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File:Loveless3 resized.jpg

Soubi and Ritsuka battle it out

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, currently slated for a re-release and continuation by Viz.

Is in no way related towards Lamia Loveless (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 a certain country music singer.

Includes examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Ritsuka's mother.
  • Action Girl: Kouya and Ai.
  • Adult Child: Nagisa. Believe it or not, she's in her thirties.
  • Adults Are Useless: A running theme in the manga, and the consequences reverberate throughout.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Seimei, in several rather twisted and unexpected forms.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Yurio.
  • 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".
  • And That's Terrible: If it wasn't made clear enough that Seimei, even outright called a villain by Youji, was evil, we can't really help you. Not that Ritsuka was having any of this. Even Nakahira notices that he's not really a good person.
  • Artificial Human: The Zeroes, a series of artificially created humans without pain receptors.
  • Awful Truth: Soubi never tells Ritsuka a thing about Seimei. Now he knows why.
  • Badass Adorable: Natsuo and Youji.
  • 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.
  • Bespectacled Bastard Boyfriend: Possibly Ritsu, but if he is, he has much more depth than the typical example.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Kaidou family. Also, the Aoyagi family.
  • Blessed with Suck: While the Zeroes can't feel pain, they can die just as easily as (if not more easily than) regular humans
  • Blind Without'Em: Kio, going by Yurio's comments on the strength of his glasses.
  • Blood Knight: Natsuo and Youji start out this way, but they mellow out once they start living with Soubi. Not that the signs of it are completely gone.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Implied in some cases between the Fighters and their Sacrifices, often one-sided.
  • Bondage Is Bad: What the kind of fighting found in Loveless is made of.
  • Boys Love: Loaded with elements of it.
  • Break the Cutie: Finally happens to Youji when he and Natsuo confront Seimei. He breaks down and starts to cry, but Natsuo helps him out of it. Also happens to Ritsuka in his battle with Bloodless, and Soubi almost directly after Youji's incident.
  • Broken Bird: Soubi, a rare male version.
  • Broken Pedestal: Seimei, to Ritsuka.
  • Brother Brother Incest: Seimei is one of the creepiest examples in recent memory
  • Calling Your Attacks: Justified in the sense that the words are the spells themselves.
  • Cassandra Truth: Inverted. The adults WILL believe you. They just don't care.
  • Catgirl and CatBoys, earning the series a plethora of FanGirls (often of the Yaoi variety).
  • Chains of Love: Used both in splash pages and literally, in the literal case as part of a spell used by the enemy to restrain Ritsuka in a battle.
  • Characterization Marches On: Admitted by Kouga herself, as she states after about a year of the series, she had gotten used to Ritsuka and the others. It definitely shows in the most amazing ways.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • 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.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Misaki is a very twisted version.
  • 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.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Soubi, more so than anyone thus far. Can also be combined with Dysfunction Junction.
  • Darkest Hour: The events of volumes seven and eight, as well as the first few in nine.
  • Dark Secret: Soubi. As soon as Ritsuka finds out, he becomes thoroughly depressed.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Not always the case, but it certainly became something of a history lesson for Natsuo and Youji. Hell, they went from being Ritsuka and Soubi's enemies to living with Soubi.
  • Defector From Decadence: Inverted strongly with Seimei, who left Septimal Moon. Thus far, he is considered the villain of the series.
  • Destructive Romance: Highlights the overall relationship between Seimei and Ritsuka, though it's of debate as to whether or not it's exactly romantic (though in a negative light).
  • Dissonant Serenity: Several characters demonstrate this trope, but Seimei is definitely the best example.
  • Domestic Abuse: Ritsuka at the hands of his Cloudcuckoolander mother, the mentally unstable Misaki. Hence the nearly ever present band-aid on his cheek and frequent absence from school.
