「チョットダケナラ」 (Chotto Dake Nara)
“Just a Little”
In a nutshell: it felt good to see Izumi and Ryouma bond over something so silly, it felt bad to see that Ryouma still doesn’t have the self-control to keep his body to himself, and the episode, once again, raises up issues of double standards.
Now, the discussion in detail.
On one hand, I really liked this episode. Izumi’s slow forgiveness of Ryouma is a welcome pace–we saw this hesitance last episode and it’s great that we saw it continue here as well. Additionally, it also makes sense that Izumi bonded so quickly with Ryouma over manga, despite how ridiculous their rose-tinted glasses are. For Izumi, there are two major events going on in his life right now: the clingy and desperate guy at his heels and a manga award high in the sky. While he’s received support from Rei over the first issue, before this episode, no one truly supported Izumi’s dreams of being a mangaka. People recognize his innate creative talents, yet acknowledge his passions only as a misguided sink. Thus, when Ryouma became his first ever fan and supporter, it truly represents the first time someone has actively supported Izumi’s dreams without judgment. Yes, Ryouma might actually be the worst judge of art to tell Izumi the sad truth, but the value comes from someone finally giving Izumi affirmation for his efforts. The message kind of gets obscured by the ridiculous scenario and hilarious bits (Ryouma master artist), but upon reflection, the positive dynamics were less unnatural than met the eye.
On the flipside though, Ryouma is one sad clingy individual. Stalking, obsessive texting, clinginess, and absolutely no backbone, it’s strange that no one has labeled him as the most beta guy this season, even more beta than Izumi. It’s everything you don’t want from a guy, except most of it gets excused by certain audiences because of his charm and looks. The creepy attitude wasn’t the worst part though, but rather another violation of Izumi’s personal space. Don’t get me wrong though–the execution of the scene itself was actually something of an achievement. None of this “something interrupts at the last moment” bars the kiss, which is a surprisingly refreshing thing to see, at least from my experience. Izumi’s “kyaa!” moments were also ridiculously adorable, reminding me of a kid who just can’t have one cookie from the forbidden jar.
However cute it is and how much it fulfills the target audience’s current tastes, it’s still distasteful. I’m not going to say it’s persay “wrong” to portray these kinds of violations of personal space where it’s meant to introduce conflict, but I will say it’s personally distasteful. Heck, if this scene played out after they officially got together I would’ve thought it was the most adorable scene, but before just doesn’t sit so well. Perhaps I’m a stick in the mud and the wrong person to be judging the sexual content in this show, but these sorts of romanticized elements are just bad taste, in my opinion.
Now the question here is: would we see similar reactions given that Izumi were a girl? What about if Ryouma were the girl kissing Izumi the guy? Interestingly, each gender pairing has their own connotations connected to them, each seemingly more or less uncomfortable to watch than the other. Is it because of established gender norms? Maybe it’s the genre expectations that provides a different reaction. Or maybe, maybe it’s a detachment of self and reality, a sort of fantasy world where the bad intentions of characters don’t make these scenes too terrible to watch. What do you guys think? Although I don’t want to entirely turn LOVE STAGE!! into a discussion like this, I think it’s an important issue to address, so I wish to see your guys’ thoughts on the issue.
How the show will go from here though–I have no idea. Did you guys see that preview? We might as well be actually watching episode one of Lala Lulu, but we should also look out for the huge scandal that’s about to hit both Izumi and Ryouma in the coming weeks. However, perhaps this is the catalyst that’ll cement these two together, as they have to face their feelings head-on, in a public setting. No doubt we’ll see the support of Rei, Shougo, and Izumi’s parents, but who knows how other people will react, such as Ryouma’s parents, his manager, and of course his sure-to-be-disappointed fans.
Okay, so I disclosed in my last comment on this series that I’ve watched/read quite a few anime/mangas in this genre. Here is my perspective, from someone who has lived in Japan for several years and feel fairly familiar with the dating culture :
I feel like we’re putting the characters under too close of a microscope here for what this show is. Quite honestly, there are very few mangas in the hentai genre who realistically portray healthy relationships to begin with and that number drops to even less in the BL genre. I don’t want to go to deep with this, but cultural context is important here. In Japan where courtship has historically been much different than in west, this sort of attacker/submissive relationship is highly fetisised. Although a lot of things are changing in Japanese society, the ideal woman is still very meek and submissive. Building around this, it’s not difficult to see how this becomes romanticized in manga. It’s not just yaoi, either. How many times have we seen a girl say “No, stop! Don’t touch me there!” in a cute little voice as she squirms and her partner does anyway and she falls in love immediately afterwards? With a culture fixated on the idea of purity and innocence, the idea of ‘corrupting’ and consuming plays out in both manga and porn as a widespread obsession. Furthermore, we know from psychological studies against wide audiences that many women have rape fetishes (over half, in some). This doesn’t mean that any woman wants to be raped. It’s just a fantasy and we fantasize about a lot of stuff that we wouldn’t want to actually do. Combined with the cultural aspects of their porn in general, it’s not surprising that there is a huge amount of rapey characters in fujoshi manga. If we apply objective morals to this, of course it’s not OK for Ryouma to betray his trust by invading his space (especially after attacking him). Let’s be realistic… In the real world, a woman would probably never talk to a man if he held her down on a couch and stripped all her clothes off after just meeting them. I would certainly hope not, at least.
