Life Lessons: The Ultimate Challenge

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.

Love Stage

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.

LOVE STAGE!! Ryouma and Izumi in disguise

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.

Macho nosebleed

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.

Izumi's parents, manager-guardian and older brother

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.

Young IzumiNow 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).

Sakura Trick Main Cast

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.

About OG-Man

Yuri and Slice of Life are my anime passion.
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26 Responses to Life Lessons: The Ultimate Challenge

  1. GyakutenPointer says:

    I just realized that when “y” is taken out of yurination it becomes urination O_o what a conspiracy.

    Like

  2. kitsu260 says:

    My first Yaoi was Sukiyo, then Princess Princess and Finally Boku no Pico because is I going to watch Yaoi better I go with the harder
    It was…different.

    Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      Not that desperate to learn myself. I’d rather take it easy. Besides two of the three you mentioned are subtext and BnP’s pretty lost its shock value to me. Wow, a shota having sex with other men and boys. Big deal.

      Like

  3. Greenlightning says:

    Your a stronger man than I am

    Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      It’s not as hard as other guys think it is. Besides I had a lot of time and thinking about life in general to prepare myself for this. No jokes or anything. No Boku no Pico, actual thinking about what makes yaoi and yuri different.

      Like

  4. ArcaJ says:

    Wow! This show totally flew under my radar. I’m going to give it a look. It sounds sweet and hilarious. My criteria for successful romantic comedy. ^_^

    Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      Apart from Ryouma being rough at times it’s a pretty enjoyable rom-com. It is both sweet and hilarious. Trust me. Also, please do me a favor and share your final thoughts when you eventually finish watching. I need someone to pop up and share their thoughts on it rather than:
      “I’m scared to watch yaoi” (This one I get for some so it’s not that bad)
      Boku no Pico references or make the obvious joke about the site’s name.

      Like

  5. Naru says:

    To be honest, I’m also surprised that LS turned out to be a good anime. And also, you were lucky for choosing it as your “introduction to the yaoi republic”. Usually Yaoi anime end up not respecting the original work and enjoy cutting out so many important moments that it turns into a bloody mess (just look at DRAMAtical Murder – I’m still mourning over the massacre).

    And yes, I wholeheartedly agree on Izumi being so cute it’s illegal. They need to tone it down or else I’ll be complied to buy goodies with his face on them.

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    • Overlord-G says:

      It was most enjoyable.
      I only needed to check out one of the two and DM didn’t look interesting at all so I skipped it.
      It may make some question my sanity but if there were an Izumi nendoroid I would buy it. He is that adorable.

      Like

      • Naru says:

        I highly recommend trying out the DM game on PC if you like reading for long periods of time since the anime didn’t do justice for it, at all. I personally gave up the anime after three episodes, heh.

        I would totally buy it. And heck, I would even get a Ryoma nendoroid to go with it.

        Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      I’m cool with long visual novels so maybe I’ll give it a go sometime. I usually do not accept “the original source is better” as a valid argument for an anime sucking but DM is one of those rare exceptions that the massive backlash against it alone convinced me it’s doo-doo. It also looked bland for some reason.

      Not a big Ryouma fan myself but he redeemed himself over time so why not? Buying his nendoroid completes the set. I forgot to mention I REALLY like the OP and ED but since this wasn’t a review per se (though it kinda feels like one) I did not include that info in the post.

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      • Naru says:

        That’s exactly why I’m recommending the original work xD Oh, and the LN is rather extreme, so don’t say I didn’t warn you (if you ever do try it)!

        I used to dislike him too until I saw how genuine his feelings for Izumi were and the efforts he put into, well, making Izumi feel more comfortable around him. And I wouldn’t feel satisfied just having the Izumu nendoroid, lol.
        I really liked the OP since it was all adorable, great to hum along to and stuff, but I have to admit I forgot how the ED sounded like. I only remember the characters baring their mid-drift xD

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      • Overlord-G says:

        I figured as much. Again I may pick it up sometime in the future.

        Exactly. He knew when he was going too far and did his best to help Izumi while trying to keep his understandable lust for Izumi’s cuteness under check.
        Yup. Gotta have the complete set, meaning if Rei and Onii-chan also got figures…may have to get those too as they are also good characters.
        I was referring to the full version of the ED. The ED video itself was alright. The OP video and the full version of the song are both really good.

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      • Dramatical Murder is one loooong yaoi game.

        If you’d like a rule 63 version, here’s a tumblr that’s DM yuri AU with all kinds of cute art:
        http://cosmic-artsu.tumblr.com/tagged/dramatical-yuri

        Like

      • Overlord-G says:

        I shall take your word for it friend.

        Like

  6. Cyan says:

    This was my second yaoi, my first was Sekaiichi Hatsukoi and I felt it was a little too serious for me to take especially when I find yaoi hard to watch.
    I’ve been thinking the same thing, if I like yuri I thought I would be open to learning yaoi too, but I stopped at season one of that show because I just didn’t find it exciting as yuri.
    But when I gave yaoi another chance with Love Stage I think I began learning to open up to it, maybe I just have to take it slowly, and Love Stage happened to be really fun to watch (haha the pink elephant is so funny)

    I think this show is a good introduction to those who wish to watch the yaoi genre, maybe they could take it slowly too, and the plot was a really good story line because there wasn’t anything forcing them (like mecha plotlines), and the jokes didn’t ruin the story at all, there was just plain love in it.

    I really felt like I was watching plain girls love except this time they are boys.

    And how come I just realized it, now that you mentioned it the onii-chan is no different from onee-chan’s who have sister complex. This Lala Lulu hahaha they could have come up with a better name, sorry I find it funny… and Izumi! so adorable! I used to find these anime where they try so hard to make boys pretty and most of them fail hard, but Izumi is cute! the perfect example!

    Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      Definitely a noteworthy yaoi show and I agree it’s a good one for newcomers to the yaoi republic to get an introduction to the genre.

      I’m not going to watch Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi mainly due to lack of interest.

      Izumi’s criminally adorable.

      Like

  7. yurimylove says:

    that’s one worthwhile life lesson, my friend! I think challenging one’s self sometimes, as you bravely did here, is not a bad idea at all. Often time growth comes from facing/overcoming challenges.

    Yeah i watched Love Stage too, and found it pretty funny and interesting to watch. Over the years I’ve also watched a few other BL/subtext anime like Loveless, Gravitation, Princess Princess,
    Makai Ouji, etc. While i don’t love yaoi like i love yuri, i don’t have much of an aversion to it either. I will admit however (to copy one of your loyal readers who likes to admit things), i really like yaoi when there’re “trap” characters, like in Princess Princess.

    Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      Indeed. That was the main message behind the post. Surprised few people noticed this. Then again I’m not exactly an editorial writer so that explains why few got the message behind the semi-review.

      Haven’t seen Princess Princess nor do I have any interest in doing so. Traps don’t do much for me. More often than not they upset me by denying me a potentially lovely lady to drool over.

      Like

  8. Kaiki says:

    I was actually wondering the same thing about me. I think reading yuri and especially reading Honey and Honey made me pretty open towards a lot of stuff I… just didn’t understand before, basically. There was no way for me to tell, though until I just browsed the Romantic Couple section of Deviant Art for drawing references. There was a gay couple with one of the dudes having a conviniently placed opening on his underpants. Before I couldn’t even watch two guys kissing but now my reaction now was just… neutral, I guess. There was not even a hint of disgust at least, so yuri made me a better person, I guess.

    Like

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