Title: Loveless, vol 1
Author: Yun Kōga
Received from: borrowed
Summary: (I have absolutly no idea if this is the official summary, but I got it here)
Loveless is a shōnen-ai fantasy manga by Yun Kouga. In the world of Loveless, people are born with cat ears and a tail (this is called Kemonomimi). They lose these features after they become an "adult", and the implication is that it is when they have sex. The series begins with Ritsuka starting at a new school after an incident at his last one. There he meets Yukio, who refers to herself in the third person and tries to be Ritsuka's friend. The same day, he meets Soubi, a mysterious 19-year-old who says he is a friend of Ritsuka's dead brother Seimei. As soon as he learns this, Ritsuka wants to hang out with Soubi, and "make memories" with him (this refers to taking photos in the park, but there is crazy innuendo and homosexual undertones, as well as overtones, in the series.
In the park, the pair is attacked by two kids, who call themselves Breathless. It's revealed that Soubi can fight by casting spells with his words, and that Ritsuka's real name is Loveless. Ritsuka's older brother Seimei's real name was Beloved, and was paired with Soubi, but after his death, told Soubi to pair with Ritsuka/Loveless (see crazy innuendo). The full meaning of all of this begins to unravel in the first volume, but there is still a lot we don't know.
Okay, so I'm just gonna get this out there: this is pedo-tastic. Like, moreso then every other manga on the market (and there are many). I'm not talking kinda-sorta-if-you-squint pedo crap here, I'm talking full-on make-out sessions and some heavily implied incestuous relationships. Albeit, its very tastfully done, and it all somehow comes across as anti-romantic, but still. All you bible-thumpers out there might want to avert your virgin eyes.
Anyway. Ritsuka is the new kid in school (aren't they all?) with a chip on his shoulder and a tendency to avoid all major/minor contact with his fellow human beings. Aside from a bubbly girl in his class who talks in the third person and his naive teacher, he is generally ignored. Except when Pedo-Supreme, aka Soubi (like the energy drink) approaches him, telling him he knew his murdered brother, that he was his "fighter". Oh, and that he loves him. Which is creepy in normal circumstances, but when your twelve and physically unable to accept the smallest morcel of kindness...yeah, get out the pepper spray.
Anyway, Seimei, Ritsuka's brother, was killed, as I've said. No, not killed. Burnt to death and placed in his little brothers elementary school desk. Which is not only sick, but a horrendous case of overkill. Soubi seems to know who the killers were (something to do with a school called the "Seven Moons"), but his last order from Seimei (because, as Seimei's Fighter, he has to do whatever he says) was to never tell Ritsuka the deal. Except Seimei then told Soubi to be Ritsuka's Fighter if he died, therefore he has to do everything Ritsuka says. Which is double the confusion, which means big-ass headache for Danielle.
I felt really fucking bad for Ritsuka. Not only is he the object of everyone's affection, but some mysterious incident occured two years ago following the murder of his brother that let him with a drastic personality change and the loss of his memory. This caused his unstable mother, who was already pretty abusive, so go off. Add Soubi making moves on him every three seconds (though insisting to everyone he knows that he is "not a pervert"), this kid has no chance at a well-adjusted adulthood. If Kōga hadn't done all this so tastefully, I would have called this emotional exploitation and written it off as another Zoo catastrophe. Alas, it isn't, and I can't. Because, snarking aside, Loveless really was well done.
Even though I'm not entirely sure what the fuck's going on, I can appreciate that there are a lot of ballsey undertones to the Loveless world that not many manga writers would go for, especially considering this is a teen series. For example, see these cat ears?
Those mean your a virgin. You heard right. That shit falls off when you have sex.
Try hiding that from your parents.
There are also a lot of homosexual impications, most notably from Soubi's art school buddy Kio, who hits on Soubi whenever he gets the chance (though, to be fair, Soubi always gently veers off the subject--but only because he's in love with the twelve year old boy). This all basically adds up for a reading material that your mother would not want you reading. But, hey, I don't know how the Japanese work. This could be like Barney to them.
The art itself was stunning, and surprisingly vibrant for such a dark story. I don't feel like looking up the illistrators name, but in the infamous words of Veronica Corningstone, "Well done, sir".
There are messages in Loveless, obviously, and I won't bore you with what I think they are. I will, however, say this; if your not the squeamish type, chances are your opinion of this first volume will range from thoroughly enjoyable to fan-fucking-tastic. If you have issues with adult-ish themes in your teen lit, then you might want to take your buisness elsewhere. Either way, Loveless is nothing but interesting.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Also: The first volume was adapted into a twelve-episode anime.