A character from the Naruto anime universe has officially stated that he’s gender-fluid.
In terms of LGBTQ representation in Japanese manga and anime… there’s isn’t a lot. While there will always be the boys’ love and girls’ love genres, those gay and lesbian romance stories are typically written for the opposite sex’s fetishism of gay romance.
In addition, gay men are often depicted as comical characters, perverts, or villainous.
One such character who fits the bill is Orochimaru from the popular Naruto series that ran from 2007 to 2017 (1999 to 2914 if you want to go by the manga/comic).
Since debutting in 2000, that character has been presented as a villain, gay, sometimes a woman, a mad scientist, and an implied pervert.
That said, the character was given a redemption arc later on the series and made into an anti-hero or a passive aid to the main characters.
Then, the popular Naruto franchise came to a close in 2017. But, as with many franchises making millions of dollars, the story didn’t end there. The powers-that-be began brainstorming the idea of a sequel series about the children and next generation of the story.
While Orochimaru’s role grew smaller, he still held significance as the parent of one of the sequel’s main characters. This then, naturally, brought forth a new question. How did Orochimaru have a kid?
This is a question displayed front and center in the sequel anime titled Boruto (after Naruto’s son). In a recent episode, main character Mitsuki asked Orochimaru, “Are you my father or mother?”
Orochimaru, ever the realist, answered simply, “That’s a silly question.”
“There have been times when I was a man and times a woman,” he answered further. “Outside appearances don’t matter. The will to uncover all truth, that is the core of my being.”
That’s right, Orochimaru has now confirmed that he considers their gender to be fluid.
Again, Japanese anime has a dodgy past when it comes to representing LGBTQ characters, and Orochimaru is no different. That said, it’s good to see a positive and almost simplistic change come to the character and genre.
Is this a turning point for LGBTQ characters in anime? Who knows, but this is at least something that we gay geeks can celebrate.