So, one of the things I do struggle a little bit when watching Anime and reading Manga is the lack of decent representation of LGBT characters. Many times, when there is representation of LGBT characters in this area, it’s often played up Stereotypes, sometimes going to point of offensiveness and only meant to be treated like a joke, without any sort of redeeming value to the character. Often they’re used for cheap laughs, abused, and become the but of everyone’s joke.
This in particular made me struggle to find LGBT representation during my Teen years to identify with (as I struggled with my sexuality a bit), as I grew up with a lot of Anime and Manga.
However, having said that, there are some good Queer representation over the years in anime.
Sailor Moon was rather revolutionary in this manner, given the time period, While there is some, admittedly, tropes about the relationships of the characters, the presented gay characters (Kunzite and Zoisite in the original anime and Uranus & Neptune for all versions) are generally treated rather well and mostly show positive natures of the relationships. However, I’ll admit Fish Eye’s character has a number of issues in general (and the English version I feel made the situation worse, back when Cloverway localized that particular season), though I would argue it wasn’t the author’s intention to offend or misrepresent.
Yuri On Ice was probably the one anime in most recent years that I feel represented gay characters extremely positively, as well as showing many different types of personalities out there, not restricted or held back by stereotypes often associated with the characters. While not problem free, it was absolutely the right step towards the right direction. It’s also one of the few anime out there that reached outside of the niche audience without being a popular series like Pokemon or Dragon Ball.
Wandering Son’s dealing with Transgender and Gender Identities issues is handled, honestly, really, really well. While I need to finish this series, having watch the first several episodes of the anime, it shows the prejudices that Japan typically has towards people going outside of the box of normal (though, sadly, Japan is not the only country where we deal with this sort of issue). I feel both characters are handled very well, including their struggles with their gender identities. I’m unsure if the anime adapted all of the manga material, but it’s something I absolutely recommend.
There’s also some manga (including indie ones) that has been published in recent times (My Brother’s Husband, My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, etc.), but many of these never see fit to be adapted in animated format, sadly.
Now, having said that, there are some characters out there that, who I feel might be on the borderline offensive list, they do have some positive qualities to them and I enjoy them immensely despite these issues. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the over abundance of these tropes and characterizations represented in anime, I’d probably be a little more lenient to them.
Still, one of these particular characters’ I’d mention is Leeron from Gurren Lagann, who is honestly one of my favorite characters in the series. He’s quirky, rather eccentric, and depending on which version you’re watching, borderline offensive or relatively normal sounding (they played up his accent a bit on the English dub, which isn’t really as strongly present in the Japanese version, though ADV’s unfinished dub with Leeron is… Absolutely offensive how it’s presented and just sounds bad). While yes, he is sometimes played off for laughs and has some offensive qualities to his character, he generally can pull his own weight, is generally treated respectfully by his crew mates, and honestly shows concern and caring side to him (in particular to Rossiu) regarding the rest of his mates.
Now, the above is not a complete list of LGBTQ representation in anime and the issues that Japanese media has with representation, but I thought it’d be worth creating a discussion topic on this.
If anyone has any thing to add to this, both the positives and negatives they’ve witnessed, watched, and read over the years, would absolutely love to hear it! Always wanting to learn more about Queer representation in the media in Japan, both the good and bad.