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Anime Review: Love Stage!! (2014)

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Ever get that feeling when the door to your dreams is out of reach and another door unexpectedly opens for you?
From the director of HONEY AND CLOVER, and WOLF GIRL AND BLACK PRINCE, director Kenichi Kasai is back with another romcom hit that will have you chuckling non-stop. If you love the idea of a fairytale romance between a geeky otaku and a celebrity, then LOVE STAGE!! is the show for you.
LOVE STAGE!! revolves around geeky college student Izumi who aspires to be a manga author despite his lack of talent. Growing up with a family who is successful in Hollywood, Izumi is pressured to succeed in life, and with his not-so-patient family members, they are forcing him to join Hollywood as well.
Funnily enough, Izumi got his first Hollywood stint ten years ago by starring in a popular wedding commercial. After being forced to substitute a young actress, everything went well for Izumi until an embarrassing ‘accident’ occurred. Since then, Izumi has refused to enter the entertainment industry. Little did he know that the other young male actor, Ryoma (aka Hollywood’s #1 hearthrob), has fallen head-over-heels for Izumi ever since their first encounter. And yes, Ryoma has no idea that Izumi is a boy.
Unfortunately for Izumi, publicists want to do another commercial featuring the same child actors from ten years ago. Blackmailed by his older brother, Izumi has no choice to do the ad. And Ryoma? This is a dream come true for him as he could not wait to see the girl of his dreams again – until he accidentally discovers Izumi’s real identity.

 In modern romantic comedies, a beloved concept of the genre usually entails a romance between a popular guy and an ordinary girl – almost like a Cinderella romance. While Love Stage!! follows this concept, Love Stage!! mocks the genre (and audience) by adding its own twist to the story. And that is none other than starring the boys-love couple, Izumi and Ryoma.

Besides magical girls and sports anime, there is a new trend in town that is becoming a hit with otaku fans, and that lovestage1p1is incorporating some form of manga-making formula to the stories. And surprisingly, we don’t often see Hollywood depicted in manga/anime storytelling. Combined with the manga-making scene, this will no doubt excite viewers as these two worlds are heavily consumed by viewers in real life.

Love Stage!! is a highly enjoyable romcom that will have you laughing non-stop without any hesitation. Much of the comedy derives from the two polar-opposite protagonists: Izumi represents the cliché otaku who adores his anime crush ‘LaLa-Lulu’, and Ryoma, on the other hand, is the charming Hollywood heartthrob who is outgoing, mature, and sometimes obnoxious.

After realising that he has fallen for a boy all along, Ryoma became devastated and disgusted at himself. Fortunately, he later overcomes his pride and decides to chase after Izumi, regardless of whether he is a boy or a girl. What makes the story delightful to watch is witnessing the interaction between these two male characters, and their lack of experience when it comes to romance and relationships. It is hilarity at its best as Ryoma pines for a girl who technically doesn’t exist and Izumi is blindly obsessed with his anime idol.

With that being said, their relationship is tumblr_n2qobk5LFa1raw1lso1_500genuinely sweet and innocent, and we see them going beyond the heterosexual boundaries for love. Although Love Stage!!‘s ending felt rushed and some (subtle) sexual scenes may damper your feelings towards the romcom, Love Stage!! is amusing entertainment nevertheless. With the show’s palette of dreamy bright colours and comedic material that doesn’t skip a beat, Love Stage!! is an easy viewing anime that is definitely worth your time.

Overall: Love Stage!! serves as a good starter for those interested in boy-love anime. Not only is it set in a modern setting that appeals to most viewers, but it also presents interesting characters, plenty of comedy, and does a great job developing a boys-love relationship. It is hard to say whether a second season will go ahead, but we would love to see more interaction between Ryoma and Izumi, especially now that Izumi has entered the Hollywood industry.

Rating: 8/10

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