Anime Spotlight: Love Stage!!

Love Stage!! is an anime based on a manga written by Eiki Eiki and illustrated by Taishi Zao. The anime is produced by J.C. Staff, and is directed by Ken’ichi Kasai. The series aired on Japanese television from July 9-September 10, 2014.

As of this writing, Crunchyroll holds the North American streaming rights for Love Stage!!, and Sentai Filmworks holds the North American home video rights for the series.

Izumi Sena is the main character of the series. He’s born into a family of celebrities: his mother is major actress in both films and TV dramas, his father is a singer who starred in musicals and is now the owner of a talent agency called Sena-Pro, and his brother Shogo is the vocalist for a rock band. Izumi has no interest in showbiz, and he’s an otaku who wants to become a manga artist. His parents, along with their manager, Rei Sagara, keep trying to push Izumi into going into entertainment.

Ten years ago, when Izumi was a child, his parents starred in a commercial for a bridal magazine called Happy Wedding. The little girl who was supposed to appear in the commercial didn’t show up because her flight got canceled, so Izumi’s mother suggests dressing Izumi up as a girl. The director loved how cute he looked, so Izumi ended up starring opposite a boy named Ichijo Ryoma. Ichijo has now become a wildly popular actor.

Sena-Pro is approached by Happy Wedding magazine for a 10th anniversary commercial that would include all of the actors from the original commercial. Izumi wants nothing to do with it, and asks if they could get a girl who looks like him. He’s told that Ichijo has said he will only do the commercial if the original girl comes back. After having some pressure put on him by his older brother, Izumi agrees to do it; he looks at it as a chance to try cosplaying. We also learn that Ichijo has been interested in the girl he starred with in the Happy Wedding commercial all this time.

When Ichijo learns that Izumi is really a boy, he doesn’t take it well at first. But as time goes on, Ichijo finds himself thinking about Izumi. Ichijo goes to see Izumi and thinks if Izumi strips down and shows he’s a guy that Ichijo will stop thinking about him. When Ichijo succeeds, he sees Izumi crying and asking Ichijo to stop. Unfortunately, Ichijo seems to become attracted to Izumi’s pretty face, and the series evolves into a boys-love story.

After watching the first episode, I saw that Love Stage!! was leaning more toward the comedic side; from what I saw, the comedy seemed to work for the story being told. I also thought that the series showed a lot of promise.

Episode Three, however, made me a little uncomfortable when Ichijo tried to force Izumi to strip down and then became rather romantic toward him when he saw Izumi’s face. I wasn’t bothered by the fact that this scene featured two guys; in fact, it would have bothered me just as much if this scene had taken place between Ichijo and a female character. Honestly, if Shogo hadn’t come at just the right moment, Ichijo could have potentially raped Izumi. And that would not have been cool at all. But it still wasn’t cool how far Ichijo had managed to get before Shogo’s interference.

By the end of Episode Four, it was very blatant that the series was heading into boys-love territory; as I watched the remainder of the series, I thought that the boys-love aspect was handled rather well.

The series ended pretty much as I expected it to, with Izumi and Ichijo becoming a couple. With the way this episode ended, it could work as an ending for the series, but if there’s more content in the manga that hasn’t been covered, there could always be the potential for a second season if the first season performed well enough. All I know at this point is that there’s an OVA that’s scheduled to be released in Japan with an upcoming volume of the manga, and I have no idea what that’s going to cover.

Overall, I thought Love Stage!! was an ok series, but it’s not something I’d personally rush to see again anytime soon. I’m not saying that because it’s a boys-love title, because if this had been a series with a straight couple that was done in this manner, I’d feel the same way. But I’m glad I got to see this as a free stream and be able to say that I’ve seen it once.

However, if you’re a fan of boys-love anime, then you’ll probably have a strong appreciation for Love Stage!!

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