Every June is LGBT pride month and I am sure that all of the LGBT anime fans the world over are celebrating in their own special way. I have decided to show my support by compiling a list of some awesome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered anime and manga characters.
1. Nathan Seymour (AKA Fire Emblem) from Tiger and Bunny
Nathan brings new meaning to the word flaming—both literally and figuratively. Okay, all bad jokes aside, this fire-wielding superhero can not only burn his enemies to a crisp but he is also a proud gay man who is not afraid to be fabulous and let his “fiery” personality shine through.
Aside from his flair for the theatrical, Nathan is also an amazing character for his relatability. Because of who he is, he struggled with his orientation while growing up and was disowned by his parents. Later on he decided to embrace his sexuality as well as his gender fluidity by expressing the sentiment that he is invincible because he “possesses both the courage of a man and the love of a woman.”
Anyone who has dealt with identity issues (sexuality related or not) can applaud such sincerity.
2. Haruka Tenou (Sailor Uranus) and Michiru Kaioh (Sailor Neptune) from Sailor Moon
This requires a bit of a backstory as to why I chose these two.
One day, I decided to come out to one of my friends about being bisexual. I thought it was time for him to know because I had been keeping it a secret for a while and I did not know how he would respond. Luckily, he was fully supportive and then admitted something to me. He said the following words:
“If you opened up to me a few years ago, I would have freaked out but there was something that taught me that being gay is not bad.” I asked him what that thing was, and his response was simply showing me a picture of Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune. I was touched by his words and by the fact that an anime could teach him such acceptance.
I agree, these two are an amazing couple. Haruka provides the rougher edges of the relationship, being more dependent on using her strength as well as providing a no nonsense viewpoint, as well as a bombastic problem solving approach. Michiru is her opposite, more feminine and reserved and that sometimes may come off as cold.
The beauty behind these two is that neither one overpowers the other, but works in tandem to achieve their goals. Much like how all relationships should function.
3. Utena Tenjou and Anthy Himemiya fromRevolutionary Girl Utena
While the movie did amp up the lesbian themes more than the series, anyone watching the TV show could see that these two had something going on; even if it was more subtle about it.
Much like the aforementioned Haruka and Michiru; Utena fulfills more of the traditionally masculine role in the relationship whereas Anthy is more of the traditionally feminine. It is the fact that these two are such polar opposites, working off one another, that makes them so fascinating.
AN interesting tidbit of trivia, the movie, Adolescence of Utena was also showcased at the 26th Annual San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in 2002. And guess who was in attendance—director Kunihiko Ikuhara.
Hopefully this series, and the subsequent film, will inspire more people to bring about change in their own lives.
4. Kanji Tatsumi from Persona 4: The Animation
Admittedly, the game upon which this anime is based handled the representation of Kanji’s sexuality better. Nonetheless, he is a worthy addition to this list.
Kanji is a rough-and-tumble kind of badass, with a soft side and unsure feelings about a particular “boy” in his neighborhood. But what he really strives for is acceptance, even if he may seem to push others away. It is not often that one will see an anime, let alone a video game, touch on the subject of someone questioning their sexuality. Although Kanji could be considered more queer than actually gay, it is good to see a series tackle such a sensitive topic.
There are many gay, bisexual, queer and transgendered men who feel this way and also feel like they have to hide who they are to be accepted by others.
If Persona 4 has taught us anything, it’s that it is better to be who you are and accept it, than to try and be something you are not.
5. Hana from Tokyo Godfathers
A homeless trans woman, Hana is the “mother” of the trio of misfits that make up the main cast of characters of Tokyo Godfathers.
She may be a “drama queen” but what makes Hana awesome is her ability to be the voice of reason for the group as well as her compassion for others. She truly believes in the Christmas spirit and will help others even when she is destitute herself.
But before anyone tries to pass this character off as a Mary-Sue (an idealized character, often created by author insert and/or wish-fulfillment) she is not without fault. She sometimes blows things way out of proportion, (aforementioned drama queen and all) and at other times does not entirely think things through. But when the crew needs emotional support and moral guidance, she is right there ready to help.
It is this kind of believability and positive representation of trans people which earns Hana a place on this list.
6. Isabella Yamamoto from Paradise Kiss
Isabella, much like Hana, is the mother figure of Parakiss; the fashion design crew which this anime series focuses on. Also, like Hana, she is a trans woman.
Isabella is a calm and collected person of class who provides many life lessons to the crew as well as a moral compass for our main heroine, Yukari. Much of her wisdom comes from the personal experiences of her trials and tribulations as a transgendered woman; much of which she still struggles with since she is mortified when anyone uses her given male name of Daisuke.
