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. Ten 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 ten years earlier, thinking Izumi was a girl.
Now that Izumi is recognizable to people without his glasses on, he gets mobbed when people see him. While trying to escape, he runs into a group of thugs trying to shake down a businessman for money. When the thugs recognize Izumi, they realize he’s a better target. They attack him to determine whether he’s really a boy or a girl, and are at first disappointed when they see he’s a boy. However, when they see how cute Izumi looks with his scared face and tears, they decide they want to have a go. As they attack, Izumi realizes the only person he wants touching him that way is Ichijo. With this realization, he finds inner strength and is able to shake off his attackers, whether it’s through kicking the crotch, throwing dirt in the eyes, or swinging a bag into a guy’s head.
When Izumi escapes, he runs into Kuori, one of the guys from the manga club. Kuori admits to Izumi that he’s an assistant to Saotome-sensei, the mangaka behind Lala-Lulu, and tells Izumi about what Ichijo did in order to get an audience with Saotome. Izumi is so moved that he realizes he loves Ichijo.
This was sweet, but at the same time, it was rather convenient. As a viewer, it felt like too much fell into place easily in order to advance the story along to a desired conclusion.
We see Izumi rush to Ichijo’s house, the two finally have a go at it, and they declare their love for each other. Unfortunately for Izumi, it’s more painful than he anticipated. It should be mentioned that while the audience saw nothing explicit, there were cutaways to various other places in the house instead of covering Izumi’s body with sky. That seemed like an odd way of censoring things in earlier episodes, but I read a comment about this being symbolism that really made sense. Prior to this point, any interaction of this kind was not consensual between Izumi and Ichijo, and that’s when the sky would appear on Izumi, as a symbol of him thinking of anything except what was going on at that time. When you think about it that way, the “sky censoring” isn’t as stupid as it initially came off to be.
It’d been hinted at earlier that Rei has experience with being with another man, and this episode drops hints that Shogo is his partner. I don’t know how he can stand it, though, with how whiny Shogo can be. And Shogo’s whininess was definitely off the charts during this episode.
This 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 simulcast and be able to say that I’ve seen it once.
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