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Loveless  
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Description
12-year-old Aoyagi Ritsuka is a troubled child. He has no memories of his life until the age of ten. His excitable mother physically and verbally abuses him, demanding that he return the "real" Ritsuka to her. For the past two years, his older brother Seimei had been his devoted friend and protector: the only one who accepted Ritsuka's "new" self and who could stop their mother from abusing Ritsuka.

In a talk the brothers had one day, Ritsuka learns Seimei's real name is Beloved, and although Seimei refuses to explain why he would say that, Ritsuka thinks the name fits. Soon after that conversation, Seimei was found dead under mysterious circumstances.

A while later a college student named Soubi appears before Ritsuka, claiming to have been Seimei's friend. He tells Ritsuka that Ritsuka's real name is Loveless, and that like his older brother he is a sacrifice. Ritsuka has inherited Seimei's fighter, Soubi himself. Ritsuka finds himself drawn into a bizarre secret world where teams of two—fighter and sacrifice—engage in combat with another team using the fighter's verbal spells that manifest in local space and, for every round lost, create increasingly painful bindings on that team's sacrifice.

As his involvement in this new life deepens, Ritsuka unearths many shocking facts about himself, Seimei and Soubi, plus the mysterious organization related to the combat, Septimal Moon. He resolves to discover the truths behind his brother's murder and his own unexplained amnesia.

Type
Manga

Related Series

Associated Names
Нелюбимый
ラブレス
无爱之战LOVELESS

Groups Scanlating
Kamibana Scanlations
Obsession
Shoku-dan
sof-93
More...

Latest Release(s)
c.118-119 by Kamibana Scanlations (42d ago)
c.117 by Kamibana Scanlations (920d ago)
v.11 c.Special Booklet by Kamibana Scanlations (964d ago)
Search for all releases of this series

Status in Country of Origin
12 Volumes (Ongoing)

Completely Scanlated?
No

Anime Start/End Chapter
Starts at Vol 1, Chap 1
Ends at Vol 4, Chap 9

User Reviews
Loveless by Myrah

Forum
7 topics, 40 posts
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User Rating
Average: 8.3 / 10.0 (674 votes)
Bayesian Average: 8.22 / 10.0
10
 39% (260 votes)
9+
 19% (129 votes)
8+
 15% (100 votes)
7+
 10% (67 votes)
6+
 7% (50 votes)
5+
 3% (18 votes)
4+
 2% (14 votes)
3+
 1% (5 votes)
2+
 1% (10 votes)
1+
 3% (21 votes)

Last Updated
April 16th 2016, 3:54am PST


Genre

Categories

Category Recommendations

Recommendations

Author(s)

Artist(s)

Year
2002

Original Publisher

Serialized In (magazine)
Comic Zero-Sum (Ichijinsha)

Licensed (in English)
Yes

English Publisher
Viz (12 Volumes - Hiatus)

Activity Stats (vs. other series)
Weekly Pos #597 increased(+172)
Monthly Pos #1032 increased(+84)
3 Month Pos #896 increased(+159)
6 Month Pos #1138 increased(+84)

List Stats
On 2109 reading lists
On 682 wish lists
On 225 unfinished lists
On 359 custom lists

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Forum Posts
No release date for Volume 13 yet in Japan 322 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes ago
Loveless 685 days, 15 hours, 48 minutes ago
reference in v04ch17 intro-picture 997 days, 21 hours, 10 minutes ago
Loveless chapter 1641 days, 4 hours, 16 minutes ago
Names Discussion, Moonless theories? 1724 days, 7 hours, 16 minutes ago

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Loved it when I was younger, but...   
Rating: 6.0 / 10.0
by crazyboutcute
March 2nd, 2016, 11:21pm
Edit: Removed and rewritten to a higher standard of quality!

Loveless was my first shounen-ai anime and later manga, and what principally captured my interest in the series was the gloomy atmosphere, the tantalizing scent of a mystery needing solving, and, of course, the boys kissing. And on those levels, Loveless succeeds – it has a unique premise, and the story is woven with suspense and undertones of soft horror. Oh, and the boys kiss. A lot. Throw in a tragic yet very likeable and well-developed protagonist and unique, beautiful artwork, and you must come out with a masterpiece, right?

