Section23 Films Announces Releases for July 2019

Home video distributor Section23 Films today announced its slate of releases for July 2019.

Product details follow, in order of release

Coming July 2019

Title: THOSE WHO HUNT ELVES BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 600 min.
Street Date: 7/2/2019
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: When an unlikely trio of humans find themselves transported to a world populated by elves and other mystical beings, all they want to do is go home. Fortunately, the sorceress Celsia has a spell that can send them back! Unfortunately, things go horribly wrong and the spell is scattered to the winds, with different parts attaching like tattoos to the bodies of elves across the entire planet. Now, the only way to put it back together is for strongman Junpei, actress Airi and teenage gun-fanatic Ritsuko to travel around the world in a T-74 tank, convincing random elves to strip down for a “spell check.” Get ready for the weirdest, most un-PC road trip ever as the tank treads hit the road and the elf-clothes go a-flying in Those Who Hunt Elves.

Title: PET SHOP OF HORRORS BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 100 min.
Street Date: 7/9/2019
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $19.98

SYNOPSIS: Are you seeking something unusual in a pet to fill an empty space in your heart? Then venture, if you dare, into a strange little pet shop in Chinatown, where the mysterious proprietor knows your every need and desire. But watch out. When you buy from Count D, what you get may be what he thinks you deserve rather than what you want. So even if that rare rabbit does somehow look just like your lost child, perhaps you’d be safer shopping somewhere else. That’s certainly what Detective Orcot of the LAPD would advise, as nightmarish things seem to keep happening to the shop’s customers. Unfortunately, there’s never been quite enough evidence to implicate the Count. And until there is, business will continue to boom at the Pet Shop of Horrors.

Title: ASURA CRYIN’ BLU-RAY
Published by: Maiden Japan
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 650 min.
Street Date: 7/16/2019
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $89.98

SYNOPSIS: Some people are haunted by memories, but Tomoharu is haunted by his friend Misao, who died in a horrible plane crash that Tomo somehow survived. While having a girl that no one else can see hanging around is a little odd, it’s not until Tomo’s mom gets remarried, leaving Tomo alone, that things get really weird: A mysterious girl appears with a package that Tomo is supposed to guard. A second girl breaks into the house, demanding something called an “extractor.” And both girls can inexplicably see Misao. As more people target the package and Tomo, the mystery only deepens. What’s in the package, why are so many people after it, and is it connected to the plane crash or something even more sinister? The shocking answers will be unleashed in Asura Cryin’.

Title: ARMORED TROOPER VOTOMS OVA 2
Published by: Maiden Japan
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 290 min.
Street Date: 7/23/2019
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: The fires of war don’t create heroes, only legions of the wounded and the dead. For a pilot of an easily-destroyed VOTOMS unit, every foray into battle is one more calculated bet with your own life as the prize, another day of cheating death. When your commanding officers send you into a fight that can’t be won, or set goals that can only be achieved through massive sacrifice, then a decision has to be made. Are you going to be a hero? Or a survivor? The brutal realism of the acclaimed anime series returns, as men and machines are thrown into the meat grinder of war, in the epic second Original Video Animation collection of Armored Trooper Votoms.

Title: CUTIE HONEY UNIVERSE
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 7/23/2019
Format: BD, PBS
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98, $129.98

SYNOPSIS: The girls at Saint Chapel Academy all think Honey Kisaragi is just another sweet, kind and incredibly beautiful girl, but what they don’t know is that Honey is actually the world’s most advanced android, with the capability to transform her lovely body into multiple forms with their own special abilities. Unfortunately the evil Sister Jill, head of the sinister organization Panther Claw, knows Honey’s secret, and the malevolent mistress of mayhem will stop at nothing in her attempts to capture Honey and use her body for her own twisted purposes. With Jill’s army of half-human hotties on one side and Honey and her stalwart allies at the PCIS (Panther Claw Criminal Investigation Service) on the other, it’s going to be the wildest, sexiest battle ever. Watch out evildoers! The original magical girl is back in Cutie Honey Universe.

