OP: 「LΦVEST」 by SCREEN mode
「ユメヘノトビラ」 (Yume He no Tobira)
“The Door To My Dreams”
I came into intro’ing this show with low expectations. Even with all the good signs, I came in with the intention, “this isn’t for me.” Twenty-two minutes later though, I feel both absolutely happy and slightly confused at the same time. Let me tell you guys about LOVE STAGE!!, the show that you just might have to try.
Before we begin, let’s remove any ambiguities out of the way. LOVE STAGE!! is a BL show. There will be guys who are physically close and there will be kissing between males. It’s called Boys Love for a reason. If you cannot get over that fact due to homophobia or personal distaste, then the time to exit is now. However, ironically and slightly hypocritically, I don’t consider myself a BL fan in the slightest. In fact, I’m probably so ill-equipped to really introduce this show that I’m afraid I’ll offend the BL lovers with my inexperience. However, I hope that in doing so, I can provide a unique perspective into what makes this show great.
To summarize quickly, the show revolves around Sena Izumi (Yonaga Tsubasa), a college student who cannot see himself entering his family’s long heritage of acting and performance. Due to his nervous tendencies in front of the camera, Izumi instead is interested in becoming a mangaka, despite his terrible skills at it. However, Izumi finds himself participating in a commercial for a bridal magazine as a girl, thanks to his mother’s casting of him in a similar commercial (as a girl) ten years ago. Here, Izumi meets superstar Ichijou Ryouma (Eguchi Takuya), who also acted in that commercial ten years ago. Ryouma, who still thinks Izumi is a girl, is excited to meet Izumi’s pretty face and stellar eyes after ten years. What follows next…well you’ll just have to watch.
Normally, this would just be another Shounen Ai show that appeals to an increasingly lucrative BL fan audience, yet there are two hints that are promising. First, the manga itself is highly rated material, where people praise just how darn funny and cute the scenes are, as well as the interesting focus on a more youthful shoujo focus rather than a more mature Josei art style. Second, Kasai Kinichi is the director. I can say without a doubt, this guy is more than qualified to lead this project. Among his more popular directed works are all three seasons of Bakuman., Honey and Clover, Major, and Nodame Cantabile. The guy isn’t even new to same-sex romance either, having directed Aoi Hana just a few years ago. Considering his success and experience both in romances and comedies, one can only wonder what kind of work he’ll shape LOVE STAGE!! into. With the scriptwriting power of Yokote Michiko, this duo-team may surprise us with their efforts.
Now that the first episode is out, how did it fair?
Hilarious. Balanced. Likeable. To top it all off, a trap Izumi that made me question myself, just as Hideyoshi in Baka to Test did many years ago.
The reviews weren’t lying. This stuff is funny, so much so that I was in disbelief that Shounen Ai could tickle my funny bone this much. Some romantic comedies only use comedy as a lazy counterbalance to the drama; LOVE STAGE!! does not fall into this camp. Fans of mistake-driven comedy, rejoice! Izumi’s failure to draw straight lines, his religious otaku worship of Lala-Lulu, and his clumsiness in a skirt make for cute and laugh out loud moments. These jokes are timed and executed well, while often employing the use of mascot bears for humorous exaggeration.
The art is nice and vibrant, with cleanly drawn lines and excellent use of exaggerated drawings. There are only a few animation errors here and there, with every other close-up a pleasant vibrant sight. The only concern should be from the angular faces and defined lips; a small barrier for the uninitiated. The first episode sets a high benchmark for the potential of the show–let’s cross our fingers that it stays that way.
Pacing and plot are done well, focusing more on Izumi through a light-hearted comedy with a splash of dramatic setup. Though Izumi gets the most exposure, his actions throughout the episode exposure the side characters nicely; so far, most have established themselves as likeable. It was pleasant to see a rich family portrayed without much negative connotation–Izumi’s family is good-natured and wants the best for him. The wealth they have is utilized more for establishing the setting than anything else. Sagara Rei as the manager (Hirakawa Daisuke, the same Rei from Free!) does a good job in providing the counter-balance to the lighthearted nature of the family, though he is slightly stereotypical in his role. In conclusion, the show finds a nice beginning balance to the romantic comedy formula; it makes us laugh while laying down the bricks for later.
However, what can we look forward to from here and why should ‘outsiders’ care to watch?
To answer the second part, there’s a simple answer–it’s funny and not overly BL. That’s clearly a subjective and personal measure that varies for everyone, but in my experience, the BL wasn’t all in-your-face, at least for this episode. In comparison to some of the more popular and highly rated Shounen Ai series out there, this is much more tame. The love plays a balanced part within the story for sake of progression and emphasizing Izumi’s cute nature. Most of the time the focus is on creating funny scenarios that often involve Izumi’s adorable suffering in scenarios he unwittingly gets himself stuck into. Eventually we’re going to see moments where Izumi and Ryouma bond, but more for the sake of character development rather than outright physical intimacy. This ends up striking a ‘BL’ anime that is more accessible outside of its target audience, for those who can appreciate its comedic style and sweeter romantic themes.
