In the world of Loveless, each person is born with cat ears and a tail, which disappear only if that person engages in a sexual intercourse. Because of this, they have come to symbolize virginity and innocence. Additionally, fighting is only done by "fighting pairs" or couples, where one is known as the Sacrifice and the other as the Fighter. The first receives the damage while the latter attacks.
Ritsuka Aoyagi is a 12-year-old boy, who for some unknown reason suffers from amnesia. His brother got killed recently, and as if his life has not been hard enough lately, on his first day at the new school he gets approached by a stranger called Agatsuma Soubi, who claims to have known his late brother. Ritsuka finds out that Agatsuma and his brother used to be a fighting pair, and that Agatsuma has inherited Ritsuga now that his brother is gone. Together, they try to find the truth behind his brother's death and the organization known as the "Seven Moons," which may have been responsible for it. All the while, it seems that Ritsuka and Agatsuma are becoming closer than they intended to be…
It's rare that a series leaves me at a complete loss for words, and I really don't mean that in a good way. I've managed to gathered the words now though, and here they are:
STORY - ...What story? Seriously, at what point is anything in this series explained? (Hint: never!) There are problems presented, sure -- Seimei, Ritsuka's older brother, was killed and he wants to find out who did it and why. Not really that intriguing or original, but it works, right? Additionally, Ritsuka has amnesia and is a "completely different person" than he was two years prior, but he doesn't know what happened.
Also not that original, but still acceptable. Unfortunately, the series doesn't seem to focus very well on either problems and instead teases you by presenting a lot of leads that seem like they're going somewhere, but never do. Soubi, who should serve as Ritsuka's connection to Seimei refuses to say anything on the matter. In fact, as far as Rituska's troubles go, Soubi's pretty worthless for plot progression even if he does defend him from mysterious attackers (who are never explained). And his creepy shotacon ways seem like far, far too shameless an attempt to wind up the fangirls. I like shounen-ai well enough, and while I don't really care for shota, I can swallow it if it's done well. Well, this wasn't done well at all.
The story's only redemption may be that Ritsuka's social anxieties are addressed gradually throughout the series, and the subplot concerning his personality change and memories does see some progress. In fact, it might even be considered a good storyline if we ever got to find out what happened to him, but we don't! Does that even count as a spoiler? The fact that ultimately, nothing happens? The plot with Seimei seemed like it had potential at times -- all of the vague, unexplained hints did seem like they were going somewhere, and if you cocked your head sideways, you might have even been able to pick up clues to the mystery. The last episode seemed like it was trying to explain what was going on, but it was so garbled and nonsensical that it's almost impossible to draw any kind of conclusions from it, and in the end, there's nothing but a big, gaping void where all your answers should be.
The battle system in this series is something else that seemed to have potential. The concept of a Fighter and a Sacrifice is actually pretty interesting, though I think they would have survived without all the gratuitous bondage. Unfortunately, the actual fighting is never explained, and it's difficult to deduce where exactly anyone derives their power or how the mechanics of the fighting works. I really don't know why all of these things were sidestepped; it really doesn't seem like it should have taken that much time or effort to explain something that was so central to the whole Seven Moons and Seimei's murderers madness.
I haven't read the manga, but I get this distinct feeling that it's probably ten times better than this anime, because certainly it can't be worse. Like I said, the wisps of story here and there seemed to have potential, and it was just frustrating to see that almost none of them have a definite conclusion. It seems like this should have been a twenty-six episode series instead of twelve, or they should have spent more time on actual plot progression instead of random shota fluff and molestation. In the end, I think I just wasted four hours of my life watching this series, and that's about it. And even though I'm sure the manga is better, I'm left so frustrated with the series that I'm not sure I even care enough to go read it.
