Anime isn’t a stranger to queerbaiting.
I’ve been an avid weab for a long ass time. Well, you wouldn’t catch my ass with a body size pillow of my 2D husbando or waifu (I do have limits). But I know enough to realize yaoi and yuri content aren’t for the gays; it’s often to fetishize queer couples for straight people’s benefit. Y’all can’t hate me—we all know it’s true.
So this made me wonder: Is there an anime that doesn’t fetishize queer pairings? Good news for us, they do exist. The list is rather long and it sort of restores my faith in humanity. However, we’ll keep the list to six suggestions for now.
Here are anime titles that are queerbaiting-free.
“Yuri!!! on ICE”
Of course, it ain’t a good list without this sports anime. It follows disgraced Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki on the verge of retirement, until Russian figure skater Victor Nikiforov saw Yuri’s viral video mimicking his routine. That’s when Victor decided to train him and become his coach.
This anime surprises its viewers. It’s unafraid to touch on deep emotional themes with three-dimensional, well-fleshed out characters. Also, the chemistry between Yuri and Victor is unbelievable.
“Asagao to Kase-san”
This slice-of-life yuri anime is rather cute and heartwarming. In “Asagao to Kase-san,” introverted plant parent Yui starts dating Tomoka, the ace track star of their school. Yui is scared to screw up her first relationship. But no matter how different these two are, their understanding of one another continues to grow.
Shows catered to first sapphic love are quite rare. With this show, what was said was: they really said: Puppy love doesn’t belong to heteros only.
Now, this anime is complex and has a lotta mature themes (sexual abuse, drug use, etc.). Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The anime is an adaptation of an Akimi Yoshida manga. It’s centered on a teenage gang leader with a troubled past named Ash Lynx meeting a Japanese photographer’s assistant Eiji Okumura. When Eiji comes into Ash’s life, it takes a huge turn when Ash finally figures out what traumatized his Iraq vet brother. And it has to do with a drug called “banana fish.”
“Shoujo Kakumei Utena”
It’s one of the few animes inspiring shōjo mangas and anime. In this coming-of-age series, we witness strong-willed teenager Utena Tenjou’s journey to becoming a prince herself. She gets sucked into the realm of sword fighting to win and protect the Rose Bride’s heart, a woman who can change the world.
“Shoujo Kakumei Utena” is a surrealist anime tackling topics of childhood idealism, loss of innocence, ambition and many more. It subverts heterosexual fairy tale tropes such as the noble prince and damsel in distress. If anyone’s looking for a complex, queer anime, this is definitely it.
It’s a cute, slice-of-life yaoi anime set in a bakery. The story is centered on former business man Tachibana Keiichiro who left his corporate job to open a bakery. In his new pastry venture, he hires a world-class pastry chef, a former middleweight boxing champion and an old high school crush.
What’s amazing about “Antique Bakery” is how fleshed out the characters are. At the same time, the anime doesn’t fail to address some issues in the queer community. It isn’t a shallow, BL rom-com—it has depth too.
Love music animes and queer narratives? Well then, “Given” is definitely a must-add to the watch list. This manga-turned-anime follows four students who started a band, developing friendships and romantic relationships along the way, leading up to their first live music festival performance.
Filled with ’90s alternative rock and Britpop references, this anime gives us the maturity we crave from “K-On!” and the queer representation we thought we’ll get from “Nana.” It ticks all the boxes we couldn’t find on other existing music animes out there.
Still from “Given”