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.
Overall 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.
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. :/
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;))
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.
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.
I agree.Loveless is a wonderfull anime