Title: ELFEN LIED STEELBOOK BLU-RAY
Published by: ADV Films
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 7/30/2019
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $99.98

SYNOPSIS: Critics have described Elfen Lied as “weird,” (Anime Planet), “surprisingly sadistic,” (Gamers Edge), and “addictive”(Animesou). No wonder, when you consider what makes this series hum. Lucy, a beautiful young mutant, is bred by the military to be the ultimate weapon. Now, with government killers on her trail, the disposition of a five year old, and a hair trigger for ultraviolence, Lucy and her young friends must unravel the dark secret of her legacy before it’s too late.

Title: LOVE STAGE BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 275 min.
Street Date: 7/30/2019
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: As a child actor, Izumi Sena was following the rest of his family into the entertainment business until he quit after a humiliating incident while shooting a certain commercial. Now, ten years later, Izumi’s trying to juggle college and becoming a manga author, but nothing seems to be working out for him. Until he’s asked to reprise his part in that infamous commercial opposite one of Japan’s most popular up-and-coming actors. Which wouldn’t be so bad… except for the fact that Izumi was dressed as a young girl in the ad, and everyone, including his infatuated potential co-star Ryoma Ichijo, still thinks that he’s a she. Is Izumi going to have to kiss a guy and will he like it? And what will Ryoma think when the girl of his dreams turns out to be a guy in jeans? Get ready for a tale of crossed stars and shifting alignments as a completely unexpected drama unfolds in prime time across the Love Stage!!

English Cast Announced for the Love Stage!! Anime

The English cast has been announced for the Love Stage!! anime:

  • Greg Ayres is Izumi Sena
  • Adam Gibbs is Ryoma Ichijou
  • David Wald is Rei Sagara
  • Greg Cote is SHOGO
  • John Swasey is Seiya Sena
  • Monica Rial is Nagisa Sena / Lala-Lulu
  • Brittney Karbowski is Kasumi Shino / Gaga-Ruru
  • Tia Ballard is Kanna Sato / Shanti / Miho / Young Izumi
  • Christopher Sabat is Biscuit/Miss Terry
  • Josh Grelle is Takahiro Kuroi
  • James Belcher is Kojiro Ryuuzaki
  • Ian Sinclair is Kosuke Sotomura
  • Blake Shepard is Kurimu Kaneda
  • Andrew Love is Zenon Futoyama
  • Marcy Bannor is Ai Ichihara
  • Kregg Dailey is Tenma Hidaka
  • Jay Hickman is Miyabi Saotome
  • Katelyn Barr is Maho / Young Ryoma
  • Margaret McDonald is Miho / Sugirin

Other voice actors involved in the dub include: Clint Bickham, Amber Lee Connors, Patricia Duran, Shannon Emerick, Luis Galindo, Scott Gibbs, David Harbold, Kyle Colby Jones, Christina Kelly, Marissa Lenti, Shanae’a Moore, Howard Wang, Gareth West, and Nathan Wilson.

David Wald is directing the dub.

Source: ANN

Sentai Filmworks to Dub the Love Stage!! Anime

David Wald has announced on the official Sentai Filmworks Twitter account that he is directing an English dub for the anime adaptation of Taishi Zaou and Eiki Eiki’s Love Stage!! boys-love manga.

Sentai Filmworks released the complete series and the original video anime on subtitle-only Blu-ray Disc and DVD in 2016. The anime premiered in 2014 and Crunchyroll simulcast the series as it aired.

Source: ANN

2014 In Review: Summer 2014 Season

I’ve posted about the series I watched in the Winter 2014 season and about the series I started watching during the Spring 2014 season. Today, I’m posting about the anime series I started watching during the Summer 2014 season.

