Yaoi Fans? Are you present?
I know I have some yaoi fans in the Grimm community so I’m pretty pumped to bring you this review of Love Stage. I will also be taking this opportunity to pull some examples of rape cultural within the show that we should all be aware of. On top of that I will also be touching base on why I believe some of these themes are so present in the Yaoi genre specifically, not that it doesn’t happen in other genres of anime! Today just happens to be a yaoi day.
I would really like to start out with my review of Love Stage and work our way towards the other stuff from there.
If you are not familiar with the show Love Stage it is a yaoi genre anime with 10 episodes available and (I’m told) an OVA. I have yet to find a legit place to watch the OVA but as soon as I do I will watch and review that as well. I watched the series on Hulu but I’m sure Crunchy Roll has it available as well.
Love Stage centers on Izumi whose family is steeped in show biz. His father is a stage actor with an emphasis on musical theatre, his mother is a model turned actress, and his older brother the singer for a very popular rock band. Each of his family members is extremely successful and there is an expectation that Izumi will follow along in their footsteps.
Izumi on the other hand has absolutely no interest after a traumatic experience when he was little. His mother was acting in a commercial when the little girl who was supposed to play her daughter didn’t show up. Izumi happened to be there so they decided to dress him up as a little girl and push forward with the commercial.
This wasn’t the embarrassing part for Izumi. While he wasn’t particularly thrilled to be dressed up as a girl he didn’t really care because nobody could tell it was him. What he did care about was acting and performing in front of all of those people! He was terrified and when he messed up he lost faith in himself. Luckily there was another little boy there who was able to calm Izumi down and in the end the commercial was a success.
Still, the thought of acting again still sends Izumi running. Instead he decided that he will be a manga writer and wants to focus his life on that. Fate has other plans though when original wedding commercial wants to create another commercial but with the same cast. After a lot of prodding Izumi finally consents to doing it and finds himself acting once again.
At first it appears that Izumi will chicken out and be unable to go through with things but then Ryoma shows up. He is the little boy actor from ten years ago and he is able to talk Izumi down again. After the commercial is done filming Ryoma finds Izumi and confesses his love for him. Ryoma has spent the past ten years believing that Izumi is actually a girl!
After Ryoma confesses his love Izumi confesses that he is in fact a man and the story takes of from there. Ryoma quickly realizes that man or woman he still loves Izumi so the show is mostly focused on what Izumi’s feelings towards Ryoma will be.
I found this show to be a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t want it to end either. Ten episodes just aren’t enough! I also really loved the characters on this show. In fact there isn’t a single character on Love Stage that I didn’t like. While the show focuses a lot on Ryoma and Izumi I wish there were more episodes so that we could see more of Shougo and Rei.
Rei is the family manager and Shougo is Izumi’s older brother and there are things suggested between the two but the show doesn’t flat out say they are in a relationship. For this reason alone I feel I must read the manga at my next possible chance.
If you are a fan of cute love stories than I think you will enjoy Love Stage as much as I did. There are many adorable moments where you can’t help but say awwwwww but there is also a lot of humor throughout the show that I wasn’t expecting but greatly approve of.
Now that I’ve given you the full review there are three incidents during the show that I noticed and really feel we should have a chat about. These three incidents will contain spoilers but I feel like everyone should be aware of them before starting the show.
If you really don’t want any spoilers before the show than make a mental note to come back here to read the rest of this when you’re done.
The next three things I will be talking about are examples of rape culture. I know, you’re probably thinking but this show sounds adorable. How can there be instances of rape culture? Well I’m sorry to say there is and we need to address them. I will also be discussing why I believe the majority of viewers would not recognize these instances as linked to rape culture, even though (I assure you) they are.
In I believe the third episode Ryoma decides to confront Izumi. He still finds that he has feelings for Izumi and he hopes that by seeing Izumi his feelings will go away by reminding himself beyond a shadow of a doubt that Izumi is a man.
When he is finally alone with Izumi he chases Izumi around the living room trying to pull his pants off to confirm his masculine gender. However upon seeing Izumi is in fact 100% male he becomes turned on and begins kissing Izumi. Luckily Izumi’s brother happens to meander by and stops the incident from further escalating.
Later Ryoma feels terrible about what he has done to Izumi. Izumi spends the next day locked in his room in a state of misery until Rei basically tells him he needs to get on with his life. I’m sure in watching this the majority of people found this scene to be comical and then later on sweet when we see how sorry Ryoma is but that isn’t the way we should view it.
First off Ryoma’s treatment is a full on sexual assault. If Izumi were actually a female people would view this encounter a lot differently. However because he is male it is instead suppose to be comical. We as viewers need to get out of this mindset. Rape/sexual assault among males is just as serious as with females. On top of that males who are raped/sexual assaulted are even less likely to report the crime then females (and that is saying something) because there is this mindset that men cannot be raped.
Listen up men can be raped. As a society we need to start discussing this and facing our own biases about the subject. Images that portray a sexual assault like this as comical are not only a representation of rape cultural but they also contribute to the bias that men cannot be raped/sexual assaulted or that their rapes/sexual assaults are not as serious.
As viewers we need to be aware when we are watching images that promote this line of thinking so that we can correct our own way of thinking about the situation.
When Izumi is sleeping and Ryoma kisses him without his knowledge repeatedly. Again if this was an unconscious woman and a man was kissing her repeatedly we would have an easier time recognizing that this is not a sweet moment. We need to stop romantizing moments like this because they are not romantic.
