Love Stage!!
Episode 9

by Rebecca Silverman,

Izumi has made his debut and Ryouma has made a sudden and terrible realization – now that the whole world has seen how cute Izumi is, does that mean that the whole world is now technically his rival? Judging by the nonstop coverage of the press conference that introduced Izumi as an entertainer, that certainly may be the case. Ryouma's fears quickly become realized when all of his co-workers beg him to introduce them to his crush, and the stress lands him in the hospital with a fever. In the meantime, the poor guy's walking into poles again, to say nothing of dropping his towel in his shock and horror. That last one's not so bad for the viewers, though...

This episode of Love Stage is a very full one, as if it is trying to make up for last week's semi-clip show. We get Ryouma's worries and collapse, flavored with a shower scene that is far more explicit in its nudity than any of the love scenes. We get Izumi's realization that he's in love with Ryouma, during which he obsessively buys Ryouma goods online. Then we get his panic about being a guy in love with another guy, during which he obsessively buys BL manga online. This, it turns out, is so that he can figure out how male/male sex works. Needless to say, it just confuses him more. (Manga's great, but maybe not the best source of sex education.) On top of all of this, we also get Izumi realizing that he can't just go wandering around outside now that his face is known, as he manages to get into several different kinds of trouble. One of those provides the cliff-hanger ending, and while we can guess that he will get out of the situation, how he does is uncertain, even if it isn't hard to figure out who will be there to help.

While the last few minutes are quite tense, most of this episode is more devoted to humor. Rei's reactions to Izumi's shopping binges are definite highlights, particularly when he finds all the BL. On the other hand, his parental role is also firmly present, and his honest answer to Izumi's sex question feels like an indicator of how much he cares. Prior to his collapse, Ryouma's worries are vividly illustrated in a variety of amusing ways, and from the preview it looks as if they'll be put to rest very handily next episode. All in all, this is a varied, entertaining, and at times at least semi-romantic episode (depending on your romance preferences), and it is certainly setting us up for some major developments next week. Stay tuned – the sky is coming.

Rating: B+

Love Stage!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Rebecca Silverman teaches writing and literature and writes ANN's manga column Right Turn Only.

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