Weeeeell…

Let me start by praising what Loveless does right – because it does a lot right. First of all, Ritsuka. He’s a beautifully developed character and so engaging as a protagonist that half the time I think of this manga, I regret dropping it by virtue of him alone. Moody, tortured, but fiercely loveable, Ritsuka is a character you can’t help but root for, especially when he’s thrown into the sordid world Kouga’s created. His horrific home situation fosters his cool, dismissive attitude toward others, and yet it’s very clear that he’s hurting inside. He’s an angsty character who doesn’t wallow in angst despite having every right to, and it’s his unsteady perseverance in the face of trauma, I think, that hooks us and draws us to him. His is a struggle that is both relatable and endlessly sympathetic.

Another point in Loveless’s favor: Cat ears as a moe representation of one’s virginity? Brilliant! But why doesn’t the author do more with this? There’s so much potential for story and social commentary. With a premise like that, you’d think sexuality would be front and center of this series, but… it’s not. It’s there, certainly, but it isn’t nearly as prominent as I feel justifies the premise. In fact, you could take away the cat ears entirely, and the story wouldn’t be altered in any great way.

The artwork is also superb – lots of blacks and whites for dramatic effect, and it’s deliciously rich in detail. Kouga doesn’t always endear me with her artwork, but here, it really sets the tone of the story and works well with the murky narrative it’s conveying.

Now let’s talk about the not-so-good side of Loveless – the loveless side of it, if you will, and the reason I dropped it (aside from its endless hiatuses). I’m just going to say it outright – it’s the romance between Ritsuka and Soubi. Now, before you label me a prude and burn me at the stake, please at least hear me out. I have no issue with depictions of taboo relationships – incest, underage, what have you. In fact, I find them fascinating. And the relationship between Ritsuka and Soubi is fascinating. But for god’s sake, Kouga, stop trying to portray it like it’s some healthy kind of attraction!

Ritsuka is twelve. He may be a very mature twelve-year-old, but he’s still a twelve-year-old kid. Soubi is a twenty-year-old university student with a clear masochistic sexual preference, which he then forces onto said twelve-year-old. That, Ms. Kouga, is not how a healthy relationship starts. And Ritsuka doesn’t seem to think so, either. Early on in the series, he vehemently rejects Soubi’s advances. As time wears on, so does he, and he becomes increasingly more receptive toward them. This is an excellent portrayal of the erosive nature of Stockholm syndrome, and I love it. But again, that is not a healthy relationship. And yet in spite of all that, Kouga seems determined to show that Ritsuka and Soubi’s bond is a romantic, pure one. And I have a sinking feeling she’s going to make them “official couple” material by the end of the story.

It isn’t the nature of the relationship that bothers me – as I said before, I love it. I find it fascinating, psychological, and beautifully destructive. What I hate, and what prompted me to drop the series, was Kouga’s increasingly positive portrayal and normalization of the relationship. I’ll admit, I loved it when I was a teen. I didn’t care about the age gap, especially since I was so much closer to Ritsuka in age. Now that I’m closer to Soubi in age, though, I find the whole thing incredibly disturbing. And while it’s a wonderful thing to be disturbed by literature, it’s not so wonderful to have teenagers tripping over themselves to declare that this is true love, that child predation is romantic when it’s committed by a handsome guy, and that they, perhaps, should also strive for similar “romantic” encounters. Far be it from me to be a moral watchdog or someone who screams, “Think about the children!” at passing politicians, but Kouga’s sugarcoating strikes an off note to me even outside that context. If I were diving into this series now for the first time, I wouldn’t be expecting a fluffy shoujo boy-meets-girl (or in this case, boy-meets-boy) affair; I would expect a more mature look at the cruelty and obsession found in a relationship between a broken child and an even more damaged adult. And unfortunately, on that point, Kouga just doesn’t deliver. In fact, she actively subverts it, and that’s what I find difficult to enjoy.

