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Loveless: Vol. 1 - Yun Kouga
Member Name: lady_natalie
Loveless: Vol. 1 - Yun Kouga
Advantages: interesting story line, pretty dark at times, strong characters, nice art
Disadvantages: some bits are a bit dodgy! Takes forever for new volumes to be released
Loveless is a manga series by Yun Kouga, who is perhaps most famous for her manga Earthian, a boys love manga about angels which was also an anime series. Loveless has also been turned into an anime and is still ongoing as a manga in Japan. So far it has been translated up to the 8th volume in England so i asume the later books will be translated after the have been released in Japan. Apparently the full length of the manga is planned to be 15 volumes.
Loveless is set in an alternative world to ours, which is almost the same but differs in a few significant ways. To begin with, children are born with cat ears and tales which they lose when they lose their virginity. So in this way, characters with ears are children, or adults who still have them as being sexually immature.
Ritsuka is a 12 year old boy living in Japan. He has just been transferred to a new school after his older brother Seimei has recently died. On his first day of school he doesn't get along with the other children very well, which his teacher puts down to the emotionally scarring incident involving his brothers death. However, one girl, Yuiko, is determined to be his friend. Also on his first day of school, Ritsuka meets Soubi who is waiting for him at the school gate when school finished. Ritsuka has no idea who Soubi is, but is surprised by his appearance as he doesn't have any ears. However, when Soubi tells him he knew Seimei, he immediately accepts him and they go to a park together to take some photos.
At the park Soubi detects a 'fighter unit'. He explains to Ritsuka that his real name is Beloved and he is their fighter unit, and will now fight for Ritsuka, with Ritsuka as the sacrifice. They then have a battle with another unit, consisting of two other people. It's a word battle, but the words they say have power, and what they say happens, and can harm the other fighters.
In the rest of this first volume of Lovess Ritsuka finds out more about himself and his past. He discovers that his real name is Loveless, and should be the sacrifice for Loveless, but instead he is paired with Soubi. He also discovers his brother Seimei was murdered, by the company which fighters and sacrifices come from. He wants to find out more about the people that could have done this and the only person he knows who has a connection with this world is Soubi, even though he makes him feel uncomfertable he is the only person he can depend on.
I think because of the nature of this story it's kind of hard to explain elements of it. For example, the fighter/sacrifice aspect of the story, which is a huge part of it. Basically, there are two people to each unit. One of them says the word spells, and the damage of these affects the sacrifice. Different units have different special abilities which affect how they give and receive damage. There are a lot more different units throughout the series.
The series on a whole is somewhat as a murder mystery as Ritsuka and Soubi look into Seimei's death. His death has also affected Ritsuka a lot, it totally changed his life, and has made his mum a bit insane, which makes her very hard to live with. Ritsuka also had a personality change after Seimei's death, and cannot remember anything from before it happened. He looks to Soubi to help him with all these problems, although it is clear he would rather be able to do everything for himself.
According to the 'rules' of fighters and sacrifices, the sacrifice is supposed to dominate the fighter, controlling what they do in fights and in life. So when Soubi and Ritsuka get thrown together, this is how Soubi expects them to act. However, Ritsuka isn't used to this kind of thing. As this is the basis of their relationship it's a bit weird, to say the least. For a start Soubi is a lot older than Ritsuka, and is an adult, he no longer has his ears. So their relationship can be seen as inappropriate. The manga can also been seen as 'boys love', which is obviously inappropriate between an adult and a 12 year old boy. For example, when the two first meet and then go to a park together, I don't think anyone would expect it to be ok for a 12 year old to wonder off with a stranger, even if they say they know a family member. However, this is clearly not real life. The relationship treads a very fine line, and you do wonder whether their relationship is ok or not. Ritsuka, having had his brother murdered and living with an unstable mother, is very vulnerable. Soubi can be seen to either take advantage of this vulnerability, or that he is helping him through it.
I like the story of Loveless. There's a lot of fighting going on, but it's not really a story about fighting. I think it is used more as a way to get the story moving along, and for characters to interact. The story gets more complex as the manga goes on, I like the way how things are revealed gradually, and there are some real shockers! It's annoying how slowly this is being released though. According to Wikipeadia volume 9 wont be released until November this year, which is ages away!
The characters is this all have very strong personalities, making some great story lines. Even the minor characters are pretty strong, there are defiantly no weak characters. It's good to read people like that, and as this is a manga, it is good that you can see them too. A picture can say a lot.
As for the art, I like it a lot. I read Earthian by the same author, and the art in that is very busy in places. This is much more simplistic.
Overall, I would really recommend this manga, to any manga lovers. There is a bit of the story that's a bit wierd, but it is only a story, and there is much more too it than wondering whether a 12 year old should be friends with a university student. The story is quite serious in places but somehow doesn't get depressing, it's constantly interesting and the art makes it easy to read. If you like manga and you've not come across this then do try it, I can't wait until the other volumes come out, although I'm sure I'll be about 40 by then!
Summary: a fighter and a sacrifice solving a murder mysetery. hmmmmm
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