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A running manga series and 12 episode anime created by Yun Kouga, Loveless follows the story of a 12 year old Ritsuka as he searches for the truth behind his brother Seimei's murder — and, unexpectedly, inherits his brother's Fighter Unit, 20 year old college student Soubi, who in their first meeting declares nonchalantly that he loves Ritsuka, kisses him, and draws him into a world of spell battles, Fighters and Sacrifices. Ritsuka learns that he is "Loveless" (see Meaningful Name), and has a destined Fighter somewhere in the world and an as-of-yet unrevealed birthmark on his body of his "name".Oh, and all the virgins in their universe have cat ears and a tail until they lose said virginity.Despite the considerable BL themes in Loveless, the focus is more on relationships themselves and the dynamics between the people, be they straight, gay, or entirely non-romantic. Among other things, the series deals with very real situations such as Domestic Abuse, childhood sexual abuse and trauma, and other "not for kids" issues. The series is also known for having Mind Screw aspects of epic proportions.Formerly licensed in English by Tokyopop, the series is now being continued by VIZ Media, who are also releasing two-in-one editions of the volumes that Tokyopop previously published with brand new bonus comics and interviews.Is in no way related towards LamiaLoveless (this is not an anime of her descendants), nor the Shounen anime NEEDLESS, nor the play set in Final Fantasy VII. And no, it's not devoid of LOVE. Also has nothing to do with the iconic Loveless, of My Bloody Valentine fame. It also has nothing to do with the The Wild Wild West villain or a certain country music singer.
Ambiguously Evil: Even though the Fearless pair aren't bad people, they're connected to Nisei, and fought Ritsuka and Soubi under his orders. Nisei being Seimei's Fighter, it's unknown where they really stand even though they associate with him. It doesn't help that Nisei calls Mimuro "senpai".
The Bad Guy Wins: Seimei, in volume eight. Even worse, though Nisei was taken captive, he ended up getting him back through an exchange by using Kio as his own captive. In other words, no matter how it's looked at, he won.
Because Destiny Says So: The entire Name system, though it's frequently argued against and subverted in some cases.
Soubi introduced himself to Ritsuka as Seimei's friend. However, it turns out that he despises Seimei more than anyone; even his former teacher, Ritsu. Also, Soubi was introduced as "he has no ears, so he's an adult". Though, if he hadn't lost his ears to Ritsu, he'd probably still have them.
Soubi admits to himself in his fight with Natsuo and Youji that the things taught to him by Ritsu saved him.
Crapsack World: Not only is the school for Sentouki attacked, but the ones dealing with the mess are the kids. The only adults that actually make any effort to physically help are blinded or end up as a depressed mute. In total, one person was blinded (in a very disturbing manner), one person went missing, one was knocked out and left outside before later being kidnapped, two kids were left unconscious on the floor, four unknown entities were injured, one had a mental breakdown and started crying out of fear, one was an emotional wreck, and one didn't know what to think. Then there's the fact that a portion of the Old School was damaged. This was all done by one guy and his partner, who ended up being held captive. The Dreaded then took it upon himself to send the previous emotional wreck a text message stating he would trade the kidnapped for the captive. Bitch.
It's hard not to see the setting as this with all of the supremely screwed up stuff that happens in it.
Creepy Twins: Youji and Natsuo, who, despite not being actual twins, certainly fit aspects of this trope and usually act like one mind.
Easily Forgiven: It may be a Crapsack World and all, but even after everything Seimei did, the fact that Ritsuka still forgave him after stating some chapters before he would never forgive him for what he did to Soubi, is quite baffling.
Flaw Exploitation: Seimei uses the fact that Soubi was once his Fighter by telling him that even now, he is still his Fighter. This helps him escape by telling Soubi to break the window, thus using both Soubi's abilities as a Fighter and the emotional weakness he has to their once shared name.
Huge Schoolgirl: Yuiko, who despite being in sixth grade, is 5' 6" tall and has very large breasts (that actually earn her much ridicule).
I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: This is what Seimei says to Youji and Natsuo when they ask why he abandoned Soubi. Played straight and to horrifying effect when they start discussing books. Seriously. This is a rather twisted example, as it's less because of he doesn't want to say as it is the fact that he hates to be questioned.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode of the anime is titled as "X-less"; Bondless, Tearless, etc. The creepiest is probably "Skinless".
Jerkass: At times, Ritsu can count for one. Not that Nagisa's off the hook.
Kick the Dog: When they first come into the story, Natsuo and Youji kill an innocent dog because they found it annoying. Although their Heel-Face Turn does not excuse this behavior, they have become noticeably less violent since then; though there are still traces of their violence left. Then, there's also Seimei and Nisei, with their own evil stunts.
