Yuma, a high school second-year, is enjoying every day now that she has her first boyfriend. After she asks for relationship advice from Hotaru, her beautiful long-time friend who has had many boyfriends, Hotaru teases her for her inexperience and playfully does things to her that even her boyfriend doesn’t do. Yuma and Hotaru’s secret relationship continues to escalate, and Yuma finds herself unable to deny how it makes her feel. This school drama tells the story of the interwoven lives of these two girls with boyfriends.
Netsuzou Trap isn’t your usual sweet and emotionally-focused yuri story such as the likes of Sweet Blue Flowers or Whispered Words. From the very beginning it is less flowers and hair-blowing and rather more sexually-aggressive in the way of other titles such as Citrus. Things are less consensual, more confusing and morally grey for the characters, who in turn have more complex relationships with one another.
When the two girls were younger, Yuma would often protect the smaller and more emotionally-distant Hotaru from bullies, but it seems Hotaru is more interested in dating men rather than making friends with any of the other girls in her class, so doesn’t really take the time to integrate. But now that they are older and Yuma has found Takeda to be her boyfriend, we are given the impression that Hotaru’s attitude to her friend has taken a drastic change – my first assumption is that it’s out of jealousy – and she begins to insist that Yuma practices sexual acts with her before doing them with her boyfriend. To make matters more uncomfortable, she keeps trying to do things in public – just touching Yuma’s thigh, whispering in her ear and holding her possessively – but it’s enough to confuse Yuma. She can’t get her head around Hotaru’s new behaviour, but she’s also confused with how it makes her feel towards her. Given that the girls are each other’s one and only female friend, Yuma doesn’t seem to have anyone else to turn to about this change in their relationship – thus begins a typical anime abuser/victim vicious cycle.
Not only is Yuma confused by her best friend’s behaviour, but she has noticed that, when Hotaru is with her boyfriend Fujiwara, she sometimes comes back sporting some bruises. Whilst Fujiwara denies this when Yuma confronts him, his intents are questionable when he blackmails the two girls. If the two of them join him in a little menage a trois, he won’t tell Takeda the reason why Yuma doesn’t want to share a room with him. How far will the girls go to keep their secret between themselves?
Obviously we see that things become dark very quickly. This isn’t a story about two girlfriends growing up to realise that they have feelings for one another and want to explore them. Despite Hotaru’s sexually aggressive attitude towards Yuma, she still can’t really refuse her friend. At the same time, she is questioning her feelings for Takeda but is so blindsighted by what Hotaru is doing to her that she’s not sure how to proceed. What is she doing with Hotaru? Is it normal? Is it technically cheating?
Netsuzou Trap is different to the kind of fare I usually watch. Even the BL I occasionally like to watch, things like Love Stage!!, isn’t really the same as this. It’s not a pure story of young love and discovery. It’s not even a hilarious mishmash of comically awkward situations. It’s darker and a little uncomfortable in its content and examined just how vulnerable people can be so easily exploited. But that’s not the only thing that it focuses on. There are so many different aspects of this anime to focus on: young relationships, complex friendships, blackmail, domestic abuse, innocence and what can really be perceived as victimisation – and how many victims are there. This anime isn’t really my cup of tea, but I’d be lying if I said parts of it didn’t intrigue me. Each episode is around 12 minutes long and I’m willing to keep this in my queue and see where it goes.