Loveless follows 12 year-old Ritsuka as he starts in a new school, makes some friends and runs into a college student, Soubi, who claims to have been a friend of his now deceased older brother. However, Soubi then reveals more information about Ritsuka and his brother and soon Ritsuka finds himself paired with Soubi as a shady organisation come after them.
I’m going to make it clear that I have not read the manga nor do I intend to so this review is entirely based on the anime. An anime that in 12 episodes barely introduces the story and answers absolutely nothing. Just a warning that this one contains subject matter that some people may find a problem so if you aren’t into massive age gaps in physical relationships (though they don’t go all that far) let’s just pass on this one right now. Also combining sexual attaction and violence or chain symbolism. Basically pass if any of those things cause you concern.
I always wonder what the fascination is with BL relationships when they feature someone as young as Ritsuka. Particularly when they pair him with someone significantly older (in fairness though Serena was in middle school in Sailor Moon when she hooked up with possible college student Darian in the original Sailor Moon so it isn’t like BL is unique in having some really bizarre age gaps). There seems little reason given in the anime as to why Ritsuka couldn’t be older and still just as much out of his depth and overwhelmed by the physical abuse he suffers at home at the hands of his clearly unstable mother, dealing with the sudden and violent death of a brother, and suddenly finding out there’s some weird magic and an organisation that maybe killed his brother and he has a true name, etc, etc. See, you don’t have to be 12 to be totally overwhelmed by that many things happening in your life.
However, even if we let the age gap go, Soubi is clearly predatory in this story. At times he all but stalks Ritsuka, and he certainly takes advantage of the Ritsuka’s lonely nature and emotionally pushes him to places Ritsuka is not able to really handle at this time in his life. What we’re left with is an uncomfortable relationship that changes and transforms as the scene and situation requires. Sometimes more brother-like, other times master and servant, and a lot of times there’s a clear romantic entanglement. Whether this relationship would have stabilised long term cannot be determined given where the anime cuts itself off and with no continuation to be seen.
For now I’m just going to put the relationship to the side because you’ll either enjoy that or not based on your own preferences. Personally, I wasn’t a fan given the massive power imbalance and the age of the participants but I want to look at the rest of the anime.
From a plot point of view almost nothing happens in this story. We have the young teacher (who is sexually inexperienced – a point they raise almost every time she is on screen), who is trying to connect with her students and struggling with Ritsuka because of his various circumstances. This leads her into association with Soubi, who is an absolute ass to her, but somehow she ends up infatuated anyway and occasionally she gets to play the unintended victim or bystander in the battles that are taking place. She doesn’t actually accomplish anything but she does get to stand around a lot looking concerned.
We have Septimal Moon, the mysterious organisation that we presume is at the heart of all the mysteries but we really learn nothing about their motives. We do learn that there is a lot of internal bickering and that when a pair fails we might as well throw them away because apparently they are replaceable (so why do we even care about any of this). It’s strongly implied they are the reason Ritsuka’s brother is dead but there’s also the potential for him not being dead at all so… Not a plot that really goes anywhere.
Then there are Ritsuka’s school friends who are about as vapid as you would expect from 12 year-olds not engaged in life or death situations. There’s the girl who was being used by her friends who forms an unnatural fixation on Ritsuka and then there’s the guy who likes her and as a result won’t just disappear from the story. He’s really annoying and he serves absolutely no purpose in the story.
Basically this anime has lots of ideas and groups that are introduced and gives us lots of hints that a story might develop further down the line but what we end up with is nothing. We have a relationship that is barely beginning, a conspiracy that has only really just been introduced, and a whole pile of characters who exist for a moment and then just continue to hang around for no apparent purpose (though I guess they do something later in the story). There are some great ideas in this story and if it had continued and maybe answered anything then it would be worth watching. While I’d have liked Ritsuka to be a bit older given the subject matter, if I put that aside I actually quite like him as a character. But there are too many issues for me to recommend this as a watch.
If you’ve seen Loveless let me know what you think.
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