July 14, 2008
It’s rare that a series leaves me at a complete loss for words, and I really don’t mean that in a good way. I’ve managed to gathered the words now though, and here they are:
STORY – …What story? Seriously, at what point is anything in this series explained? (Hint: never!) There are problems presented, sure — Seimei, Ritsuka’s older brother, was killed and he wants to find out who did it and why. Not really that intriguing or original, but it works, right? Additionally, Ritsuka has amnesia and is a “completely different person” than he was two years prior, but he doesn’t know what happened. Also not that original, but still acceptable. Unfortunately, the series doesn’t seem to focus very well on either problems and instead teases you by presenting a lot of leads that seem like they’re going somewhere, but never do. Soubi, who should serve as Ritsuka’s connection to Seimei refuses to say anything on the matter. In fact, as far as Rituska’s troubles go, Soubi’s pretty worthless for plot progression even if he does defend him from mysterious attackers (who are never explained). And his creepy shotacon ways seem like far, far too shameless an attempt to wind up the fangirls. I like shounen-ai well enough, and while I don’t really care for shota, I can swallow it if it’s done well. Well, this wasn’t done well at all.
The story’s only redemption may be that Ritsuka’s social anxieties are addressed gradually throughout the series, and the subplot concerning his personality change and memories does see some progress. In fact, it might even be considered a good storyline if we ever got to find out what happened to him, but we don’t! Does that even count as a spoiler? The fact that ultimately, nothing happens? The plot with Seimei seemed like it had potential at times — all of the vague, unexplained hints did seem like they were going somewhere, and if you cocked your head sideways, you might have even been able to pick up clues to the mystery. The last episode seemed like it was trying to explain what was going on, but it was so garbled and nonsensical that it’s almost impossible to draw any kind of conclusions from it, and in the end, there’s nothing but a big, gaping void where all your answers should be.
The battle system in this series is something else that seemed to have potential. The concept of a Fighter and a Sacrifice is actually pretty interesting, though I think they would have survived without all the gratuitous bondage. Unfortunately, the actual fighting is never explained, and it’s difficult to deduce where exactly anyone derives their power or how the mechanics of the fighting works. I really don’t know why all of these things were sidestepped; it really doesn’t seem like it should have taken that much time or effort to explain something that was so central to the whole Seven Moons and Seimei’s murderers madness.
I haven’t read the manga, but I get this distinct feeling that it’s probably ten times better than this anime, because certainly it can’t be worse. Like I said, the wisps of story here and there seemed to have potential, and it was just frustrating to see that almost none of them have a definite conclusion. It seems like this should have been a twenty-six episode series instead of twelve, or they should have spent more time on actual plot progression instead of random shota fluff and molestation. In the end, I think I just wasted four hours of my life watching this series, and that’s about it. And even though I’m sure the manga is better, I’m left so frustrated with the series that I’m not sure I even care enough to go read it.
Addendum: The anime was apparently produced when only volumes 1-4 of the manga was out (the series is 8 volumes long), so they had limited source material. Still, I think they could have done a much better job — certainly things like the fight system could have been addressed better anyway. And while they supposedly left the “ending” open for a possible sequel, there still could have still been an actual conclusion of some sort. But really, unless it’s one of those long running shounen series, I don’t think there’s any reason to ever produce an anime for an unfinished series. It just leads to unpleasant bullshit like this and X/1999. :|
CHARACTER – Ritsuka is probably the best character in the series, though that isn’t really saying much. In any case, he seems to be the only character that goes through any significant change throughout the series. His turmoil at the beginning of Loveless is very understandable, what with a crazy mother, no memories, and a dead brother. The sessions with his psychologist summed up his development pretty well, though it did kind of seem like a cheap way to present everything to the audience. His relationship with his friends moved up in a classic line graph as he was somewhat sporadic and inconsistent in the beginning and steadily progressed up towards “real friendship.” His relationship with Soubi… I guess it really wasn’t that bad; his reaction to Soubi’s advances were realistic: his indignation, disgust, and eventual worry. You could see his feelings change slowly as the series went on, and the relationship did contribute to Ritsuka’s overall personality progression, so to that end, I guess it was all right.
