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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Manga Review: Loveless GN 11

Loveless volume 11
Author: Yun Kouga
Viz Media
176 pages
Ritsuka's faith in his older brother Seimei is pushed to the limit when the unit named Moonless reveals sordid details of Seimei's horrific past deeds. Then, while Ritsuka is still reeling, the unthinkable happens: Seimei returns to reclaim Soubi.
Maybe I've grown tired of the endless psychological chat sessions that Loveless enjoys so much, because I did not completely love this volume. I didn't love the pacing and I certainly didn't love Natsuo and Youji, who continue to be terrible. But as far as the plot goes, it's an important volume, and there are moments of brilliance that manage to shine through the clouds.
The most important presence in this volume of Loveless is Seimei. He is there from the first chapter to the end, even if he does not physically show his face until later in the book. When the Moonless duo come to visit Ritsuka, it's Seimei who is the main focus - what he did and what he didn't do. And when Ritsuka and Soubi find themselves drawing closer and closer, it is Seimei who comes and breaks them apart.

There are huge references to sexual assault and rape in this book. It makes me wonder why there hasn't been a movement in series to destroy the fighter/sacrifice system and school, where this behavior runs rampant and seems to be encouraged. After all, how better to create an emotionless, hardened soldier than dehumanize them and strip away their better aspects? It's the same place that let Seimei thrive as a sociopath. Burn it to the ground.
We are then formally introduced to Faceless, who have the ability of going unseen and being forgotten quickly. I found them one of the more interesting battle pairings so far in the series, and their family back story was appropriately heartbreaking, especially put against Seimei and Ritsuka's. For Hatsuko and Keiji, they used being forgotten to their advantage and for manipulating their mother. For Ritsuka and Seimei, they wished their mother could forget them as their mother's love was suffocating and controlling.
But my main gripe with this eleventh volume is how it's spread out. For some reason, all of the side chapters and omakes and specials are dispersed throughout the book instead of being stacked up at the end of the book. It throws off the pacing, destroys the mood between chapters, and gave the final chapter an anticlimactic feeling. I don't know why they did it, but it's obnoxious, and it dragged the book down.
Then there's Yun Kouga's tendency to slow down the series and allow her characters to spin philosophical webs about their situations for a bit. But at this point of the series, she should be making the cogs and wheels turn, not slowing them to a crawl. There's character development and plot development and then there's stagnation. And I fear some scenes verge painfully on becoming stagnation.
Then there's Natsuo and Youji. Series, please stop trying to make me love them. They're irritating immature children in adult bodies who bully Ritsuka's peers and as well as his teacher and the series presents them as lovable scamps with no filter. Blecch. Spare me the thought of me enjoying them as characters.

But this volume of Loveless ends on an interesting note for Ritsuka—interesting and heartbreaking. It also ends with a promise of a battle royale in book twelve, setting up a big fight between several sacrifice/fighter sets of high skill levels. I'm hoping when Loveless breaks back into the action and the drama, we can see again Kouga at her best, writing Seimei at his worst.