Sailor Moon Crystal: So far, this series seems to be following the manga much more closely than the original anime series did. I’ve only seen a portion of the original Sailor Moon anime, but from what I’ve seen of both that and Sailor Moon Crystal, I think that the storytelling and feel of Sailor Moon Crystal is stronger. The animation in Sailor Moon Crystal was very rough for a while, but the quality seems to have improved with more recent episodes. The main weakness that Sailor Moon Crystal has is the fact that it only airs twice a month; because of that, momentum is lost between episodes. Hopefully once the series becomes available on home video in the future and viewers can see episodes much closer together, that the storytelling will feel stronger than it does now. This is a series that will be continuing into the Winter 2015 season, so expect to see it appear in a retrospective for 2015!

Free! Eternal Summer: This is the second season for Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club, a series that aired during the Summer 2013 season. When I watched the first episode of Free! Eternal Summer, I saw much more blatant “fanservice” included in it than I had in all of the previous season of Free! I found myself fearing that Free! Eternal Summer was going to try to focus more on the fanservice than on the story. Fortunately, the fanservice was toned down tremendously after Episode One and that there was more of an emphasis placed on the story. Not only did Episode Two tone down the fanservice, it also did a great job of setting up the new elements that were being introduced to the series. With Episode Five, I was very happy to see Nagisa get a character development episode. While most of the other characters had received character development episodes in the first season, Nagisa was the only one who hadn’t. After watching Episode Five, I felt I understood where Nagisa was coming from a lot better than I had previously. With how the prefecturals progressed in Episode Six, it allowed Free! Eternal Summer to differentiate itself from the first season, since there would be a story that focuses on the Iwatobi team going to nationals. I also appreciated seeing the way that Free! Eternal Summer came to an end, which is with a montage that shows what happens to the various characters during the next school year. But from seeing this montage, it leads me to believe that there more than likely won’t be another season of the Free! anime. While I do enjoy this series quite a bit, I really can’t see where they could take the story, especially with Makoto and Haruka no longer being on the school’s swim team. It just wouldn’t be the same without all four of them.

Aldnoah.Zero: After watching the first episode, I thought that Aldnoah.Zero showed a lot of promise; however, I did have some issues with how much “info dumping” took place. During the first couple of episodes, I found myself being able to predict some of the events that happened; however, this ability to predict what would happen in the story went out the window as the series progressed. The info dumping came back in Episode Six; at this point, I found myself wondering if maybe the series needed more episodes, because the info dumping felt as if it was being done to help the story move along faster in order for it to fit into the allotted number of episodes for the series. At the end of Episode Seven, I thought the storytelling had become even more of a mess than what I’d seen during Episode Six. At the end of Episode Eight, I thought that the writing had gotten sloppy, there was a relative lack of character development, and that there were radical changes in characterization. It almost felt as if someone was making up the story as they went, and that was the only way I could explain how the storytelling had fallen apart as much as it did over the course of eight episodes. Unfortunately, the quality of the writing never improved over the remaining four episodes of the series. After reaching the end of the series, I found myself thinking that I’d wasted 12 weeks of my time watching it.

