First Look: Love Stage!!

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Manga Adaptation by J.C. Staff
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

Izumi Sena is born into a family of actors but has no desire to pursue acting himself. As he enters his first year of college, he’s a hardcore otaku that wants to be a manga artist, even though he has no talent for it. All of that changes when a chain of coincidences pairs him up in a commercial with the hottest young actor in Japan… oh, and he just happens to look stunning in makeup and a dress.

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Jel’s verdict: All An Act

This episode was a total tease and I suspect that’s all we’re going to get out of Love Stage. Turning Izumi into a beautiful woman suggests that the author doesn’t really want to go down the path of exploring a relationship between two guys, especially since the main love interest is never made aware of Izumi’s secret. That kind of leaves me wondering what the appeal is supposed to be here. Is it going to be the tension of Izumi trying to keep his identity under wraps? Or is it really just the thrill of seeing two attractive guys making out, even if it’s just in the line of duty? Even that seems kind of odd to me. Considering Izumi is the prettiest anime girl of the season, you wouldn’t even know the difference if you weren’t told.

One positive sign is Izumi’s opening statement about not really knowing what his dream is. While the romance bits will probably never be more than a tease, I could see this being a solid story about self discovery in a much broader sense than just sexuality. A considerable amount of time was devoted to his attempt at drawing manga and struggling with his feelings toward acting, so there’s definitely room for broader themes. Love Stage is also rather pretty to look at with some lovely art style choices and solid animation, so even it does end up being nothing more than contrived reasons to make pretty guys kiss it will at least look good. Personally I’m not setting my expectations much higher than that, but for a lot of people that might be just what you’re looking for.

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Life’s verdict: Well Off

I am having a hard time sorting my thoughts in this premier. There were things I liked and things I really didn’t like. Surprisingly the the BL themes actually aren’t part of what I didn’t like, I am simply neutral about those. I’ll start with what I didn’t like. Most of the cast is super annoying, especially the mom. Like nails on a chalkboard annoying. The dad and brother aren’t much better. They aren’t even bad characters per say, they just rub me the wrong way. What I liked was pretty much everything else. This is a story of discovery first and foremost with romantic inclinations and this first episode did a good job of selling me on our protagonist and his struggles.

I am not sure if I want to watch more or not. It will really depend on how involved the parents will be in the story. I would rather get a cavity filled than listen to mom in this story do more of her whining. There is also just the obviously problem in the fact that BL does nothing for me. I think this story has enough going for it that I might be able to enjoy it anyway. If this is the kind of thing you like then you might just be in luck.

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