  • The Dreaded: Does anyone really have to ask? Notseimeigoingtoseimeimentionanyseimeinames, Seimei.
  • Dysfunction Junction anyone?
  • 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.
  • Enigmatic Minion: Nisei.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Fighters are essentially supposed to be these.
  • Erotic Eating: A Rare Male Example, with Kio's lollipops.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Due to the sheer concentration of Bishonen in this manga, it's statistically impossible that you won't have a Stupid Sexy Flanders moment about at least one of the characters.
  • Everyone Can See It
  • Extreme Doormat: Soubi.
  • Eye Scream: Alluded to, when Seimei plucks out not one, but both of Ritsu's eyes.
  • Feel No Pain: The Zeroes. However, it backfires.
  • 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.
  • For the Evulz: Seems to be Nisei's motivation at times. Ties into him being a Manipulative Bastard.
  • Freudian Excuse: Ritsuka's abusive mother, Misaki, was abused as a child as well. Subverted, as it's not supposed to make you feel bad for her and was only mentioned once in the entire series.
  • Friendly Enemy: Yamato and Mimuro. Midori and Ai also became very friendly with Ritsuka, eventually even Soubi, after they are taken off the mission to bring Ritsuka to Nanatsu no Tsuki.
  • Furry Confusion: Besides people having cat ears and tails, regular cats are shown to exist.
  • Gambit Pileup
  • Gecko Ending: The anime, and a very mindscrewy one at that.
  • Good All Along: The Seven Moons don't really seem to be evil, like they were initially portrayed to be.
  • Harmful to Minors: Just about everyone has had some exposure to this.
    • Those that haven't, will.
  • Heel Face Turn: Natsuo and Youji.
  • Heroic BSOD: Soubi, Nagisa, and Youji all go through this within the span of a few chapters.
  • Hero-Killer: Take a guess who. A simple, quick guess.
  • 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".
  • I Know Your True Name
  • Ill Girl: Yayoi is a Rare Male Example.
  • In the Name of the Moon: Each of the "pairs" has an Invocation they say before battle begins.
  • Intimate Healing: Justified in that when Soubi kisses Ritsuka it strengthens the "bond" between them and makes the attacks stronger (and makes the Fangirls Squee).
  • Ironic Echo: When Soubi repeats the very words Ritsu once told him as a self-hypnosis to win in his fight against Natsuo and Youji.
  • It's All My Fault: Nana believes this after Ritsu is blinded by Seimei and Nagisa is seeing her blue screen of death. Soubi also believes it's his fault that Seimei was able to escape. The Zero boys disagree.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
      • Either that or there's some type of laser-guided mind-ray telling him to ignore the obvious.
  • Magical Incantation: Justified in that the words are the spells used in battles.
  • 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 did find the body and even matched dental records. Who replaced him in that capacity is the subject of much fan debate and Epileptic Trees.
    • I'm sure Semei will run into Chessmaster territory at some point.
  • May-December Romance: Does this even need to be explained?
  • Meaningful Name: Everyone has one. Though, many characters wouldn't say the same for the Beloved pair.
  • Meganekko: Lots of characters wear glasses, male and female alike, but Shinonome-sensei is the best fit for the trope.
  • The Messiah: Ritsuka, as a somewhat smaller scale version. He's mostly impacted one person, Yuiko (who even states that she "feels so much more alive" when she's with Ritsuka), but has also had a smaller effect on Hitomi-sensei, and seems to finally be starting to have an effect on Soubi as well. Not to mention the (adult) therapist who's in love with him...
  • Mind Screw: Take a look at any of the spell battles, or anything involving Nanatsu no Tsuki.
  • Mood Whiplash: What would one expect from a series with the genre of Psychological? Your comedy relief isn't going to last forever!
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe, it seems that Seimei did something really bad to the point that the Seven Moons decided to kill him.
  • Moral Myopia: Seimei. In spades. It's outright stated that he only cares about Ritsuka and everyone else might as well be animals to him.
  • My Hero Zero: For obvious reasons.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Kio starts calling Ritsuka "Rit-chan" when he finally starts to like him.
