Two years after the murder of his older brother, Aoyagi Ritsuka still struggles to cope with the blow that has torn his life apart and changed him from an outgoing and lovable ten-year-old into a painfully antisocial sixth grader. Soon after arriving at his new school, Ritsuka meets Agatsuma Soubi, an adult who claims to have been a close friend of his brother. Although unsure of what to make of Soubi’s repeated offerings of affection, Ritsuka decides to join Soubi in battle to find the truth about his brother’s mysterious murder.
summary by Liegenschonheit
Highs: Interesting characters; compelling story; very atmospheric at times
Lows: Sometimes inappropriate comedy; mystery left unsolved; ends abruptly
Not an anime for everyone, Loveless takes place in a fictional, parallel reality that delves into a dark world of sexuality, abuse, loneliness and fear. Different from other, more lighthearted shounen ai titles, this anime features scenes of physical beatings and references to murder, rape and suicide. However, not everything in this anime is bleak. Secondary characters brighten the mood and bring the balance back to Loveless when emotion begins to run toward angst and melodrama.
Handling a main character who is a 12-year-old with emotional problems is a delicate task, and Loveless handles it admirably. Ritsuka’s character is realistically angry, lonely, frustrated and depressed. With one such nicely complex character and Soubi’s purposely more opaque character, it was hardly noticeable that the supporting cast were fleshed out just enough to make them interesting and to serve their purposes as the story progressed.
The storyline in this anime is interesting, and the battle system with the Fighters and the Sacrifices is unique. However, although it started out central to the plot, finding out who killed Seimei seems to get pushed to the side as the anime progresses, and the story begins to focus more on Ritsuka and Soubi’s other problems. Although this anime does have an ending of sorts, it doesn’t attempt to answer any of the questions it puts forth about the murder. In fact, right before the end, it frustratingly introduces even more interesting questions and makes no attempt to answer them. Sadly, in this respect, it feels like Loveless is only half a series.
The art leaves very little to be desired. Though the color palette used is perhaps a little more muted than those used in most newer anime, it suits the tone of this one well. This anime also does a very good job integrating CGI with traditional drawings, creating battle sequences with flowing, beautiful attacks that were a joy to watch. The music in this anime was hit or miss, but when it was right, it was a fantastic match with the art and made for some very engrossingly atmospheric scenes and battle sequences.
Though the shounen ai content in Loveless never got any heavier than a few light kisses, some viewers will still be turned off by it. The touchy subject material and sometimes bloody scenes may turn away a few more viewers. For others that choose to watch it, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised, as long as you don’t expect any big revelations from the ending.
Loveless can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.