In this post we’ll review Loveless. Loveless is one of the few shonen-ai manga that has been adapted into an animated series. It’s a well produced anime, with great art, great characterization, and a great soundtrack by Yuki Kajiura. The series as a whole is a tad bit disappointing though.
Loveless takes place in a world where everyone is born with cat ears and a tail. These cute, but strange, appendages fall off after the person loses their virginity. This obviously makes it real easy to figure out who’s been a naughty child, and who is a late bloomer.
The world of Loveless is also one of mysterious magic. In Loveless, magical battles take place between two couples. These couples consist of the Fighter and the Sacrifice. It is the Fighter’s duty to obey all orders (at all times, even) from the Sacrifice and to protect them. Any damage dealt is suffered by the Sacrifice. The pairs are given one name to unite them (”Loveless”, “Zero”, etc.), and it is suggested that these names and even the couplings themselves are decided before birth.
There are many characters in this 12 episode series, but for the sake of brevity we’ll just go over the major players:
|Ritsuka, the lead character. A 12 year old boy recovering from the tragedy of his brother’s violent death. He was once an outgoing and happy child, but now he’s dark and brooding. He yearns to be like he once was, but there’s a mystery surrounding what made him change. When Soubi enters his life he becomes reintroduced to the concept of love. Ritsuko’s “other name” is “Loveless”.|
|A 19 year old college student, Soubi was once the Fighter for Ritsuka’s brother. Soubi now fights for Ritsuka, and develops a relationship with the boy that is very loving but very questionable. Notice that he doesn’t have any cat ears.|
|Yuiko, Ritsuka’s classmate. Yuiko isn’t the brightest kid in the class, but she’s innocent and sweet (and annoying). Yuiko has a fierce crush on Ritsuko. She doesn’t seem to notice that he’s…uh…not into girls.|
|Seimei, Ritsuka’s older brother. He’s also known as “Beloved” along with Soubi. Seimei ordered Soubi to become Ritsuka’s fighter in case he died under mysterious circumstances. Seimei’s role in the story isn’t finished there though.|
Although Loveless is primarily a shonen-ai anime, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing for the straight guys to watch. There’s some cute girl-on-girl action later on in the series that’s sure to keep a fellow interested. This is one of the few shonen-ai titles that boyfriends just might tolerate watching with their ladies (the other would be X: The series, which I’ll review later).
The battles in this anime are your standard magic-fight fare. Each side takes turns using their special techniques while explaining their effects just to make sure their opponents know how smart they are. Soubi’s sheer coolness makes these fights work though, and the special effects animations provides for some nice eye candy.
Ritsuka and Soubi in battle
Speaking of eye candy, Loveless has one of the best animated end/credit sequences I’ve ever seen. The end theme song, MichiYuki, is also one of Yuki Kajiura’s best compositions.The character design in Loveless also deserves high praise. This is one of the very few animated series, anime or otherwise, where the characters actually change clothes every episode! Each outfit fits the character and the theme of the episode. I imagine this took a little extra effort on the part of the animators, but it was well worth it.One of the best scenes in the series comes in Episode 3, where Soubi asks Ritsuka to pierce his ears (the human ones). The scene is beautifully animated and written, and the metaphor of the ear piercing is obvious (”How was it? Does it hurt?” Ritsuka asks afterwards :icon_cool: ) . I’d say it’s one of the most brilliantly directed scenes I’ve ever seen in anime, but the fact that Ritsuka is JAILBAIT OF THE HIGHEST ORDER kept me from really enjoying it.That’s really one of the biggest problems with the series, besides the incomplete plot (I’ll get to that soon). The relationship between Ritsuka and Soubi is portrayed wonderfully, but I just have trouble forgetting how young Ritsuka is supposed to be. I know it’s just anime, and that no actual illicit activities took place during production but it still doesn’t work for me. If Loveless creator Yun Kouga had made Ritsuka just a few years older I could’ve dealt with it, but 12 is just out of the realm of acceptability for me. Shounen-ai is already a controversial topic, a cross-generational relationship added on to that may make things hard for Loveless in the US market.
“If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right”
Though I will admit, for the purposes of raising the kawaii (cute) factor, the age chosen for Ritsuka works well. Besides the issue with the underaged romance, the other glaring flaw with Loveless is the unfullfilled potential of the plot. While in many ways the anime is more clear than the manga, we’re still left with many questions unanswered. The series ends very abruptly, with no climax, no clarity, no conclusion. It’s almost like the anime was just a special edition of the manga. “Thanks for watching folks, now go read the rest of the manga chapters for the rest of the story!”. The worst part is that there’s no confirmation of a second season of the series, so we don’t even know if they’ll EVER pick up where they left off in the anime.I think Loveless will still be popular in the US once it’s released, despite the aforementioned flaws. It has all the elements you need to drive the shonen-ai crowd wild (I wouldn’t be surprised if sales of cat-ear headgear sky-rocket). Still, as an anime, Loveless leaves a lot to be desired. The manga certainly fills in the holes, but I think the anime has much higher entertainment value. Let’s hope that a successful American release encourages Bandai Visual/JC Staff/Nanatsu no Tsuki to run a second series.Volume 1 of Loveless is scheduled for a Feb. 14th release date (Valentine’s day, awwww).Tags for this posts: Anime, Manga, Loveless, shonen ai, yaoi, Yuki Kajiura, Ritsuka
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