The 5 Best LGBTQ Characters in Anime
Like I’ve said before, anime is rife with some amazing LGBTQ series. So many, in fact, that this author hasn’t seen them all. What did you expect? Just because I’m queer that I’ve seen EVERY queer anime ever?
I’m sorry, y’all, I’ve been too busy doing other queer shit. And sometimes just normal shit too? Like cooking? Taking a shower? Sleeping? Although those things could all be queer, I guess. I could be counting gay sheep before bed, but most of the time, to be honest, I’m lying awake wishing that my favorite queer anime characters could be real so that we could hang.
Here is a list of my personal favorite LGBTQ anime characters. And if you have any dark magic avail to make them real, would appreciate your help.
Gren is one of the most beautiful and complex portrayals of a transgender character in anime that I have ever seen. A character from the greatest anime of all time, Cowboy Beebop, Gren is a jazz musician living in the frozen little town of Blue Crow on Callisto. While the character presents as male (and for good reason, Blue Crow is an all-male town of dangerous criminals) the character later reveals that they developed female sexual characteristics after being exposed to experimental chemicals. Gren is content with the ambiguity of their gender, and when asked if they are male or female, Gren responds with an iconic line that they are “both at once, and neither.” The character is a fantastic allegory for trans people who (usually for safety reasons) decide to go “stealth” and pass as the gender they were assigned at birth. Gren lives and works as a man, but in their private moments, they exist beyond the binary. I adore this character and have written a full critical analysis on them. Can you tell I’m a little obsessed? You should be too.
Ryuko Matoi is a high school badass. She’s the person that everyone secretly wants to be. She is headstrong, rebellious, and doesn’t take shit from anyone. She is waging a one-woman war against an oppressive society, a battle which I’m sure many queer people can empathize with. I love Ryuko because her queerness is not her defining character trait. Far from it. She has lofty ambitions beyond herself, and is attempting to become the strongest warrior she can be (in order to avenge her father’s untimely death). I have a theory that the series is also an allegory for a young person coming to terms with their sexuality. Ryuko is first embarrassed and ashamed of the skimpy sailor suit she has to wear in combat, but later becomes empowered by it. She also does not begin the series harboring any kind of romantic or sexual desire, as her sexuality takes such a backseat to her goals that it is virtually nonexistent. Later in the series, however, she develops feelings for her best friend Mako (another AMAZING queer character in the series) and the two decide to pursue a romantic relationship in the credits. The series treats queerness, not as a strange outlier that is the sole defining factor of a person, but as a sort of ubiquitous trait that nearly every character in the series possesses to some degree. I mean, c’mon, look at the outfits of the members of the anti-clothing militia Nudist Beach. They BELONG in a queer club in New York City.
Like Gren, I think Ouran High School Host Club’s Haruhi is a fabulous character due to her comfort with her own gender and sexual ambiguity. She poses as a male member of her high school’s host club: a group of handsome boys who are paid to titillate the school’s female population. While the characters who know her “secret” refer to her as a girl, Haruhi is uninterested in defining herself based on her appearance or gender roles. She prefers to define herself and those around her by who they are on the inside. Her sexuality is equally ambiguous, and she seems to enjoy the attention of boys and girls equally. After all, her first kiss was with a girl in her class. Non-binary bi icon? We’re here for it.
Another quietly queer character on this list, Motoko Kusanagi is the iconic purple-haired protagonist of the anime classic Ghost In The Shell. Motoko is a complex character (and certified badass) who contains multitudes. She is the leader of an elite task force called Section 9, a top-secret wing of Japan’s public security organization. Section 9 is called in to covertly defend the nation from domestic terrorism, cyber-security attacks, and espionage from foreign governments. Motoko is cool, level-headed, and serves as an unflappable pillar of strength to her team. She is a fearless commander who leads by example, and remains professional and courteous to her subordinates at all times. She also seems to enjoy falling from great heights and begins many a mission by jumping off of skyscrapers. Yes, it is as cool as it sounds. She is portrayed as lesbian or bisexual in the anime and manga, and is primarily shown dating women throughout the series. If my wishes come true someday and she becomes real, my next wish will be that she’s single.
Okay, small caveat, I don’t wish every character on this list were real because I do not want to live in a world where Ryo is running around. The antagonist of the Devilman series, Ryo does not actually have a gender. Why not? Because he’s (spoiler alert) an angel. And not just any angel. Ryo is Lucifer. Satan. While appearing as male in human form, Ryo’s angelic form is depicted with breasts. But don’t let his beauty fool you, Ryo is evil as fuck. His end goal is to destroy the human race by unleashing a horde of demons across the Earth. He is, however, not devoid of emotion, and is in love with his childhood best friend Akira Fudo. I am personally fascinated by the character, as the series attempts to humanize what humanity deems to be the apex of evil: the devil himself. Also, a fallen angel x good guy devil is a perfect setup for a phenomenal slash fanfic.
Featured Image Credit: Production I.G.
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