Loveless

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Wolfco's avatar By Wolfco on Jul 10, 2005

Story
To begin, it is exceedingly rare that an anime title be so apropos to the main character, but then it also somewhat unusual for any anime to focus so deeply on that character's development. Loveless, as a 12 episode series, finished airing in Japan in June 2005. It features the difficulties of one Aoyagi Ritsuka. The initial episodes partially illuminate a young boy foundering in his current circumstances, and the final episodes demonstrate what such a child can do if given opportunity.

Loveless is a series where the plot grows through the (self) discoveries of the main character. The plot may follow his investigations and the battles which result, but it is tied to his emotional needs. Even as the focus expands and other characters are introduced his stability remains the issue. Every aspect of this plot may be carried in other anime, but there is something new in the combination itself. Perhaps the difference is in the honest with which Ritsuka interacts. What if you are suffering tremendously and you actually tell someone about it? What if you are confused by your own emotions in relation to your interactions with others and you tell one of the biggest perpetrators? Humans are always facing the loss of loved ones through death, separation, and misunderstandings. Loveless is a small demonstration of human maturation under stress. This is not to suggest that the plot is without humor or joy. There is a reoccurring appreciation for life and the need for trust in any relationship is emphasized.

As the plot is simple, it is easy to follow. The creators do not hurry to introduce characters or to explain their positions. You may wonder what exactly is going on at first, but it is clear that the Ritsuka does not know either. With the progression of episodes, you can foresee certain events, but this is one of the few series where you are not disappointed in your vision. I would say that the plot is easy to accept even if the specific events are not.
Animation
The image portrayed overall is surprisingly powerful, especially when you examine the means by which it is attained. Watching this anime is sometimes like peering through a foggy mirror or watching a fansubbed anime with wide spread artifacting. There is a clear picture in the center of the screen and then there is a shift and you see the image through a dirty lens. It is not blurry and the color is not affected, instead it is softened. If you remove the brightness of color from Utena, you might attain a similar effect.

This is not to say that the colors of Loveless are black and empty. Although it is a dark anime, the designers use muted tones of red, blue, green and even yellow. The subtle warmth keeps a viewer from succumbing to despair even when it seems that the main character might. The actual lines used in drawing of the characters and backgrounds are clean (even spare in some cases); yet, the use of color and shading adds incredible depth. The texture of the images greatly accentuates the emotional overtones of the action.

Loveless has a subtle flow. Characters move fluently across the screen and their actions are within the laws of nature. Loveless lacks the detailed art of a Clamp piece and the fabulous CG of so many current works; however, it manages to accent the idea that less it more. The fight scenes in Loveless do not have much of the gloss that is currently in favor. You are never spectacularly impressed by them. You can only view them as part of the story's progression. For example, if you watched a recent episode of Naruto and paused the video to appreciate the effects, you might have forgotten how to appreciate this type of action. The backgrounds always have one or two small details and somehow these details always become integral parts of the action.

That said about the visuals of the anime itself. It is important to note that unlike some (maybe even most) other animes in current production, Loveless does not exclusively feature clipped scenes from the actual anime in its intro and exit. I generally dislike this practice as it predisposes you to like or dislike the anime itself. It also gives you an idea of what will happen in the series itself (AKA don't watch the intro or exit of Trinity Blood if you don't want to know who the characters are and what is going to happen to them in the beginning episodes.) In this case, I'm also fond of the effects used for both pieces. There is blurring and fading as well as scaling transfers. These demonstrate the general mood of this anime quite well without defining its form.
Sound
The opening and ending songs of this anime are really suitable. The opening song "Tsuki no Curse" is a clever choice in that its sound is not depressing. It expresses loss but focuses on hope. In fact, the only thing I don't really understanding, in reference to the actual anime, is the song title itself. The ending song "Michiyuki" is a softly sad song which approves of the bond between the characters.

The overall audio for the anime itself is relatively free of actual music. The creators only selected a few soundbites of actual music to accent a few very specific scenes. I notice these fragments for their infrequency and somewhat unusual selection, rather than for their originality or quality.

The sound effects themselves are perfectly acceptable. For example, the sound of glass breaking is unfailingly realistic. However, the designers found a more useful effect in the use of silence to accent character motivation and change of momentum.

