- Titles: LOVE STAGE!!
- Genre: Comedy, romance
- Episodes: 10
- Studio: J.C. Staff
Izumi Sena is going to create the next masterpiece manga. He will be the biggest thing to hit the manga industry since… g pens. Why wouldn’t he? After all, success is in his blood. His mother is a renowned actress who can still turn heads. His father was a popular singer and now owns his own talent agency and his brother is the lead singer in one of the biggest rock bands out there. Even Izumi himself has had a taste of the limelight when he was just a small kid and was drafted to star in a commercial. He has entertainment running through his veins and what is manga but entertainment on paper! What could possibly go wrong? Oh yeah, he has no talent. Also, everyone else just wants him to act and now they are reshooting the same commercial 10 years later with the same cast. Oh, and did we mention that Izumi had to take up the part of a little girl that didn’t show up 10 years ago. There’s no way he could pass for a girl now though. Is there?
When I started writing a summary for Love Stage!!, I realized that there’s really a lot going on in this show. There are like 3 main plot lines and I didn’t even get to the romance part. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.
You know, I think I like J.C. Staff anime. They are not necessarily visually striking, like nothing really put the studio on my radar but they always look good. Love Stage is no exception, it looks good.
I will say that the character designs aren’t my personal favourite style. Except for Izumi. He was absolutely adorable and I have way too many screenshots of him. In fact, looking at my Pinterest board for the show, you could think that he was the only character, which isn’t completely off base.
My favourite aspect of the production was the colours. There is a storyline that has to do with the peculiar colour of Izumi’s eyes (his brother actually has the same colour) which are a very interesting gradient of purple into gold. I get it, his eye colour is gorgeous and it was rendered beautifully in the anime.
Story & Characters
I really thought about not reviewing Love Stage!! I just don’t know how to go about it. I don’t really like the expression guilty pleasure that much. Pleasure shouldn’t be guilty unless they’re illegal… But I also don’t know how to describe Love Stage!! otherwise.
OK, so Love Stage!! is a bl romance comedy that is just full of the worst tropes of the genre. You know, the tropes people who don’t like BL will point out to explain why it’s a bad genre. And I don,t like those tropes either.
There is a whole lot of assault and borderline r*pe in this show. I will give Love Stage!! credit for the fact that the act itself is not presented as romantic at least and is condemned by the characters. But it’s also presented as not really that big a deal, immediately forgiven and one of the main characters keeps perpetrating it even after he is supposed to have been redeemed because he just can’t help himself… Oh, you! So if that trope gets on your nerves, and it gets on mine, then there’s a lot to be annoyed about in Love Stage!!
Moreover there’s the whole weird tendency to make a homosexual relationship as heterosexual seeming as possible. This is also a common trope but not everyone enjoys it. One character is physically smaller and constantly put in drag for some reason or other. The art style in Love Stage!! gives male characters a visibly different facial structure than female ones and yet Izumi is the one male character with a female facial structure. Hmmm…. also I think he’s the cutest, they should have just drawn all the boys that way!
And then there are all the usual offenders. Playful stalking, showing up places uninvited and uncomfortable clinginess that somehow is justified and even rewarded by the narrative.
Generally speaking, the romance in Love Stage!! is not particularly healthy or aspirational but you get the feeling the show wants you to think it is. But well… I kind of liked Love Stage!! I didn’t like those particular elements and I think the show would have been better without them but I still enjoyed the rest.
It should be said that romance is less important to the story than I would have thought. A lot of Love Stage!! is more interested in Izumi’s personal growth as he has to accept that his career aspirations might not be very easy for him and has to figure out if he still wants to pursue them. It should be said that Izumi is a very rich and privileged young man that can realistically pick a career path in which he will likely fail without worrying too much about becoming homeless.
It’s also an exploration of the Sena family which is as mentioned above very rich and privileged, making them eccentric and often oblivious but they are also an extremely loving family who care deeply about their youngest son. They are torn between letting him pursue a dream that will likely lead to failure or trying to push him in a direction they think he’s better suited for.
Both of those plot threads are just as important as the romance thread and both of them are actually decently done. There’s not enough time to really get into either but they do bring a lot of momentum to the story and I enjoyed them both.
As for the romance…well… it’s not very good and there are a lot of parts that I just did not like. But I also didn’t hate it. Maybe it’s the very bubbly and cartoonish feel of the show. It never took itself seriously so I couldn’t take it too seriously. Most likely it was just a right anime at the right time thing. I was in a forgiving mood and I wanted to watch a shallow comedic show so I overlooked a lot of the parts I didn’t like. Honestly, I would put in on par with Dakaichi -I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year- but I likedLove Stage more. It’s also only 10 episodes and I think that may have helped.
And this is why I debated so long doing a post on Love Stage!!. Because when it gets right down to it, I don’t know if you should watch it. Is it good? Well, it’s well made and there are some decent parts but there are also some bad parts so… kinda? sometimes? Maybe? All I can say is that if you really like BL anime and you don’t mind the assault trope it could be entertaining. If you do mind the assault trope it can be a bit much!
You might like this anime if:
I noticed that a lot of people I follow on AniList actually liked this anime, so maybe I’m being oversensitive?
My favourite character:
It’s a toss-up between Shougo (it’s probably Shougo) and Rei. They heavily hinted at something between those two, I bet it’s in an OVA somewhere.
- Every time Izumi panics – take a sip
- Every time we see Lalalulu – take a sip
- Every time Izumi is drawing – gasp!
- Every time Ryouma has a nightmare – take a sip
- it wasn’t a nightmare – oh no!
- Every time Shougo saves the day – be amazed
- Every time Rei gets angry – take a sip
- Every time Izumi meets with the manga club – take a sip
- Every time there’s assault – bad
- Every time the wedding commercial plays – take a sip
- Every time we see the marble – take a sip
- Every time Rei is on the phone – take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.