If you are a fan of Boys Love (BL) anime, get ready to fall in love with this story. Love Stage!! shows the relationship between the cutest boy in the world and a charming young actor as they slowly become each other’s sweetest dream.
An introvert otaku
Izumi Sena was born in a family of entertainers. His father is a famous singer. His mother is an acclaimed actress. And his overprotective older brother, Shougo, is a rockstar who has conquered the world with his band, CRUSHERZ.
Having grown up surrounded by all that talent, Izumi is the introvert sheep of the family. He’s an otaku and spends most of his time in his room, surrounded by the manga and merch of his favorite anime, Magical Girl Lala-Lulu. He only leaves to go to college, where he participates in the Manga Club. There, he found an outstanding number of three friends.
His parents have been trying to convince him to get into the showbiz but without any success. The only time Izumi has been in front of the cameras was ten years ago when he was a child. And the experience left him forever traumatized.
All Izumi dreams of becoming is a successful manga artist like Saotome-sensei, the creator of Lala-Lulu. The problem? He doesn’t have any drawing talent either. His manga could easily be mistaken as a collection of modern abstract art.
A promising actor
Ryouma Ichijou has recently seen success knock at his door. He’s the biggest new sensation in the Japanese movie and TV screens. Paparazzi watch every step he takes. He’s so big that even the co-founder of Sena Productions, Izumi’s mother, is dying to co-star with him.
But it hasn’t always been like that. Ryouma started out as a child actor playing small roles in commercial ads and had to build his way up from there. In the process, he has faced many difficulties, including even a failed musical career.
All those trials have given Ryouma a strong, decisive personality. He won’t rest until he gets what he wants. He’s usually very polite but knows how to be assertive and sometimes, a bit intimidating. But behind all that attitude, exists a young boy’s heart that believes in luck and true love.
It all started on a wedding day
Ten years ago, Izumi’s parents were invited to star in a commercial for a company that provided wedding services. The ad was simple enough: the gorgeous couple would get married. Then, the bride would throw the bouquet and a little girl would catch it. She would then look at a cute little boy who was standing by her side and smile. That was it.
But an incident happened and the little girl wasn’t able to get to the set. The poor director didn’t know what to do until Nagisa offered her own child to take on the role. That was no one else than little Izumi.
There was no escaping it. With the aid of a dress, a wig, and some light makeup, the kawaii Izumi became the perfect little girl.
He was terrified but had no choice but to do the commercial.
On the first take, Izumi panicked and ended up wetting himself. It was a huge humiliation. He never forgot about that day and swore never to get in front of a camera again.
Ten years later
It was an absolute delight for Nagisa Sena when her agent, Rei, told her she would finally have the chance to do a commercial with Ryouma Ichijou. But the young actor had made a curious request. He would only do it if the commercial had the exact same cast from the first ad he had done for the company ten years ago. That’s right. He was the little boy in that Happy Wedding commercial.
Of course, Izumi, now an 18-year-old, refused vehemently. He absolutely wouldn’t get into a wedding dress ever again. He suggested that they could find a girl who looked like him, and Ryouma would never know the difference. But the star actor had mentioned remembering the unique color of Izumi’s eyes. They were an exquisite mix of gold and blue that not even Izumi’s brother had.
There was no other choice. It was time for Izumi Sena to honor the blood in his veins and step into showbiz one more time.
How to break a guy’s heart
After some confusion, the commercial was finally done. Izumi felt relieved to be able to escape into his changing room to get out of that dress and remove that wig. But before he could open the door, he was stopped by Ryouma who had been looking for him.
In one of the cutest and funniest scenes I’ve ever seen, Ryouma confesses his love for Izumi. He had lived the past ten years with the memory of the sweet little girl who had filmed that wedding ad with him. He had been looking for her ever since and was overjoyed to finally meet with her again.
Izumi couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Ryouma believed he was a woman!
He had no choice but to reveal that he was actually a guy.
Ryouma was, of course, devastated. He yelled at Izumi for being a “cross-dressing pervert” and left cursing him and his “talentless” family. Izumi felt sorry for him but there was nothing he could do about it.
True love doesn’t die
After the huge heartbreak of finding out the girl he had loved all his life was actually a boy, Ryouma swore never to see him again. But his heart had different plans. The young actor found himself unable to stop thinking about Izumi.
A few incidents and a couple of sleepless nights later, he finally decided to be true to himself and admit that he was still in love with the boy. But now there was a new challenge ahead: how to approach the shy, innocent Izumi about it?
A beautiful animation with some very cringey effects
Visually speaking, Love Stage!! is all that you would expect from a shoujo anime. The characters are beautiful and the features are delicate and carefully drawn. The coloring is smooth and the movements look natural.
But the producers made some very cringey choices when it comes to effects.
Instead of just doing the background characters look boring and all the same, like we are used to seeing in most anime, they chose to leave them blank. Yep. They just made some poor outlines and didn’t color them in.
I don’t know about you, but to me, that looks like lazy work. And instead of helping me focus on the main characters, it seems to make the extras stand out even more. I couldn’t stop looking at them. I don’t know why the animators thought this would be a good idea.
The way they used the “glittery close-up” effect all the time also bothered me. The insistence in showing Izumi’s outstanding cuteness this way quickly became repetitive. Especially because the characters themselves won’t shut up about how kawaii the boy is, so we didn’t need to see it to believe it.
There’s another detail that didn’t bother me, but that could annoy other fans of the yaoi genre. In the most intimate scenes, one of the characters is always covered up to hide his body. The animators left only the outlines of their figure, making them look like a ghost or something of the like. I personally liked it because I don’t like explicit scenes. But if you’re a fan of smut, you might be let down.
Finally, the soundtrack. In several scenes, the background music didn’t seem to match the action on screen. A few times, I noticed that was intentional. They meant to create a comic effect. But the scenes were already hilarious in themselves. Adding the music felt like trying to force a joke. It was unnecessary and it kind of messed up some otherwise brilliant scenes.
Where is the second season?!
Before watching Love Stage!! I had an issue with yaoi. It had nothing to do with homophobia. I had just been very unlucky with titles in the genre. The manga I had read had weak plotlines. The stories felt unrealistic and the relationship between the characters seemed to appear out of nowhere. It seemed like the authors wanted to force them together, and that was all the story was about.
Because of that, Love Stage!! was a very pleasant surprise. It has a consistent storyline. There’s more to this anime than just the relationship between Izumi and Ryouma. The supporting characters have complex personalities and interests. And the romance between the protagonists progresses at a nice, believable pace.
But for some reason, the story ended when it felt like it had just begun. I swear I didn’t understand it. It’s true that the final episode brought some sense of closure. But there was still so much that could be explored! There were even some loose tips that remain without an explanation.
The anime has only 10 episodes. That’s enough for you to get involved with the characters. But it isn’t enough to leave you satisfied. I would like to see a second season further exploring some of the points that the first one left behind. Bonus point if a different studio does it.
In spite of it being too short, I still recommend the anime. Leaving out the cringey details I mentioned above, it was one of the funniest I have ever watched. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at some of the ridiculous situations the characters found themselves in. More than a sweet romance, Love Stage!! is a great comedy. If you are looking for a light-hearted anime to help you ease the stress of everyday life, look no further!
Have you already watched Love Stage!!? What did you think of it? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!