Manga-ka: Yun Kouga
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: October 2012
Synopsis: “Seimei is very much alive and has torn through the Seven Voices Academy like a whirlwind. As Septimal Moon struggles to right itself and keep its secrets from spilling out, a new enemy takes center stage: the unit named “Bloodless” wages a crippling psychological war, ending battles without spilling a single drop of blood. Yet Ritsuka and Soubi must emerge victorious against them… or lose Kio. “
It’s not difficult to get caught up on the Loveless story here in the ninth volume. It has just about every remaining relevant character sprinkled throughout it. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost four years since the previous volume was released. Viz Media’s synopsis cracks open the haze with the big reveal that Ritsuka’s brother, Seimei, is actually alive. What exactly his role is, however, is a little less clear. What his renewed relevance is for sure though, is more angst and drama fodder which the series tries to make in spades.
While the story moving forward is good to see – notably Ritsuka being really driven to find out what’s going on with his brother and willing to battle to do so – I ended up liking this volume most for flashbacks to Soubi’s past. As Ritsuka’s too-physically-close-for-comfort battling partner, he was never high on my like list. It’s rarely shown there was more to him than that, despite his connection to Seimei. In this volume we get to learn more about him personally, but from the perspective of the more outgoing and ‘normal’ Kio Kaidou who befriends Seimei in college. These portions were brief but I really like the way Yun Kouga writes casual character interaction. It makes me want more of her work free of the often convoluted fantasy battle systems and character quantity-heavy stories.
The story at hand still had moments to grab my interest. A character by the name of Yuri was unnervingly crazy. His ‘relationship’ with his partner, Hideo, was intriguing in how destructive and frankly unsettling and abusive it is. The two of them end up being the duo that Ritsuka and Soubi go up against in a battle of tragic back-stories while elsewhere, and for the bulk of the volume, Kio is held captive by the baddies’ group much to everyone’s concern.
What grabbed my attention most about this ninth volume of Loveless was how great the art looks. Viz Media’s reproduction and brighter paper really makes it pop, helped in part by the evolution of Yun Kouga’s artwork which is a lot cleaner and more carefully laid out than it was in earlier volumes. It really looks fantastic, enough so that while I wasn’t originally intending to repurchase the series in Viz Media’s new 3-in-1s, I’m now seriously considering it for the quality.
A continued pro and con of the series for me is that I can’t tell the genders of characters. On one hand, it’s neat having their genders be so irrelevant (and they’re all so cute, pretty and cool, who ‘really’ cares either way?) – on the other hand it’s really confusing when people start talking about someone with gender-specific terms and I’m left wondering who the heck they’re referring to until I figure out the the ‘girl’ on page is actually a young man, or vice-versa.
Viz Media has no doubt pleased many fans with their license rescue of Loveless, and subsequent choice to release it from volume nine on as well from the beginning (simultaneously no less). Those same fans should be happy with the treatment they’re giving it, from an adaptation that reads smoothly, to the sharp art reproduction and use of the volume’s original cover design. After finishing this book, I was surprised to realize that I actually like Loveless a lot more than I remember – or at least I suddenly like it now. Years can affect a readers’ taste of course, but I did feel Viz Media’s version did it a bit more justice after re-reading previous books. But whatever the case may be, I’m grateful to have such a simply but nicely put together release to continue indulging with from now on.
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Book bought from Strange Adventures