Love Stage!! – 02

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Izumi makes it to the photo shoot, has somewhat understandable panic attacks, which only make Ryouma fall for him harder. As he did 10 years before, Ryouma helps calm Izumi down, which also wins a bit of Izumi’s heart. The commercial is filmed and both characters have a strong respect, tipping on affection, for each other. Then Izumi’s secret is blown and Ryouma runs off angry, hurt and sexually confused…

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This week opens with a dream sequence I was way too dim witted to catch onto until it was over and, Man! What a hoot! Cute, artsy sequences, magic girls fighting plant monsters hand me going… and then back we went to the real show and I sure felt sheepish.

Beyond the obvious, this week also gives us a lot more of Shouga, Izumi’s older rock star brother. He pretty much controls Izumi, but not in a bad or creepy way. Shouga’s just the only one who can motivate Izumi in the first place… usually with creepy magic girl body pillows.

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What I liked last week remains the same: the cast is up-beat, nice and positive. Izumi pretty much shrugs off the social chaos of his gender reveal, his parents are supportive and happy regardless, and the family manager is beginning to understand how Izumi works (and cared about Izumi before hand, regardless).

Even Ryouma, who has a totally understandable name-calling freak-out moment after learning Izumi is a boy, also has a serious “What the heck does this actually mean to me?” moment, sans dialog, as he’s driven away by his manager.

I also really really appreciate that the show just jumps right in and reveals Izumi’s gender by the second episode. It tells me the show will be about consequences and “what’s next” more than a when will it all come crashing down house of cards event.

Also, body pillows!

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Love Stage!! – 01

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I am RABUJOI’s resident Pessimist Reviewer. I’m impatient, hyper critical, caustic and, as an artist myself, particular about what makes a show visually worth watching. So, it is only fitting that my punishment for trash-talking Rail Wars!, Sailor Moon and Glasslip be to unearth ‘what is good’ about several shows on our B-roster.

My first show is Love Stage!!, a water color style rom-com about Izumi, a directionless, effeminate college boy and his struggles to find an identity within his massively tallented show-biz family.

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Love Stage!! is about consequences, decisions and misunderstandings. You see, 10 years ago Izumi played the ‘little girl who catches the bouquet’ in a wedding commercial and his co-star Ryouma, who was never told Izumi was actually a guy, has carried a torch for Izumi all this time. Fast forward to today and the wedding company wants to film a reunion commercial with the original cast, now with Izumi as the bride to be.

The ensuring chaos is fairly predictable: Izumi obviously doesn’t want to be a trap, his parents want him to take the job because he hasn’t figured out what to do with himself yet, and Ryouma is an episode away from experiencing a serious surprise!

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What is not predictable, and what makes Love Stage!! worth watching, is how Izumi comes to realize his crack-pot dream of becoming a manga artist is never going to happen unless he actually works on it — and he does really start putting work into it. In this way, Izumi himself is the first character to realize his own misunderstanding, and we see him make a decision to correct it and live with the consequences.

What also makes Love Stage!! enjoyable is how sincere and positive all the characters are. Izumi’s parents, while pushy, never shout at him for falling short of their expectations or making poor life choices. Nor does Izumi mope too long over the mess his life has been and the mess his life is about to be. Love Stage!! is just a warm, happy show and I respect that in a sea of otherwise broody or whiny rom-coms.

Also, i swear Izumi’s dad’s mustache is glued onto his face!

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Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda – 06

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Working his ass off as indispensable all-round doer of cooking, laundry, cleaning, and TP acquisition, school is Jimon’s last refuge. So naturally in the cold open he has that refuge snatched away by the surprise transfer of Kate and Roboko to his class. They and the rest ofo Zvezda aren’t there for Jimon, but for the “Udo Bride”, an ancient treasure Kate learns about by a dubious flyer published by the “Treasure Club.”

With Renge and Jimon’s secret identities secure, the sudden arrival of his colorful “cousins” doesn’t faze her; on the contrary, she swoons when she learns Jimon proposed to the school idol Shirasagi Miki when he was little (though he was instantly shot down). It’s kinda funny and ridiculous that the school accepts a grade-schooler and a robot to middle school, while Iitsuka and a fully-clothed Natasha look more at home. Meanwhile Gorou is ingeniously disguised as a bronze bust in the courtyard.

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That first scene with Miki seemed random, but sets the stage for the Treasure Club mystery: it’s all another elaborate ploy by Shirasagi, AKA White Egret, AKA Madame M (lotta aliases pilin’ up!) to trap Zvezda, whose members she’s identified by the UDO levels they gave off while at the club meeting (the inexplicably interactive film reel was a nice touch). As Egret she ordered Renge to stay home, but the fact Renge couldn’t stay away (and indeed is so enthusiastic she shows up in full adventurer’s kit) could be a potential wrench in her gears.

This episode was full of interesting interactions between people who’d normally be enemies warming up to each other at school. In that regard, where Zvezda and Renge are concerned, it’s every bit a sanctuary and “neutral space” to them as it had been for Jimon. But Shirasagi is poised to ruin all that by unmasking the Zvezdians (her flyers will serve double duty as Zvezda power-negating talismans, another clever touch). Renge could learn Jimon and her new friends are all members, meaning she’ll have to pick a side.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • We noticed Roboko was eating her udo lightly grilled; nice continuity!
  • Not sure where Jimon dredged up tha “Treasure Dance” thing, but it sure was weird…and the positive, reverent reaction to it was even weirder!
  • The episode never forgets for a moment that Kate is at the end of the day a little kid, who doesn’t conserve her energy and ends up falling asleep all the time
  • To that end, we like how she initially tried to use a more polite, formal affectation while at school, but the more tired she got, the more she just forgot to use it, confusing Renge.
  • Roboko’s Schoolgirl mode made her sound a lot more like Morita Moe. We also liked how she was prepared to punish Jimon should his insulting of Kate continue.

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 07

As Ades prepares to attack the isolationist stronghold of Gracies, Fam plans to swoop in and steal eight ships being transferred to the Federation from surrendered nations, thus completing her contract with Captain Wisla. When they approach the ships, the fleet from Kartoffel is there as well. Both parties took the Ades bait, as a huge fleet descends upon them and lays waste. Fam and Gisey manage to guide the remains of the fleet out of danger by making use of the shockwaves caused by ice falling into the sea, but the damage is done and the mission is a failure. Fam and Gisey return to the Sylvius, only to have been tailed by the first fleet, who demand they hand over Princess Millia or be sunk.

Hmm…something tells us “Your Princess Is In Another Castle” won’t work on these guys. Also, with all the Ades traps being sprung this week, we was looking for a certain Mon Calamari admiral to pop out of the woodwork and yell “It’s a TRAP!” (Wrong franchises; we know). Most importantly, it was about time things stopped being so easy for Fam and the sky pirates, and here they finally run into some serious trouble. The surprise attack on the pirates meant we were treated to a ginormous, epic sky battle in which the bad guys got to let out some of their frustrations. Fam and Gisey don’t crash, but they come about as close as you possibly can. And that water looked cold.

This whole episode, Gisey was down in the dumps and just…weary that they were about to five Ades just one too many pokes. Fam rushed into battle full of optimism like she usually does, and was totally blind to the possibility things wouldn’t all come up Fam Fan Fan. We wish Gisey learned to speak up for once, but as Fam’s Navi, she feels obligated to do whatever Fam wants, regardless of what she wants. She’ll probably blame herself for not sniffing out the trap, but the fact of the matter is she had A Bad Feeling about the operation before it even got started. Ah, no matter. We got to see absolutely fantastic sky combat…and birds! Grand Birds!


Rating: 4