As for what we can expect from LOVE STAGE!! on a plot-wide level, there are already hints on taking the ‘forbidden love’ route. This is a common theme within the sub-genre, no doubt about it. Despite that, what makes LOVE STAGE!! different is its introduction of the trap element. For what we can guess right now, Ryouma is attracted to Izumi the girl, rather than Izumi the guy, which will eventually result for one rude awakening at some point in the show. Seeing how Ryouma and Izumi navigate through their conflicted feelings as well as the stigmas against same-sex relations may be old hat for the intended audience, though for newcomers such as myself, LOVE STAGE!! provides a moderate foray into this less tread on path.
In the case that I do take up this show for blogging, it’ll be a struggle to interpret what’s a standard trick in the genre book and what new concepts it cooks up. However, no matter what, I think I’ll be following this show from here on out, just to clarify what keeps me on the boat. Is it because I like joking about being a trap? Is it the absolutely cute elements? Only more episodes will tell at this point, but I hope many of you from both sides of the gender aisle will join me in watching this possibly underrated gem of the season.
So what will you do, dear reader? Will you open the door?
All homophobic trolling will be promptly deleted. Thank you for your future consideration–let people watch what they want to watch. 🙂
Full-length images: 18, 34, 37.
ED: 「CLICK YOUR HEART!!」 by 山本和臣 (Kazutomi Yamamoto)
I’m SOOOO Happy if your taking this show ^^
its one of my FAVS this SEASON SO FAR!!!!
I would love if you blog this <33333
I’ll consider it–this season is going strong with the romance, so I might want to step it up this season in coverage.
No guarantees though, but I will be at least introing the next few episodes because it’s that good!
Too much pretty boy…
I may be a guy, but I’ll watch anything as long as it’s funny. I remember watching Sekaiichi Hatsukoi a while back for its amusing comedy and cute moments, and that show was full of what was basically boy-on-boy rape! Compared to that show, I should be able to enjoy Love Stage no problem. Heck, this show even has a cute crossdresser, it’s already winning points in my book! I see a lot of potential in this show, let’s hope it can keep it up for the rest of the season.
It’s all about the cute man. The crossdressing power is strong with this one.
Jun Watarase, The QUEEN of Traps is feeling that she will be soon get dethroned.
It was a pleasant and funny first episode. It definately had the same charm as the manga and if it is a one cour season, then we will end on a really nice note.
Zani, if you ever need any help navigating the BL realm, feel free to hit me up on facebook :3
Conflictingly cute :3
Looks like Kaga Koko XP
It’s so refreshing just HOW gay this show is. No more beating around the bush! Bring me more adorableness.
Thanks for bringing this to my (everyone’s) attention. The name “Honey and Clover” jumped out at me, since I loved both seasons of that show mainly for the romance. I’ll definitely check this out and hope the humor resonates with me.
This show is making me feel so conflicted…
Come to the light my son and embrace yourself.
So this was a surprise. I usually don’t like BL, because the execution is most of the time ridiculous and stupid. It’s usually “Oh we shouldn’t do this” – “Whatever, let’s fuck.” And this seme & uke concept is really stupid as well.
I started watching ridiculous shows with a friend last season (we watched kamigami no asobi back then and had tons of fun bashing this show beause it was so BAD it was funny.) and wanted to continue this season with another stupid show. We tried dramatical murder first but it was so DAMN boring and stupid, it wasn’t even funny anymore, so we looked farther (we wanted actually either a otome game or idiotic incest shit, but there wasn’t anything surprisingly) soooo Love Stage was the next thing we thought about trying out and.
It was funny. It was actually honestly funny and adorable. We’ll be continuing this, even though we probably won’t bash it this time, because it was really fun. It has some ridiculous moments but other than that it’s a nice show and maybe finally a BL I’m going to like.
Despite your downvotes and uh, original intentions, I’m glad that the show has clicked with you as well! Let us promote how funny and adorable this show is to all the doubters! :3
Geez his parents are complete derps, which is making me come back to watch it next week ^_^. Honestly I was going to pass this, not because of the shounen-ai (cuz that stuff obviously doesn’t bother me due to the fact that I like dudes), but more-so I’m not that into the whole effeminate type of guy, especially since some of the character designs are hit-or-miss. But! Hopefully they keep up on the quirkyness and comedy and don’t dive into a deep pit of melodrama and I’ll be watching this until the end.
