The Back Stage!! novels have been going for quite some time, but the manga just released the first “chapter” (more of a prologue, really) this week. It’s already off to an extremely promising start. The manga starts 9 months after the Love Stage!! manga currently left off, but manages to not spoil much about what’s to come in Izumi and Ryouma’s own storyline. The last time we saw the younger pair, Ryouma had some selective amnesia caused by hypnosis and we really aren’t told how or even if that’s completely resolved despite this manga being set so much further in the future. Instead we focus on Izumi’s relationship with Rei and Shougo, the main pairing of the Back Stage spin off, thus leaving Love Stage!! to continue its story independent of this series.
The manga begins by revealing that Izumi is the last of the Sena family to be told about Rei and Shougo’s relationship. Instead of being sat down and informed properly about it, he stumbles across them kissing and is, as would be expected, quite shocked to see his brother and his strongest parental figure in such an intimate embrace. Rei and Shougo have always acted more like his parents than his actual parents do, but it’s clear that this type of relationship between them was extremely unexpected. Rei, in particular, has always been there for Izumi, so keeping something this important from him seems like a rather heinous betrayal. If I was Izumi I’d be pretty angry too. In typical Izumi fashion, he storms out and shuts himself away in his room.
Rei doesn’t let Izumi sulk away and isolate himself, though. He uses his usual door busting maneuver to confront Izumi about the situation. Izumi had always shared everything with Rei, even asking him for relationship advice back when he first started developing feelings for Ryouma, but it’s clear that Rei didn’t return that sort of trust. Rei explains that it’s because he still views Izumi as a kid, but concedes that his reasoning is sort of misguided at this point. Izumi is an adult now. A geeky otaku adult with some often childish habits, but an adult nonetheless. Keeping this sort of secret from Izumi could potentially have ruined the long forged trust between them, which is something that Rei just can’t let happen.
It’s here where we begin to launch into the actual story that the manga will tackle. Izumi wants Rei to tell him everything, and it appears that Rei is ready to oblige him. If light novels aren’t your thing, you probably don’t have much of the back story about Rei and Shougo’s relationship. I’m not sure how much of the story from the light novels they are going to be covered in the manga, but I’m sure there will be a fair amount of overlap, at least about the major events that led them to form the bond that they have now. Rei and Shougo’s story is simultaneously heart breaking, but also incredibly sweet.
Even if you aren’t into light novels I suggest you give them a shot because the pairing has quickly become one of my favorites of all time. I’ve been dying for more material involving them and I’m grateful that we get to see their story told in a new format with possibly new material. I’m incredibly excited to see what the next chapters will bring and grateful that their story gets to be told to an audience that primarily sticks to manga instead of novels. Their relationship is gorgeous and everyone, regardless of their format preference, deserves to experience their story.
Also, let’s be real, I just want more pictures of them together okay? They are my manga/anime/novel OTP and I’m always partial to visual media, so bring on more pictures of my favorite pairing! My phone wallpaper has already been changed over to the lovely cover art and I look forward to more gorgeous pictures of this fabulous pairing.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel 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 is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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