LGBTQ anime are more prevalent than ever before thanks to streaming services like Netflix providing them with a safe, global platform. If you're a fan of Japanese animated series and have a weekend (or three) to spare, here are some of the best gay anime series on Netflix available right now.
The streaming service is no stranger to LGBTQ content. Over the years, Netflix has made its platform one of the main centers of queer representation. Numerous shows and movies deal with very real and believable LGBTQ stories in various genres here.
Anime as a medium is a great way for teenagers and older generations to enjoy great content with gay characters and characters whose backstories, personalities, and actions inspire viewers. Whether you're interested in watching anime about a queer romantic relationship or want to watch a manga adaptation of your favorite story, Netflix will satiate your needs.
Do keep in mind that streaming availability may vary from country to country. Gay anime distribution is notorious for its region-locked content and you may have to use a VPN or an alternative streaming service to watch some of these queer shows.
That doesn't mean you should shy away from them, as the streaming giant Netflix has found a way to acquire the rights for content to suit everyone's needs, queer stories and characters included. Without further ado, here's what you should watch on Netflix when it comes to feature anime.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is an animated series that shaped an entire generation of gay viewers back in 1995 when it first aired. The series falls into the mecha anime genre and follows Shinji Ikari, a young boy who is detached from his father. Evangelion is a philosophical anime with big ideas and ambitions which cemented its status as animated art among its fans even to this day.
When it comes to gay representation, Evangelion was quite revolutionary for its time because its LGBTQ characters are subtle, nuanced, and human before anything else. Kaworu Nagisa is a boy pursuing a gay romantic relationship with Shinji, our main protagonist.
A major plot point of Neon Genesis Evangelion revolves around the queer chemistry and connection between these two teenagers. Even though Kaworu makes his entrance into Evangelion proper fairly late in the show's first season, the latest films adaptation of NGE dubbed "Rebuild of Evangelion" upped his role to the main character status.
“The fact that you have a place where you can return home, will lead you to happiness. That is a good fact.” – Kaworu Nagisa
Kaworu isn't "in your face queer" nor is he pursuing romance for the sake of bodily connection. He genuinely loves Shinji and is one of the best queer characters to come out of the 90s anime.
Cowboy Bebop is a western sci-fi animated series that follows a ragtag crew of bounty hunters traveling the galaxy in the "Bebop", their trusty spaceship. Imagine walking down a rainy alleyway, following shady characters, while jazz music plays in the background, and you've got yourself the atmosphere of Cowboy Bebop.
While the show successfully follows the tropes of western and cowboy movies which inspired it, its true gem lies in Ed - a non-binary queer individual who joins the crew halfway through the first season. This marks a major plot point in the show, as the main characters meet Edward and are struck by their quirkiness, energy, and positivity.
Ed is a hacker who comes from Earth and they are especially fond of Ein, the crew's resident pet puppy. There has been quite a discussion surrounding Ed and their gender and identity over the years. They are an important part of the anime pop culture around the world and within the LGBTQ community. When asked about the gender of Radical Ed, Cowboy Bebop's creator Shinichiro Watanabe said in a 2017 interview: "I wanted to create a character that surpasses humanity."
In many ways, he was right, as the entire series deals with the idea of "being who you want to be" regardless of where you come from, or who you were before. Its characters are zany, nuanced, full of life, and most importantly - serve as a great source of positive inspiration for LGBTQ anime fans around the globe.
The 2021 live-action Cowboy Bebop adaptation went a step further with its LGBTQ representation as the production crew cast a non-binary actor, Mason Alexander Park to play the role of a non-binary, Gren, in the show's first season. You can watch both the original series and its 2021 live-action adaptation on Netflix right now.
