Love Stage!!: Episode 9 – “Which Way Is Right?”

Love Stage!! features an otaku named Izumi Sena who was born into a showbiz family. While his family wants him to go into entertainment, Izumi dreams of becoming a manga artist. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the talent that would be needed to pursue his dream. 10 years ago, Izumi found himself placed into a commercial his parents were involved in when a little girl cast for the commercial couldn’t make it, and he was dressed up as a girl. His co-star in that commercial was Ichijo Ryoma, who has gone on to become a very popular actor. When an offer to participate in a 10th anniversary commercial comes up, Izumi is forced to dress up as a girl again to reprise his role. It turns out that Ichijo fell in love with his co-star 10 years earlier, thinking Izumi was a girl. Now that Izumi is making his debut, people start recognizing him, especially when he doesn’t have his glasses on.

In this episode, Izumi spends a lot of time holed up in his room, ordering things and bidding on items online. It turns out he’s getting a bunch of merchandise of Ichijo. This gives the impression that Izumi has developed feelings for Ichijo, but as we see later in the episode, he hasn’t entirely made up his mind about this yet.

Ichijo, meanwhile, makes the realization that with Izumi’s debut, everyone will have an interest in him after seeing how cute he is. Ichijo becomes jealous of anyone wanting to spend time with Izumi, which culminates with Ichijo cornering Izumi and asking if Izumi likes him even a little, because he’s afraid that someone else will steal Izumi away from him. Before Izumi can answer, Ichijo develops a fever from overwork and collapses.

I have to say that Ichijo came across as being rather possessive and jealous during the scene where he corners Izumi. While the series has been trying to portray Ichijo in a better light in recent episodes, I thought this caused Ichijo’s character to backslide a little. Honestly, if I had been in Izumi’s situation, I would have found Ichijo’s behavior to be a turn off.

Something I noticed near the end of the episode had to do with the animation. Somewhere during the second half, there’s several shots that appear where characters in the background aren’t colored in at all. And in one scene, both the background characters and the background itself weren’t colored in, but Izumi was. I found myself trying to figure out whether this was done intentionally for some kind of effect or if corners were being cut for either running behind on the production schedule or to cut costs. For most of the scenes this happened in, I could potentially see an artistic reason for doing this. However, for the one scene where even the background wasn’t colored in, I couldn’t come up with any real symbolic or artistic reason.

So there’s only one episode left of the series, but it feels like there should be enough material left for this to span two episodes instead of one. I find myself dreading that Love Stage!! will end up having to rush the remainder of the story in order to make it fit in one episode.

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