Saturday, July 25, 2015

Yaoi Manga Review: LOVE STAGE Volume 1


STORY: Eiki Eiki
ART: Taishi Zaou
TRANSLATION: Adrienne Beck
EDITOR: Jennifer LeBlanc
ISBN: 978-1-4215-7991-7; paperback (May 2015); Rated “M” for “Mature”
186pp, B&W, $12.99 U.S., $14.99 CAN, £8.99 UK

Love Stage!! is a boys' love (BL) manga from the creative team of writer Eiki Eiki and artist Taishi Zaou that was serialized in Asuka Ciel magazine beginning in July 2010.  SuBLime Manga began publishing Love Stage!! in an English-language edition in graphic novel form back in May.

Boys' love manga depicts amorous situations between male romantic leads, with its subset, yaoi (which Love Stage!! is), being more explicit.   Love Stage!! is about an average guy from a family of celebrities who becomes romantically entangled with one of Japan's most popular young male celebrities and idols.

Love Stage!!, Vol. 1 (Chapter 1 to 5) opens in the past.  A small boy is dressed as a girl for a commercial shoot.  His costar believes that the girl is really a girl, and he never forgets her... him.  Ten years later, the boy who dressed like a girl is Izumi Sena, now a beginning college student.  He is an unrepentant otaku (fanboy) and wants to be a mangaka (a creator of manga).  The rest of his family is in show business, and they want Izumi to join the family business.

Meanwhile, Izumi's costar in that long-ago commercial is Ryoma Ichijo, a hot young actor and idol.  The commercial in which he starred 10 years ago is going to get an anniversary sequel, but Ryoma will not return unless that “girl” from the original reprises her role.  What will he do when he finds out that she is really a he?

While the Love Stage!! manga is a romantic comedy, the early chapters are more comedy than romance.  Love Stage!! Volume 1 is not just funny; it's delightfully funny.  In fact, it is so comedy oriented that when some... heaving petting suddenly occurs, the change in tone is quite jarring.

Writer Eiki Eiki is a master of BL and similar genres, as well as shojo manga.  Artist Taishi Zaou has a beautiful drawing style that is perfect for shojo manga and makes her boys' love manga exceptionally pretty.  Together, they create something unique, manga that transcends genre.  That is Love Stage!!, cute and funny and popping with energy and I think the best is yet to come.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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