Episodes: 10 + 1 OVA
Animation Studio: J.C. Staff
When it comes to anything in the romance genre the story tends to focus on whether or not the characters get together and do it like animals. Thankfully, Love Stage!! is not that. Oh no, like any good story the characters are what drives the viewer along.
The basic premise of this anime is about a boy, Izumi, who was traumatized as a kid by dressing up as a girl to fill in for an actor on a commercial. Now, ten years later the commercial people are looking to do a revamped version of the one Izumi did with the exact same cast, but the only problem is Izumi doesn’t want to be in the public’s eye, and if he were to do it he’d have to dress up like a girl to fit the character he played many years ago.
Shenanigans happen and Izumi meets Ryouma, the boy who was part of the original commercial, who fell in love with him. Izumi has to now deal with the fact that a guy confessed his love to him, and has to deal with his ever changing life being driven to the entertainment biz, which means he’s being forced to be an extrovert when he’s an introvert.
Okay, that’s not the best way to describe this anime, but it’s the best I got. What makes this show really interesting, though, is that Izumi is a shut-in otaku who comes from a famous showbiz family, and throughout the show he constantly uses terminology that any viewer would most likely recognize such as: “Am I in a BL story?” “Does this mean I’m the uke?” and so forth. But, Izumi’s knowledge and slight fourth wall jabs at the story isn’t what really puts this over the edge as a show you should watch, it’s the fact that the story does such a good job at convincing the viewer that these are real characters with more than one dimension that deserve to be together. At a certain point you start rooting for them to hook up.
The series has a mix of new ideas and anime cliches that makes this have a semi-fresh feel when watching. On one hand you have the main character aa a beautiful boy who is easily passed off as a girl, but he wears glasses and aspires to become a manga artist which actually hides his good looking features. Basically his true personality is the opposite of what’s expected. In fact he sucks at drawing all together, which makes it even funnier when you see Ryouma try to draw.
The story doesn’t tease you with the whole “will they, won’t they” bit. The characters are developed naturally to the point that it didn’t take too long for them to end up together, but at the same time it wasn’t too short (like any of the Disney princesses spending a weekend to find true love). Each character had to go through the earth shattering realization that they are in love with a man, with comedic gold coming from Izumi, and then dealing with their feelings in a realistic way.
One of the reasons I chose to review this titles is because it’s one of the few yaoi that actually puts story over fanservice. In fact, I’ve read many comments about guys saying that this anime was their gateway into yaoi, and that it wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be. In fact they were swept up in the love story because this anime deals with universal problems that can affect anybody. It deals with sacrificing your free time to be with the one you love, trying to become more open and accepting when you’re an introvert, and even dealing with how scary sex can be for the first time. Mix that with all the psychological worry that Izumi puts forth in his head and you got a romance show that anyone can relate to.
The animation is gorgeous, and damn there are lots of colors in play. Just the opening alone has blues and pinks and yellows that will stab your eyes at how colorful this can be. One of the most interesting things that they do in this show though, is that whenever a character is starting to get intimate their whole body melts into the background. I don’t know if this is some high class censoring, or just an artsy way to show that one of the characters are into it and the other is not, but it’s definitely visually stimulating.
There isn’t a whole lot I can say negatively about this show. If I had to nitpick I could ask how Ryouma got Izumi’s picture as a kid from ten years ago on his phone, and the fact that Ryouma gave Izumi his marble but Izumi wants to return it to him in the next episode, but those are things I can easily forgive so that the story can progress. If I had to really say something that pulled me out of the show it would be that one episode that acted as if it were a documentary. It was so weird, and jarring for such a short series to do. Not only was it used to tell you what had already happened in the story, but it just felt off.
Overall I’d say that this an anime that people will love, and I’m sure it will surprise some people on how much they like it. I would also recommend watching the OVA since it continues right where the anime left off. If you like romance, and characters that are well crafted and have to deal with universal problems then I’d say check this out. And guys, don’t worry. There isn’t a whole lot shirtless dudes in this so your “man-pride” will still be intact 😉
+ Lovable characters
+Universal problems that all can relate to
– Jarring episode that takes you out of the flow