Welcome to issue #2 of Jade Woodruff’s “Life on Anime” – a brand new column here at Nerd Nation dedicated to reviewing all of the great anime titles out there (of which there are many – as most of you reading this already know!) from the perspective of a life-long anime fan.
For this installment, we will be tackling Love Stage – a shonen-ai (or yaoi) series released in the summer of 2014. It’s a short, 10-episode series based on the popular (and still running) manga of the same name.
Here’s the premise:
Izumi was born into a family of celebrities. His brother is a singer for the popular rock band Crashers and his parents are actors. Izumi, however, is an Otaku college boy who’s in love with Magical Girl Lala Lulu. His dream is to become a manga-ka himself even though he has no talent. He wants nothing to do with show business. As a young child, his parents roped him into portraying a little girl in a wedding commercial. His young male counterpart, Ryouma, never forgot how adorable Izumi was and, because the family never disclosed any information about Izumi, Ryouma (and the rest of the world) believed Izumi was a girl. Jump forward ten years and Izumi is invited back on set to film an anniversary special of the same commercial. He’s humiliated by the notion of wearing women’s clothing and people finding out that he’s actually a boy. Will he be able to pull off being a girl now that he’s an adult? Or will his identity be compromised?
This anime has plenty of male eye candy. I’m not into the yaoi or boys love scene but every now and then I take a peek at a few episodes of a popular title to see if it piques my interest.
Love Stage was strangely captivating. After watching just a few episodes of Love Stage on Crunchyroll, I started scouring the internet for the manga. I had to know what happened to Izumi and Ryouma.
The premise is similar to other anime titles like Gravitation. I was relieved that Izumi didn’t enjoy cross dressing, want to cross dress, or wear women’s clothing regularly. It was nice to see a boys love title focus on the guys coming to love each other for who they are rather than just “because he looks like a chick” which feels shallow, contrived, and a little insulting.
This show is modern and full of energy. Like most romance titles, daily drama as a result of personality clashes, jobs, and friend circles drives the plot and the comedy. Izumi is cute, relatable, and fun to watch. Ryouma is handsome, charismatic, and can be downright sexy. The rest of the cast is stereotypical for a show-business-themed anime. From producers with narrow eyes and long hair to bespectacled agents who are willing to do anything to keep their actors out of the spotlight and the media and fans who will do anything to get a peek at their favorite (or any) star, Love Stage covers all the core elements.
Izumi is a shy boy and has a lot of hurdles to overcome. The anime follows him through some of these challenges as he learns that life and love are about give and take. At the end of the day though, the series is blatantly incomplete. Many plot points are left unresolved and the anime finds difficulty straddling smut and character development. It always leaves you wanting more of each, but doesn’t deliver enough of either.
It’s a fun watch with some nicely animated bishounen. Because it has erotic themes and artistically censored sex scenes, this anime is not for children or people who are not interested in boys love. All of that being said, I really enjoyed this title. If you’re looking for something short and fun, give it a shot if you don’t mind yaoi.
Compared to the Manga
Love Stage is based on the popular (and still running) manga series written by Eiki Eiki and illustrated by Taishi Zao. It began serialization in the July 2010 issue of Kadokawa Shoten’s Asuka Ciel magazine and a spin-off light novel series (Black Stage!!) began publication in May 2011. The animated adaptation covers roughly the first 15 chapters of the manga.
The anime’s pacing is slower, giving more time for internal dialogue. It focuses heavily on Izumi and only hints at the deeper relationships between the supporting characters. I’m assuming this is because the series was slated for 10 episodes and it would have been very difficult to include everything from the manga. The sex scenes are better in the manga. I feel like the anime skimped on some of the more important intimate scenes between Ryouma and Izumi in the anime.
I’m hoping the anime gets a second season so they can dive into Ryouma‘s dark back-story.
If you watch the anime and want to pick up the manga where the anime left off, I’d recommend just starting from the beginning so you can see more of the subplots and character development for the supporting cast.
BOTTOM LINE: Overall, it’s an alright adaptation. The art style translated well to the animation medium and the feel of the series is prevalent, most of the time.
-Jade Woodruff – Nerd Nation Columnist
Jade Woodruff is a professional writer, life-long anime fan, and the chair of North Florida’s AMELIACON. The views & opinions expressed by Ms. Woodruff in her reviews are her own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Nerd Nation Magazine, or anyone else, so don’t be a d-bag and try to sue anyone over the stuff she writes.