Introducing Cowboy Bebop's Gren @MasonAPark 🚀 Revolutionary as the original anime was, the vocabulary we have today for LGBTQ+ people didn't quite exist when it aired. For the upcoming live action adaptation, the character is being reimagined as nonbinary with a nonbinary actor. pic.twitter.com/D6E4qC2Sgj— Most (@Most) November 19, 2020
The Japanese anime industry is world-renown for the sheer volume of series which deal with students and their daily lives. Ouran High School Host Club is a 2006 production by Studio Bones which follows Haruhi Fujioka, a student in the Ouran Academy who, through a series of quirky events, joins a school's club.
High School Host Club is a deep anime series that deals with a lot of the phobia and stigma surrounding LGBTQ and queer culture in Japan, and it wears that fact on its sleeve. While it is a parody and high school students' comedy, it treats each of its high school students with care and respect. Haruhi Fujioka frequently cross-dresses into a male, considering herself equal parts male and female.
Contrary to many anime series, this one deals with queer romance in a very open way. One good example is Kyouya and Tamaki, a couple of friends who are "only friends" but their friendship extends beyond that in subtle gay ways.
While outwardly appearing as a straight man, Kyouya harbors queer feelings for Tamaki and vice-versa, however in very tasteful and nuanced ways. The interpretation of the relationship between the two characters is left to the fandom who can decide for themselves how to understand their comments, allusions, and hints toward one another.
Haruhi's father Ryoji is likewise frequently dressed as a female and many viewers consider him a trans woman, although it is not clearly stated in the show itself whether and how queer he is. The reason for this is is that Host Club is a parody, not a drama or a thriller that would take its leads more seriously. Whether Ryoji is a trans woman or a cross-dresser is beside the point - what matters is how you and other fans perceive it as you watch.
As such, High School Host Club is a great time if you're looking for a gay anime series with lighthearted queer stories and queer characters, look no further than this one. It's a great entry for individuals exploring their queer sexualities and who enjoy doing so by watching great queer anime on Netflix.
Q Force doesn't come from Japan and is an American series produced by NBC Universal. The series deals with queer characters who are international superspies. They operate as Q Force, which stands for "Queer Force", as they put their skillsets and traits front and center in each mission they undertake.
Q Force is a comedy animated show in the vein of Final Space and Disenchanted but places queer stories and representation front and center. The relationships between the main characters are put to the test when a straight man joins Q Force, disrupting the status quo.
Many would say that Q Force is far less tasteful and subtle than some of the series we've covered in the list so far. But, it does feature characters and relationships from all around the LGBTQ community and handles them courageously.
I highly recommend #QForce but only if you're looking for something light, LGBTQIA-friendly. It's packed with stereotypes and predictable plots but I don't think it's purpose was to be something profound. Anyways, more opinions on things to come. pic.twitter.com/S436zcQl61— Cirũ wa Phase 13 (@BreeWanjiru) January 21, 2022
Its bite-sized 10 episodes season is a quick watch that will spark a few laughs and give you a good time on a weekend. Q Force however isn't finished yet so the story may leave you wanting more queer content. Regardless, check out Q Force on Netflix's website when you have some time to spare and see for yourself how the streaming giant managed to pull off a queer-centric spy comedy anime in 2021.
She Ra and the Princesses of Power is one of the best examples of a Western anime series with strong women and yuri elements that wears its lesbian relationships and stories as a badge of honor. She Ra and the Princess of Power is a reboot of a 1985 series of the same name.
The new series makes radical changes to its storytelling and interactions, making a lesbian relationship between two women a central plot element. While some would say that a relationship between the two main girl protagonists may not be important to the overall plot, the show's writers and producers begged to differ.
"This is She Ra! To have the culmination of her arc be this lesbian love plot is a big deal! And I understood that. But I also felt that it was really important." - Noelle Stevenson, showrunner of She Ra on Netflix
The story of She Ra focuses on Adora, one of the people living under the evil Lord Hordak on the planet Etheria. Throughout the show's five seasons, Adora goes through extensive growth both as a warrior princess and as a girl in love with her close friend. Her life is explored in very gentle and approachable ways, allowing everyone to fully enjoy her development.
