「ユメナラヨカッタノニ」 (Yume Nara Yokatta no ni)
“If Only It Had Been a Dream”

LOVE STAGE!! has enough comedy, story, and good production values to draw a non-BL crowd, but this episode ultimately reminds us what kind of show we’re in for. The appetizers are over–the main course is now beginning.

From the previews in episode two and the warnings that some commenters left, it should be no surprise that we got some Boys Love today. The scent of the dominant-submissive dynamic that pervades the genre found its way here; for moderates and myself, this is a turn-off, despite how well the story tried to make it relevant. This portrayal of casual molestation isn’t something that sits well with me–I wasn’t okay with it in Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun and I sure am not about to change now. I get that this is supposed to appeal to female fantasies and that we see this kind of stuff in ecchi shows all. the. time. However, I’ve never really been a fan of it, much less when its clear that there is one person who doesn’t want someone’s hand down there. I’m going to hope that Izumi has some backbone not to forgive Ryouma so easily, lest we start falling into really stereotypical BL dynamics.

If that scene was too much for you and you’ve made it this far, I don’t blame you for quitting at this point. Although I’m still thoroughly enjoying this show for the comedy and likeable characters, I get that some people just can’t get past the explicit scenes. The fact that you at least tried out the series is great enough. For everyone else still on-board though, let’s talk positives about the story.

Apart from that sensual scene, the romantic development between Ryouma and Izumi is progressing quite well. There were a few easy corners here and there, but overall the plot has progressed fairly organically and organized. I feel bad for Izumi’s current state, but hopefully the worst for him is over. Now that Ryouma is starting to accept to his boy-loving side and with Shougo there to help him with that, I’m sure we’ll see some of the sweeter things that Ryouma can do for Izumi. Ryouma will sure need it considering how he traumatized Izumi, but again, given the OP and ED sequences, I have hope that the story will provide ample reconciliation that doesn’t take the easy route just for smut and sexy times.

In terms of production values, LOVE STAGE is doing great in maintaining its level of quality in all aspects. The rough and tough of the mid-period is still something we’ll have to cross our fingers for, but so far things are looking good. Animation errors and laziness are few and between, with the comedic bits still receiving a great level of animation detail. It’s fairly clear that this is one of J.C. Staff’s more favored works this season. Although it seems foolish from a business standpoint that the company is putting a lot of effort into this show, it represents a slow shifting trend within the anime industry to tap into the fujoshi market. J.C. Staff wants a piece of that pie and LOVE STAGE!! is one of its forays into that market. Whatever their intentions though, they’ve got a good show going for them nonetheless, with the money they put in clearly showing.

As for the source material, the compact cast strikes a balance–while we focus on the main four characters of Izumi, Shougo, Ryouma, and Rei, the side characters do not steal the spotlight from them, instead opting to progress the plot without opening too many possibilities. The result is a very balanced exposure between the main four characters, all of whom are receiving a sufficient amount of development. Apart from the obvious cases of Izumi and Ryouma, we now have insights into Shougo’s relationship with his brother as well as hints as to Rei’s past. If it wasn’t for the balanced limelight on each of these four, such developments would not have happened by episode 3. The show is very efficient in this manner and I appreciate it already–I feel sympathy for all four characters, for very different reasons.

So now that we’ve passed three episodes, where do we go from here? Is it worth it following this show to the very end? The simple answer: of course.

After what has been a terrible dry spell for romantic comedies, we have been extremely lucky to have gotten two great romantic comedies (though Gekkan is more ‘comedy with a side of romance’ than a romcom) as well as pure comedies as well. It’s been a great laugh-fest so far this season, but also a great season in creating likeable characters. LOVE STAGE!! excels, and will excel, in this regard. What we have here is a story of four characters that really care for one another, but the circumstances that brought them together have clouded that idea. Apart from the obvious Shougo x Izumi, Shougo and Rei share a hidden history together that indicates a mutual softness for one another, and Izumi, despite his dedication to Lala Lulu, has amazing potential to fall for Shougo. Ryouma himself has already fallen for Izumi, but dispelling 10 years worth of a lie will be a major roadblock. Thus in the meantime, he confides in his enemy, Shougo, to help him through the confusion.

This strongly connected group of four characters is what has made this show enjoyable, apart from the laughs that they generate with their antics. To see how they resolve their differences and grow closer to one another will be the major hook for this show, where it is not just Izumi x Shougo we should observe, but rather each character’s connection to the other three main leads. This character richness isn’t something to be easily ignored, but will be for the sole fact that this is a BL show. If it had been a show of say, four girls, such as Hanayamata, things would’ve been much different, but sadly this is the way things are now.