Now I would not call Love Stage a PWP manga that exists for the sole purpose of being an artistic wet dream by any means. It is a romantic comedy of the genre, and it does well to showcase many things in a different light than what we normally see. However, it important to remember that it is still written for this audience and it does have hard porn in the original manga. Like many mangas which are primarily romance, there’s a million things that you could poke at here if you really wanted to. The relationships aren’t hyperrealistic and neither are the conditions which bring these characters together. These cracks are glossed over but of course they will fall apart under scrutiny if you have the desire to do so. In a way, it would be a crime for it not to fall into this category as it is also a commentary on the genre itself.
Also, I think you definitely hit on something with the gender bias thing as this would not be as big of a deal if Ryouma was a girl. How many animes have we seen, especially recently, with forced yuri interactions? Where girls were completely molested but it’s OK because it’s another girl and that’s cute?
I didn’t mean to write a novel here but I’ve been thinking about all this while reading the comments for previous posts and just wanted to throw it out there. In fact, the reason I fell out with this genre is that the manga are so formulaic and the relationships are so shallow. But where as I feel like a lot of people are particularly harsh because this is a BL series, I see this as a cultural issue which is prevalent across a lot of romance heavy series.
Yaoi has always sort of been the opposite of self insert fics. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t equally as fetishy and big on wish fulfillment. Despite there being gay fans, Yaoi has always been about catering to female audiences, and what better way to act out those squicky uncomfortable sexual double standards than by removing said gender from the equation. In a way, it takes off the pressure so to speak. It’s all a real big gray area in terms of what is right and wrong in media, but on a more shallow note I am enjoying the hell out of this show.
Unfortunately the manga never ever really addresses its usage of creepy non-consensual physical contact as relationship buildup between the main duo other than the first time Ryouma forces himself on Izumi and…continues to use it for plot progression to a certain extent, so as cute and charming as it can be it still does embrace the problematic tropes in the Yaoi genre. I was really hoping the anime staff would’ve taken out these elements out of good taste, but I suppose that these things as such a staple in the genre that it might not have even occurred to them at all….
I can understand the conflicted feelings about wanting to support this show due to being actually pretty good and not wanting to stigmatize its genre, but not wanting to excuse its creepier leanings as well. I am honestly not really sure what to feel about it either.
*not wanting to stigmatize it because of its genre, sorry about that
Your review is insighteful and addresses questions that must be asked about abusive relationships in shounen ai … but I do wonder … why people don’t address this in regular anime in the same way. There are more than a few where the main guy (or sometimes girl) gets very touchy-feely towards their love-interest and uses blackmail (e.g. kaicho wa maid sama) or debt/poverty (e.g. he’s my master) to force time together. I can also think of many where the main character’s hands will wonder to the discomfort of the other, where they’ll also try to obtain embarrassing photos without consent, where they lose their temper and lash out in jealousy (more common in girls) and way too many where they steal kisses while the other is asleep or unconscious before any type of relationship has been established!!!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that shounen ai is defensible in that area (especially with a lot of yaoi using rape to “seal the deal”) but I find it hypocritical that similar occurrences between men/women, women/women or even women/men don’t get the same reaction when it should. Also I want to clarify that I’m not accusing anybody here of being a hypocrite but simply sharing and wondering if I’m alone in thinking this? I guess it is hard to draw the line between entertainment and appropriateness especially since it’s suppose to blur lines, take risks and approach scenarios in a different and questionable ways … plus there are cultural difference to consider … so I guess it is complicated *sigh*
p.s. I DO think that the kiss was disturbing when you take context into account (you know which scene I’m talking about!!!)
As a fan of the manga itself, I just enjoy the anime. (fiction world is baseless and that’s that. I don’t see how ‘real life’ stuff got anything to do with it. tbh, the anime moral in general was lost about 2 or 4 years ago, so why bother microscoping on this one?)
Just saying (-o-;)/
fair enough … I agree with your point and I too love many anime (including shounen ais) where there are “unhealthy relationship” portrayals but I still watch it cause they’re entertaining and it gets me past things that bother me (but only because they don’t cross my personal lines). Everyone has something that they identify as “going too far” but it should be consistent with content and not genre.
I’m just saying a lot of anime fans unfairly target this particular genre when other genres have more or less the same (albeit a little less frequently) but they don’t receive the same scrutiny from the majority. It’s perfectly understandable to be turned off to an anime with these types of relationships but if you only have that standard for male/male relationships, it’s a bit hypocritical and worrying 🙁
***btw not being a fan the genre is a completely different story … if shounen ai is not to your liking then that’s fine but say you “don’t like the genre” instead of holding their content to a different standard than others (just clarifyng that …)
You bring up ome interesting poins about gender. It would be interesting to see what the reaction would be if genders were flipped.
The guy from manga club is pretty cute.lol
Anyways,of course anime/manga is Japanese so we have to acknowledge their culture.Its still MANGA so its fiction!!Ppl, don’t be so sensitive over it….