontation at the end of the episode makes the slow burn of this reveal worth it.
This episode was a mixed bag. The setup was complicated, rote, and contrived in its story beats. On top of that, the new characters will definitely be hit-or-miss for some people. They haven't gotten to do much within the plot and can come off annoying at times. But the emotional elements of this episode were spot-on, keeping me invested enough to keep going.
Citrus is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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