His father and older brother are famous singers, his mother is a renown artist, Izumi Sena was born into a family of super entertainers! However, unlike the rest of his family, Izumi is an otaku who aspires to become a manga illustrator. One day, he is roped into starring in a television commercial dressed as a woman. The actor Izumi is featured with, Ryoma, falls in love at first sight upon meeting him. It turns out that they had actually met 10 years prior and Ryoma's attraction hasn't changed even after finding out Izumi is a boy.
Ahh, my first adventure into BL, and what a lovely little journey it was. I was, admittedly a shoujo buff who intially wrote off shounen-ai as 'male-centric shoujo with sex', and I was very, very wrong. Love Stage!! is an enjoyable ride through the romantic struggles of our leads, lovingly ripped straight out of the first arc of the manga, minus the, uh, slightly more naughty parts. Let's dissect the story, and uh, since I have not read through any other BL, I don't have much of a point of comparison, but it reminds me in a way of 'Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun', at least concerning our main characters dynamic for the first couple episodes. In summary, 10 years prior to the beginning of the series, the young male Sena Izumi is unwillingly recruited by his celebrity mother Nagisa to fill in for a young girl during a commercial shoot. It is here he meets a young Ichijou Ryouma, who helps him out with the aid of a good luck charm after he screws up a take out of nervousness. It turns out that these screw-ups drew Izumi away from the spotlight and towards the path of the mangaka (which he isn't all that great at). Ryouma, never knowing that Izumi was a male, fell in love with him, and used that love to claw his way to fame and sucess. Having the influence, Ryouma manages to get the whole original cast back of previously mentioned commercial (Izumi included), just to confess his love to the 'girl' he had been dreaming of all this time. Chaos ensues, and eventually Izumi's true gender is revealed because of Izumi's rock star brother, Shougo; cue gay panic on the part of Ryouma. More chaos ensues, lots of elephant euphamisms later, and we have a great little romantic comedy. In terms of differences between the anime and manga, the anime really just cuts out the more graphic interactions between the characters, and I think it works better that way. The anime also does a few more things with the Lalalulu character which I simply loved, which made her more than just the obsession of our protagonist. Animation wise, it looks JUST like the manga. Hell, it managed to really bring a lot more life to Izumi, especially in his eyes. Very colorful, not so much realistic, but it doesn't have to be. I admittedely don't pay much attention to sound, but it never went against the tone or mood, which is all I really care about. My only gripe is Shougo's voice actor: to call him annoying is an understatement. WISH! I love all the characters dearly, at least the principal four of Izumi, Ryouma, Rei, and Shougo. I kind of wished the parents broke the 'celebrity parent' mold we see even in western works, but they aren't awful. Izumi and Ryouma have some lovely chemistry, and I found the whole gay panic thing too hilarious. I admit that Izumi kind of takes the female-boy trope to new heights, considering he turns THREE OBSTENSIBLY STRAIGHT THUGS TO ATTEMPTED RAPE, but when he's not troping it up and even going at odds with it, that's when I love him the most. Ryouma does have 'perfect boyfriend' syndrome, but the way he relentlessly chases Izumi makes him endearing, at least to me. Rei and Shougo essentially act as Izumi's real parents, and they have that bickering old couple thing about them I find so adorable. Overall, I loved it. The chemistry works, the plot is gloriously contrived, and it really just forms a stellar viewing experience. The manga does have a ongoing second arc (albeit with the mature content level of the manga, so be warned, kiddies!) that I really enjoyed, so go read that if you liked this anime. TL;DR This BL was awesome, everything works, highly recommended. WISH!
*Warning: This anime contains BL (Boys Love). You don't like ... don't watch* Yaoi fangirls and boys unite and revel in the splendor that is Love Stage!! JK lol (or am I? ;D) Love Stage!! is an anime based on the popular Yaoi manga of the same title ... the anime is just a highly censored somewhat watered down version of the manga (damn censorship! :( ). With a father who's a singer, a mother who's a movie star, and an older brother Shougo who's the lead vocalist for the super-popular band "The Crusherz," Sena Izumi, an otaku college student, is the only dull one born into this super famous and talented family. He loves "Magical Girl LalaLulu" and is working hard to become a mangaka, but one day he winds up appearing in a TV commercial he just can't turn down. There, he's reunited with Ichijou Ryouma, the super-popular young actor he costarred with on a project ten years prior. You don't have to be a fan of the manga to enjoy the anime as it's really entertaining, hilarious, and absurdly cute ... however, if you don't like BL I'd advise against watching this. It may be censored (unfortunately) but they do try to toe the boundaries where they can ... and if yaoi isn't your thing it will make you uncomfortable ... but if you're willing to step out of your comfort zone then go for it! ;D The plot, as always, is wonderful! I'm a huge fan of the manga and I loved seeing the animated form ... even if they took out Shougo x Rei (except for the one hint about their relationship in the last ep. :( ). And I didn't like the censorship ... it was weird the way the went about it ... The bear and cat which represent the mangaka were hilarious and really added to the humor! (for those curious the bear represented Zaou-sensei while the cat represented Eiki-sensei ) The soundtrack wasn't the best but it was really catchy and fit the mood so ... no complaints. I did not however like Shougo's VA! I cringed whenever he opened his mouth and that atrocity they call a voice emerged ... -_-" The animation was wonderful ... with the one exception being the stupid censorship! (Why Japan? Why must you censor the H scenes? >.<). The characters are wonderful, lovable, hilarious, and utterly adorable! The only thing I didn't like ... Lala Lulu and her entourage -_-" ... but I was able to look past that ... Overall I had a lot of fun fangirling all over the place (squealing, jumping up and down, fist pumping ... yeah ... fangirling ... it's a real thing ... xD). I recommend to the BL fans, fans of the manga, or just open minded people who are looking for something funny and cute to watch!
Shounen-ai anime can be hard to rate, because they aren't for everyone. If you dislike male male romance comedies...this won't make a good watch for you. But for those who DO like shounen-ai and know what they're getting into, this may be a treat. The main characters, Izumi and Ryouma, typical of the genre, lean toward the adorable, and are well crafted with plenty of personal quirks and neuroses that make for an uneasy match...which is good because watching them struggling with awakening feelings for each other is part of the fun. Refreshing in this anime, the main pairing is between two people who initially express no interest in having a gay relationship at all, and both struggle with it in their own way, usually to comic effect. Likewise refreshing is the way Love Stage happily mocks its own shounen-ai genre, as well as other genres of anime/manga, taking tongue in cheek jabs at it through the perceptions of the characters. This is something only a shounen-ai fan would properly enjoy. It isn't revealing too much to say that Izumi, an awkward 18 year old otaku and would be manga writer from an entertainment family of socially gifted stars, is twice as adorable because he never seems to grasp that he's desirable or attractive. Ryouma, on the other hand, is a young and successful actor whose dedication to craft and mercenary pursuit of fame has gotten him everything he wanted...until now. Watching him struggle to deal with feelings for someone whose interests are utterly alien to him is also exquisite. Sadly, the secondary cast only shines when related to two characters, Shogo (Izumi's adoring older brother) and Rei (the family's agent/manager/secretary who is almost a surrogate parent to Izumi.) Beyond those two characters, no others have yet developed in a meaningful way. On the bright side, the focus is almost always on the two main and two secondary characters, so this doesn't greatly detract from the show. Well animated and well voice cast, reasonably well paced (although it leaves constantly waiting for what's next) and generally entertaining in every episode so far. For those who enjoy shounen-ai, this ought to be a treat, especially if the coming episodes meet the quality of the presently available ones.
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