Almost everyone who is into anime has their favorite ships (short for relationships) they love! And shipping should never be limited by something as silly as canon.
While some of these characters really, probably should have been queer but weren't, others represent the forward motion seen within the genre. Here are 13 queer relationships in anime we all wish were real.
Michiru Kaiou and Haruka Tenoh -- Sailor Moon
Michiru Kaiou and Haruka Tenoh, also respectively known as Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus on Sailor Moon, are a non-binary couple who have no problems letting the world know just how in love they are. Their relationship transcends the physically as the two coincide effortlessly together as fellow Sailor Scouts as they raise the reborn Hotaru along with Setsuna.
Yukito Tsukishiro and Touya Kinomoto -- Cardcaptor Sakura
Yukito Tsukishiro and Touya Kinomoto start off as good friends on Cardcaptor Sakura, but their eventual progression into a romantic relationship is one of the most recognizable relationships in the CLAMP universe. Although their romantic relationship is a little more clear in the manga version as opposed to the anime iteration, the audience being aimed at a younger generation allows for more representation either way.
Yuu Koito and Touko Nanami -- Bloom Into You
Yuu Koito and Touko Nanami on Bloom Into You represent a wholesome lesbian relationship in a media outlet that’s notorious for toxic dynamics and stereotypes based on the fetishization of lesbian relationships. The two girls have never experienced love until they discover their feelings for each other, and this heartwarming story reminds us all of the innocence and the impact of first love.
Victor and Yuri -- Yuri!!! On Ice
Things for LGBTQ+ representation in anime changed when Yuri!!! on Ice when main lovers Victor and Yuri represented a supported and loving bond, again a loving refresh from the generalized toxic stereotypes. They continue to push each other to achieve their dreams throughout the series and fall in love along the way. Many look to this as one of the healthiest depictions of a gay romance, and it’s helped break the genre into a mainstream audience.
Fai and Kurogane — Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
While many CLAMP characters can fall into this category (like Doumeki and Watanuki from XXXHolic or Kamui and Fuuma from X) it’s well known with Tsubasa that what most suspect with many of these couples is true: editors won't let the creators make queer couples canon. Tsubasa is a shonen title, so despite being pretty much low-key married, this couple isn’t "official."
Luckily, CLAMP themselves is pretty into all of these ships, so they’re really, REALLY pushing the subtext.
Homura and Madoka — Puella Magi Madoka Magica
This heart breaking anime explores the inherent sadness of magical girls, and love is often mixed into the sadness. While never explicitly canon, the love between Homura and Madoka is abundantly clear and tragic in this series.
Shinji and Kaworu — Neon Genesis Evangelion
The multiple versions of Evangelion mean that "not canon" could really be contested here. At least in the original, Shinji and Kaworu is the romance that could have been. To be fair, there wasn’t a lot of time to see where that would have gone, for multiple reasons.
Still, the fact that many people still debate if this relationship was gay at all means canon was a little too subtle.
Mako and Ryouko — Kill la Kill
Kill la Kill is a series about exaggeration of tropes, and one of the many things explored is the same hyper-romantic-but-no-homo tropes that show up a lot between school girls in anime (including a few times on this list). Like many things that walk that line, the fandom is really divided on whether this anime defeated the trope, or reinforced it.
Guts and Griffith — Berserk
This long and intense anime has lots of twist and turns, but the devotion Griffth feels to Guts is undeniable and deep. The subtext is strong, and the inclusion of romantic feelings (at least one-sided ones) makes certain plot points far more logical.
Yoruichi and Suì-Fēng — Bleach
While Bleach is an anime full of high emotions and complicated bonds (really, what long running anime isn’t?), the bond between these two goes above and beyond. So much so that, like many of these couples, there are always raging arguments as to whether they’re meant to be canon or not in the first place.
Tohru and Kobayashi — Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
So close to lesbian, they’re actually canon in Japan! Unfortunately, because this genre of anime is notorious for queerbaiting with cute almost-lesbians who are definitely not at the end of the day, the translators straightwashed the gay subtext to make it less homophobic. Oops.
Quatre and Trowa — Gundam Wing
Gundam Wing is pretty much an anime made from a yaoi-loving teenage girl playing with her brothers Gundams. The whole anime is ripe with overwrought soap opera plots and pretty (almost) gay boys, which is why so many of us lapped it up. (Yep, that’s official art.)
However the fact that Quatre and Trowa’s story (which includes Quatre going insane, Trowa sacrificing himself to fix that and "dying" but really getting amnesia which Quatre cures by finding him) isn't a canonly gay love story is a travesty, to be honest.
Sasuke and Naruto — Naruto
The show’s literally about their bond. They throw themselves into things waaaaay dumber than Romeo and Juliet. Both English and Japanese actors openly ship them and they even have their own 50 Shades of Grey audio drama in Japan (starring the same voice actors)! Even in the sequel where they are married with kids. (I mean, I wouldn’t be comfortable with my spouse being that hung up one someone else, is all I’m saying.)
These two aren’t the only example of the queer line being walked hard, but it’s hard not to see why so many pick up on "subtext" between these two.