  • The Nicknamer: Kio has "Rit-Chan" for Ritsuka and "Sou-chan" for Soubi. Both he and Soubi refer to the Zero boys as "Chibis".
  • Never Found the Body: Averted rather disturbingly.
  • No Ending: Not here, anyway. Volume 10 finally chugged on out in May 2011, and the series started way back in 2003. Word of God says that the series will end at 15 volumes.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Nisei would like to think so...
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: For the better of the story, ever since Seimei and Nisei came into it. Bloodless also introduced a new type of battling.
  • 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.
  • Otaku Surrogate: Seven (who's a Hikikomori, or shut-in minus her internet connection), and Nagisa (a wannabe Elegant Gothic Lolita) to an extent.
    • 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.
  • Plucky Girl: Yuiko, despite being a side character.
  • Power Glows
  • The Power of Love: Most pairs exhibit this.
  • Princess Curls: Yurio. Dammit!
  • Psychologist Teacher: Or rather, would be Psychologist 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. Of course, the fans will have none of this.
  • Rape as Backstory: Both Mikado and Soubi.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Youji, for Nagisa, since apparently Youji was created from some of Nagisa's deceased sister's genes.
    • Also the main use of Blank Fighters. Oh, yours died? Well, here's a new one.
  • Right Makes Might: Averted. You can always count on Seimei to screw up your hero logic and twist it around enough to make someone else think they were wrong; even if they were right in the first place. Or he can tell someone they meant something they clearly didn't, hell, even convince someone that they belong to him. They'll believe it. If he can use your words and emotions against you, he will.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Although not romantic, both Ritsuka/Yuiko and Yayoi/Yuiko both apply
  • Schedule Slip: Volume 9 came out in Nov 2009 and volume 10 came out in May 2011. (English releases from Tokyopop stopped at 8, long before Tokyopop's manga publishing actually folded.)
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Koya 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.
  • Slasher Smile: Nisei and Seimei.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: And here we have... cynicism.
  • 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.
    • And yet, Ritsuka has a therapist. And his teacher is constantly worrying about his home life.
      • Still, those two spend more time creeping on him than actually attempting to help him with his mommy issues.
  • 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.
  • They Really Do Love Each Other: Ritsuka and Soubi probably have one of the most complicated relationships in the series. Argue, argue, kiss, argue, hug, argue, argue, kiss...
  • Third Person Person: Yuiko at first, though with Ritsuka's help she gets over it.
  • 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.
  • Tsundere: Ritsuka is a little bit Tsundere toward Soubi, which is uncommon to his gender. Also, Kouya is arguably mildly tsundere. Nagisa is definitely tsundere for Ritsu-sensei.
    • Mei (who seems to be even younger than Ritsuka) is extremely Tsundere towards Mimuro.
  • Unknown Rival: Yayoi against Ritsuka for Yuiko's affections.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: At one point Soubi gets a nail through his hand and is forced to pull it out. That and the fact that he's accused of being a masochist several times makes one wonder if this was intentional. No Crucified Hero Shot on him yet, though.
    • Butterflies, anyone?
  • What Were You Thinking?: Ritsuka gives Soubi this treatment after he finds him injured from battles he fought alone.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Despite being only 12 years old, Ritsuka is noted for acting much older than he is.
  • Yandere: Seimei is a rare (rather extreme) male example towards his younger brother Ritsuka.

 Seimei: You see, I just want to be loved by Ritsuka. But I'm so insecure. That's why I have to test his love. Is this normal?

Nisei: It's normal for you.

  • You Are Not Alone: The majority of Fighter and Sacrifice pairs exhibit this, but Natsuo takes the award when Youji emotionally needs him most.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: There are a few other examples, but in particular, see the cover of the ninth volume of the manga.