Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Loveless (2005) - ★★★½

Director: Yuu Kou
Writer: Yuji Kawahara
Voice Actors: Katsuyuki Konishi, Junko Minagawa, Kana Ueda

Loveless is a show that grew on me. The themes and characters annoyed the hell out of me at the start, but as the story developed I became more invested with each episode. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, but its disturbing premise really prevented me from ever loving it. It's a shounen-ai anime, which translates to 'boys love.' The romance aspect was more disturbing than entertaining, but I'll elaborate on that later. What makes this a great show is the magical, action-packed storyline and the questions each episode raises. When I finished the show, I was pretty devastated. I really wanted to know what happened next in the story, but unfortunately it wasn't renewed for a second season. From what I've seen, Loveless is one of the best anime's of its genre.

It's set in a pretty funny world. The people are human, the surroundings look like your average 'Earth,' yet there's some key differences. The youth of the show wear cat like ears and a tail, which come off once they've grown up. Not to mention, there's a magical aspect to this world where people battle each other in some alternate realm.

Our story surrounds Ritsuka, a quiet and lonely 6th grader who is still haunted by the brutal death of his brother. He is approached by a tall, beautiful man named Soubi, who tells Ritsuka that his real name is 'Loveless.' We find out that this beautiful stranger was once the fighter for Ritsuka's older brother, and now he has come to fight for him. In order for this to work, Ritsuka needs to fall in love with Soubi, who claims that he already loves him... yeah, one is a university student, and the other is an elementary schooler. That's the disturbing flaw of the show, one that nearly ruined the whole thing for me. As time goes on, the romance element is turned down and the action is turned up. They get involved in battles with other Fighters, and the plot gets much more interesting with each episode.

My enthusiasm for the show grew with each episode, so that's how my review will be written too. It will start with the annoyances, and you will hopefully see a change of opinion later on.

Yuiko was the female friend of Ritsuka in 6th grade, and my god she was the most annoying anime character I've ever had to endure. She has one of the most irritating voices I've ever heard. It's so high-pitched and constant... just really ear-drum piercing stuff. Every time she's on screen, she just doesn't shut up. How can I care for someone who irritates me in every possible way? I shuddered at the thought of seeing her again.

Also, I have a question. Why does she have huge breasts when she is a 6th grader? I just don't know, but it bothers me. I've seen way too many Japanese anime's, so I'm used to seeing big breasted young female characters that somehow always end up showing their panties (not my kind of thing, but it's a thriving business over there). But why oh why do they have one as an elementary schooler? Is that to appeal to the paedophile demographic in Japan? Two words: Fucked. Up.

As for the character of Soubi, this quote pretty much describes him. "This guy is definitely weird." He whispers words of love to a 6th grader! I don't mean a comforting love, but a romantic love. In the very first episode, he kisses the kid on the lips without permission. When the kid goes to run away, he grabs his arm and doesn't let him go. How is this romantic? That sounds like my idea of a horror story. If there was ever a cartoon about a twenty-something year old man in a romantic relationship with a 6th grader in Australia, there'd be protests at the TV stations to get it cancelled. The second that kiss happened, they crossed the line. To me, there's no excuse for portraying molestation in a light-hearted manner.

Ritsuka and Soubi. 
I'd probably love this show if the main character and his friend Yuiko were at least 17. I'm a childcare worker, so I work with 6th graders every single week. The thought of any older man taking advantage of them like that, regardless of their intentions, is downright disgusting.

Another reason I didn't get sucked in the romance is because Soubi is painted as a perfect man. He's unflinchingly wonderful to Ritsuka, he is perfectly dressed and clean, he's a masterful fighter, a masterful kisser, a masterful cook, and a man with knowledge that knows no bounds. To me, that just makes him boring. Without flaws, there's hardly any depth to the character other than his history. One of the most exciting things about a romance is seeing a character develop their feelings, or change their way of thinking. With Soubi, we get none of that because he's perfect from the start. He just doesn't make for a very exciting character.

The romance and drama aside, I loved the magical battle scenes. They're like a mixture of Pokémon, Digimon, and Avatar: The Last Airbender. They conjure certain elements like 'relentless flame' and lightning bolts from the sky. It's pretty awesome, I must say. Usually I'm sucked into the more emotional, personal side of these shows. I guess Loveless excels at action, while it fails at attraction (see what I did there). The one time they had a touching love story was with the lesbian relationship of Kouya and Yamato. That was a beautiful story, with beautiful dialogue, and their devotion to each other was really something. Definitely a highlight of the show for me.

Just a couple of interesting fighters.
With each episode I saw, the more my fondness grew for the show. I began to get excited to watch the next episode, which is the number one most important thing with any series. I still wasn't keen on the underage romance, but I started to become intrigued in the secrets that were to be revealed. What were the Seven Moons? Why did they murder Seimei? I guess the biggest question I asked was "Will Ritsuka grow up so I can finally love this show?" Had they just made Ritsuka older, I would have enjoyed the show immensely. Regardless of this issue, I finally became attached after about the 7th episode. I can honestly say that I really liked Loveless.

Funnily enough, the highlight of the show for me was every time the theme song began. I just adore the opening credits to Loveless. It sounds just like the old Street Fighter arcade games... very retro. I'm like that with anime. If it has an epic of beautiful song at the start or end of the show, I'll most likely fall in love with it. Sekaiichi Hatsukoi, Junjou Romantica, No.6 and even Ouran High School Host Club made me feel the same way. Even though I loved their shows, it was their music that captured my heart. The Curse of the Moon (the theme to Loveless) is definitely up there with my favourites.

When the very last episode finished, I was gutted. It finishes at such an exciting junction! I'd kill to see a second season of this show. Loveless is a great anime. It's beautifully drawn, wonderfully written, and a riveting watch. If it weren't for Ritsuka being underage, I would call this one of the best shounen-ai anime series ever made. Ahh, who am I kidding? It really is one of the best of its genre. I loved this show, and I just want to watch what happens next!


  1. The "couple of interesting fighters" in the second picture look like Shuuichi Minamino and Youko Kurama from Yu Yu Hakusho. What a coincidence that such similar-looking characters would be found in a shounen ai series.