If you’re an LGBT kid that grew up with anime, you probably found a show or two that had some pretty validating characters when it came to gender and sexuality. There were some anime couples out there that represented us is different ways and had the romances that we really wanted. In honor of Sailor Moon Crystal getting green-lit for a fourth season, let’s go back to the sweet, terrifying, and heartbreaking LGBT couples from anime’s past.
We are well aware that some of these couples are still in the ambiguous “non-canon” category because the nature of their relationship has not been revealed by writers or explicitly mentioned in the anime itself. However, not everything has to be said, and we’re basing a few of these entries on very clear body language, actions, and behaviors between characters.
There may be a few little spoilers here and there throughout this list, so be wary!
Here are The 15 Coolest LGBT Couples In Anime.
15. Haruka & Michiru – Sailor Moon
We have to start with this classic pairing.
For U.S. audiences, Haruka Tenou (Sailor Uranus) and Michiru Kaiou (Sailor Neptune) weren’t together. The official English dub of Sailor Moon completely changed their relationship and made them cousins.
However, in the original Japanese-language series, not only are the two clear about the fact that they are dating, but they would often playfully joke about it with subtle lines throughout the show. Sailor Uranus was notorious for hitting on Usagi all the time, too.
They had the cutest teen romance ever, kicked ass together, and remained loyal to each other until the very end. A very inspiring gay couple, indeed.
There’s also been some debate about Sailor Uranus’ gender identity, as she presents herself as fairly masculine throughout the series. Whether Sailor Uranus is a masculine-presenting queer girl or a gender-fluid character, her “different” presence on the show vibed with a lot of LGBT fans.
14. Ymir & Christa – Attack on Titan
Ymir and Christa have such an interesting dynamic and each has such complex personality. They are also a canon LGBT couple according to this panel. If you’re not fluent in German, during the interview Attack on Titan director Tetsurō Araki confirmed that “the characters Christa and Ymir were indeed a couple.”
Ymir is incredibly protective of Christa, so much so that she is willing to betray all of humanity to keep her safe. The cute affectionate moments the two have together are few and far between, as is any solid idea of their history, but what makes this couple so cool is how distinct and complex their personalities are. On the surface, Christa seems very sweet, but simmering underneath is a young woman with a lonely, nihilist, dark nature. On the surface, Ymir seems flighty, insensitive, and cruel, but she is actually much more sensitive and emotional than she lets on.
13. Korra & Asami – Legend of Korra
It is very debatable whether or not this American animated series could be considered an anime by definition, but this pairing is just too good to leave out.
LGBT fans of Legend of Korrahad been picking up hints and chemistry between Korra and her best friend Asami through the entirety of the series, which concluded in 2014. When news came around that their relationship was indeed romantic (both Korra and Asami are bisexual women), the internet lost it. It was one of the first times that a popular animated American television show, on Nickelodeon of all places, depicted a same-sex couple and officially verified their same-sex relationship, rather than avoiding bad press and leaving it up to fans’ imaginations.
Korra and Asami had the dopest relationship, from making fun of their mutual ex-boyfriend to being vulnerable with each other and going on fantastic adventures together. Legend of Korra is memorable for more than just their relationship, but that certainly made it even better.
12. Ushio & Sumika – Whispered Words
Based on the yuri manga series of the same name, Whispered Words shows us a relationship with typical themes that you’d find in any teen romance. Except that romance is between two openly lesbian high school students.
Sumika is a high school girl who is in love with her best friend Ushio, but can’t bring herself to confess her feelings because Ushio is apparently really picky about the girls she dates. Sumika is tall, strong, and outgoing, but Ushio only seems to be into shy, cute girls. Throughout the two girls’ storyline, we see interesting side stories as well that focus on lesbophobia and being young gay student in Japan.
Without running the risk of spoiling the entire anime series, we can confidently say that this is a rarity in yuri media. The story is incredibly relatable, and any closeted girl growing up could probably find parallels between her life and the events in Whispered Words.
11. Akira & Fumi – sweet blue flowers
If you’re in the mood for something that’s sickeningly sweet, Sweet Blue Flowers might just be the best thing for you.
In this yuri series, lesbian high school student Fumi Manjome is reunited with her long-lost childhood friend Akira Okudaira. Fumi immediately falls in love with her after they reunite and the two become each other’s rock during the tough times of high school. It is yet another fairly relatable story– Fumi eventually comes out to her friend, who is supportive, but clearly unsure of how to act.
