Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Loveless Manga Volume 1

Overall Rating: B-
Synopsis: Loveless is a shōnen-ai fantasy manga by Yun Kouga. In the world of Loveless, people are born with cat ears and a tail (this is called Kemonomimi). They lose these features after they become an "adult", and the implication is that it is when they have sex. The series begins with Ritsuka starting at a new school after an incident at his last one. There he meets Yukio, who refers to herself in the third person and tries to be Ritsuka's friend. The same day, he meets Soubi, a mysterious 19-year-old who says he is a friend of Ritsuka's dead brother Seimei. As soon as he learns this, Ritsuka wants to hang out with Soubi, and "make memories" with him (this refers to taking photos in the park, but there is crazy innuendo and homosexual undertones, as well as overtones, in the series.

In the park, the pair is attacked by two kids, who call themselves Breathless. It's revealed that Soubi can fight by casting spells with his words, and that Ritsuka's real name is Loveless. Ritsuka's older brother Seimei's real name was Beloved, and was paired with Soubi, but after his death, told Soubi to pair with Ritsuka/Loveless (see crazy innuendo). The full meaning of all of this begins to unravel in the first volume, but there is still a lot we don't know.

I'm still not sure how to feel about this one. I'll be honest, kemonomimi usually isn't something I like in my manga or anime, but Loveless at least has an interesting plot reason for it. The plot as a whole is growing on me, and I'm interested in where all of it is going.

If you can get past the cat ears and into the story, the first volume is interesting, and has a lot of layers to it. For example, there is a subplot involving Ritsuka/Loveless' mom, who doesn't believe Ritsuka is himself, but is someone else in his body. There's also the fact of Seimei's death, which we learn a little about in the first volume (he died in a fire and his body was put in Ritsuka's chair in elementary school, and was killed by Septimal Moon), but we don't know who or what Septimal Moon is.

There are also some parts that annoy me, like the fact that Ritska/Loveless is a little too angsty, and he's always saying that he hates stupid people, or people who don't make their own decisions, or who don't like cheese (ok, I made that one up). This is ok in small doses, but it's a recurring theme for him, and it gets old fast.

That being said, I would recommend giving Loveless a shot, especially if you like shōnen-ai and/or kemonomimi. I will be picking up volume 2 to see how the series progresses.

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