Go, Izumi! Slam that pointless drama away!

Where we left off last time, Izumi was being cornered by molesting street-thugs and late for an event with his anime club. After an unnecessarily creepy segment in which he is  almost assaulted, he manages to fend off his attackers and run to safety – and into Takahiro, his friend from the anime club who had been searching for him. Takahiro drops an unexpected bombshell on him – it turns out that he’s actually secretly the assistant of Saotome-sensei, the mangaka of LalaLulu… and he remembers when Ryouma bought Izumi’s manuscript in for Saotome to give feedback on. After hearing the extent to which Ryouma had begged for just a little of (unexpectedly bishounen) Saotome’s time, Izumi is touched enough to decide to forego his anime club business and head straight to Ryouma to confess to him once and for all.

And then they banged.

And then Rei and Shogo also apparently banged.

The end!

SURPRISE Saotome was secretly a BL character all along.

Why is this cap so funny to me (and not just because Ryouma is making almost the exact same face as Saotome in the screencap above. As much as I like the art in this show, there are sameface issues that should be addressed.)

I hope we will :c

I’ll get the negatives out of the way first – that entire sequence about the street thugs was pointless. I know by now that this is Love Stage, the show where pointless things are needlessly drawn out – but seriously. Rape/Attempted rape and molestation for the sake of drama are generally always really dumb and aggravating, and the only good thing to come out of this was that to my surprise, Takahiro didn’t end up rescuing Izumi and Izumi was able to fend off the thugs on his own. I really like that, because it would have annoyed me a lot more if he had been completely helpless, but again…I feel like it took up way too much time. The dumbest thing about the scene was that when the thugs touch him, Izumi thinks that it feels disgusting and that ‘only Ryouma can touch me like this’, and then has some big epiphany all ‘hey! I do love Ryouma! I want him to touch me, not these creeps! Fuck this scene, I’m out!’ Which…doesn’t make a lot of sense considering he’d already made it plenty clear in the previous episode that he had acknowledged the fact that he loved Ryouma and was planning to have sex with him. These kind of weird ‘it feels gross compared to when ___ touches me!’ scenes are so common in crappy BL manga that it’s disappointing to see Love Stage, a series that had been subverting so many of the more annoying tropes, include this one when it does absolutely nothing to help the plot.

Anyway, as corny as it was, I actually really liked that part where Izumi imagines himself running into LalaLulu on his way to confess to Ryouma, who gives him her blessings and farewells. It was a pretty over-the-top, saccharine way of representing him letting go of his obsession with the 2D realm alone, but it’s also just another of those nice scenes that show how important fictional characters can be to people. I don’t even know why I like LalaLulu so much, but all the scenes with her tend to be my favourites.

And so, Izumi and Ryouma do the do…humorously, Izumi actually forgets to confess first, and so thick-as-a-brick Ryouma doesn’t even realize until after. As for the sex, well, obviously because this is a TV anime it’s not shown. As I hopefully predicted, the foreplay had a complete absence of stupid pink or blue marshmallow fluff censorship, and while I wouldn’t call it graphic, it’s barely NSFW enough for me to not include screencaps on this SFW blog. We do get some ~sensual~ pans across…various rooms in Ryouma’s house, which I giggled the entire way through because the only way you could have improved that kind of ‘sex is currently happening’ scene was for there to be telephone waiting music in the background instead of the vaguely romantic music it had instead.  (I also just want to say how nice it is to have a BL series where it’s the uke that initiates it with 100% consent, and how sad it is that this is something that has to be pointed out.) However, Izumi gets his question answered from the last episode: apparently Ryouma sucked at it after all. (But don’t worry, Izumi, the manga is still going.)

Meanwhile, Rei confirms what everyone already assumed (whether by  guesswork or because they read a certain bonus chapter of the manga), that he and Shogo are an item and are presumably going to have some R18 fun of their own since Izumi isn’t home. The timing of this scene and the blatant matter-of-factness actually cracked me up.

And so, Love Stage!! just kind of ends. I’m not sure how much of the ending was in the manga and how much was added for the anime (ie Izumi’s commercials promoting everyone’s favourite snack, Pokkin!), the ‘final’ meeting with Lala-Lulu, and even that business with Takahiro being Saotome’s assistant. However, I now really want to read it and see. (And speaking of which, VIZ’s BL imprint SuBLime just announced they licensed it so there you go.) It definitely leaves itself open-ended for a second season, and I kind of hope that one does happen eventually if not just for this part where Izumi apparently cosplays a bunch of characters including Index, Ayanami Rei, Miki Sayaka and Hatsune Miku for presumably no reason.

I like how Ryouma’s just all ‘oh my.’

Way to kill the mood there.

buy pokkin at fine foodstuff retailers today

Out of 5,

Final Thoughts
While it had its share of problems, Love Stage!! for the most part manages to be a watchable BL series that is both cute and funny. It has a lot more in common with other romcoms than the BL genre itself, while still holding onto some of the latter’s tropes…both good and bad. It’s a shame that a lot of its problems rear their head early – people who quit after episode 3 could be forgiven for assuming Ryouma is a typical rapist-seme who doesn’t give a damn about anyone’s feelings but his own. The fact that he’s actually just a giant dork is part of what really makes the series fun for me – my problem with so many other BL series is that besides taking themselves way too seriously, the seme character is almost always this ‘too cool for you asshole’ who is absolutely impossible to empathize with. Ryouma has his flaws but for the most part he’s an awkward teenager/young adult in love, which is considerably more endearing. As for Izumi, he’s adorable without being cloying and was probably one of my favourite characters in this anime season. The supporting cast – particularly Rei – is also quite strong, and anime-within-anime LalaLulu is a whole lot of fun.
JC Staff are a mixed bag when it comes to production values but I think they did an admirable job with only a few exceptions in making the show look good once you get used to the pouty-lip art style.  To be honest, although I’ve written quite a lot about the more annoying BL tropes that hurt the overall grade this show can get, I think the main minus of Love Stage!! is its pacing. Since they made it end with the two getting together instead of continuing with their relationship like the manga does, there’s a whole load of stopping and stalling in the plot despite it only being ten episodes long (episode 8’s ridiculous recap nonsense being the worst offender).  The censorship issue is questionable but it sure did give me something to laugh about.

The show is far from perfect, but in terms of BL anime that don’t make me want to bash my head into a wall it’s definitely a step in the right direction that was honestly just fun to watch every week. So yeah, a second season would be great. Maybe it could have an end theme song as annoying catchy as this one, which has been stuck in my head since July.
Out of 5,