Thus, I hope for those of you still on for the ride, that we can enjoy a series that not many will get to appreciate. I look forward to writing about this show every week, as it has become a personal favorite of mine this season. Thanks for following, dear reader, and I’ll see you next week!

Full-length images: 1, 26, 32.

 

Preview

End Card

34 Comments

    1. Waiting for a gif to pop up? That’s a pretty massive Freudian slip!!

      I agree that the sexual assault was a bit much and I’m not a fan of the way they’re covering it up, but at least the characters seem to think it was a bad thing. It does concern me though that it shows a tolerance of this sort of behavior, but as you say it is par for the course for this genre. I’m interested to see how the next episode plays out.

      Anyway apart from that scene it was pretty funny. But if there’s any more suggestion of acceptance of sexual assault then I’m out.

      Scruffy
      1. Sexual assault is not OK in any context ever. But I think the reason so many fojoshi manga contain this element is the same reason that attracts them to this style to begin with. It’s a different dynamic than male/female where men are seen as more powerful and forceful. Also, statistics tell us that as high as 57% of women have had rape fantasies and as much as 10% of those women prefer these fantasies. Especially for manga that focuses primarily on smut, this of course becomes a common element in storytelling.

        I feel like characters need to react more when this happens because not addressing it is a symptom of poor story telling (shallow characters who are suddenly OK with being raped because it felt nice). However, a lot of times these manga are not written for particularly deep storytelling so I guess it doesn’t really bother me as much on a moral level.

        I feel like this scene was inevitable as this is a manga which is both serious and a sort of comedic commentary for the BL genre. You will see pretty much everything you normally see in BL manga in this anime only in a different way.

        Fredrika
      2. Oh god. I meant to say “Sexual assault is never OK in any context ever.” but I changed the wording like four times and then I left out the never. Worst typo I could possibly make ; – ;

        Fredrika
  1. Even as someone who likes this genre, “THAT” scene was a bit too much for me. Ryouma is really coming off bad right now, so I’m hoping they can fix that. Still loving the show itself though. Praying for a gentler Ryouma to surface soon.

    Kagehina13
    1. Actually what disturbed me more was Ryouma being glitter pink during that sense. … What tone are they trying to set here with the animation. o__O It probably the worst colour cue to pick…. >___> The scene was bad enough without making it flowery. But I love how messed up Ryouma is about it, his break down on set did crack me up reading it but I was loathing him for a while there.

      Ani_BEE
  2. I just can’t get over the facial expressions in this. I don’t think I’ve ever liked an anime art style for this genre as much as this. I especially love the shots of younger Izumi as he really is unbearably adorable.

    One thing that’s always bothered me in this genre is the rape situations where main characters are basically forced into having sex but then enjoy it anyway. In one way, I totally get it because a lot of people have fantasies like that and these types of stories are definitely for fantasizing. But in another, it totally takes you out of it as well and it becomes hard to see it as anything but shallow smut. I’m interested to see Izumi’s reaction at Ryouma’s advances and what “commentary” this holds for us on other shows in this genre.

    Ralicht
  3. …and Izumi, despite his dedication to Lala Lulu, has amazing potential to fall for Shougo. Shougo himself has already fallen for Izumi, but dispelling 10 years worth of a lie will be a major roadblock.

    Don’t you mean Ryouma here? ;p

    Well, that particular dominant-submissive yaoi scene was quite a pain to watch for me but aside of that it’s great watch and really good comedy. I think I will stick with it to the end. In worst case it will end with skipping of some BL heavy parts.

    Urizithar
  4. “is supposed to appeal to female fantasies…” argh no. I hate this. I read the manga last week and I can tell you this was a major turn off when I read this part. Part of the reason why this manga sits really uncomfortable with me. argh. I guess there are some parts where it’s not like the typical BL? but it contains too many elements of it too. :S

    noodle
    1. If it helps, I implicitly meant “certain” female fantasies. I never want to imply every female gets turned on by this kind of stuff, but since the main target for this scene is pretty clear, I used simpler language, hoping my main point gets across.

      Zanibas
    2. I just wanted to clarify as being part of the fujoshi community this kind of crap is not tolerant and is constantly criticized by many people in the fandom. There are plenty of really good BL stuff out there!! one people should really check out is Sono Mama De its only 6 chapters but damn in those few chapters a lot was said about the state of being a gay couple in Japan and making a valid statement on pushing same-sex marriage in Japan. Love Stage definitely has a lot going for it but for me personally I really wish “Ryouma pushing himself on Izumi” part was NEVER PUT IN THE MANGA AT ALL. Even though he does do a million things to attempt to redeem himself it still a scene that left a bad taste in my mouth and I wish mangaka would stop trying to use this kind of trope in mainstream BL. Like Zanibas said while its good to enjoy any mediums its important to remain critical of the things we like. As being a part of the fujoshi community for me personally it is very important to call out on this kind of tropes and discuss why sexual assaults tropes are extremely problematic and needs to be discussed.