In the end, the viewer builds a connection with her because she is the kind of mother everyone wishes they could have; someone who helps us through the hardest of times, as well as gives us fabulous fashion tips!
7. Shuichi Nitori from Wandering Son
How does a child deal with the desire to be the opposite sex? This is the kind of question that the manga series Wandering Son, or Hourou Musuko deals with.
Shuichi Nitori is an effeminate child assigned male at birth. Being a fifth grader is hard enough, but imagine being a transgendered fifth grader who is having a hard time finding other children to connect with because they feel so alone.
This all changes for Shuichi when he meets Yoshino Takatsuki, a tomboyish girl who wishes to be a boy. The two become friends and learn more about their respective identities in the process as well as about love and loss.
Seeing Shuichi grow as a character as well as grow into his female identity is a journey that is worth taking.
8. Dee Laytner and Randy “Ryo” Maclean fromFake
Fake is a buddy cop movie if the cops were more than just buddies. The premise is fun enough as it is, but humor aside, Fake handles it all very well.
What could have turned into an exercise of Yaoi tropes really developed into a well thought out story about two men who fall in love and actually start a family. Dee is an openly bisexual man whereas Randy struggles more with his sexuality, but later falls in love with Dee.
Randy takes in a mixed boy named Bikky (African-American and White) and raises him as his own. The series focuses on the two men learning how to accept their feelings, as well as balance their careers. Also seeing how Dee is at first hated by Bikky, and then grows to accept him is touching and, in a way, Fake represents one of the first same-sex couples that “adopted” a child in a manga.
Talk about breaking the mold!
9. Tomoyo Daidouji from Cardcaptor Sakura
To pick any particular gay, lesbian or bisexual character in any of CLAMP’s works is a feat in-and-of itself; this manga crew has a reputation of exploring LGBT themes in their work. However, if one had to be chosen it would be Tomoyo Daidouji from the beloved magical girl anime Cardcaptor Sakura.
Tomoyo is the titular main heroine’s best friend, providing her with emotional support as well as all of the pretty little costumes that Sakura wears into battle. In the original Japanese series (speak not of that Kids WB abominable dub) there is no allusion to the fact that Tomoyo is in love with Sakura. Everything, from the way she fawns over her talents as a cardcaptor to how far she is willing to go to ensure that Sakura is happy, just oozes with affection.
Also, considering that this is a series that was targeted at a younger demographic, it had the challenge of discussing homosexual love in a tasteful manner. Luckily, it rose to the challenge and taught us that love is love—same-sex or not.
10. Leeron Littner from Gurren Lagann
Leeron is the token gay guy of team Dai-Gurren, but this does not mean he is there just for the sake of diversity (like some other series have made the mistake of doing).
Leeron is also a mechanical genius. Give this man anything that has gears and an engine and he will soupe it up into something amazing. He also has an uncanny ability to adapt and learn things quickly, which is all the more amazing since before he even was a mechanic, he didn’t know how to read.
Being flamboyant, Leeron could have easily been assigned a profession which is traditionally feminine, but instead the makers of Gurren Lagann decided to keep him in a commonly masculine one. It exemplifies that you can do anything you want in life so long as you put your mind to it.
In fact, that is the whole message of Gurren Lagann.
11. Kaori from Azumanga Daioh
Kaori is a high school girl who just happens to be in love with Sakaki.
Her sexuality is actually brought into question once in the series via the 2009 release of Azumanga Daioh: Supplementary Lessons when Osaka, one of the main characters, asks her if she is homosexual. Kaori becomes embarrassed and responds with “It’s one of those things peculiar to puberty” and even adds to that by stating that she would still love Sakaki even if she were male because she is cool.
This could mean that Kaori is somewhere like a three on the Kinsey Scale. Regardless, her feelings for Sakaki are so pure that the viewer cannot help but melt inside and root for her in hopes that her feelings are reciprocated someday.
12. Tetsuo Sawamura from Yuureitou
Not a lot of people in the West know about Yuureitou, which is a shame because it is one of the most well crafted manga out there; especially when dealing with the delicate subject of transgenderism. In fact, I was introduced to this series by a transgendered friend of mine.
Oh, and it has one of the best whodunit plots.
With that being said, our main lead, Testuo Sawamura, is a trans man who becomes wrapped up in a murder within a spooky clocktower and becomes obsessed with its inner workings. Not only is he a kickass detective, but a cunning manipulator who always get what he wants and sees to it that no stone is unturned.
Think Sherlock Holmes, but a FtM transgendered person—and more interesting.