Sweet Blue Flowers is heartwarming and as cute as an anime can get. The dynamic between Akira and Fumi is incredibly relatable, especially for anyone that has fallen for a straight or closeted friend during adolescence.
It is also a fairly unique work, mostly due to the fact that there are several male characters in the series with their own storylines, something not typical in a yuri anime.
10. Utena & Anthy – Revolutionary Girl Utena
This is a relationship that isn’t necessarily canon, but Revolutionary Girl Utena is definitely a series with a queer cult following.
A junior high student named Utena attends the enigmatic Ohtori Academy, a school that has a curriculum based on duels between students in order to win the hand of Anthy Himemiya, also known as the “Rose Bride”. Enigmatic is a good way to describe this academy– it is never really explained why students have to do this. The school’s Student Council also seems like some sort of luxuriously exclusive mafia group with rose rings that prove their membership.
Utena shows up and changes things up. Girls can only receive rings from princes, but Utena decides that she’s going to be a prince instead. She wears typical boy clothes and dedicates herself to protecting people from danger. Anthy is currently in an abusive slave-like relationship with her current fiancee, Saionji, but Utena quickly beats him in a duel and “acquires” Anthy.
The two girls’ relationship is mysterious but has sapphic overtones that are pretty hard to ignore.
9. Shinji & Kaworu – Neon Genesis Evangelion
This legendary mecha anime is memorable for tons of factors. The series was a critique of the mecha genre, dealt in-depth in psychology, and criticized what the future politics of Japan would become.
We are introduced to Kaworu Nagisa when Asuka is unable to continue piloting her Eva following a nervous breakdown. He replaces her and quickly begins a friendship with Shinji. Kaworu’s screen time is minimal in the series, but his presence was significant.
There’s quite a bit of debate around their relationship. Kaworu’s sexuality is fairly ambiguous but interesting, and it seems as though Shinji is fairly unsure of his own sexual identity. (He is just a kid, after all.) Kaworu offers Shinji his undying love, but it is unclear whether or not this is a tactic to disarm Shinji. Shinji is an innocent and damaged young man, while Kaworu is (spoiler alert) not even a real human being. Their relationship is interesting to say the least, and many involved in Neon Genesis Evangelion‘s production agree that the two were some semblance of a gay couple.
8. Touya & Yukito – Cardcaptor Sakura
CLAMP is a really cool all-female manga publication of artists that has been consistently unafraid to depict same-sex couples and LGBT characters. One notable couple was Touya and Yukito from Cardcaptor Sakura, who are a canon couple.
Cardcaptor Sakura follows the story of a young girl named Sakura, who accidentally unleashes a set of magical cards that must be retrieved to prevent an apocalyptic future. Touya and Yukito are two of the magical girl’s friends. Yukito expresses to Sakura on several occasions that he is in love with Touya. There are several scenes in the anime where Yukito and Touya make it clear that they are romantically involved, or at the very least honest with each other about their mutual feelings. Touya even gives up all of his magic to save Yukito’s life when Sakura loses her power and is unable to sustain him.
Tomoyo, another queer character in Cardcaptor Sakura, also was clear about her giant crush on Sakura as well.
7. Shion & Nezumi – No. 6
No. 6 is set in a supposedly perfect utopian city of the same name after a violent world war had destroyed most of the planet. Shion is a well-off young man whose life is flipped around when he meets an outsider to the city named Nezumi. Shion knows Nezumi is a vigilante but shelters him from harm anyway.
Shion and Nezumi’s relationship was a subtle and subversive but important moment in anime when it came to how gay romance was portrayed, especially in the science fiction genre. The two were not over-the-top or used as plot devices, but rather, their relationship was central to their characters and was very relatable. Their relationship was not explicit, but it generated a ton of hate among anime fandoms that were not happy with the gay overtones bleeding over into a not-so-shounen-ai sci-fi series. The controversy these two caused upon No. 6‘s release was something notable. But No. 6‘s legacy shouldn’t be how many homophobes it pissed off, but rather its captivating storytelling, surreal concepts, and endearing same-sex relationship.
6. Shion & Yayoi – Psycho Pass
These two characters are incredibly interesting separately. As a couple, they’re even better. One might have missed this crucial and brief scene that makes the nature of their relationship and subsequent sexual identities pretty clear. Later on, there’s a very visible scene of the two lounging naked in bed together, reflecting on recent events.