Addendum: The anime was apparently produced when only volumes 1-4 of the manga was out (the series is 8 volumes long), so they had limited source material. Still, I think they could have done a much better job -- certainly things like the fight system could have been addressed better anyway. And while they supposedly left the "ending" open for a possible sequel, there still could have still been an actual conclusion of some sort. But really, unless it's one of those long running shounen series, I don't think there's any reason to ever produce an anime for an unfinished series. It just leads to unpleasant bullshit like this and X/1999. :|
CHARACTER - Ritsuka is probably the best character in the series, though that isn't really saying much. In any case, he seems to be the only character that goes through any significant change throughout the series. His turmoil at the beginning of Loveless is very understandable, what with a crazy mother, no memories, and a dead brother. The sessions with his psychologist summed up his development pretty well, though it did kind of seem like a cheap way to present everything to the audience. His relationship with his friends moved up in a classic line graph as he was somewhat sporadic and inconsistent in the beginning and steadily progressed up towards "real friendship." His relationship with Soubi... I guess it really wasn't that bad; his reaction to Soubi's advances were realistic: his indignation, disgust, and eventual worry. You could see his feelings change slowly as the series went on, and the relationship did contribute to Ritsuka's overall personality progression, so to that end, I guess it was all right.
Soubi is probably a much more multi-faceted character than the Loveless anime allowed him to be; I could tell by watching, but that didn't change the fact that he didn't end up being explored all that much. Because so little is revealed about his past, with Seimei or otherwise, you never know what his motivation for anything is, which was immensely irritating and frustrating. He tells Rituska some things, but then establishes a steady history of lies, so anything he says is questionable, even if they sound like they might, or even should, be true. Whether or not he really cares for Ritsuka always seems to be questionable, and his masochistic complex complicates the matter further -- not to mention it makes things ridiculously awkward. I think, in the end, you're supposed to gather that he's changed a little (for the better) since his days with Seimei, but it's really not that convincing at all.
All of the other characters were pretty generic, and a lot of them seemed pretty damn pointless too. Rituska's school friends seemed like they could have been plucked out of any other anime Japanese school ever. Sure, they contributed to the plot and Ritsuka's development, but they really weren't that interesting to watch. Kio, Soubi's roommate? Classmate? Random friend? (Ex-)boyfriend? I have no idea what their relationship is because, surprise, they never explained, but he was only fun because he addressed some of my thoughts on Soubi, namely his apparent raging perversion and pedophilia (though Soubi consistently denied these accusations). But other than that, another generic support character? Yeah. The same goes for Ritsuka's teacher and his psychologist, and the fact that both of them were randomly in love with one of the protagonists seemed like more pointless fanservice. All of the fighter pairs sent from Seven Moons were flat and boring -- they were sent to fight, yippee. Did they have their own goals or aspirations? Who knows? Subplot with the lesbians? Seemed like a lame ploy to allow for a convenient winner of that fight. Complete lack of intrigue.
Finally... this was the original reason I had no interest in watching this series. What the hell is the point of the cat ears? What does this contribute to anything at all? It just seems like a silly gimmick to invite giggles from the audience (fangirls think about this stuff anyway, do we really need to encourage them?), and to allow for lots of suggestive dialogue in the show. The only reason I could think of for this is to have "proof" that Soubi isn't randomly raping Ritsuka ('cause it sure seems like it sometimes). Here's an idea -- if your character is so inappropriate that you have to have a lame gimmick to prove his innocence, how about not writing him to be so outrageous in the first place? Certainly Soubi didn't need to make out with Ritsuka in the middle of every battle.
ARTWORK & ANIMATION - Resoundingly average. Ritsuka was cute and Soubi was your run-of-the-mill bishounen. All the other characters were similarly plain, and the backgrounds don't really invite rounds of praise either. None of it was bad, but none of it was great either. The animation was about the same, though I really thought the effects for the fights were unimpressive and cheap.