She Ra is a very good anime for girls who are coming to terms with their own sexualities and may be confused about the world. It is a testament to the fact that Western animation is capable of producing great pop culture content without devolving it into queer stereotypes, memes, or larger-than-life caricatures. Make sure to check out both the new She Ra, as well as the She Ra of the same name from 1985 and compare the two for the best viewing experience.
Super Drags is a one-of-a-kind LGBTQ-centric anime for many reasons. For one, this is a Brazillian-produced anime that was commissioned by Netflix. It features unique animation, comedy, and relationships centered on a team of queer superheroes calling themselves "Super Drags".
With their leader, Scarlet Carmesim, the team fights a homophobic villain known as Lady Elza. From the synopsis, one would assume that Super Drags is trying to tick the right trope boxes and then call it a day. However, the show does offer plenty of entertainment value beyond its quirky premise. Super Drags is funny, creative, and offers something new to the gay anime community.
Scarlet Carmesim and her friends Lemon and Safira are interesting to watch and they work quite well as a protagonist each on their own. They have distinct personalities, styles, and relationships that viewers are very likely to identify with.
Unfortunately, the show only had a short run in 2018 ending after a single run of episodes. Take note of that before you hop onto Netflix as you can watch the show in one sitting and enjoy its animation, stories, and features to their fullest.
The Legend of Korra is a spin-off anime of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and was produced by Nickelodeon and then picked up for streaming by Netflix. The series follows Korra, a young girl who is considered an "Avatar" or someone who can use all four elements of magic in the world. As such, Korra is a powerful queer symbol, one of the leads who can handle herself with pride, strength, wit, and nuance.
While her sexuality is never at the forefront of The Legend of Korra, the producers decided to steer her into gay development fairly early on. Even though her feelings and relationships don't become queer until very late in the show, retroactively, we now know that Korra is and was gay all along.
We’re proud to celebrate one of our favorite LGBTQ couples this #PrideMonth, Korrasami! Art by @DarkHorseComics' Legend of Korra graphic novel artist @kohquette. Korra (voiced by @janetvarney) and Asami (voiced by @seychellegab) debuted in LOK Book 1 back in April 2012. pic.twitter.com/Kvw9lgBDmH— Nickelodeon Animation (@NickAnimation) June 29, 2018
The best thing about this is that her identity or sexuality never plays a dominant part in the show which usually revolves around evil overlords who are trying to eliminate Korra due to her powers. Korra represents one of the best gay characters who has graced Western animation in recent years and stands for hope that the art of anime will continue to provide us with the same level of quality queer representation in the future.
Note that you should also watch the Avatar show of the same name to pick up on all the easter eggs, references, and worldbuilding present in Korra to fully appreciate its yuri elements. Both shows are available on Netflix and are a great fantasy romp if you're looking for drama and comedy in a single neat package. Both also feature powerful women who are proud of their personalities, abilities and the fact they stand toe-to-toe with men. It's a genre-defining piece of queer media that you should watch on Netflix.
Yuri!!! on Ice is a Japanese series with extremely well-handled queer elements which shine through its writing and skating choreography in every scene. The focal element of Yury!!! on Ice is a pair of ice skaters who share in their love of the sport and slowly develop feelings for one another.
The show belongs in the genre of sports anime and it features extensive montages of ice skating with excellent artwork and direction by Studio MAPPA. It's also one of the rare shows that received a manga adaptation after starting as an original anime, further proving that its creator Sayo Yamamoto was on the right track with its focus on positive queer representation.
It's part-funny, part-drama, part-musical, and part-LGBTQ with very open and not-subtle hints about the relationships it depicts. The world in which the show takes place is not unlike our own - there are no fantasy elements to speak of here. However, that's what makes it so real and relatable. Every scene is poignant, carefully directed, and gives no illusions about the friendship between its two characters and how they feel for one another.