Re: Hamatora: This is the second season of Hamatora that I’d been looking forward to watching after watching the cliffhanger at the end of the Winter 2014 season. After watching the first episode, I felt that even though there was a more serious tone than there had been to the first season of Hamatora, the second season seemed to be a strong continuation for the series. I pretty much felt this way through Episode Five. With Episode Six, though, the series started to become much more weird and dark than it had been. At that point, I had hoped that perhaps this would be the weirdest that the series would get. Unfortunately, the episodes continued becoming stranger and stranger for the remainder of the series. In the end, I didn’t enjoy Re: Hamatora as much as I did the first season of Hamatora. Right at first, the darker and more serious tone of Re: Hamatora was a refreshing change of pace; however, as the season wore on, the storyline in Re: Hamatora just continued to become stranger and stranger. Ultimately, the two seasons of Hamatora were as different as night and day: the first season was more light-hearted with the occasional serious moment, while the second season was more serious with the occasional light-hearted moment early on. But by the end of Re: Hamatora, any light-heartedness was basically gone. In the end, Re: Hamatora did present some interesting concepts, but I’m not convinced that the execution of those concepts worked as well as they could have.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun: After watching the first episode of the series, I thought it was off to a good start. I liked the main characters and how they interacted with each other. The story also kept my interest, and the humor was very enjoyable. Episode Two did a good job of building off of Episode One, and the story continued to be amusing. That episode introduced Yuzuki, who ended up being the only character who never truly grew on me; I found her to be rather annoying. I have to admit that my interest started to wane a little with Episode Five, because the humor in that episode wasn’t quite as amusing as it had been in the previous four episodes. This slump in the humor lasted for two episodes, then started getting better for a couple of episodes, and then there was another minor slump in Episode Nine. Fortunately, the final three episodes of the series help to make up for the slump in the humor that appeared around halfway through the series. But even with the episodes that weren’t as amusing as the rest of the series, the stories presented in those episodes weren’t bad. My main gripe, though, is that there seemed to be too many characters, so some characters couldn’t get the development and screen time that they needed. The characters who really felt as if they didn’t need to be there are Nozaki’s tanuki-loving former editor, and his upstairs neighbor who’s also a shojo manga artist. In the long run, those two particular characters really didn’t add a whole lot to the series and didn’t contribute much to the overall story. Even though there was no real conclusion to the story, I think the series needed to end the way that it did. This is due in large part to the fact that the manga is still ongoing in Japan; also, if any of these potential couples did officially get together by the end, it would have had a strong effect on the series’ humor. Overall, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun was an enjoyable viewing experience from start to end. In fact, I would have to say that this would be one of my overall favorite series that I watched during the Summer 2014 anime season. I’d even be willing to go so far as to say that would rank up there among my favorite series that I watched during 2014.

Blue Spring Ride: After watching the first episode, I thought that Blue Spring Ride was off to a promising start. I liked the various character interactions, and the episode did a good job of establishing the characters and the story. And after watching Episode Two, I thought it was even better than Episode One had been. By the time I finished Episode Six, I thought that there were a lot of ways in which the plot twists and turns in Blue Spring Ride remind me a lot of what I saw in Strobe Edge, another manga by Io Sakisaka. Since I enjoyed the twists and turns in Strobe Edge, I also enjoyed them in Blue Spring Ride. After I finished watching Blue Spring Ride, I thought that it was a well-done shojo anime series. The series had characters that I became interested and invested in, and the romantic and friendship storylines were done in a way where they really didn’t come across as “over the top.” Blue Spring Ride is a series that I’d happily watch again at some point in the future. It’s another title that would rank up there among my favorite anime from 2014.

HaNaYaMaTa: After watching the first episode, I found myself thinking that the animation was very bright and colorful. Also, all the female characters seemed to have a rather “cute” look to them, which gave the series a moe feel. Storywise, I thought HaNaYaMaTa was off to a decent start and appeared to have the foundation for an interesting story. At the time, I hoped that the series could continue in the style I saw in the first episode and not devolve into yet another “cute girls doing cute things” show. By the end of Episode Three, I had to give HaNaYaMaTa some credit for the fact that while it had a “moe” look and feel to it, the girls came across as actual characters and not as girls that fit various character types. There was also an overarching story that helped to keep a viewer interested, unlike many of the more recent moe type shows that seemed to focus more on vignettes and simply being cute rather than having much in the way of substance to its story. At the end of Episode Six, I was impressed by how the series’ plot kept the story moving and how the portrayal of the characters endeared them to the audience since they were actually characters and not simply character types. I appreciated HaNaYaMaTa for proving to me that a show with cute girls can actually have substance to it and be enjoyable to watch week after week. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as satisfied by the ending of HaNaYaMaTa as I hoped I would be. A major event happens at the end of Episode 11 that really affects the Yosakoi Club, but Episode 12 brings a resolution to that roadblock in such a way that I had a hard time using my “willing suspension of belief” or finding any way to the ending to be anywhere near realistic. Also, I thought there was a major loose end that was left resolved at the end of Episode 12. Overall, I did enjoy HaNaYaMaTa, even if I was a little disappointed in how the expected resolution with Hana ultimately transpired.