MUSIC - I'd actually heard the opening theme, "Tsuki no Curse," long before I saw this series because it was composed by Yuki Kaijura. Unfortunately, I wasn't too impressed with it then, and I remained unimpressed with it in the series. I'm not really sure what it is about it, but it just doesn't stand up against most of Kaijura's other work. The end theme by Kaori Hikita was similarly plain. The music throughout the series actually surprised me by how random it seemed. Most series, even if they don't have particularly great music, still manage to get tracks that are appropriate for their scenes: sad tracks for sad scenes, energetic tracks for fights, etc. Loveless is probably the first series where I've been confused at their music choices for various scenes... They had weird, mecha-style battle tracks that were far, far too exciting for the scenes they were in, and then strange, melodious tracks that conflicted with conversation-heavy scenes. Occasionally, they had some nice, soft vocal tracks that seemed to fit okay, but they weren't prominent enough to balance out the other randomness.
VOICE ACTING - Average.
OVERALL - I think the best way to watch Loveless is to treat it as a drinking game. Take a shot of vodka every time Soubi says "suki dayo" ("I like you" or "I love you" depending on context and translator). You'll be mad drunk by the second episode (seriously, he's a broken record) and will thus be too wasted to realize that the entire series has little substance, never answers any of your questions, has no ending, and is ultimately unsatisfying. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go bash in the brains of the person who recommended this series to me.
For me, the best word to describe this anime is simply "beautiful"... If you truly want to understand it you have to take a closer look and be able to see beyond the "shounen-ai" or "shotacon" tags. I can't even say it's about a homosexual love, because it goes way beyond that, at a more spiritual level. In this anime, love becomes a great source of power. The fighter/sacrifice couples simply HAVE to create a great bond between them in order to become powerful.
But love is not the main theme, it deals with a lot of other issues too. For example, the way we
project ourselves on others - Seimei appears in one way for Ritsuka, his mother or Soubi, but we find out about his true nature only later on. Another example is forgetness, memories, the link between past-present-future and essential questions that everyone asks himself or herself at a certain point in his/her life, and how 12-year-old Ritsuka is searching for a meaning of his life. Yet another example is the way people are treated in society due to certain tags they wear. In this case, I'm talking about the ct years that explicitly show the status of their sexual life and how others react to that.
Also, in this anime, true love has nothing to do with sexuality, and is expressed by strong emotions and subtile gestures.
The story has an interesting plot, and it develops little by little, and unfortunately does not end... You'll just have to read the manga too see what happens next. If you only watch the 12 episodes anime series the story doesn't really make sense at the end and it leaves you with even more questions. But it gets interesting when you start to go beneath the surface and find the truth behind all the appearences.
The art helps creating a slight dark atmosphere. Not dark as in "evil"... but more like enigmatic, mysterious. The colors are not so bright, sometimes dark, it has beautiful landscapes, and a lot of scenes occur at night, sunset or in the dark fighting setting. One of the most interesting artistic elements is the buttefly - it always accompanies Soubi's arrival, or in Soubi's paintigs, as a weapon, or in Ritsu's collection.
The soundtrack also helps a lot creating this slight dark atmosphere, and it backs up every emotion that the characters are feeling. Some emotions don't even need to be expressed by words, the music completes them and amplifies the impact they have on the viewer.
As for the characters, they are very strong and complex ones. Ritsuka is the one in search for his existence's meaning, and for life's meaning in general, feeling lost in a world he doesn't understand and that doesn't understand him. Soubi is the one that has the answers but he cannot give them to Ritsuka. When it comes to love, Soubi is the one to show Ritsuka the meaning of it, the meaning behind the appearances, the powerful and spiritual level of love. But Soubi often acts contradictory, his true feelings remain hidden, he says things very easily but sometimes his actions do not sustain his big words.
To me, it's a very unique, enjoyable combination of drama, love, philosophical questions, mistery and supernatural. The words are well chosen and always make you wonder about the truth and how much you far you have to go in order to find it. One thing is for certain - you have to ignore appearances. I really think this anime is deep and worth watching.