Boundaries in a relationship are 100% healthy to have. Want to know what’s romantic and sexy? When you are able to discus your sexual boundaries with your partner openly and you are both able to respect and maintain those boundaries. We need to have more of that in our media!
You know what I would have found more romantic with this scene? If Ryoma would have recognized his feelings of wanting to kiss Izumi but instead of acting on them he walked away. I would have been like Awwwwww what a nice guy! Instead I was left going WTF Ryoma! Control yourself damnit. Izumi has made it clear he is not ready to be physical.
As viewers we have got to stop idealizing men in the media who are not able to control their sexual urges. When we do idealize them it sends a subliminal message that when men do not recognize their partners sexual boundaries it is romantic/sexy. When we are able to point out these instances in our media we are able to combat the biases that can develop from being subjected to these scenarios.
At one point in the show Izumi finds himself in a situation where he may be raped or sexually assaulted by three men who approach him. At the last minute Izumi thinks about Ryoma and is able to escape from his attackers. As he flees he says Like I would let myself be taken by anyone but Ryoma or something like that.
This again is contributes to our bias about rape. By Izumi asserting that he was able to escape because he wouldn’t let himself be taken he contributes to the belief that victims of rape let themselves be raped. This is not the case. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted it is because another human being overstepped their boundaries.
The rapist/person who sexually assaulted is the one who is completely at fault. Had Izumi been raped in this scene it would not have been because he wanted it to happen. It would not have meant his feelings for Ryoma were any less strong. This idea that victims of sexual assault or rape can somehow control whether or not they are assaulted is toxic and we need to move away from this.
So Why Do We Romantize?
After reading this you may be wondering to yourself but why do I still find some of these behaviors romantic? To be honest a few years back I could’ve watched this show and not been able to make any of the above connections. I would have seen all of the above scenes as cute, adorable, comical, and romantic. WHY?
I’ve given this a lot of thought and I believe I have come up with an answer.
Growing up I was raised in a society that believes that men cannot control their urges sexual and that it is largely a women’s job to protect herself. What this means is first and foremost I harbored a belief that a man unable to control his urges was normal. Not only was this behavior normal but also it was expected and every man was capable of this.
Because women are raised this way in the back of our minds we are constantly thinking that we may be assaulted. The only way we will avoid this is if we are somehow able to fight our way out of the situation or another person intervenes and helps us. That’s the reality of what we think.
So when we see a scene like Ryoma assaulting Izumi and being stopped by Rei we see this as a happily ever after. As crazy as it sounds we are in no way surprised that Ryoma is unable to control himself because in the back of our minds we’re taught that no man can. His brother saves Izumi before Ryoma has sex with him so in our minds Izumi got off lightly. I mean it wasn’t as bad as it could be.
Isn’t it more than a little frightening that THIS is how we are brought up to see these situations?
Ryoma kissing an unconscious Izumi is also seen as sweet because we’re all thinking look how much he’s grown! He’s not taking advantage of Izumi nearly as much as he could be. Ryoma must really care.
Again isn’t it frightening how we are brought up to see situations like this?
Finally with Izumi escaping his would be rapists we can’t help but cheer. There is a part of everyone who has never been assaulted that wants to believe that if she/he only fights hard enough they will escape. We also have a bias that if someone is raped it is because they didn’t do something correctly to prevent it.
So seeing someone in a situation where they could potential be raped but are able to fight back just by wanting to keep themselves pure for someone else is our society’s view of a happy ending.
Seriously though… ISN’T THAT FUCKING FRIGHTENING?!
The above thoughts are simply not true and we need to distance ourselves from this way of thinking. Men can 100% control their sexual urges and it isn’t to be expected when they don’t. The only way to stop rape from happening is by people not raping period. There is no other magical formula.
Whew! This was a long one but I hope you all learned a lot and appreciated the talking points. If you would ask me if I would recommend this show I would say yes. However if I hate to rate it out of ten I’d give it a 7/10. That’s right I’m not letting the instances of rape culture slide.
If you are not being a conscious viewer and thinking about these incidents after viewing them they will lodge themselves in your brain reinforcing horrible ideals that are all to prevalent in our society.
That being said there is some silver lining, the reason I was still able to enjoy this show is because these were the only instances I really caught. I also give this show props for show casing what consent for sex should look like.
At one point Izumi is pretty depressed and tells Ryoma that he can do whatever he wants to him. Ryoma starts kissing/touching Izumi but stops when he sees that facial Izumi is not into it. It’s important that if you are in a sexual relationship with someone you are always communicating with each other and paying attention to physical as well as verbal cues.
Minus the instances above I also find Ryoma and Izumi to be completely adorable together. Ryoma is really adorable to watch after he fully admits his feelings for Izumi. Not to mention watching Rei interact with Ryoma. Rei completely dotes on his little brother so he’s not so thrilled that there’s someone who’s looking at his little brother with romantic interest.
So if you are into a good love story and want a few laughs along the way make sure to check out Love Story! I will be watching the OVA as soon as possible and you can bet I’ll be picking up the manga! Let the obsession begin.
I recognize that we touched on a lot of in depth themes with this post so I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. That being said GrimmGirl is an inclusive and hate free community. Hateful writing will not be tolerated and will be deleted.
I love that this community is a place where everyone can feel comfortable sharing their ideals, beliefs, and opinions so let’s all do our best to keep it that way ❤
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