As I watched a fansubbed version, I developed a real appreciation for the voice actors. I can clearly remember my brother being 12 and upset about his life. Junko Minagawa captures that almost whine very well. She conveys the sound of a not-quite child dealing with totally adult issues convincingly. The intonation of Katsuyuki Konishi voice as used to portray Agatsuma Soubi innocence, determination, or desire is exceptional. The quality of voice acting throughout Loveless cannot be missed as the creators choice not to provide extensive support through effects or music.
Characters
As this story revolves around the psychological adjustments of the main character, complexity is expected. Ritsuka shows a very adult emotional spectrum. In fact, his ability to appreciate the underlying motivations of his counterparts is unexpected. There are other traumatized young boys in anime, but few are as generally acceptable. Capable of fooling his elders and at the same time being terrible honest, he entrances the other characters.

These characters are foils used to demonstrate his conflicting desires and needs. There is the beautiful foolish innocent who loves him for loyal support, as well as, the experienced adult who loves him for his own innocence and will do what she can to prevent his self-destruction. As the anime progresses, these basic foils broaden into more three dimensional characters. They slowly show their motivations. For example, the beautiful innocent escape her prison of ignorance and begins to perceive the emotional state of Ritsuka.

However, the second most important character in this anime is clearly Soubi. Soubi's presence is the driving force behind Ritsuka's growth. Soubi is a character of conflicting uses. He clearly serves to drive the plot, but his own role in its resolution is unclear. As a man of mystery with a unpleasant agenda, there is the expectation of dislike or disgust; however, it is impossible not to appreciate his position. His depth is more true to reality than any standard hero or villain. He proceeds to take advantage, but he is never happy about it.

As Soubi's interaction with Ritsuka is elaborated, a group of flat characters are introduced. These characters do not stand alone. They illustrate Soubi's origins and the origins of his behavior. They show his cruelty, his humor, and his own unsatisfied desires.

These are the kind of character interactions that suck you into an anime and hold you there breathlessly. The major characters are so well constructed and so closely based in real life, that you can see yourself in them. Their expressions are carried not only their body language , but also in their ears and tails. As rule such inclusion should serve to bring humor to any scene (as they do in many cases in this anime). But in a diversion from the norm, these individually differentiated attachments allow the creators to express a character's emotional state from any view. They clarify aspects of personality and manifest the maturity of a given character.
8/10 story
9/10 animation
7/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
NekoKriszty's avatar By NekoKriszty on Mar 19, 2010

What I really admire about this anime is how well it captures the original feel of the manga.

The music in it - all that French - makes it mysterious and romantic, but lethargic at the same time. The opening and ending songs are both catchy, romantic and somewhat sad - perfect for this story.

The colors are dull, making the whole series seem like a dreamland - just like it should be.

There isn't too much emphasis on the battles; the plot captures more of the emotional and psychological aspects, which is the main virtue of this story in my opinion. I love it how twelve-year-old Ritsuka, haunted by his beloved brother's death, schizophrenia and abuse by his mother, is a child who would do anything to hear the words "I love you", and while he hardly trusts anyone and pegs all the world dishonest, inside WANTS to have someone he can trust to say those three words honestly. (Since I have written a longer review on this in my review of Loveless, the manga, I am not going to dwell on the plot any further)

The characterizations are good, and the voice actors are chosen well.

All in all, I deducted half a point because the twelve episodes and the abrupt, open ending doesn't make me feel like I am satisfied - I definitely want more!

10/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
9.5/10 characters
9.5/10 overall
Mrbubble680's avatar By Mrbubble680 on Jun 19, 2012

Watched first episode and did not know it would go into boyxboy. Dropped after first episode. NO THANK YOU!

4/10 story
5/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
5/10 overall
lalalollipop's avatar By lalalollipop on Sep 11, 2010

This anime was very sweet but I wish there was a little more boyxboy.Overall it was great,the characters were funny,the romance was nice,and I liked it.

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
BelleThePunk's avatar By BelleThePunk on Feb 24, 2011

There is one, perfect line to discribe this show: Brilliant but hard to understand.
I love this show! Its awesome!

Story

Very interesting story. You may find your self confused, and if you do you will be to the end. That doesn't mean you won't enjoy it as such! In fact, it makes the story just the tiniest bit more fun to watch

Animation & Sound

The whole show is brilliantly created. Sound is great, and the animation is beautiful!

Characters

Awesome characters! They are all individgual in looks, personalities and voice! Unlike many animes, where you seem to have someone with a clone who wears glasses or something.

 

Overall, it's an awesome show! Boy or girl, this show will become addictive and keep you entertained for a long time!

7/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
8/10 overall