I believe that Loveless is MUCH MORE than just some shounen-ai story. It is so much deeper than that. It really delves into the life of a young boy who is lost in the world. Ritsuka's real name being Loveless is a strong showing of that fact.
I have to say that sadly, I was confused a few times while watching this anime. And many people I have talked to get very upset about how it was ended. They say that there were too many questions left unanswered. But think about it, in real life, there are always more questions that have not been answered.
have to give this a lower rating because, although at the start the story moved along very smoothly, near the end things got very confusing. At first it was simple. Ritsuka lost his brother, and his fighter Soubi came along because Semei ordered him to. And they fought enemies. Not too hard to understand. But then new characters were introduced and they brought up even more questions, half of which never got answered.
ART: AMAZING. The colors used in this anime are simply awe-inspiring. The way they portray Soubi as a butterfly and they show it in beautiful colors is just wonderful. The characters are all well-drawn and very cute/handsome (in Soubi's case) The noses bug me a tad, but I'll get over it. :)
SOUND: Also great. The OP song is one that I actually always listen to every time I watch an episode. When romantic moments are occuring throughout the course of the season, they play very nice background music. Same with sad moments. The music goes along well with the mood. And not even one of the character voices are annoying! Not even Yuiko. And that surprised me.
CHARACTER: I think that if I could add more favorite characters to my list, EVERY single character from this anime would be on it. There is such a good mix of personailities, from the shy Ritsuka to the serious Soubi and the playful Yuiko and the HILARIOUS Yayoi. The way the characters all relate is very nice as well. Although at times, I was confused at why Ritsuka would just let Soubi kiss him and whatnot, but still... very good interactions and love triangles. It's the whole grade school, "I like her but she likes him..." ordeal. And I sometimes like that! It makes the story much more light and humorous.
ENJOYMENT: I gave this a 9 because for the most part, I was very entertained. There were a few episodes where I did not laugh or almost cry at all. But something kept me watching this anime. I think for the most part it was the characters. But I enjoyed the fights and the love between Ritsuka and Soubi. I just wish there had been more episodes to enjoy.
Overall, I give this anime a 9. Oh... and lastly, go team Zero! *squee*
The yaoi fangirls are going to kill me here. Loveless stands up with Gravitation, Junjou Romantica, and Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi as one of those BL anime that all yaoi fans love. While out of all of those the only one I legitimately enjoyed was Gravitation, that is just a matter of personal taste. Junjou and Hatsukoi are at least somewhat decent, especially when compared to what BL anime that came before them were like. With that out of the way I can safely say that Loveless is one of the few anime that made me want to claw my own eyes out.
The story centers around
Ritsuka Aoyagi, a grade school boy who lost all of his memories two years prior to the start of the series. At that time, he also did a complete 180 in personality, going from an outgoing and popular boy who didn't have the best grades to a student with perfect grades who avoids any kind of social interaction. This apparently put such a strain on his mother that she began frequently beating him (and much worse in the manga) and claiming that he isn't her son, but someone else in her son's body. Apparently, if he does anything that the old Ritsuka wouldn't do, his mother will beat him. Things were at least tolerable for awhile, since his older brother, Seimei, protected him from his mother's beatings, but then Seimei was discovered burned to death in Ritsuka's classroom. The anime itself begins after all this when Ritsuka is transferred to a new class. A girl named Yuiko tries to befriend him, but Ritsuka regards her coldly since she's only doing it because her classmates put her up to it. After receiving harsh criticism from Ritsuka, Yuiko decides not to be pushed around by her classmates anymore and pushes for a genuine friendship with Ritsuka. After that, Ritsuka meets Soubi, a man who claims to be an old friend of Seimei's. Soubi tells Ritsuka about his arrangement with Seimei that if anything were to happen to Seimei, Soubi would "belong" to Ritsuka. Soubi turns out to be Seimei's "sentouki," a companion who would fight battles with magic, while Seimei was the "sacrifice," or the person who would take the damage in these battles. Since Seimei is now dead, Soubi must become Ritsuka's sentouki and Ritsuka will become the sacrifice.
