In my last post I briefly mentioned the existence of Love Stage!!, so I feel I should give it a review, too. Love Stage!! is terrible, and every straight dude for whom it would not be triggering should watch it.
I should note that I’m not a huge fan of romantic comedies generally, even when they actually are funny, which Love Stage!! mostly is not. Nearly every stab at humor, from its piss-take on shoujo anime to the ludicrous awfulness of Izumi’s art, to the situational comedy moments, fails. I loathed Izumi as a character—he’s stupid, clueless, and overprivileged, and his great source of angst in life is that he doesn’t want to go into show business like the rest of his famous and wealthy family. That said, he still deserves better than this “romance”.
The story is that 10 years previously, Izumi played a girl in a television commercial alongside his famous parents and a young boy actor, Ryōma. As the series begins, the group are requested to update the commercial and Izumi reluctantly agrees. He participates, dressed as a woman, and is surprised when Ryōma kisses him as part of the filming because his own parents had actually hidden this part of the script from him. This is Izumi’s first kiss, by the way.
Ryōma, as it turns out, has been obsessing over the “girl” Izumi for years, and used his memory of “her” to propel himself through the ups and downs of his career. With surprising speed he reconciles himself to the idea that Izumi is a guy and then begins pursuing him. This is a romcom, so of course he eventually succeeds, even though Izumi is not apparently gay to start out with.
I’m not a fan of this plot where two ostensibly straight guys suddenly go gay for each other, but that’s not what I actually hate here. What squicks me out is what a thorough “Nice Guy” fantasy this is. The show cheers for this romance because Ryōma obsessed over Izumi for so long and because he does nice things like help Izumi with his manga and take care of him when he’s depressed. The show’s unambiguous attitude is that because Ryōma is so nice and so helpful and has pined for Izumi for so long that he deserves for Izumi to return his affection. Never mind that Ryōma knows literally nothing about Izumi during those years of obsession, that he bombards Izumi with texts and shows up uninvited at his house and university, or that he helps Izumi primarily because he wants to get into his pants. Ryōma’s “niceness” is meant to excuse—or even justify!—stalking Izumi, kissing him without permission, and even nearly raping him.
It’s the “nice guy” attitude given full form, and this is the reason all straight dudes should watch it. Seeing this grotesque attitude turned against another guy might conceivably make them realize how revolting it is. I can’t think of any other reason to watch this.