Love Stage!! Volume 4
Love Stage!! volume 4 continues the excellent pacing of the series written by Eiki Eiki, drawn by Taishi Zaou, and published by SuBLime Manga. The relationship between the nerdy Izumi and the famous Ryoma progresses at a sprightly pace, just as Izumi’s fated celebrity career does. In the last book, the two admitted they love each other, so now comes the requisite stumbling blocks.
The first is one that is completely believable but one I don’t recall ever seeing in yaoi before. Izumi and Ryoma have been separated for a couple of weeks due to their different workloads and location assignments, and while Ryoma is eager to get back together, Izumi is more reluctant. He’s got a legitimate concern, but one that embarrasses him to mention. That leads to a well-played, cat-and-mouse sitcom-style “I will bring other people on our date” situation.
What makes Love Stage!! so much fun to read is how layered the confusion becomes. It’s not just keeping the two apart; it’s honesty leading to more complications, then amusingly conflicting aims, then the romance bits. Plus, we get more on the career aspects in this volume, too.
It seems, in Japan, you can become famous no matter your skill or desire, so long as the right people plug you into the right opportunities. That’s what’s happening with Izumi. He’s shot a number of commercials, and his agent is debating whether to make him a TV star or a music idol. It’s decided to place him in a hot new television show, produced by the guy who discovered Ryoma.
That producer is the new villain of the piece, demanding more from his young male stars than they may be comfortable giving. Which reinforces another important thing I love about this series: the message is strongly “no means no!” Sex is consensual, not something to force on a partner to convince them to admit feelings.
This new producer allows the authors to combine a storyline of professional advancement with personal emotion. The two young actors wind up working together, and Izumi is challenged by his first major role and its significant acting requirements. The two lovers may wind up with different opinions about the best course of action that they’ll have to learn to reconcile, keeping readers involved in volumes yet to come. (The publisher provided a review copy.)