We are covering a yaoi series this week. In fact, in the world of female-marketed male homoerotica, this week we have a double-header, because I have also have a more in-depth article about yaoi too, so this week’s pieces accompany each other.
Love Stage!! is a romantic comedy series that went out over 10 episodes around the summer of 2014. It however began as a manga in 2010 and is still being written. In terms of content, it is both funny, loving, and does actually touch on the sexual unlike some other yaoi series that went out at the same time.
The central figure of the story is a student named Izumi Sena. He comes from a celebrity family: his father is a singer-turned-impresario, his mother is an actress, and his older brother Shogo is the leader singer in a band. However, Izumi is not interested in being such a celebrity. Izumi instead wants to be a manga artist. The only problem is that he has no talent for it whatsoever.
Izumi’s troubles started at a young age. 10 years prior to the main story he was made to appear in an advert for a wedding magazine as a girl. Move to the present day, the magazine wants to make another advert that paid homage to the original, which means him having to dress up as a bride. This is bad enough for him, but things get even worse due to his co-star in the advert.
The co-star, Ryoma Ichijo, starred in the original advert alongside Izumi. Now he is a successful actor, but during that time he became fascinated with and fell in love with Izumi. However, Ryoma is still of the belief that Izumi is a girl, and thus has the shock of his life when he discovers the truth. But even this revelation does not put Ryoma off Izumi. Thus Ryoma begins to fall in love with Izumi all over again, although Izumi just wants to get on this his deluded dreams of manga creativity.
Much of the appeal of Love Stage!! comes from the comedy in it. There is slapstick, farce, character comedy and satire on celebrity culture all woven into the series. The relationship between the characters is the best bit, and it is not just the central relationship between Izumi and Ryoma either.
There is for example the relationship between Izumi and the family’s general manager Rei Sagara, who is both protective of Izumi and yet very pushy when it comes to trying to get Izumi to embrace a more celebrity lifestyle. Then there is Shogo, Izumi’s older brother, who often manipulates Izumi into getting to do things by getting him rare merchandise connected to his favourite anime series. There is also a big rivalry between Shogo and Ryoma for Izumi’s affections.
Another enjoyable aspect to the series is the artwork. There is a sort of pastel-like lightness to the colours generally use. The artwork could be described as being rather cute looking. Indeed “cute” could be the apt word used to describe the series, given the appearance of the main characters and Izumi in particular.
One of the reasons why I personally enjoy this show is that it went out at around the same time as another yaoi series I have covered in this column in the past, the sci-fi DRAMAtical Murder (No. 66). While at the time DRAMAtical Murder got much of the media attention, primarily because it had also been a highly successful video game before it became an anime, Love Stage!! was for me the more enjoyable. This was partly because it was a warmer, pleasant watch, but a big factor was the in this anime there was more romantic and indeed erotic content, which is what you really want in a yaoi.
Love Stage!! is available to watch online on the anime streaming website Crunchyroll.