Knight Templar Big Brother: Subverted with Seimei. To him, it doesn't really matter HOW you treat his younger brother Ritsuka. Seimei believes that Ritsuka belongs to him and will get rid of anyone getting in his way. Especially ironic because Seimei plays an actual Paladin character on the MMORPG "Wisdom Resurrection".
Lighter and Softer: The anime. Yuiko and Yayoi are seen MUCH more often to provide both comedy relief and a break from all the Mind Screw, which was also less abundant.
Episode 11 of the anime. ...Then comes episode 12. Probably the worst case of Mind Screw in the entire anime.
Love Martyr: Ritsuka is a male version of this towards Seimei, though it's not of the Brother-Sister Incest variety. Although he is constantly being told of Seimei's sins, he is steadfast in his decision to be angry at him, but always forgive him. ALWAYS. Starts to border on Too Dumb to Live.
Loving a Shadow: Kind of. Ritsuka learns that Seimei is not at all the person that Ritsuka thought he was. While Seimei was caring (albeit a little distant) towards Ritsuka, he was, in reality, a cold, obsessive, and very violent man who was not above manipulating or murdering people who got in his way. When Ritsuka learns that even HE was manipulated by Seimei because of his twisted concept of 'love', Ritsuka is angry, but he forgives him. He still loves Seimei like he did when he was a child. Possibly a case of Stockholm Syndrome, or there's some type of laser-guided mind-ray telling him to ignore the obvious.
Magic by Any Other Name: The spells used in battles. They can be creative, they can be simple, they can be dull... and they can do and/or create anything. You name it, the spells do it.
Manipulative Bastard: Ritsu, Nisei, and also Seimei, who despite all logic is still alive, even though they actually didfind the body and even matched dental records. Who replaced him in that capacity is the subject of much fan debate and Epileptic Trees.
Not So Different: Subverted and in other instances played straight. Though both Soubi and Nisei are The Fighters for Seimei, they're well aware that the two of them are polar opposites, and even their spells become a play on light and darkness. Used, though, when Ritsuka points out to Ritsu that the way Ritsu talks reminds him of Soubi. Yamato also makes this connection with Soubi on how she was always being told about Kouya and was waiting to meet her. Ai eventually sympathizes with Soubi when they are alone together before they meet with Ritsu.
Subverted with Seimei, who doesn't act like a typical otaku but reached level 99 through grinding in the MMORPG "Wisdom Resurrection".
Either subverted or played straight with the Zero boys, who said in an extras booklet that the thing they want most is a rare item in Monster Hunter.
Our Love Is Different: Ritsuka has been quite convinced that everything bad anyone could ever have to say about Seimei is completely, utterly wrong. Even now, he's still trying to come to terms with things and has yet to make a decision.
Parental Incest: Though they aren't related by blood, Ritsu and Soubi still qualify.
Psychologist Teacher: Or rather, would bePsychologist Teacher, as Ritsuka's good-hearted yet unfortunate teacher Hitomi never really manages to solve anything and has almost debilitating shyness when it comes to confronting problems.
Psychopathic Manchild: Nisei. He takes delight in both stalking and torturing Soubi and Ritsuka, but refers to Soubi as 'mad' and 'creepy', and refers to himself as a pacifist. He's a stranger to the concept of love, but he also has no intention of ever finding out, even going so far as to call it sickening.
Schoolgirl Lesbians: Kouya and Yamato, adversaries in the third and fourth volumes of the manga. Note that this was actually made more explicit in the anime, which in their first scene showed them kiss on the train when the manga just had them hold hands, as if it was just to make sure we weren't mistaken as to what was going on. They are also shown with and without ears, both in the anime and manga.
Split Personality: Ritsuka is heavily implied to have two personalities, one he was until three years before the series begins, and the personality he has now.
Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Subverted, turned inside out, and arguably played straight. Particularly twisted when it comes to Soubi who lost his cat ears as a result of sexual abuse at the hands of his teacher Ritsu.
Social Services Does Not Exist: Why nobody does anything about Ritsuka's abuse at the hands of his mother — which seems odd, considering that Ritsuka has a therapist and his teacher is constantly worrying about his home life, though Values Dissonance may also be involved here.
Synchronization: A key aspect between the Fighters and their Sacrifices. If it's off, they'll lose.
Theme Naming: Most fighter/sacrifice pairs - and all episodes of the anime - end with "-less". Subverted with "Beloved" and the Zero pairs.
There Are No Therapists: Subverted in that Ritsuka does see a psychologist weekly, yet Misaki's abuse continues (and it's implied the older female psychologist has a crush on him — she takes him out on a "date" in an early volume). Justified, as it's his mother that sends him to therapy to try to get the "other" Ritsuka back.
Took a Level in Badass: Nana, when she gets over believing thinking what happened to Ritsu was her fault. Of course, she was able to with the help of the Zero boys. Natsuo also ranked up in this category when he confronted Seimei and was ready to fight back, being one of the only two people who stood up to him.