While it is already hard to find queer characters on mainstream television (although it is getting better), it is even harder to find them in Japanese media like anime. It’s not an impossible task, though. We have done our research and have collected 10 of the best anime with queer characters (gay, lesbian, bisexual, genderqueer, transgender…) or that have a story focusing on a certain LGBTA topic.
This list is in no order whatsoever. Enjoy!
Year of release: 1998
Synopsis: Sakura Kinomoto is a ten-year-old that one day stumbles upon a mysterious book containing a set of cards. Unfortunately, she ends up unintentionally scattering the cards all over the world and releasing the Beast of the Seal, Keroberos. The Clow Cards, created by the sorcerer Clow Reed, are magical as each of them possess incredible powers. Sakura will have to capture them all with the Sealed Key.
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Magic, Romance, School, Shoujo
LGBTA: Pretty much all of the characters are either gay, lesbian or bisexual. Romance has its relevance in the story but it’s not the main point and, sometimes, some things are left just in subtext.
Year of release: 2011
Synopsis: In a futuristic world, after the last great war, most of mankind lives in a handful of city states. There, for the privileged elite, life should be perfect. But for young Shion, the only thing perfect has been the nightmare his life has become since letting a strange boy called Nezumi spend the night in his apartment.
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi
LGBTA: A romantic relationship develops between the two main characters. Arguably bisexual main character, gay/bi/pansexual deuteragonist.
Year of release: 2014
Synopsis: The story revolves around Haruka and Yuu, two girls who go to a high school that is slated to be shut down in three years. To share something special between them, they share a kiss, and their relationship deepens from that moment onward.
Genres: Comedy, Romance, School, Seinen, Slice of Life, Shoujo Ai
LGBTA: Main characters are a lesbian couple. The story only focuses on the girls of the classroom and their relationship among each other as they explore their sexuality. However, there are ecchi elements and they are often sexualised.
Year of release: 2011
Synopsis: Effeminate fifth grader Shuuichi Nitori is considered by most to be one of the prettiest girls in school, but much to her dismay, she is actually biologically male. Fortunately, Shuuichi has a childhood friend who has similar feelings of discomfort related to gender identity: the lanky tomboy Yoshino Takatsuki, who, though biologically female, does not identify as a girl. These two friends share a similar secret and find solace in one another. Faced with nearly insurmountable odds, they must learn to deal with the harsh realities of growing up, transexuality, relationships, and acceptance.
Genres: Drama, School, Slice of Life
LGBTA: A serious take on gender identity. Both main characters are transgender and the story narrates their way through puberty, friendship, falling in love, etc.
Year of release: 2008
Synopsis: Misaka Takahashi is struggling with his studies and is currently looking for a teacher to help him enter the University of Economics. Akihiko Usami, a well-known author and friend of his brother, will be his new tutor. At first they don’t get along very well because Misaki realises that Aihiko is gay, writes gay love stories and is deeply in love with his brother. What starts off as a bad relationship, could end up becoming a romance.
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Shounen Ai
LGBTA: The main characters are gay and the story is all about homosexual romance.
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Year of release: 1997
Synopsis: Just after Utena’s parents died she was consoled by a prince who gave her a ring with a rose crest on it. Utena was so impressed by the Prince that she vowed to become one herself one day. A few years later Utena is attending Ohtori Academy where she gives all the teachers headaches because she dresses in a boys uniform so she can be like the prince she met long ago. After Utena’s friend is insulted by a member of the Student Council, Utena fights in a duel for her friends honor. Utena’s rose crest allows her to enter the dueling arena where Utena wins the duel and becomes engaged to the Rose Bride. Unknowingly, Utena is pulled into a series of duels with other members of the Student Council for the possession of the Rose Bride. As she becomes fond of Anthy, the Rose Bride, she must fight to keep her friend safe and to discover the horrifying secret behind Ohtori Academy.
Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Psychological, Shoujo
LGBTA: The two main female characters are in love with each other. The series is also very transgressive in the way the characters deal with gender roles, sexuality and society’s expectations.
Year of release: 2012
Synopsis: A millennium from now, in Japan, exists a utopia. The protagonist, Saki Watanabe, lives in an idyllic village barred from the outside world. Her world is ruled by the people who possess the “gods’ power” of psychokinesis. After finally obtaining her own powers, Saki enters the Zenjin Academy to train along with five other children: Satoru Asahina, Maria Akizuki, Mamoru Itou, Shun Aonuma, and Reiko Amano.
Genres: Drama, Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Supernatural
LGBTA: Many of the main characters are non-heterosexual. And actually act on it.
Blue Drop: Tenshi-tachi no Gikyoku
Year of release: 2007
Synopsis: Five years ago, something horrifying happened on Kamioki Island. Something so nightmarish that it stripped all memory from Mari Wakatake’s mind even as it left every other human on the island dead in its wake. Now enrolled against her will at an isolated girl’s academy, Mari is unaware that hidden eyes are watching her, waiting for her memory to return. Buried in her psyche is the most terrifying secret of all: while Mari was the only human who lived, she may not have been the only survivor. As something in a female skin invades Kaihou Academy, Mari’s only hope may lie in a strange girl to whom she is inexplicably drawn yet cannot trust.
Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi, Shoujo Ai
LGBTA: Two strong female main characters who are actually a lesbian couple. The aliens are actually women who take women for lovers as well.
Akuma no Riddle
Year of release: 2014
Synopsis: The story is set at Myoujou Academy, a private girls’ boarding school. The 10th year’s Kurogumi class has 12 assassins with their sights on one target, Haru Ichinose. Tokaku Azuma is a recent transfer student who is also targeting Ichinose, but she gradually develops feelings for Ichinose.
Genres: Action, School, Shoujo Ai
LGBTA: Lesbians everywhere. If you like girls who are badass and queer, you’ll love this show.
Year of release: 2006
Synopsis: In the peaceful theocracy of Simulicram, everyone is born female. At age 17, each maiden undergoes a special ceremony where she chooses her sex.
Genres: Drama, Magic, Military, Romance, Shoujo Ai
LGBTA: What if you could actually choose your sex? All about gender issues.