Region: 1 - USA
Length: 300 minutes
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Ritsuka's innocent childhood days came to a bloody end when he lost the one person who understood him. His brother Seimei was always his guiding star, and without him Ritsuka was lost. The enigmatic Soubi appeared to change all that. Soubi was once partners with Seimei, a sacrifice who gave his energy so Soubi could fight. Now Soubi has come to Seimei looking for a new partner. Will Ritsuka find happiness chained to Soubi?
Imagine living in a world were your words carried a magical power and could inflict actual damage. Loveless capitalizes on that idea in many interesting and atmospheric ways while at the same time being very ambiguous, filled with plot holes and subject matter which might not appeal to everyone. All in all however Loveless is quite an intriguing and satisfying series which I was pulled into by the first episode. And for a Shonen-Ai series, it's quite deep.
Ritsuka Aoyagi is a sullen twelve year old boy who laments over the death of his older brother Seimei. One day, a man named Soubi who claims to be Seimei's Sentouki; a being who needs a sacrifice which is a person who is emotionally chained (literally and figuratively) to a them so that they can wield "spells" which allow sentouki to duel other sentouki in a battle of death dealing words (confused yet?). Soubi reveals to Ritsuka that an organization of Sentouki called Septimal Moon murdered his brother. Ritsuka is then drawn into a battle not only for his life but for the truth behind Septimal Moon.
Loveless has a pull on the viewer with it's overall use of atmosphere and setting the mood through a mix-matched musical score which reels through many different styles touching on Classical to New Age. Fitting in nicely with the series, the music has a way of evoking the right emotion for every scene. The opening theme, Curse of the moon, is catchy with it's almost sportive J-pop beat and poetic lyrics along with the succession of the ending theme, the hauntingly sad and beautiful Michiyuki supply the perfect emotional correlation with the subject matter of the series.
The art often leaves something to be desired, occasionally Loveless feels cheap with its production values. Nevertheless, the use of glowing pastel lighting, surrealistic backdrops in battle sequences, and the use of jagged colors to portray memories provide a perfect ambiance for the emotional background of the characters and the situations they find themselves in. Loveless provides enough symbolism for fans who are looking for something more to mentally chew on than most Shonen-Ai series have to offer. The battle sequences are quick and flashy with a sense of urgency making it compensate for the less than perfect production values that sometimes crop up.
Given this context, the story is a bit of a mixed bag chocked full of symbolic representation and plot holes which can either make or break the series. For me it made the series; I felt the series provided way too many questions than it did answers and it did seem to jump around from plot point to plot point adding to the confusion. I really wished the series did fill in the lines a bit more and delve more into the psyche of some of the secondary characters a bit more (Ritsuka's mother for example). What did make up for that however was the striking realism it had in this overall modern fantasy world that Loveless set up, finding a nice balance between the two worlds. On one side of the spectrum we have a world were words can literally hurt you and powers are given through the words like magic. On the other side we have a emotionally beaten child dealing with the real world and who is trying to find meaning in his life again.
The first thing that resonated with me is the use of animal tails and ears for children to provide an allegory for innocence and purity. Everything is open in this world when it comes to thoughts and feelings as well as actions so it provides a complete opposite to modern life in Japan nowadays where feelings are still kept to oneself. Ritsuka Aoyagi tries to go against this norm by being an aloof kid brooding on the past toward his brother being killed, while at the same time keeping silent about the abuse that goes on at home at the hands of his mother.
Such a touchy subject as child abuse might make some viewers shy away from this series while some might be unsettled by it. I like the characters despite the fact that some of them came off as annoying. They are still have the ability to make the viewer relate to them on some level or another, not one of them feels like filler but more of a compliment. My only gripe is that so many questions are left about half of the characters that it makes the plot confusing half of the time.
Yes, Loveless has a confusing plot: What is Septimal Moon all about? Why was Seimei Killed? What about Ritsuka's mother? Yes, the art and visuals sometimes fall short, but it's all so atmospheric and beautiful in it's emotional presentation, along with it's realistic presentation of human (or semi-human) relationships that it makes up for it.