I’m only reviewing the Yuri arc in this series since, for Yuri fans, Kouya and Yamato are the main attraction – although there are plenty of other intriguing relationships in the story.
We pick up Volume 3 as our young protagonist Ritsuka grapples with his relationship with Soubi and with what it means to be a Sacrifice, as well as with the residual mystery of what exactly happened to his brother. It seems apparent that Ritsuka is torn between really wanting to know the answer to all these things, and really not.
Soubi is attacked by a pair of Zeros, Fighter and Sacrifice who have been engineered to feel no pain, but manages to defeat them by using the time-honored method of age defeating youth by using brains instead of brawn. He takes in the defeated and abandoned Zeros, primarily, I think, to provide the recommended daily dose of bratty catboy and to provide much-needed exposition for Ritsuka later. Because, let’s face it, by making Soubi so reticent, the author had kind of tied the plot into a Gordian knot that *someone* had to cut. ^_^
At the very end of the volume, we encounter two high school girls who act as if they barely know one another, but then are later seen to be very close. Kouya and Yamato have arrived. Yay!
In Volume 4, Ritsuka gets his clue handed to him on a plate, while we learn about the creation of the second Zero pair. As Ritsuka comes to grips with his pairing with Soubi, Kouya and Yamato fight to stay together. This time, it’s Ritsuka’s insight that allows him and Soubi to win the battle.
In a lynchpin moment, Kouya and Yamato resolve to die to remain together – they do so by rejecting their former lives and their bondage to being “Zeros.” They leave the field of battle, dead as Sacrifice and Fighter, but reborn as two girls with the even stronger bond of love between them. A really terrific end to what might easily have been a tragic story.
The end of the volume includes a nice (and nicely placed) side story about Ritsuka, as seen through the eyes of current school friend Yuiko and an old school friend, Osamu. The comments at the end of the book by editor Lillian Diaz-Pryzbyl did an exceptional job of tying it all up neatly. In fact, her insights probably contributed strongly to my ability to engage with the story.
I was surprised that I enjoyed the manga as much as I did. I wasn’t a huge fan of the anime, but there’s more layers here. I’m not able to put my finger on it exactly, maybe something about there being so many *different* ways of relating to other people illuminated by the manga characters. It might have just been because of the volumes I chose to read, or it may well be because the creator is a better writer than I inititially credited. Or I’m in a different mood, or something else. Who knows. Whatever it is, I saw more depth, more complexity, in the many relationships in this story, and less oppressiveness about the primary couple, than when I watched the anime. Maybe it was just because of that little story at the end of Volume 4, and the idea that Ritsuka is just a kid sometimes made me feel a bit better about everyone in the book. Plus, you just know that Kouya and Yamato are out there somewhere riding the train, holding hands and just being together. ^_^
Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 8
Service – 6
Overall – 7
I think I’d characterize the main emotion of the Loveless manga as Ero-emo. All the angsting is so erotically charged, even though Ritsuka can only pick up on some of the current himself (as Lillian cogently points out.) Since Kouya and Yamato are a little older, *they* understand. And Soubi is practically the epitome of ero-emo. ^_^