I mentioned in the month of August 2014 that I would challenge myself to do something I once thought I would never do in my entire life. Some peeps figured out the answer based on several hints I dropped but I did not tell them they were correct. So the time has come to reveal what was the challenge I imposed upon myself.
That’s right. Watch a Grade 1 yaoi anime, with an unexpectedly high intensity level (Not H though, thankfully.), in its entirety and for the challenge I chose Love Stage. For those who are quick to point loopholes, no. Neither Free no Loveless count because Free! isn’t Grade 1 and I only watched the Loveless episodes that greatly focused on Kouya X Yamato.
Why did I watch this anime? Couple of reasons.
1: I wanted to see if I had truly overcome my disdain toward homosexual media. There was a time I saw love (especially sex) between men as disturbing. Over time I thought it over and thankfully came to the realization that obvious differences between yaoi, yuri and both their fanbases aside, both have the same goals, showing love and appreciation for their respective couplings and romantic tales…excluding the people who solely want to watch gay or lesbian porn. While I will always feel uncomfortable watching gay sex or yaoi hentai, I got over my disdain for yaoi media.
2: I just wanted to see how a love story between two men would be portrayed in anime form. Don’t know about live-action and I and not interested. Anime interpretation will do. I was also lucky enough to see the show using the tried and true Seme/Uke dynamic with Ryouma and Izumi respectively. Since this was my first experience with the default yaoi pairing trope I found myself predictably siding with the uke more than the seme because Ryouma initially came off being rough, mean and forceful to Izumi taking a while for me to actually like him as a character. His worries and struggles after realizing the girl he had loved for ten years was really a guy, him accepting this fact and then rolling with it was both amusing and interesting.
I also learned something interesting about how men and women in anime approach love. Excluding cliche male anime leads most men are direct when it comes to approaching the woman they like. Of course in gay pairings there are more obstacles to consider but once the mind is made up it’s a forward march situation. That’s how it went here with Ryouma going right after Izumi. At least he eventually notices how rough he was being and tried his hardest to hold back at times but since his love was uber strong resisting proved to be nearly hilariously painful for the big guy on several occasions.
As for how the characters and the romance itself developed. It was a well told romantic comedy of “struggling with one’s sexuality” and “accepting one’s gayness”. On the other hand it is also a tale of self-acceptance and finding out what it is a one wishes to do the rest of their lives. Basically believable struggles that college students or any young adult who has yet to find a definitive career in the job industry goes through. Both Ryouma and Izumi go through this challenge in their own way with other additional obstacles to overcome. Heck even Izumi’s parents have a kind of a character development…or maybe they had those traits all along and were simply born kickass parents who are amusingly eccentric. Plus Onii-chan’s brother complex is no different from any other onee-chan with a sister complex…can’t decide whether this onii-chan or The Mighty Benio-sama is more extreme, although my fans can easily guess whose side I take.
Now despite the fun cast, good love story, hilarious moments and decent character study of college students and the offspring of celebrities, the #1 reason I was excited for each episode of LS was this guy right here, Izumi. Izumi is the youngest child of a famous celebrity family yet he chose the path to become a mangaka and is also an otaku who loves mahou shoujo anime. But really he’s both the central character and the show stealer imo. His criminally unrealistic cuteness (Seriously no guy could be so cute that both sexes would want to eat him up. It’s almost impossible for a guy to be THAT CUTE.), his mannerisms, his tantrums, joyful moments and his quest to “find himself” as I interpreted it were all the biggest highlights of the show. I now want to see an OVA or even TV anime series about Lala-Lulu. I could also relate with the guy being a college student myself (during the time I wrote this post).
I initially predicted LS would be the yaoi equivalent of Sakura Trick and after finishing the anime I feel I was pretty close. In fact like ST I would say that LS’ story would work pretty well if the men were replaced with women. Make tweaks to the tropes and mannerisms and I could see it happen. Heck, have the Izumi-ish lesbian fall in love with the handsome man who she later finds out is a short-haired woman and she still wants to be with her regardless. So there you go.
In the end Love Stage entertained me a lot more than I thought it would. Watching it was an interesting introduction to the yaoi republic. Will I ever venture through the gates of gayness again someday? Currently no as yaoi is not my forte AT ALL. I’m sticking to what I continue for over two decades. Still I’d say Love Stage is a pretty good rom-com overall that open-minded people who are curious are free to check out.