「キミニアエタカラ」 (Kimi ni Aetakara)
“Because I Was Able To Meet You”
Man, who needs an introduction? Let’s just dive in and give this show all its praises!
So far, it’s very hard to find fault with the comedy of this show. The second episode slowed down a bit with the jokes for the sake of some plot elements, but the quality of the jokes stayed fairly strong. In my books, it currently ties with Gekkan Shoujo for most laugh-out-loud potential. While Gekkan is smarter and more clever with its jokes and characters, LOVE STAGE!! has strengths in its visual presentation and situation-focused comedy. The jokes and the plot weave very closely together, with neither slowing each other down. Ryouma and Izumi’s continual misunderstandings and escapades only served to progress the plot forward while giving us a great laugh in the process. Some of the comedic bits aren’t original–we may get tired of Izumi being the puppet of everyone’s intentions–but as of now the execution is clean and energetic enough not to matter much. What matters is that the show isn’t taking itself too seriously yet, allowing us to further the second point more closely: forming an emotional bond with the characters.
Thankfully the emotional overload hasn’t kicked into full gear yet. We’re still seeing mostly comedy, except we’re already getting a sense of how all of the characters connect together. That’s a good thing–laying it heavy too early isn’t conducive to long-term character connections. Izumi’s father is actually looking out for his son’s creative development, despite our cluelessness as to why the kissing scene would be a good idea in his eyes. Although carefree to a fault, Shougo plays a good role in supporting Izumi, albeit in creative and sometimes coercive ways. Using his star power to get all sorts of Lala Lulu merchandise, I wouldn’t be surprised if he managed to get the seiyuu to come out and encourage Izumi personally. While his encouragement may land Izumi in some awkward situations, at heart we can see he has the best intentions for his little brother and the small moments of affection that weave into the story. These two have so far painted a very positive image for the Sena family, who use their wealth and status in beneficial and good-hearted ways.
Rei also received some hints of development this episode too. Might I just say that Rei looks so much better ruffed up and not wearing glasses. I mean, I totally get why he has to look neat for the job, but man, his character design isn’t so bad behind that neatness. It was interesting to see how he wasn’t initially hired to be a manager, but instead part of the Sena family–as the episodes progress, we’ll probably see more of Rei’s backstory exposed and how that links with revealing more of the Sena family. Shougo especially seems to share an interesting tie with Rei. Whether this is just ship bait or an actual hint of character bonding is yet to be seen.
On the other side of the development coin though, we get Ryouma, who turned pretty nasty, pretty fast, right there at the end. Of course if this was his permanent personality, I’d be super pissed, but judging how sweet the OPs and EDs are, this will be a story of transformation and acceptance rather than one of spite and dominance. In fact, I’m sure most of his anger comes from sheer shock and disappointment than malice at an actual crossdresser. The preview hints at some pretty dominant moments against Izumi, yet I have a feeling it won’t play too large a role before it’s fixed with mutual understanding. Personally I took a bit of shock when Shougo just pulled down Izumi’s dress (no, I won’t full-cap that) for Ryouma to see, but I think this sort of mutual rivalry between Ryouma and Shougo will play an important part in shipping Izumi and Ryouma together. Their actions will not always be correct (Shougo disrespecting Izumi’s self-determination, Ryouma’s desire to fix his conflicted feelings through force). Some people will get irritated at this, that’s for sure. It reminds people all too well of the dominant dynamic that often pervades BL stories and proves to be a turn off. Given that this is a one cour though, I am optimistic that their characters will find an empathetic endpoint and a change of heart soon enough.