Love Stage!!: 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. As of this writing, there’s only been an OVA that’s been released in Japan in addition to the television anime series. 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.

Terror in Resonance: After I watched the first episode, I thought the animation looked good, and that Yoko Kanno was delivering another good anime score. Story-wise, I thought the series was off to a promising start, even if it was a little slow to get going. Once the story started to become more established over the course of the episode, it intrigued me enough to keep my interest. By the end of Episode Five, it felt like the story had been kicked up a notch, due to the introduction of Five and the potential issues that Shibazaki faced in this episode. But at this point, I found myself not feeling terribly sure about Lisa as a character, because she just didn’t seem to have much of a purpose; she was starting to feel more like a prop than anything else. At the end of Episode Six, I found myself wondering if should truly be rooting for anyone. Nine and Twelve were the main characters, but I wasn’t sure I could root for them with everything they’d done up to that point. Five may have been affiliated with the authorities, but she was only looking out for her own interests, so I couldn’t root for her. Lisa still hadn’t done much of anything at that point, and the closest character there was to a “good guy” was Shibazaki. At the end of Episode 10, I was still rather frustrated with Lisa as a character. At this point, she’d either been a prop or becomes the “damsel in distress.” Also, I was also feeling frustrated by the overall lack of character development for both Nine and Twelve, who are supposed to be the main characters of the series. After finishing the series, I came to see how the series only touched on its themes and the majority of its characters on a purely surface level. The only character to truly have any character development was Shibazaki. Lisa seemed to have the least development; all we seem to know about her is the fact that she was being bullied and had an extremely clingy mother. Episode 12 made an attempt at trying to make Lisa a more important character in the series, but at that point, it was simply too little, too late. Two of the characters were killed at the end of the episode; however, since they were really only known to the audience on a surface level, it was hard to feel any kind of emotion when they died. Terror in Resonance is a story that had so much promise, but in the end, it didn’t deliver as I’d hoped. It’s got good animation, great music, and an interesting premise; unfortunately, the series was ultimately lacking in its overall execution. It reminds me a lot of cotton candy: it looks good, tastes great, but in the end it still leaves you feeling empty.

Tokyo ESP: After watching the first episode of Tokyo ESP, I thought that the animation was rather well-done. I also thought that there seemed to be an interesting idea being presented, but that the pacing felt a little on the sluggish side. I also found myself feeling rather confused, because the episode was done in such a way that it felt like it was being assumed that the audience already knew and understood what was taking place. With Episode Two, it became clear that the trick of starting at one point in the story and then backtracking to fill in the gaps to get back to where the story started was being utilized. After watching Episode Two, I did have a better impression of Tokyo ESP. But as the series continued, I found myself thinking that it probably would have made the series stronger if the second episode had been the first episode and had just gone in chronological order. By eliminating that first episode, the writers would have gained one episode that could have potentially allowed them to develop the characters or the story a little more. When the final episode concluded, it didn’t feel like the story had come to an end; in fact, it felt as if the stage was being set for a second season. However, there was nothing at the end of the episode to announce that another season would be coming in the future. After finishing Tokyo ESP, I found that I never was able to enjoy it as much as I’d hoped I would. The way the series started didn’t really help anything, since it left me so confused as to what was going on. When the actual story got going in Episode Two, the pacing of the story tended to feel slow, although not quite as slow as the first episode; but the pacing never really improved much after Episode Two. I also found that I just couldn’t get into the characters, not even into the characters who had some clearly defined development, such as Rinka and Kyotaro. Looking back, I realize I had this underlying sense of detachment from the characters. In the end, Tokyo ESP had an interesting concept behind it, but the execution just wasn’t as strong as it could have been.