While there are women in the show, the main focus is on the romantic relationship and playfulness between the two male gay characters this time around. This story is unapologetically queer and an amazing watch if you're looking for a tasteful romance featuring believable gay characters and the passion they share for ice skating.
Sailor Moon, or how it was originally translated from Japanese, "Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon", is a series of manga, animated shows, and film media spanning the last three decades. The story follows a group of Sailor Guardians who are women with special abilities who go to school and are working to protect the Earth from destruction by various evil forces.
If you've ever been intrigued by the industry, you've no doubt come across one of many Sailor Moon films or adaptations. While romance is never fully at the forefront of Sailor Moon, each of the Sailor Moons explores their own sexualities throughout different films and series. Sailor Moon has some of the best 90s queer tales and personalities you could ever want to see in an animated show.
Its women represent hope and joy and are full of subtle traits and quirks which can be labeled as queer by today's standards. The reason why Sailor Moon was so reserved about its queer features has to do with the times in which it was created. The 90s still lacked the style and subtlety in the LGBTQ vocabulary we can easily refer to today. As such, many Sailor Moons are romantically interested in one another in queer but extremely subtle ways.
#Sailormoon has great representation of #queer & #trans folk that helped validate the staff at @LGBTYouthLine as young #2SLGBTQ folx! Did you watch Sailor Moon? Who were some of your favourite #SailorScouts? #sailorsoldiers #canqueer #internationalsailormoonday pic.twitter.com/kAyX5irP8X— LGBT YouthLine (@LGBTYouthLine) August 6, 2020
In the US, many of these gay elements were completely cut out of public broadcast as they were deemed improper and queer for 90s youth watching Saturday morning cartoons. In the original Japanese broadcasts, Sailor Moons were openly interested in romance, and in many cases, the goal of their pursuit was a close friend.
Now, however, we can enjoy Sailor Moon in all its gay glory and features which we can now label as revolutionary for the time they were created in. Make sure to watch Sailor Moon if you want to enjoy a queer series that doesn't treat its leads lightly, gives them room to breathe, develop, and save the world in hope of a better tomorrow while doing so.
This one is an interesting piece of Japanese media in many ways. It started as a web-based series before transitioning to a full-fledged TV show in 2016 produced by Studio Madman Entertainment and Funimation. It found its way to Netflix later on where it became available to queer communities worldwide overnight.
The show follows Kusuo Saiki, an individual born with superpowers who has to hide his true identity from his schoolmates. It starts simply enough, with Kusuo being in various situations where he has to hide his powers in random school situations before transitioning to full-fledged sci-fi.
Kusou is transgender. This is a major departure from any of the other queer shows we've tackled so far because the lead of this one openly states that they changed their gender sometime in the past. Kusou is selfless, zany, and fun to be around. They are also powerful and able to save those around them thanks to their extraordinary abilities.
They're not the only queer individual on the show, however, as various gay and other personalities are introduced to the show frequently. They are represented very tastefully respectably and believably. This makes them great examples of how other shows can handle queer individuals better in the future.
This franchise dabbles into plenty of different media and not just anime, so if you're more of a reader, you can also pick up light novels or games to enjoy. Most of them are interconnected so you can enjoy them individually or dive deep into even more great queer media if you have enough time to spare.
In many ways, there's never been a better time to be a fan of queer animated content. Netflix is only one of the many platforms offering amazing content for you to enjoy in your spare time if you're looking for great gay content.
Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ are slowly expanding their content lineups and are opening doors to new and exciting queer and LGBTQ representation. Whether you're looking for film, series, or manga, be it sci-fi, slice-of-life, or in a school setting, check out each entry in our list and follow up on it.
Fandoms and communities are surrounding each of these entries around the world and you are likely to find like-minded individuals to talk to, meet, and befriend later on. In the meantime, open Netflix's website wherever you are in the world and start binging queer content!
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