All that considered, the series is far from god-awful, and I’d certainly recommend it for its other psychological assets. I might even pick it up again once (if) it finishes, just to see how everything washes out. For now, though, I’ll give it a 6/10 and leave it in its cozy spot on the “dropped” list.
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Complex and amazing, but not for everyone   
Rating: N/A
by nightcoreuke
February 28th, 2016, 8:46pm
Personally, I love the series (In fact its my all time favorite). It takes an interesting perspective on fate. Often, fate is thought of perfect and bringing to people together and love forever, and so on. But in this manga, the main character, Ritsuka does not want to be controlled by fate and wants to decide his own destiny. I like the act that words are used so precisely as spells and Ritsuka believes there is meaning to words, and they aren't things to be thrown around. There is a wide variety of character personalities, and each of them with their relatable characteristics and backstories. It is interesting that the manga shows all the different characters definition of love. The plot is rather complex, which by all means is not a bad thing. It is nice to see there isn't a real villain at first, and even as the plot develops, you can identify that there are definitely people doing bad things, but nobody is completely evil it seems. Every time you read the series, or reread it (Which I have done time and time again), you notice something different. Every person who reads it notices something different. All in all, it is incredible and you should at least take a look at it
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Overrated - terrible plot   
Rating: 2.0 / 10.0
by Autorama
September 29th, 2015, 11:28am
when you start reading, it seems like this manga has a super complex plot that will slowly unravel. But it didn't take long for me to realize that the mangaka has no idea what shis doing, and she's basically making stuff up as she goes along.

We have no explanation what so ever about the special school, the powers or the fights.

The part about his brother is going absolutely nowhere.

Ritsuka's relationship with Soubi is basically nonexistent. Soubi is still in love with Ritsuka's brother and Ritsuka is a 12 year old who's clearly not interested in dating anyone, men or women, and specially not super creepy masochist stalker dudes.

Maybe all the fuss is because of the cat ears thing? We won't see Ritsuka loosing them in this manga, that's for sure. Te mangaka won't have time for that with all the plot holes she has to fix.

Also, she said once that started this manga because she wanted to draw pretty boys, thus the lack of plot. She also said that won't draw sex scenes. Then why make it shounen-ai? The story could have worked better without the (almost) gay parts. And she could make a side story to show Soubi's creepy pedo stalker shota complex tendencies or whatever.

The only strong point in my opinion is that the art is pretty.
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One of a kind   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by witchy tay
October 1st, 2012, 7:18pm
Beware! This story is not your sweet, easy going story. It is dark. You´ve been warned! The story is deep and there is a lot of angst in it, but it is skillfully created and you might find yourself falling in love with it. The characters are really deep and entrancing. The illustrations are GREAT! I particularly love the ear thing ( It is SO cute!!!). The naïveté of the characters is really refreshing, as is their way of hoping for the best when everything suggest the worse.

The story has a lot of twists and turns and is not so easy to follow, but it is certainly worth your time!!!
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Deep, dark, and not for everyone   
Rating: 9.0 / 10.0
by reader435
October 27th, 2011, 11:19pm
Like many of the others, I have watched the anime a while back and was left unsatisfied. I never thought about reading the manga further because I didn't think I would like it, but I was glad I picked up the manga. Obviously, don't be deceive by the 'cute' artwork and the young characters into thinking that this is something light and fluffy for the younger audience. The story is dark and deals with issues such as child abuse, torture, violence, and even rape. It also contains a lot of provocative elements (or hints of) such as incest and pedophile.

The two main characters, Ritsuka and Soubi are emotionally scars from abuse during their childhood. Their complex relationship is heavy with sexual tension, which might be disturbing to some due to Ritsuka being only 12. For someone as young as Ritsuka, he seems pretty mature and are often commented by other characters as liken to an 'old man'.

As a reviewer from Amazon said, this manga is like Hamlet by way of My Own Private Idaho, with a touch of Pokemon. It's a bit of an acquire taste but definitely not for the young, faint hearted, or close minded.
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About TokyoPop   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by kand
August 29th, 2011, 2:15pm
I love very much that manga I discovered first through the anime.
I started to read it in French but after two volumes I turned to the English edition, as the French one isn't well translated, and the pages are cut too narrow.
But! I read the publisher TokyoPop stopped its activity, which explains I guess why I'm still waiting for volume 9... Do anybody know if the English version will be going on with another publisher, or do I have to turn back to the French version to know what follows...? LOL
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eehhh   
Rating: 7.0 / 10.0
by lifeincircuit
May 1st, 2011, 6:14pm
I watched the anime first and hated it(could they have left more loose strings?). I heard that the manga was much better, so I read everything which had been released and I continue to follow it. I don't hate it(or else I wouldn't continue to read it), but I don't quite understand the buzz either. The story is decent. The characters often feel like they are coming from a manga geared toward kids, but the subject matter does not align with that. The whole thing feels kind of shallow, grasping desperately for depth while simultaneously not making any effort at all. It's almost impressive.