As a man with an open mind, I am severely conflicted if I should watch this or not…. Should I give in to temptations or should I start working on my thesis…. decisions decisions…
Do it! Doooo it! Just one bite can’t possibly get you addicted for the entire season~
I actually have no problem with traps if it is done well. Example of shit done bad, Gravitation, example of good BL , Kyou Kara Maou. Shit I was surprised myself but it all depends. Over the years I have watch that one Princess Princess, Prunus girl, no bra, and of course my favorite Minto no Bokura.
This show looks like it might be funny so far but if it’s get too seme and uke for no other reason then smut then I’m checking out.
When I saw the post for this I was happy, surprised, and then depressed. Happy that you’re open-minded enough to give BL a try, surprised that anyone on RC would make a post about it knowing that it can attract a lot of unwanted haters and then depressed that I even had to feel pleasantly surprised in the first place. We really haven’t come as far as we’d like to think.
Anyway, I thought this was really well done. I disliked the “I’m gonna force myself on you but you know you really like it” vibes from Junjou and Sekaiichi. But the interactions between the two main leads look to be refreashingly different.
I actually get easily creeped out by the ‘forced on’ dynamic in general, not just in BL shows but in straight rom/romcom shows as well. If the show is good enough I’ll tolerate it, but sometimes that power dynamic is way too cringe-worthy for me to personally digest. Thus, I can sympathize with you in this regard, and perhaps another reason why this show is more easily taken in by a wider audience.
Here, it seems more balanced. Despite Izumi and Ryouma being in a weaker-stronger relation, as long as the interactions between the two are openly mutual (enough), I think this’ll be good.
I’m glad you’re glad! The more people to enjoy the show the merrier! 😀
loli Izumi is just too cute, too adorable
so am I a shotacon or a lolicon now? @@
Well if you are male and you like him then you might be bi- or gay. Izumi IS 18 after all, he’s a legal adult 😀 Go play!!
I started-off with low expectations too (to the point where I should even watch the 1st ep or not).
Well, lemme say this:I watched it, enjoyed it, and now here even reading reviews about it.haha
I’m not sure how far the anime will go with the smut, but the manga goes pretty graphic towards where we are now. Depending on how they continue to adapt this, they could really pull in some viewers outside the shounen-ai genre. I wouldn’t mind the smut being toned down (or even just suggested) if it could pull a more general crowd like, say, Gravitation did. I absolutely love their characters and it’s good to see so many people interested in it from this first episode.
I think the ‘graphic’ parts were pretty integral to really establishing whether a relationship was feasible for the characters. I’d want to see how they go about this one, considering the intimacy is often the hardest thing to include for this genre. The manga handled it pretty well I think, in a lovey-dovey sort of way.
I’m actually with you when you pointed it out that this one’s a much tamed BL show than the more popular and highly rated Shounen Ai series out there. I’ve watched Sekaiichi Hatsukoi and Junjou Romantica and I can say that Love Stage!! really has style different than of those two. I even followed its manga and I really enjoyed it! It was really fun and refreshing. Knowing that Izumi only thought of it that it was only like doing cosplay wearing a wedding dress is already quite shallow for this one to be called a BL show. Lol But of course, we expect the two leads to eventually find their way to love which makes this one a BL series. Hahaha!
It feels weird watching this when you’re a staright guy AND a Yuri fan. But hey, I liked it.
will keep watching, thanks for the post, Zanibas 🙂
Honestly, comedy is a major factor for me in reading BL (I generally laugh my ass off reading it) so it’s kinda funny for me to see someone being surprised at it! Anyway, it’s really nice to see this blogged with optimism and even praise, so thank you very much. <3 I hope you'll continue with this series!
It's so nice seeing a well animated BL, by one of my favourite mangaka no less. What a treat this anime is already! *A*
I read the manga of this on a whim a while back…
Finding out that it was getting an anime led to me watching/enjoying my first BL anime, lmao. This is a genuinely good show, the comedy is executed well and the characters are ultimately likable. As a straight male who is secure in his masculinity/sexuality, I rate this BL story high.
This was actually an enjoyable episode. I had some reservations whether I would like it or not, but it was good enough. I will give it a three episodes rule.
On the other note, is it just me, or are the most of the picture links in the text broken?
i haven’t watch this because i want to avoid the BL, so should i watch this ? is it any good for someone that wants to avoid BL like me? i like the plot when i read it, but then i read there are BL. but according to zanibas it wasn’t overly BL
You will probably be okay with it until episode three then you’ld probably drop it because it get graphic for a bit and then turn to slap stick comedy before returning to Shoujo-Ai ish type of action and become even more graphic.
I myself had to kinda of skips a lot of pages later on just to see the character development and yep it doesn’t turn into SMUT, thank god, and it is funny but like I say there are some graphic scenes that might not be best to watch in front of company ya know?