Number of Episodes: 10 (24 minutes)
Stars: Daigo, Takuya Eguchi, Daisuke Hirakawa
Release Year: 2014
Synopsis: With a father who's a singer, a mother who's a movie star, and an older brother Shougo who's the lead vocalist for the super-popular band "The Crusherz," Sena Izumi-an otaku college student-is the only dull one born into this super-famous and talented family. He loves "Magical Girl LalaLulu" and is working hard to become a mangaka, but one day he winds up appearing in a TV commercial he just can't turn down. There, he's reunited with Ichijou Ryouma, the super-popular young actor he costarred with on a project ten years prior.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
"What's this...? Could it be... LOVE?"
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
This show is extremely problematic and awful. Now, I know "problematic" is a buzzword that is thrown around whenever something's slightly controversial, but this show, in one word, is problematic.
In one of the early episodes of "Love Stage!!," one of the main love interest tries to rape the other love interest. This attempted rape is portrayed as romantic. The rapist is apparently just so attracted to the main character that he can't help himself, and the urge is too strong. And this scene isn't just "blurry line of consent rape," no, this is full on trying to rip someone's underwear off and kissing them while they beg you to stop over and over while crying and squirming around. And this is portrayed as romantic and natural.
And the attempted rapist doesn't stop! For the rest of the show he kisses and touches the other lead when he's asleep and unable to protest, and then acts like whenever he's able to resist raping someone, he's a bloody hero! "I could of raped you, but I didn't! Where's my reward for best love interest ever?"
I can not express how horrible this is. The show romanticizes and normalizes rape, and then acts like the character who almost got raped is being unreasonable for feeling uncomfortable about the whole thing. The character's friends and family encourage him to form a steady romantic relationship with his attempted rapist.
This is so harmful. Not only does it have the potential to make rape victims look like they're being unreasonable, but it says that if you're in love with someone, raping them is forgivable. That if you love someone, they owe you something, and you're allowed to pressure them into returning the sentiment regardless of how many times they push you away.
And that is just the most problematic element of the show. I could write all day about everything the show does wrong.
Honestly, I'm disappointed more than disgusted. To be fair, the show had a really fun first two episodes. I thought the relationship it was trying to set up was entertaining, and the main couple had the potential to be really cute. And then, after the first two episodes, it all went downhill so fast.
On a smaller scale, I do want to briefly complement some of the stylistic choices made in the show. I didn't love the character design, or the chibi jokes thrown in every 10 seconds, but there were some interesting moves made. Even though I hated the "romantic" scenes, I liked the concept behind how they focused on one character's reaction by making the other character fade into the background (as pictured above). I also liked how background characters were often not colored in, which made the world feel alive and full of people, but also stressed how unimportant the rest of the world was to the main cast.
But those are two small stylistic choices in an awful, awful show. Please do not watch this.