I am not convinced this is shounen-ai at all. There are some relationships within it which are, perhaps, but I don't really know about Soubi and Ritsu. I really don't feel as though Ritsu has those feelings for Soubi. So, if that is what you're looking for, you may be disappointed. You can read it however you want though. Maybe if I were 15 years younger, I would read it differently.

Overall, though, I find it readable. For some reason I do want to know what happens next and how(if?) the various relationships within it develop.
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Really quite fascinating.   
Rating: 8.0 / 10.0
by odd.duck
October 5th, 2010, 1:45am
So far...
My favourite thing about the manga has to be the fighting style. It's just so very, very interesting, the way attacking and defending relies on words, belief in those words, and the ability to twist them. It's fantastic.
The other thing I like is the relationship between Ritsuka and Soubi. It's quite different from the type of relationships that I normally like, but it's just as interesting. Usually, I go for the relationships in which the characters are working both with and against each other, and both being (for lack of a better way of putting it) in control. And I don't mean 'of each other', but of the situation in general; pairings I usually like are ones between the people (plural) who are calling the shots. Soubi and Ritsuka, while they're still (kind of) working with and against each other, are decidedly not in control of the situation and are really quite clueless. It's almost bizarre how different this makes everything.
Other than that...
The art gets a thumbs up from me, but I'm not sure how long the plot will be able to hold my attention for. It's looking pretty bland. (...um, I'm kind of harsh on plot. I think people disagree with me on that.)
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Not just another light, fluffy shounen-ai   
Rating: 9.5 / 10.0
by Diamond_Dust
August 12th, 2010, 7:29pm
I must say, I am impressed by this series, and I don't say that lightly. In terms of story and characters, I am relatively hard to please. It must have depth, and it must be something I believe has potential to grow. Loveless has both of these elements, which is a definite plus.

Obviously, there are a few cliche elements to the story. Ritsuka is a young boy in the classic "abused child" situation, and he also has what some might believe to be amnesia (although, I doubt that's the case). Yes I know, go ahead and roll your eyes. This must be your run-of-the-mill shoujo manga, right? Wrong. At first glance the plot seems somewhat typical, but there is so much beneath the surface, it sets it apart from other stories in its genre.

This manga is packed full of characters who are never quite what they seem, plotlines that always leave you questioning things, and underlying themes that go far beyond what you see on the surface. Soubi in particular, fascinates me. There are so many different facets to him, he leaves you wondering what is behind every word and every smile. People are usually quick to call him a perverted weirdo with a lolicon complex, but he is so much more than that. In some ways, if you look deep enough, he is just as much of a scared little boy as Ritsuka is.

Which brings me to my next point. I must take issue with something said in the review by Misochan. I know others have referenced to it already, but I'd like to emphasize anyway. Here's why.

The comment was on Ritsuka's naivety. The issue was, how could he ever let someone as cruel as his mother manipulate and control him, especially when all she does is hurt him? He shouldn't be such an idiot, right? He needs to face reality, right? Well, show me a 12 year old who doesn't. If he was about 15 or 16, I would agree with you, but this is a child we're talking about. I can't speak for others, but I believe it is safe to say that many children so young are not quite in touch with themselves. Think back for a minute, to a time when you all were that young. What do 12 year old kids generally want?

To be loved and accepted, even if it is from a mother who hates and abuses you. Why? Because they are naive, and they haven't really learned to be their own people yet. They haven't faced reality, because they haven't fully grasped it yet. If Ritsuka was any less naive than he is, this story would never work.

On top of that, Ritsuka as he is now has never known anything other than abuse. He wholeheartedly believes that it is his fault his mother beats him, and that it is his fault the "real" Ritsuka is gone. Does that make him stupid? No. I don't believe that.

Anyway, I just wanted to make how I feel about his character clear.

I admit, Loveless probably isn't for everyone. Some of the themes may be hard to get past, such as Ritsuka's young age and Soubi's romantic attention to him, but if you stick around, it is well worth the ride. There is no absence of fluff for all of you hopeless romantics out there, but there is also a deeper, darker plot; one that might not be expected at first glance. This is definitely worth the read, although I would advise against watching the anime first. It isn't nearly as good.

... Last updated on August 12th, 2010, 7:43pm
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Be prepared...this comment is long!   
Rating: N/A
by calstine
May 19th, 2010, 12:02pm
I agree with nephilim, and Kirity- their reviews were quite detailed and insightful.
Since they already stated much of what I wanted to say, I'll just be listing the pros and cons of 'Loveless' as I noticed them.

