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Kawaii Kweens: The Gayest Gay Anime Characters to Ever Gay

Whether queer-coded or flying their flag fabulously high, these 24 gay anime characters provide much-needed LGBTQ representation in Japanese media.
Grindr
&
Editorial team
February 5, 2024
June 20, 2024
7
min. read
Table of Contents

Queer representation finds its way into everything and anything pop culture (our influence!). And since anime has had a chokehold on pop culture for decades, it’s no surprise some of media’s most iconic gay characters are mainstays in the mangaverse. 

However, it’s not always easy for creators to slip these storylines into their shows; Japan is a relatively conservative place regarding LGBTQ representation in media (sound familiar?). But the backlash makes showcasing queer or queer-coded characters in anime all the more critical and beneficial.

Over the years, we’ve slowly but surely reached a place where anime audiences not only appreciate the injection of gayness into their storylines — they crave it. This sweeping acceptance has opened up doors for even gayer plots in the future!

But before any oldhead weeaboos go calling us baka for forgetting their OG gay OTP, let’s pay some respect to the classics. Even before their mainstream acceptance, anime has featured numerous queer and queer-coded characters. It’s time we show them some appreciation for being out and proud (even if the censorship had other ideas).

Queer anime and queer love: A complicated relationship

There are many healthy, beautiful relationships between gay characters in anime, but no media representation is perfect. Much like other forms of entertainment, anime can be heavy-handed with queer tropes, creating some characters that feel problematic, even if they do technically count as gay representation. And things can get even more complicated, given how often anime explores some pretty dark, twisted storylines.

And even when healthy LGBTQ anime characters do make it onto the small screen, their relationships are often straight-washed by the time they reach the U.S. (looking at you, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune). We’ve got our own cultural hang-ups to reckon with.

But it’s often in these complicated storylines that gay anime men and women get to shine. Anime often features characters discovering themselves, making it the perfect medium for queer love — even if the writers stumble a bit on their way to allyship.

The 24 gayest anime characters of all time

Here’s our list of the 24 gayest anime characters (plus some couples, in case you and your man are looking for cosplay inspo):

1 and 2: Viktor Nikiforov and Yuri Katsuki — Yuri!!! on Ice

We’re coming out of the gate strong with the iconic gay couple Viktor and Yuri from 2016’s hit figure-skating anime, Yuri!!! on Ice. There was no ambiguity here: The two had a clear romantic connection, eventually blossoming into a relationship with an on-screen kiss and everything. No need to imply anything when the characters are literally locking lips.

3 and 4: Shion and Nezumi — No. 6

Shion and Nezumi knew each other from a young age, but their polar-opposite natures made their eventual romantic connection extra compelling. Haters may argue their romantic relationship is ambiguous, but the two on-screen kisses beg to differ. These two gay anime characters display the complexity of queer love, leaving us wondering what their feelings for each other really signify.

5. Major Motoko Kusanagi — Ghost in the Shell

Despite being a cyborg, Motoko Kusanagi is a badass lesbian in every nut and bolt in her body. Granted, the anime isn’t explicit about Motoko’s lesbian tendencies. The manga, however, makes her sexuality much more apparent, including some sexy scenes with women. So it’s safe to say that the gay energy you felt exuding from this anime character was no accident.

6 and 7: Haruka and Michiru — Sailor Moon

Also known as Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus, Haruka and Michiru are some of the most iconic lesbian anime characters — despite the English dub trying to pass them off as cousins. Even in translation, it’s hard to miss the classic shoujo-ai trope wherein a princely woman cares for a delicate one. It’s so obvious; whoever thought to call them cousins honestly just made things incredibly awkward.

8 and 9: Kyo and Yuki — Fruits Basket

Things were getting a bit too sappy on this list, so we’re breaking up all the lovey-dovey stuff with a less romantic example: Kyo and Yuki from Fruits Basket. It’s tough to say these two get along; in fact, they clearly don’t. But they certainly have their moments, and those moments read pretty damn gay.

