Love Stage!! 1×9 Review: Which Way Is Right?
Have you ever wanted to grab two characters, bop their heads together, and scream: “You two are in love each other!” at them until they got the point? That was basically how I felt throughout this entire episode. It’s pretty clear at this point that the love is going both ways between Izumi and Ryouma, but Izumi is still very reluctant to admit to his feelings. His reasoning is pretty sound, though, and while it may seem like he’s stringing Ryouma along, I back him up entirely. From a narrative stand point, though, I really wish the two of them would hurry up and get on with it. I can only take so much UST before I start actually screaming at my computer monitor.
Before even getting into the meat of the plot, can we just take a moment to appreciate the gratuitous Ryouma showering scene? I often get irked by the male gaze being used in media to objectify women, but this was a complete reversal of that concept. We really didn’t need to see Ryouma naked in the shower humming to himself as water drips down his impeccably toned abs, but hey, we got a few seconds of it anyway. It’s always surprising to see it reversed and, though I’m not particularly fond of the super muscular type of person, I at least appreciated the short scene for what it was. I do find it odd, though, that that scene is permitted in the show but the moment two mostly clothed guys start to kiss one of them is obligated to suddenly become completely transparent and turn a into the sky. These are some unusual censorship standards we’ve got going on here. Slow pan of a naked guy in the shower? Fine. Two guys kissing on a couch? Censor that immediately!
Beyond this lovely bit of eye candy, the plot of the episode was equal parts charming and frustrating. It’s pretty obvious that Izumi has strong feelings about Ryouma now, but he’s not sure what to do with them. He expresses his feelings through his fanboyish tendencies and buys an abundance of Ryouma merchandise. When he starts to focus more on the fact that they are two guys and the problems that could cause, he once again approaches the situation like a total geek and buys a ton of BL manga so he can figure out what exactly gay sex consists of. He’s understandably hesitant about the whole situation because gay sex looks like it can be downright painful. When Rei confirms that someone who hasn’t had a lot of experience with guys and has restraint issues like Ryouma would probably not be the most gentle lover, Izumi gets freaked out even more. The fact that he’s even considering it, though, seems to be setting off alarm bells in his head that he might just maybe harbor some feelings for Ryouma.
Ryouma is pretty solid about his feelings for Izumi. There really isn’t any question in his mind that he’d risk everything, including his career, to make Izumi happy. I just really wish the guy had better restraint, but hey, at least he’s trying? That gives him a few points. He has also demonstrated repeatedly that he can be kind and loving to Izumi without being forceful, but sometimes he gets carried away by his own desires. When that forceful side of him crops up, my appreciation of Ryouma as a character drops just a little bit. This kind of behavior is, unfortunately, very standard in this genre. When compared to a lot of other yaoi, Ryouma is downright saintly. But when you just look at this story on it’s own, Ryouma needs to turn down his forcefulness with Izumi a couple of notches. Izumi is adorable, yes, but you can’t just drag him around like a rag doll whenever you want to. More adorable mangaka autograph seeking Ryouma and less dragging Izumi by the wrist and shoving him to the floor please? We’ve only got one more episode. Let’s bring out the awesome side of Ryouma for it.
This episode, once again, had a severe Shougo drought. I guess I should really stop complaining about this because that man has an extremely busy career but I just really need more Shougo in my life, okay? Especially more Shougo with Rei. I guess what I’m saying is that the Back Stage novels just need to be adapted into an anime now because every week I get a little sad when these two amazing characters aren’t on my screen. Get to it, Japan. This fangirl is counting on you. Make Back Stage anime a thing!
Once again, this week left us on a hell of a cliffhanger. I’m really beginning to resent those bouncy stars that start the credits sequence. Next week’s episode will obviously have a pretty big trigger warning for assault, but if it goes the same way that the manga does, it’s over pretty quickly with very little harm done. It’s still awful, but if you are triggered by sexual violence, you should probably still be able to watch next week’s episode. So far the changes from the manga have been pretty minimal, so unless they shake things up very dramatically you will most likely be able to view it safely. If you’ll notice, though, I am using a lot of vague language here and that’s very intentional. Everyone’s tolerance for this sort of thing is different and we have no idea how faithful they’ll stay to the manga, so I could be wrong. Ifinished reading the chapter of the manga feeling pretty good about how it turned out, though, so fingers crossed it’s the same here.
Next week is the finale and I’m horribly disappointed that we only have less than half an hour worth of material left of this wonderful show. I’m hoping it gets picked up for another season or a spin-off happens or something. Watching a new episode of Love Stage!! has been the highlight of my week for the past nine weeks and I’ll feel a little empty not eagerly rushing home to watch it. In the meantime, if anyone knows of more yaoi or shonen-ai shows coming out soon, please let me know. I’m desperately going to need something to fill the void.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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