Pros

1. The characters might all come across as stereotypical and cliched- and up to a certain extent, they are. However, as the story progresses, each person soon begins to hold his own as a 3-dimensional depiction of human nature.

- Ritsuka - A typical example of an abused child; protecting his mother no matter what she does to him, because he loves her and believes it's his fault that she has gone insane. What's so unrealistc about that? Any book on child psychology will tell you that passionately defending the abuser is one of the primary features of a child who has been treated badly ever since he could remember. And keep in mind that Ritsuka has no memory of the days when his mother 'loved' him- he only remembers what happened since two years ago, when the abuse first started.

- Soubi - Frankly, I am no fan of pedophiles. I really do despise them. However, this guy is just not your average shotacon; for one, he isn't all that forceful, and for another, there is plenty of depth to his character. He has so many psychological issues- an unceasing desire to be 'controlled', a disturbing belief that you have to undergo pain in order to prove something to yourself, and a desperate longing to be loved and wanted, but at the same time, feeling the need to pretend that he doesn't desire attention.
His virginity lost at a very young age (maybe around fourteen?), abused continuously and trained to become a complete slave to his 'sacrifice', emotionally unstable and unable to deal with any kind of mentally challenging situation on his own due to the lack of a proper upbringing... I can't say I like him, but I can certainly sympathize with his situation.

- There is a very large cast of characters in the manga- most of whom have a very dark and disturbing side to them, despite their initial appearance of carefreeness and cheerfulness. Some others are truly well-meaning and likable, and naturally have good intentions. (The best example for this being Ritsuka's class-teacher and Yuiko- and sometimes even Soubi's friend Kaidou.) They serve to lighten the mood of the story and prevent it from becoming too depressing.

2. The cat ears and tail - I previously thought that this was unnecessary and distracting, and was frankly annoyed with the mangaka. But within a couple of volumes, I came to understand that it was actually a subtle message; something that allowed the readers to gain a good assessment of the characters' personalities and situations. I also approve of how the author expresses that 'losing your ears' has nothing to do with being a mature, responsible adult. In fact, those without ears often find themselves in situations where they have to rely on the eared 'kids' to set them on the right track when they are driven into an emotional dead-end.

3. The art - Not very elaborate, but clear and simple. The people aren't gorgeous, but they don't look too bad.

Cons

1. The plot is incredibly slow to unravel. By the end of the 9th volume, the point of the story is just beginning to reveal itself to the reader, bringing with it more mysteries and raising a lot of questions along the way. If the mangaka wants to conclude everything neatly without leaving any loose ends, she will have to keep the serialization going for another while yet. Those who are impatient or looking for something short will not be able to enjoy this manga.
Also, the tendency of the story to jump from one place to another, sometimes even shifting time-frames and perspectives, might confuse you if you do not pay full attention to what you're reading.

2. Rituska's age - I think this is the major deterrent for would-be readers. (I know it was for me.) However, within this apparent flaw, I actually see a point in the story's favour. Ritsuka's occasional displays of naivety, his confusion regarding his feelings towards Soubi as well as Yuiko, his attitude towards his mother and brother - all these would have become pointless if he was in his late teens. Even his maturity and ability to think for himself would not have seemed very impressive if he had been, say, sixteen or so.
In fact, the question of Ritsuka's orientation (which is what is keeping romance fans and BL fans alike from abandoning the manga), is completely built up on the fact that he is only twelve. I feel that Kouga Yun plays this completely to her advantage.

3. The long dialogues and wordy fighting style - A plus-point for me, but I know most people would prefer them to fight in a less confusing and more traditional method such as with swords and guns. Sadly, the poetic quality of the original Japanese incantations used for the fighters' spells is, more often than not, lost in translation; making the dialogues during fighting sequences very unattractive, awkward and confusing.

4. Seimei - I don't want to spoil, so I'll only say that his attitude towards Ritsuka will be quite disturbing to some readers. However, I consider him a fairly intriguing and intelligent character in his own right; despite falling into the 'charming but cruel and sadistic villain' mold.

Overall

This manga is by no means suitable for kids or for people who disapprove of taboo relationships and have no tolerance towards mental disorders or hints of strange fetishes.
If you belong to one of these categories, do NOT read Loveless.


Anyone else should be able to enjoy it - but be warned; darkness and depression abound throughout this story. Though the heaviness is broken by occasional light and touching moments, this is by no means a funny or sweet manga.

... Last updated on May 20th, 2010, 7:19am
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