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Loveless by Yun Kouga

Title Loveless: Volume 1
Author Yun Kouga
Publisher TOKYOPOP
Year 2002
ISBN-10 1-59816-221-7

Teaser/Reader Annotation Ritsuka stumbles into the shadowy world of spell battles and secret names while searching for the answer to his brother's graphic murder. How can he trust Soubi to see him through safely when he cannot even trust himself?

Plot Summary After the tragic murder of his brother, Ritsuka has transferred schools in the hopes of being able to move on and adapt to his new life. At the end of his first school day he finds twenty-year-old Soubi waiting for him at the gates, claiming to be an old friend of his brother's. Ritsuka takes him to a nearby park to make some memories together the two are attacked by a pair that calls themselves Breathless. To Ritsuka's surprise, Soubi accepts the challenge, and they are pulled into the world of spell battles. Ritsuka comes to find out that his brother, Seimei was the Sacrifice in the pair Beloved – with Soubi as his Fighter Unit, or 'sentouki.' Before he died, Seimei ordered Soubi to become Ritsuka's Fighter and protect Loveless – Ritsuka's supposed real name. It is up to them to unravel the mysteries behind Seimei's death and Ritsuka's amnesia. All the while, the bond between Soubi and Ritsuka grows stronger.

Critical Evaluation The intricate presentation of this manga is absolutely breathtaking. Kouga's detailed, classical artwork goes above and beyond the typical basic drawings of the average manga making each panel into its own piece of art. For those whom the drawing style alone is not enough to impress, the elaborate, deeply layered plot line filled with twists and intrigue. Unlike other Japanese manga, the dialogue has been simply and cleanly translated and is without the awkward phrasing often associated with the genre. The characters themselves are wonderfully drawn, emotionally complex, and relatable, guiding the reader through the journey from the innocence of youth to the experience of an adult. Loveless is not for every reader, however, as it explores themes that would make many uncomfortable including an implied romantic homosexual relationship developing between the twelve-year-old Ritsuka and the twenty-year-old Soubi as well as dealing with graphic, ongoing child abuse. Older high school and college students with open minds would find this an addicting read.

About the Author Yun Kouga, the pen name for Risa Yamada, is a Japanese mangaka born July 9, 1965 in Shinaga-ku, Tokyo. She is married to a fellow mangaka, Tatsuneko, and they currently live in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo with their one daughter.

Kouga began her career as a doujinshi artist – one who self-publishes their manga work usually in magazine or booklet form. Her commercial career debut was a piece called Metal Heart under Kobunsha publishing group but continued to publish doujinshi on the side for many years afterward. While Loveless is her most recognized work, she has completed many other manga works.

Primary Genre Manga

Secondary Genre Fantasy

Curriculum Ties Psychology

Booktalking Ideas

1) Words and their power are a central theme within Loveless. How do words shape the world and reality around us?

2) In order to become an adult in the world of Loveless a person must lose their virginity and shed their cat ears. How does this public loss of innocence set a theme for the society? Would you be comfortable with it? Discuss.

Reading Level/Interest Age 16+

Challenge Issues pedophilia, homosexuality, child abuse

1) Become familiar with book and its content.
2) Refer to library's collection policies.
3) Refer to reviews from School Library Journal, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobles.
4) Get reviews from teenagers who are familiar with the book.

Why is it included? This manga was recommended to me by a friend, and I found the plot interesting and the drawing style stunning.