Soubi is probably a much more multi-faceted character than the Loveless anime allowed him to be; I could tell by watching, but that didn’t change the fact that he didn’t end up being explored all that much. Because so little is revealed about his past, with Seimei or otherwise, you never know what his motivation for anything is, which was immensely irritating and frustrating. He tells Rituska some things, but then establishes a steady history of lies, so anything he says is questionable, even if they sound like they might, or even should, be true. Whether or not he really cares for Ritsuka always seems to be questionable, and his masochistic complex complicates the matter further — not to mention it makes things ridiculously awkward. I think, in the end, you’re supposed to gather that he’s changed a little (for the better) since his days with Seimei, but it’s really not that convincing at all.
All of the other characters were pretty generic, and a lot of them seemed pretty damn pointless too. Rituska’s school friends seemed like they could have been plucked out of any other anime Japanese school ever. Sure, they contributed to the plot and Ritsuka’s development, but they really weren’t that interesting to watch. Kio, Soubi’s roommate? Classmate? Random friend? (Ex-)boyfriend? I have no idea what their relationship is because, surprise, they never explained, but he was only fun because he addressed some of my thoughts on Soubi, namely his apparent raging perversion and pedophilia (though Soubi consistently denied these accusations). But other than that, another generic support character? Yeah. The same goes for Ritsuka’s teacher and his psychologist, and the fact that both of them were randomly in love with one of the protagonists seemed like more pointless fanservice. All of the fighter pairs sent from Seven Moons were flat and boring — they were sent to fight, yippee. Did they have their own goals or aspirations? Who knows? Subplot with the lesbians? Seemed like a lame ploy to allow for a convenient winner of that fight. Complete lack of intrigue.
Finally… this was the original reason I had no interest in watching this series. What the hell is the point of the cat ears? What does this contribute to anything at all? It just seems like a silly gimmick to invite giggles from the audience (fangirls think about this stuff anyway, do we really need to encourage them?), and to allow for lots of suggestive dialogue in the show. The only reason I could think of for this is to have “proof” that Soubi isn’t randomly raping Ritsuka (’cause it sure seems like it sometimes). Here’s an idea — if your character is so inappropriate that you have to have a lame gimmick to prove his innocence, how about not writing him to be so outrageous in the first place? Certainly Soubi didn’t need to make out with Ritsuka in the middle of every battle.
ARTWORK & ANIMATION – Resoundingly average. Ritsuka was cute and Soubi was your run-of-the-mill bishounen. All the other characters were similarly plain, and the backgrounds don’t really invite rounds of praise either. None of it was bad, but none of it was great either. The animation was about the same, though I really thought the effects for the fights were unimpressive and cheap.
MUSIC – I’d actually heard the opening theme, “Tsuki no Curse,” long before I saw this series because it was composed by Yuki Kaijura. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too impressed with it then, and I remained unimpressed with it in the series. I’m not really sure what it is about it, but it just doesn’t stand up against most of Kaijura’s other work. The end theme by Kaori Hikita was similarly plain. The music throughout the series actually surprised me by how random it seemed. Most series, even if they don’t have particularly great music, still manage to get tracks that are appropriate for their scenes: sad tracks for sad scenes, energetic tracks for fights, etc. Loveless is probably the first series where I’ve been confused at their music choices for various scenes… They had weird, mecha-style battle tracks that were far, far too exciting for the scenes they were in, and then strange, melodious tracks that conflicted with conversation-heavy scenes. Occasionally, they had some nice, soft vocal tracks that seemed to fit okay, but they weren’t prominent enough to balance out the other randomness.
VOICE ACTING – Average.
OVERALL – I think the best way to watch Loveless is to treat it as a drinking game. Take a shot of vodka every time Soubi says “suki da yo” (“I like you” or “I love you” depending on context and translator). You’ll be mad drunk by the second episode (seriously, he’s a broken record) and will thus be too wasted to realize that the entire series has little substance, never answers any of your questions, has no ending, and is ultimately unsatisfying. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go bash in the brains of the person who recommended this series to me.