Oh, and did I mention that it's a huge plot point that virgins have cat ears? Yeah, way to throw random sex into the plot. That's one thing I really hate.
However, after that huge info dump, nothing is really completely explained again. Most of the episodes consist of Soubi battling another pair of magic fighters and trying to protect Ritsuka in between molesting him. The story itself is so poorly explained that I had no idea what was going on half the time and ended up consulting wikipedia and the manga several times during the course of an episode, and that is not a good thing. I gave it a decent rating merely because it was interesting, but it never did anything more than that. I never really even knew why half these characters were fighting other than some taboo about the fact that Ritsuka and Soubi shouldn't be a team because both their names aren't "Loveless" or something like that. The only thing I could understand was the adult molesting the child frequently. Hooray for pedophilia, I guess! Especially on an already traumatized and broken child!
The art was...well, it was actually fairly good, at least on the characters. The backgrounds were a bit lazy most of the time, but at least the magic battles usually looked good, and the character designs were at least distinct. However, the style reminded me a lot of Higurashi in that, while it used bright colors, it always looked like there was a film over the animation giving it a weird misty look that seemed out of place, though that could be because of the poorly done backgrounds.
The sound was easily the best part of the show. I can't really say the dub of either language was particularly outstanding, but the soundtrack was done by Yuki Kajiura. 'Nuff said. It's far from being her best work, but it's Yuki Kajiura nonetheless. What's not to like?
The characters are not so lucky. Most of them are boring, unlikable, or underdeveloped. The worst offender of this is Soubi himself. Since he's one of the two main characters, he should be someone the audience can cheer for and want to see succeed, or at least care somewhat about what he's doing. I really didn't feel anything toward him, even when part of his history as revealed. He has very little personality, and he's constantly flip-flopping when it comes to his actions. I can at least understand his motives of wanting to keep Ritsuka safe, but it's hard to relate to that when he's such a shameless pedophile. The only reason I gave the characters a decent rating is because of Ritsuka. He wouldn't have much of an effect if he was a side character, but as a main character he does well. He has a very distinct personality, and his development is very well handled. Sure, he starts off rather depressed at first, but he has every right to be, and unlike some anime characters he does grow quite a lot. His circumstances barely change at all, so the fact that he's able to change his attitude is impressive.
However, the fact that Ritsuka's such a good character actually works against the series. When you actually care about a character, it's not enjoyable to watch him suffer so much without any happy ending in sight. Nobody who knows about his abuse is doing anything about it, even Soubi who claims to love him. Soubi's sexual advances on a boy who's underage even in Japan, especially one who has enough mental trauma on top of amnesia and a possible personality disorder, is just disgusting. I continued watching until the end in order to see something good finally happen to this kid, and it really doesn't. I could barely stand a moment of this, so the enjoyment factor was very low. I was able to enjoy the few quiet moments Ritsuka had with his friends, at least, but that's about it.
All in all, there were a few things in this series that were okay, and the main character is really good. However, it's just unpleasant to watch and I find the fact that all of this is fetishized to be disgusting. Any time I hear someone praising this series, I feel a little sick inside. I suppose people are allowed to like what they want, but I personally find this show terrible. The overall score of 3 out of 10 is surprisingly generous, and I only gave it because of Ritsuka and the soundtrack by Yuki Kajiura. That's all.
Yaoi anime and Boys' Love (BL) anime are some of the most recognizable and popular genres in the medium. Have you ever wondered why they are mostly aimed at female audiences and what makes them so irresistible? Come to the dark side for a moment and peek into the magical world of BL fandom.
I discussed the allure and appeal of the meganekko, or "glasses girl", in my last "Behind the Glasses" article. Now let's turn our attention to the male equivalent: the megane danshi. Smart, stoic, and sexy, the "glasses guy" will challenge your mind and steal your heart!