Review-Roundup: Free! Eternal Summer 01/02 and Love Stage!! 01

Happy Izumi

Ahhhh. The three B’s of summer: bishies, boy’s love, and boobies.

Yep, you heard it here first – some of anime’s finest tropes have made it back onto the airwaves. Read on for mini-reviews of some of the summer season anime whose titles end with exclamation marks: Free! Eternal Summer and Love Stage!!

In this review, I’ll be covering bishies and boy’s love – see my Rail Wars! review for the final B: boobies.

Free 2

Free! Eternal Summer – Episodes 01 and 02

There’s not a whole lot to say about Free! – you are either into it or you are not.

That being said, I was always, most assuredly, the sort of person who was not into watching bishie-boys with nearly-magical powers do awesome sports stuff. Then I ended up on an airplane for 12 hours, with only Kuroko’s Basketball to watch. Needless to say, I was enthralled.

Why? Why?!?! Because bishies with magical sports powers are more addictive than heroin. Don’t ask me to explain it – one minute you’re thinking that you are watching the absolute dumbest thing that has ever been aired in the history of television, and the next thing you know, you are frantically clicking on the next episode, desperately needing to know if they win the game/match/whatever (even though you already know they do, or at least they win the nationals at the end of the series).

Free! offers everything that Kuroko’s Basketball does… Except for the sport is swimming. What’s the difference? Primarily, it’s that the boys are mostly naked in each episode, and you get to watch them suddenly rip off their clothes – only to reveal swimsuits, of course. Luckily, the series does have a bit of a sense of meta-humor… Even the characters in the series are disappointed when Haruka isn’t naked underneath his shorts.

Muscles

As an adult female, I obviously call bullshit on this series… about every 5 seconds. I was in high school too, and ummmmm…. 15 year olds don’t look like that! They don’t act like that either! Sure, there are exceptions, but for the most part this series and its predecessor are just ridiculous.

I’m not sure who the intended audience of these types of series is supposed to be. I imagine that it is aimed at girls and women ages 16-25 (and also for guys who like looking at hot guys). But honestly, why? I imagine that most anime fans would be more interested in smart boys than jocks, so I’ve got no idea who exactly loves this series so much. However, somebody does love Free! and other series like it – this genre is represented in every new anime season!

Free! is a boy-dream series. It is fun, mindless entertainment, with plenty of sports-themed suspense and overly dramatic soul-searching. Boys with ripped bods taking off their clothes, touching each other, calling each other cute names, being extremely sweet and sensitive around each other, and of course, dominating the world of athletics. In short, it shows boys being everything that adolescent boys are not. If you’re fed up with penis-having people, or you just like looking at mostly naked 2D bishie boys, this series might be a nice bit of wish-fulfillment for you.😀

Episode Rating: 01 – 4.0/10.0; 02 – 4.0/10.0

 

Izumi

Love Stage!! Episode 01

 The anime with not one, but TWO exclamation marks in its title, Love Stage!!, is summer’s token boy’s love series. Two super hot guys fall in love with each other… And there you go, that’s yaoi in a nutshell.

Alright. Not to rain on the fan-girl parade, but this series left me with a lot of questions. For example: What is Ryouma going to do when he finds out that Izumi is a boy???

After all, Ryouma had a childhood crush on Izumi… Izumi, the girl. Althouh Izumi looks great in a wedding dress, he’s got a certain anatomical feature that will probably soon come as a surprise to Ryouma.

izumi wedding dress

Who knows though? With this sort of series, there could easily be some kind of plot twist where it’s revealed that Ryouma knew Izumi was male all along. Or maybe Ryouma will just “turn gay” because Izumi is that damned cute. And he is, seriously!

Speaking of which…. A lot of yaoi main charas seem to realize that they are gay fairly late into life, and only when confronted with a ridiculously cute boy. What is that all about, anyways? Just like with Free!, it makes me wonder who is supposed to be the target demographic for the boy’s love genre. If you watch enough anime, you will notice the recurring suggestions that these series are made primarily for otaku women, the dreaded fujoshi. In Japan that may be the case, but in Western countries, yaoi fans are probably more diverse. I’d love to hear from you all out there who watch BL anime – why do you like it? And of course, do you think this sort of anime helps or hurts the cause of LGBT acceptance and equality?

As for me, a love story is a love story, no matter what gender the protagonists are. So far, Love Stage!! seems like a typical coming-of-age romcom, wherein Izumi must decide to follow his parents’ idea of what he should do with his life or follow his own dream of becoming a manga artist. Add to that the influences of his new super-star boyfriend and some gender-identity confusion, and it seems that poor Izumi is going to have one hell of a summer anime season ahead of him.

Happy Couple

I tend to like these kinds of love stories, if they’re well put together and have decent scripts (Golden Time, for example). Love Stage!! certainly seems cute and fun, but does it have the potential to be something a little more thought-provoking? Unfortunately, many of the yaoi and yuri anime out there do not go the extra mile. They too often rely on the fan-girl (or boy)-a-saurus people who devour anything that has same-sex couples, no matter how bad the storytelling is. Let’s hope that Love Stage!! doesn’t fall into that trap; I’d like to have a sweet romcom series to watch this summer.🙂

Episode Rating: 6.0/10.0

About kelfio

Keepin' it real down in the sweet sunny south.

Posted on July 10, 2014, in Anime, Free!, Love Stage!!, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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