10: Utena Tenjou — Revolutionary Girl Utena

Lesbian anime lovers already knew this was coming. Utena Tenjou is a queer character among a cast of other gay or bisexual anime characters. Revolutionary Girl Utena is brimming with queer representation, but no one is a better example of this than Utena herself and her pining for the mysterious Anthy. Like many series on this list, they saved the most explicit acknowledgments of gay love for the movies

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11: Fumi Manjoume — Sweet Blue Flowers

As far as lesbian anime characters go, Fumi is such a grounded LGBTQ character that she’s almost shocking compared to other examples of queer representation. Fumi’s lesbian relationships are realistic and pretty healthy, rather than being hypersexualized to appeal to a male audience — a fate that tragically befalls many queer female characters.

12: Leeron Littner — Gurren Lagann

In a show that relies on a lot of macho energy and straight-centric fanservice, Leeron Littner is an enjoyable reprieve from the predictable. Some critics will say Leeron’s character is stereotypical, but the series is known for its larger-than-life personalities, so he fits right in. This anime gay character is basically camp incarnate while still contributing to a compelling storyline.

13 and 14: Ash and Eiji — Banana Fish

Banana Fish is full of adult, dark themes involving crime and corruption. Still, the heavily implied relationship between Ash and Eiji is an excellent example of gay anime guys figuring things out in a sea of highly emotional storylines. For a name like Banana Fish, this anime is the complete opposite of silly — and the show’s realism extends to how it portrays gay relationships.

15: Ryo Asuka — Devilman: Crybaby

The original demon twink, Ryo Asuka isn’t very likable, but hey, not every gay person is; that’s kind of how people work. But honestly, with a list of fluffy characters falling head over heels for one another, Ryo subverts expectations by being a murderous maniac who just so happens to be in love with a man. We support gay rights and gay wrongs!

16 and 17: Misaki Takahashi and Akihiko Usami — Junjou Romantica

Misaki and Akihiko are two gay anime boys who also fall into the quasi-problematic category of queer representation in anime. Still, their arc is compelling. It’s a reminder that relationships are rarely linear, and we must keep growing as individuals to be stronger together. Misaki’s growth is a fantastic example, eventually becoming comfortable enough to say “I love you” to Akihiko. Isn’t that sweet? And gay?

18 and 19: Shuichi Shindou and Eiri Yuki — Gravitation

Shuichi and Eiri had a rocky start, but healthy queer representation isn’t always about two people falling in love perfectly; it’s a rarity in real life that’s echoed through their cold beginnings. Eventually, the two build a relationship, but the anime explores a theme that plagues anyone trying to make things work: balancing romantic pursuits with one’s career.

20 and 21: Touya and Yukito — Cardcaptor Sakura

Another canon relationship that got cut in the English translation. In the original, Touya and Yukito’s relationship is a breath of fresh air. While so many gay relationships in the media are sordid, complicated, and sometimes straight-up problematic, these two shared a relatively normal connection. It’s unfortunate that normal gay relationships are novel in the media, but Cardcaptor Sakura was a step in a healthier direction for LGBTQ anime characters.

22 and 23: Takato and Junta — Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu.

Our final gay couple on the list is Takato and Junta from Dakaretai, an anime with an impressively gay name; the English translation is “I’m Being Harassed By The Sexiest Man of the Year.” Like many other anime relationships, the two start off on the wrong foot, with Takato seeing Junta as his rival. Junta, however, is in love with Takato, leading the two to have many interactions stricken with an impressive amount of gay tension.

24. Yuzu Aihara — Citrus

Yuzu is probably one of the most satisfying examples of LGBTQ characters in anime because she proves you don’t have to make a storyline dramatic or overly complicated to highlight queer individuals. Far from it — Yuzu is all about being herself and finding love, despite learning that Japan isn’t the friendliest place for lesbian relationships. …Although, that is admittedly not the only taboo aspect of her attraction.

Gays in anime are here to stay

This list only scratches the surface of queer and queer-coded characters in anime. Countless writers create characters with implicitly gay inclinations for LGBTQ audiences; these are just the ones whose gayness was on full display! And we’re living for it.

Want to meet someone who shares your appreciation for anime and gay stuff? Grindr has plenty of hot gay nerds, many of whom are just itching to meet someone and geek out with their leek out.

Download the Grindr app now and get started!

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