Love Stage!! 1×7 Review: Could This Be…

LS1

It was an agonizing wait to see how the cliffhanger scene from last week’s episode would play out but the resolution to the whole debacle was quick and mostly satisfactory. The romance between Ryouma and Izumi is blossoming in an adorably sweet way despite the rocky start. They’re a couple I’m proud to cheer on. The appeal of Izumi/Ryouma is also strengthened by the fact that Izumi is basically us the viewers, so we can easily put ourselves in his shoes, experiencing the ups and downs of the story through his perspective. Even when he’s being selfish or not thinking rationally, it’s easy to put yourself in his head and understand why he does the things that he does.

LS3Part of this episode focused on Izumi’s dream sequences involving LaLa-Lulu.  He inserts himself into the stories and finds inspiration and motivation from the characters. This is something a lot of us tend to do, whether we want to admit it or not. Heck, there’s an entire genre of fanfiction about inserting oneself into the story and though it is often thought of as subpar fanfiction, it proves this is a thing that a lot of us tend to do. Since he’s become so easy to identify with, when emotional things happen to him we feel it even more strongly as viewers.

The resolution from last week’s cliffhanger was generally satisfying, though initially it did look like Ryouma was going to take advantage of Izumi in his emotionally vulnerable state. He couldn’t do it, though, and though it feels like not taking advantage of someone should be the default state, at least his internal struggle eventually went the right way. I don’t think Ryouma is truly a bad person. He is, as he admitted the last episode, just very weak when it comes to Izumi. That doesn’t excuse taking advantage of someone, but at this point it seems to only speak for one aspect of him. When he got a grip on himself and realized what he was doing was wrong, the kind, caring, and likable side of Ryouma became very clear.

Ryouma seeking out Saotome-Sensei to write Izumi an inspirational message is the side of Ryouma that I adore. This is a positive way for him to express his feelings and definitely made me “aww” out loud. It’s Ryouma putting Izumi first, ahead of his own sexual desires and even his own career. His career has been something he’s struggled to maintain since he was a kid, fighting uphill battles against those who were born into the industry and had opportunities given to them without much effort. And yet he takes time out of his busy schedule to seek out Saotome-Sensei just to inspire Izumi and make him happy. It’s incredibly heart-warming.

LS4And now it’s time for my weekly Rei fangirling moment. Seriously, I can’t help myself with how much I love this character. He’s basically Izumi’s mother. He stayed awake for 60 hours straight worrying about his well-being. Instead of being angry at Izumi, as Izumi was expecting, his 146 text messages were all out of love and concern. He manages the entire family and the family company, but his concern for Izumi goes beyond business. He’s protective of him. He’s not just the SenaPro manager, but a member of the Sena family and his place as Izumi’s caregiver is pretty solid.

If you want to dive deeper into his place in the family, I highly recommend reading the Back Stage light novels. It’s a wonderful insight into his character. They can be heartbreaking, though, which is really different from the romcom feeling of Love Stage!! But if you’re obsessing over Rei even a fraction as much as I am, you are doing yourself a disservice by not seeking them out.

The episode ends with Izumi offhandedly referring to Ryouma as a big brother figure, which is unintentionally crushing to Ryouma. Izumi meant it as a compliment, but when you’re pursuing someone romantically that’s the last thing you want to hear really. Ryouma turns to leave, but at the last moment turns around and kisses Izumi. He parts with a casual “love ya” and leaves a bewildered Izumi standing in the courtyard second guessing his own emotions. For the first time, Izumi is starting to recognize that his feelings for Ryouma might also be romantic.

LS2This episode was perfect from beginning to end except… no Shougo. Damn him and his whole busy career and stuff! I need more Shougo on my screen. Especially more Shougo with Rei, but I’ll have to fulfill that need with the light novel for now. But even without this aspect of the series that I love so much, I’m enjoying the hell out of it. The new episodes are the highlight of my week. I can’t wait to see the interaction between Izumi and Ryouma now that Izumi is starting to understand his own feelings. The romance is finally flowing both ways and we should be in for a beautiful journey.

Author: Angel Wilson

Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.



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