Additional 2014 In Review posts:

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 a 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 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. However, 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.

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!!

Additional Anime Spotlights:

Love Stage!!: Episode 10 – “Love Isn’t Enough”

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 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 free stream and be able to say that I’ve seen it once.

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Yaoi Publisher SuBLime Reveals New Manga Acquisitions During YaoiCon 2014

SuBLime, the global yaoi manga publishing initiative between VIZ Media and Japan’s Animate, Ltd. (Animate), provided detailed updates for a variety of brand-new and continuing yaoi manga titles during its YaoiCon 2014 panel this past weekend in San Francisco.

SuBLime announced plans to release Eiki Eiki and Taishi Zaou’s Love Stage!! (Rated ‘M’ for Mature) in print starting May 2015 with additional volumes to follow every other month. In this romantic comedy, the protagonist’s family is packed with famous celebrities but Izumi Sena is actually a huge otaku with aspirations of becoming a manga creator.

SuBLime also detailed plans to publish Ginger Honey (Rated ‘M’ for Mature), creator Isaku Natsume’s humorous follow-up to Devil’s Honey (also published by SuBLime), which is set for digital-only release February 2015.

SuBLime also acquired Tomoko Yamashita’s The Night Beyond the Tricorner Window Vol. 1 (Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens) and plans to debut the series digitally beginning March 2015.

In addition to these new releases, SuBLime updated fans about the forthcoming simultaneous, worldwide digital release on October 28, 2014 of Episode 2 of author Rieko Yoshihara and artist Ryo Tateishi’s Into Illusion, the same day it debuts in Japan! Don’t miss the half-manga/half-novel release of this unique and exciting series from the author of Ai no Kusabi – The Space Between.

“YaoiCon 2014 was the perfect setting to announce our latest manga acquisitions, and we know fans are getting excited for these upcoming releases,” says Jennifer LeBlanc, SuBLime’s Editor. “From the acquisition of the highly anticipated Love Stage!! to the simultaneous U.S./Japanese debut of the latest installment of the supernatural, erotic thriller Into Illusion, fans will have a lot to look forward to in coming months!”

YaoiCon fans also cheered the news of the North American debut of Shungiku Nakamura’s The World’s Greatest First Love (Rated ‘M’ for Mature). This romantic comedy about a handsome, single young man discovering his new boss is actually an old flame will debut in print beginning February 2015.

SuBLime also updated fans on a variety of other ongoing, popular yaoi series. Embracing Love Volume 3 is scheduled for print and digital release August 2015; the final print and digital volume of Hide and Seek, Volume 3, is set for release in March 2015; and Starting With a Kiss Volume 3, also the final volume of the series, is scheduled for print and digital release June 2015.

VIZ Media’s SuBLime Imprint Announces New Licenses

VIZ Media announced during the company’s panel at Yaoi-Con that it’s SuBLime boys’ love imprint has acquired the license for the following titles:

  • Eiki Eiki and Taishi Zaou’s Love Stage!!; the first volume is scheduled to be released in print and digital in May 2015
  • Isaku Natsume’s Ginger Honey; this is scheduled to be released digitally in February 2015
  • Momiji Akutagawa’s Special Deivery!; this is scheduled to be releases digitally in April 2015
  • Tomoko Yamashita’s The Night Beyond the Tricorner Window; the first volume will be released digitally in March 2015

In addition, the company also announced:

  • The second volume of Rieko Yoshihara’s Into Illusion novel/manga project will be released on October 28, 2014
  • The third volume of Hide and Seek by Yaya Sakuragi is scheduled to be released in March 2015
  • The third volume of Starting With a Kiss by Youka Nitta is scheduled to be released in June 2015
  • The third 2-in-1 volume of Embracing Love by Youka Nitta is scheduled to be released in August 2015

Source: ANN

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. 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 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 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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