Representation is incredibly important to LGBT fans when it comes to consuming pop culture. What’s even more important is proper representation. It’s always been kind of a struggle to find a show that portrays the community correctly and doesn’t narrow down the gay characters to comic relief or other shallow stuff.
When it comes to anime, there’s a wide range of queer characters found here and there. While some shows still have a ways to go with writing their LGBT characters properly, it doesn’t hurt to celebrate and remember some of them. Here are five anime series with LGBT characters.
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This ongoing shōnen series tells the story of Monkey D. Luffy, whose dream is to be the King of the Pirates. Along with his crew, they set sail on numerous adventures that eventually lead them to fulfill their dreams.
One Piece has a list of incredibly diverse characters. While some instances with the okama are problematic, many characters in this series are simply iconic.
Bon Clay’s ballerina swan outfit is an eye-catcher. Initially an enemy in the Alabasta arc, he and Luffy quickly became friends. This eventually led to him being one of the MVPs during Impel Down, helping Luffy escape alive. Definitely a great enemy-turned-ally character they can rely on.
Emporio Ivankov is usually seen as a large man with heavy makeup, alongside a revealing outfit, fishnet stockings, and a crown. However, due to his Devil Fruit, he can inject hormones into himself to turn into a woman. Ivankov’s character is a firm believer in letting people be whatever they want to be, no matter the gender. There was even a whole performance about it.
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This Satoshi Kon film tells the story of three homeless people who find a baby in the trash during Christmas Eve. With that, they proceed to get into various situations just to return the baby to her family.
Hana is a religious transgender woman who was a former drag queen. Her character serves as the mother of the trio’s family. She was actually the one who insisted that they have to take in the baby, and was the one who mainly took care of her. I’m pretty sure she’s the one keeping the whole family together.
Ouran High School Host Club
Adapted from the manga of the same name by Bisco Hatori, this well-loved series is always a must-watch for shōjo fans. The story revolves around Haruhi Fujioka, a scholarship student, and the Host Club of Ouran Academy, a school for elites.
Throughout the series, we see how fluid Haruhi’s approach to gender is. She explicitly says that she doesn’t even care much about it either. She’s taken up both masculine and feminine looks. The gender of her first kiss didn’t matter to her either.
Ranka (Ryouji) is Haruhi’s incredibly caring father. He’s openly bisexual, as mentioned in the series. Ranka is actually his stage name. He works as a professional entertainer at an okama bar. If you haven’t seen the show yet, you’re going to love his interactions with the Host Club.
Attack on Titan
It’s humanity vs. titans (or is it?) in this shōnen manga by Hajime Isayama. Alongside the final volume’s celebration through an online exhibition, let’s look back at the queer characters in this series.
One beautiful thing about the story of Ymir and Krista/Historia is how it was portrayed. It was clear in the story that these two were each other’s reason to live, in the context of something that is more than friendship. Spoiler alert: while I’m sad that they didn’t get married or even get their happy ending, the tragedy of those two is a good story (in a painful way).
Hange Zoe is presented as a female in the anime, however, Isayama says that Hange’s gender is up to the reader. In the manga, Hange’s pronouns are also gender-neutral.
Hunter x Hunter
From Yoshihiro Togashi, the creator of Yu Yu Hakusho, the plot follows Gon Freecss and his journey to become a Hunter. This anime is popular with the queer community due to the numerous subtexts that clearly hint that almost no one in this series is straight.
One of the most well-known transgender anime characters is Alluka Zoldyck, Killua’s youngest sister. The Zoldycks and their staff consistently refer to her with masculine pronouns; her siblings even call her “brother”. It’s only Killua who refers to her correct pronouns, introducing her to Gon as his sister and always using feminine pronouns.