      hoshi
  5. Shougo’s more like as if he has a huge brotherly complex (did I say this right? o.o) Not sure whether this is a spoiler but..
    Show Spoiler ▼

    chioneicedyrken
    1. And if my memory does not fail me, taking into account that we’ll only be getting 10 episodes in total, we won’t be getting any more of those “pink” scenes. There might be some for the last episode, but if they sustain it at this pace, the rest of the episodes are ‘clean’. 🙂

      chioneicedyrken
  6. I don’t know why none of the other manga readers have spoken out yet, but if you were bothered by this week’s antics, don’t worry, there will be NO MORE SEXUAL ASSAULT in the future. I think one of the strengths of this plot is that there is no dominance /submission aspect. What we saw here was Ryouma having a MENTAL BREAKDOWN. This is him being confronted with with.a possible change in his sexuality and that’s no easy thing. Now this in no way excuses Ryouma’s behavior, and this really made me dislike him too, but going forward Show Spoiler ▼

    . If you’re worried about watching this, I think you’ll be fine

    RebiaW
    1. I did make some mistakes with Ryouma and Shougo, but that one is correct–RyoumaxIzumi has yet to really bloom into something caring, but Ryouma and Izumi definitely depend on one another as siblings.

      Zanibas
  7. It’s following the manga fairly well I think.
    People on other forums were literally praying that the anime wouldn’t cut out such scenes as this (the obvious). So if you take a look at the manga and don’t like it, simply don’t watch it (for those who are put off already).
    Everyone already knows that Izumi will love it, the cry scenario is obvious, but it’s what people apparently want to see. It’s no fun if it gets straight to the relationship, there has to be some kind of story as with all shounen ai.

    Ghost
  8. It perturbs me how BL consistently does something no other romance genre (harem, rom-com, etc) successfully accomplishes…

    The leads actually resolve their relationship. They make a choice, there is a definite couple, and we the audience get to see the ramifications of that.

    It angers me how a most “quintessential” romances can string along the main romance for years (Ah My Goddess) or never even resolve/make a choice (Rosario Vampire).

    I don’t partake of BL, so there may be some misconceptions on my part, but I feel that this is something that BL stories address more adroitly than other genres. It won’t make me a convert, but it’s something I felt like pointing out…

    Seracen
  9. Well, I knew it was coming and I had to see if they edited it out any, it not AS bad as the manga but it’s still pretty graphic. Also the next few episode should be okay until it gets even more graphics.

    THe way to watch this show is easy, if there is slice of life part you are safe however when the two guys are alone and you see that mood coming on, prepare for some super graphic stuff. In fact shortly from now you’ll even see Ryouma Show Spoiler ▼

    That being say, the Slice of Life and interaction with the agent guy and the brother is funny. You been warned 😀

    Duzz
  10. i been watching this so far. its fairly funny, but seeing so many scream out “rape rape rape” i watched and managed to watch.. There is no actual rape.

    ryo is “Take off your clothes, so the image of you being a male is burned into my eyes” his being he still doesnt believe that izu is a male. and wants to get rid of all his emotions..

    – later-

    now pay attention to izumi’s older brother on how he describes izumi as cute.. and Ryo being easily pulled in by having his guard lower. And seeing how Ryo acts after the scene.. he was “straight” now hes either gay or bi, and coming to terms with that. tho in the wrong sense of his control didnt keep him from getting sensual.. izumi’s older brother stopped it before it got too far. but still no rape occured. at least rape that is mostly scene on Animes… for example School Life. scene… but in anycase, view what occured at a different stance. dont jump to “rape rape” rape itself is bad, and frowned upon, however theres many animes across the net with a very cute character, and others who fall prey to the cuteness and cant help themselves..

    ———–

    What im picturing so far is Ryo and izu are gonna come to terms of having feeling for the same gender.. but this will occur slowly.. izu always had a crush on his anime girl lulu, Ryo had a crush on izumi as in his mind as a female.

    Cryght
    1. While it’s not technically “rape”–it’s “molestation” or “sexual assault”–it’s still bad man. I mean, listen:

      …however theres many animes across the net with a very cute character, and others who fall prey to the cuteness and cant help themselves…

      Isn’t this the reason why people perform sexual assault in the first place? Because they can’t help themselves? It may be a pervasive trope in the anime world, but that doesn’t make it okay. The justification that “didnt keep him from being sensual” is NOT a justification. And it still doesn’t help that Shougo came to save it from being all-out, because Izumi’s bubble was still violated.

      Sorry for being harsh, but let’s make things clear here: just because they’re going to end up happy in the end, does not excuse any bad behavior so easily.

      Zanibas

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