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Loveless Review

by: Wolfco
July 10, 2005

story 8/10

Loveless screenshot 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 9/10

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 7/10

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 9/10

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.

overall 8.5/10

To say that I was captured by this anime could not be anything but the truth. Although physical and mental trauma abound in anime, few works combine them so effectively. The creators of Loveless effortlessly weave the various threads of Ritsuka life into a powerful message about human needs. Even though the visuals are not rendered with extraordinary skill, they pulled at me. The audio enhances the message without overpowering the concepts. The characters are wonderfully constructed even if they are in many respects standard. As I'm a rather critical glass is half-empty kind of person, it is important to note that this is the ONLY anime I have ever watched that did not annoy me when explanations were left out. You can watch the same episode several times and still find an underlying meaning or tidbit of humor you missed. If you are looking for some depth in your anime, then this is for you.

Anime Info

Ritsuka has nowhere to run or hide. He lost his memories and his mother’s loving support, and then his brother -- his sole defender -- was brutally murdered. He is entirely alone until Soubi appears, saying the words he most wants to hear, but refuses to believe: “I love you and will do anything for you.” Flung into a world of intrigue and magic, where bonded pairs battle and only Soubi can fight for him, he struggles to find his brother’s killer. Yet he must also face the most bitter question of all: if you can't remember who you were, does that mean you don't know who you are?


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Lafayette80 avatar Lafayette80
Aug 9, 2012

Loveless is an amazing manga, it's a shame the anime does it no justice. Seriously, go read the manga, it makes a lot more sense and there is thorough character development. Even if the anime wasn't as breathtaking (it's still really good, though) I hope there will be a second season. And I have never been disappointed when an anime ends. :/

herano avatar herano
Aug 10, 2011

Though I did only see 5 episodes of this, I can really not agree on what you say here. The main characters make no sense at all. An example of this is the ear-piercing scene. It is just the piercing of an ear, but they make it in a huge eroticly laden drama for no apparent reason. Ritsuka is highly unlikable and does not seem to know what he wants (What is not a bad thing perse, but in combination with his unlikeability it is a killer). Soubi just seems a machine that sprouts erotic sentences. Yiuko is the most annoying character I have seen in an anime ever.

Maybe this anime makes a turn for the better after the 5th episode, but personally I think this is a very weak start.

(excuse me for my grammr etc. I am still learning English;))

Jestershock avatar Jestershock
Jul 23, 2011

Ritsuka's development from a tragic yet unlikable kid to a confused, has a few friends, but still basically unlikable kid never comes close to making up for the huge plot holes and total lack of resolution.  Nothing of even moderate substance is explained.  Neither Ritsuka or Soubi are strong enough characters to carry 12 episodes without some kind of story to prop them up, and the story just isn't there.  There are hints and clues and unkept promises that are intended to make you think the show will eventually make some kind of sense, but in the end it's all a bluff.  This anime watches less like the in-depth character study you describe and more like a 12 episode commercial meant to drive viewers to the manga.

default avatar Soerd
Jul 2, 2011

I have seen this anime around several times and i have considered watching it often and it may sound superficial but i can never get around the shonen-ai/BL aspects that appear to exist in this anime. I love romance but i really can't enjoy a romance between men and seeing anime like this kind of makes me wish i could.

MysteryPearl avatar MysteryPearl
Apr 9, 2010

I agree.Loveless is a wonderfull anime

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