LGBTQ+ relationships in anime either come across as tender or facetious. Non-binary anime characters, when they show up at all, often never experience requited love. When a relationship does blossom, they often follow unhealthy dynamics that aren't reflective of real-world relationships, relying instead on yaoi and yuri tropes.
That said, there are some awesome LGBTQ+ anime couples that serve as positive representations of their respective communities. Yuuri Katsuki and Victor Nikiforov of Yuri!!! on ICE are deeply committed and wholly in love, pushing each other to be their best selves both on and off the ice. Ymir and Krista of Attack on Titan are forced into roles that don't suit them, but they find meaning and comfort in each other. Mitsuyo Akechi and Michi Inukai of A Centaur's Worries have a much more relaxed approach to love. They're just high school girlfriends who like each other, proving that gay relationships don't have to be dramatic to be worth showcasing.
These relationships vary in tone and intensity, but all of them make for excellent stories.
Victor Nikiforov & Yuuri Katsuki - 'Yuri!!! On ICE'Photo: MAPPA
Yuri!!! on ICE is unique among anime with LGBTQ+ themes because there's no ambiguity whatsoever about the relationship between the two protagonists. After Yuuri Katsuki's figure skating career nearly tanks, his skating idol Victor Nikiforov offers to train him for the upcoming Grand Prix competition. As they prepare for the event, they start falling in love, and their relationship escalates to the point of an on-ice kiss and marriage proposal.
Their relationship is far from perfect, though. Victor can be unnecessarily rude, and Yuuri's anxiety can get in the way of his communication skills. Nevertheless, the two are clearly wild about each other, and committed to dealing with their issues. This makes their relationship feel real without detracting from the overall sense of romance.3,222235Do you love this couple?
Shion & Nezumi - 'No. 6'Photo: Studio Bones
Nezumi and Shion come from very different worlds. Nezumi has experienced terrible suffering, watching his entire village burn to the ground and barely escaping with his own life. Meanwhile, Shion has lived a life of privilege and ignorance inside a protected city called No. 6 - the city responsible for Nezumi's tragic past.
When Shion helps Nezumi escape from a conflict, he's stripped of his position and nearly gets captured before Nezumi helps him in turn. From there, the two begin to develop a relationship, slowly falling in love despite their deeply dissimilar backgrounds. Ultimately, their differing views on how to handle the political strife that surrounds them separates them, but their deep love persists.1,610136Do you love this couple?
- Photo: Toei Animation
It's impossible to mention non-binary relationships in anime without including this couple: Michiru Kaiou and Haruka Tenoh, AKA Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus, respectively. The best thing about their relationship is how obviously in love they are. The two have no qualms about kissing, flirting, and embracing in public.
But Haruka and Michiru are more than just their physical relationship - they also work beautifully together as fellow Sailor Scouts, doing a great job raising the reborn Hotaru along with Setsuna.1,833186Do you love this couple?
- Photo: Madhouse
Yukito Tsukishiro and Touya Kinomoto share one of the most recognizable relationships in the CLAMP universe. The two boys start off as good friends before eventually progressing toward a romantic relationship. They've been attached at the hip from the moment they met, and each considers the other to be the most important person in the world to them. The anime iteration of their relationship can technically be interpreted as platonic, but the manga version is clearly romantic.
Given the manga is aimed at young children, this is especially heartening. No matter what their future orientation might be, kids need non-binary representation. It can help heterosexual kids grow up to be tolerant, while non-binary kids feel validated for their identities.1,309130Do you love this couple?