These two are a great couple more because of what they represent, rather than their actual relationship. Shion is a total badass and a literal genius for the PSB. Enforcer Yayoi is a stoic and talented robotics specialist. They’re both femme, which breaks down stereotypes that there must be a “man” and a “woman”, even in lesbian relationships. Both of them are well-rounded characters in their own right, and most of the focus on each of them respectively has to do with their abilities. The show barely focused on their relationship, and when Akame catches them post-act, there’s no ridiculous reaction. It is portrayed as a normal thing and a normal relationship.
5. Shuichi & Yoshino – Wandering Son
This anime drama was so incredibly refreshing to watch. At its release in 2011, it was one of the few anime series that openly portrayed a transgender boy in an intimate and honest way.
In Wandering Son, we get an honest look into what the life of a trans high school student is like. There are scenes showing the harassment Yoshino faces in school, his struggles with puberty that parallel his attempts to transition, and there’s even a refreshingly accurate scene where he purchases an actual safe chest binder, rather that wrapping dangerous ace bandages around himself (something that media portrayals of trans men often do).
Most of the series is focused on Yoshino, but his friend Shuichi identifies as a trans girl through most of the series. Both of them express that they struggle with body dysphoria. Towards the end of the series, Shuichi openly professes a sexual attraction to Yoshino, but it is unclear if their relationship goes anywhere or what their actual sexual identities are. Overall, the series accurately portrayed the strangeness that is puberty and how that strangeness can become very dark for trans kids.
4. Mireille & Kirika – Noir
This is another pairing that is not entirely canon, but the relationship between Mireille and Kirika has a lot of pretty obvious not-straight moments.
In Noir, we follow the two young assassins as they go on a journey to find out about their mysterious past and lost memories. They know that they are somewhat related to each other, but eventually find out that a secret organization created them both and used to control them for terrorist purposes.
One could argue that the fantastic character development for each character and subsequent unbreakable friendship that they form is nothing more than a passionate platonic relationship. However, there were plenty of scenes that seemed to transcend platonic friendships.
These two badass ladies made this list because their relationship was one of the healthiest around. Despite being ultra-deadly assassins, they both leaned on each other and protected each other on their missions and had an unbreakable trust between them.
3. George & Yukari – Paradise Kiss
Paradise Kiss is a fantastically original anime series about a dutiful and responsible young woman named Yukari. She begins to question her life and where’s she’s headed, and ends up encountering a group of fashion students who have created their own clothing label called “Paradise Kiss”. She ends up joining them and begins to form her own identity, engaging in her own passions, and going through all the trials and tribulations that we all endure at the end of high school
While Yukari’s sexual identity is never really talked about, she is involved in a whirlwind romance with an openly bisexual fashion student named George. George is an extravagant man who considers Yukari his muse as well as his lover. He’s pretty encouraging to Yukari as she tries to figure out her identity as an adult.
It is also worth noting that ParaKiss’s mother figure in the group of fashion designers is the elegant Isabella Yamamoto, a transgender woman that’s as classy as she is inspiring.
2. Ryouma & Izumi – Love Stage
The relationship between these two starts off pretty rocky and problematic. But what relationship doesn’t have its moments?
In Love Stage, Ryouma and Izumi meet as child actors on the set of a Happy Wedding commercial. Ryouma is under the belief that the dress-clad Izumi is a girl and falls immediately, obsessively in love. He attempts to reconnect with his “dream girl” for nearly ten years and finds his “girl” on the set of the commercial’s sequel. He professes his love for Izumi, and is told that Izumi is actually a boy. All that internalized homophobia really got to Ryouma, and not only does he scream at Izumi and accuse him of “lying” to him, but later on convinced him to strip in order to completely turn him off.
That obviously doesn’t work, and Ryouma ends up apologizing to Izumi and admits he still loves him anyway. They develop a friendship that becomes more over time, and their heartfelt confession is really sweet.
1. Zoisite & Kunzite – Sailor Moon
Did you think Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune were the only LGBT characters in Sailor Moon? Think again! These two powerful generals who worked under Queen Beryl from the Dark Kingdom were openly involved with each other. English dubs are Sailor Moon‘s worst enemy, it seems, because Zoisite’s gender was changed to female (his appearance was feminine enough that they believed they could get away with it) to effectively erase their homosexual relationship and manufacture a heterosexual one. In some dubs, they are portrayed as simply dudes bein’ pals. This is disappointing as always, but especially because the pair was so popular in the original manga that Naoko Takeuchi had to include them in various side stories to satisfy fans.
These two were the perfect pair, from their looks to their abilities, and it looks like Sailor Moon Crystal is going to stay true to their gay romance, just as they did with Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus. Down with sexual discrimination!