Loveless is a manga by Kouga Yun, who is also the mangaka of Earthian, La vie en rose and other manga. Loveless is serialized in the Zero-Sum manga magazine (published by Issaisha ) and is 5 volumes long for now: volume one was released sometime in 2002 (I think) and volume 2 is available since January the 15th 2003, volume three since late June 2003, Volume 4 on 2004 June the 25th, volume 5 came out in 2005 February the 25th, and finally volume 6 was published in late 2005. There's a special edition release for each volume, containing a small book with an inedite short story, and postcards etc. Loveless was adapted into a 13 episodes long anime in 2004 (first episode aired in April).
On the left is a picture of the main characters: the blond is Soubi, a 20 years old hot guy who can be sometimes funny, sometimes mysterious, and the young man with cat ears is Ritsuka (only 12 years old), who is quite shy and is always hurt (see the bandages on the different pictures).
Below is the first volume cover picture featuring Ritsuka. The hand around his neck is probably Soubi's... I think you've guessed by now, this manga is shounen ai! I can see you yaoi lovers grinning. ;)
Ritsuka is in 6th year of elementary school. His older brother Semei died not long ago, it was probably a murder, and from this time Ritsuka has been having psychological troubles (double personality). He remembers Seimei telling him his "real name", which is Beloved.
Ritsuka enters a new school. There he meets lots of kids of his age, among which Yuiko, a genki but shy girl with huge breasts who wants to become his friend: she more or less clings to him in spite of the fact that he insulted her. Ritsuka appears to have a very bad temper, thus he alienates all his classmates, except Yuiko. When the day comes to an end, their teacher, Shinonome-sensei, asks him if everything is okay and if she can do anything to help him. Ritsuka smiles, to Yuiko's astonishment, and replies everything went alright thanks to the girl. They start off, and Yuiko observes that he looked like a completely different person with their teacher. Ritsuka shouts her to shut up and runs to the gate where a man is waiting for him. The man grabs his arms, and they start to talk, Ritsuka being a little scared because this unknown man has no ears and is thus an adult. But he knows the boy's name and mentions his brother. At first a little frightened, he finally decides to spend some time with this man who was a good friend of Seimei. This man’s name is Soubi, and he’ll be closely linked to Ritsuka from now on.
The story evolves about the relationship between Ritsuka (the true hero of the manga) and Soubi. It's very ambiguous though. Ritsuka's feelings towards Soubi are very unstable: he's at first frightened by this mysterious friend of Seimei, but is then caring and is quickly charmed. Still there's always some kind of gap between them, first because Ritsuka is still a virgin while Soubi is not (you become an adult when you lose your cat ears), then because Ritsuka knows almost nothing about Soubi, who suddenly "confessed" to the young man and made him his master in a magical war.
Indeed, fights evolve groups of two partners, one is the master and the other is the one who actually fights through spells. The winner is the one who gets a hold on the master of the other group. It means Soubi has to protect Ritsuka, and will obey him. Ritsuka doesn't know about it all at first, but he gets involved in a fight the very first day he meets Soubi, creating a new group called Loveless. He then learns Soubi was his deceased brother's fighter. The name of their group was Beloved.
Knowing this, Ritsuka will also realize Seimei was actually killed, and will investigate on his death. Soubi is very famous in this world of magical fights, and other fighters seem to systematically want to win over him, which means they need to destroy Loveless: to get rid of Ritsuka.
The art is soooooooooooooooooo cute! At first I bought it when I saw the volume 2 cover picture of wounded Ritsuka. The color pictures are wonderful, and the manga pages are also nice and clear. Another manga to love and admire and venerate!
On the 25th of this month come a guidebook to the anime, and a artbook by Kouga Yun with plenty of Loveless pictures, called Your Eyes only.
The first episode of the Loveless anime was aired this morning. Now I hope not only to see it, but that it'll spread the love of this manga around the world, that publishers will buy its rights and thus maybe we'll have both the manga and anime translated! I wanna buy the anime on DVD, not download it on the net... (I'll do it though, not having the choice yet)
By the way, maybe I should also put here the following information: it was announced this late July that Loveless will be made into an anime! Isn't it just wonderful? We're waiting for the first pictures and more info.
Loveless volume 4 comes out tomorrow! For the luckier among us, there's only a few hours before we can admire its cover and art, and learn more about Seimei's death and Ritsuka's future (with Soubi).