Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Loveless Volume 2 - Yun Kouga

I've been checking out the reviews on Goodreads and it seems that the Loveless series is one that you'll either love or hate. I fall into the former category, if I could only read one manga series I think this is the one I would pick.

Volume 2 continutes the story of Ritsuka and Soubi. This (for me) was a darker story than the first volume, Ritsuka's abuse from his mother is more apparent and the Zero's make their first appearance towards the end. Ritsuka is still trying to find out what happened to his brother Seimi, but more fighting pairs are coming after him and Soubi. Unlike the pairs that come after them, Ritsuka and Soubi do not share a name, there is an unbalance, a gulf between them that hasn't yet been breached.

There is so much packed into these volumes that for me to try and go through everything would make this review amazingly long. So I'll try and stick to the major details. The beauty of this story lies not only in the artwork but also in the language, the wording of the spell battles is almost like prose poetry. You can read them over and over again and each time get something new.

For me this volume is still about the difference between innocence and experience, childhood and adulthood, the differences between Ritsuka and Soubi.

Soubi (as a fighter unit) needs a sacrifice. It's like he's incomplete without one.
You are my law, Ritsuka. And my reason for living is you alone. I am your weapon. You can use me as you wish."
And I think this is why the dynamic between them doesn't feel unequal. Soubi is the adult but Ritsuka has the power. Soubi is almost an automaton in some ways. He is order, he follows a prescribed path. Ritsuka is chaotic, he doesn't know where he should go, but he is the one who is in charge. As Soubi says
"We are he who is commanded and he who commands."
We find out more about Ritsuka's world, we start to get a deeper idea of the extent of abuse he suffers at the hands of his mother, and learn that he visits a therapist every Wednesday. Ritsuka is convinced that when the 'real' Ritsuka returns he will disappear. He's struggling with some philosophical questions about the nature of his existence and place in the world. A heavy burden on a twelve-year old boy.

But he also has strong opinions and convictions.
I believe it's worse to hurt someone's feelings than to injure their body.
Some of his beliefs will be challenged by Soubi, but Ritsuka in turn challenges the fighter unit.

The Zeroes make their first appearance in this volume. These are a genetically engineered fighting pair, who look like young boys but they are also sociopaths. When their paths cross with that of Ritsuka's teacher she doesn't realise how much danger she is in. She gives them her name - a mistake, remember this is all to do with the power of words - once they know that they are able to take control of her. Then it becomes even more disturbing as they make the comment they should all go and lose their ears. (A child loses their ears when they lose their virginity).

Luckily Soubi arrives and engages Zero in battle. But without Ritsuka his sacrifice, he is at a disadvantage. Will he prevail and save Shinome Sensei? Well we'll have to wait until Volume 3 to find out as the main story ends on a cliffhanger. :bites nails:

This volume also has the short story In the Summer 1/2 and In the Summer 2/2. The same story told from two different perspectives. A much lighter tale and quite funny which you appreciate after the angst of the main story. 1/2 is told from Kaido Kio's perspective (Soubi's adult friend).
Hello. I'm Kaido Kio. Today I'm stalking a grade schooler. Oops, my mistake. I'm just tagging along with a pervert.
Kio is with Soubi, who is following Ritsuka. Ritsuka has decided he wants the day away from Soubi, he wants to spend it with his schoolfriends making memories (taking photographs) with them, because he has too many photographs of Soubi his collection is unbalanced.

We find out from Kio that before Soubi met Ritsuka he was a 'walking corpse'. With each book we find out a little bit more of the past, a little bit more of the mystery is revealed. (Another significant thing (I think) is that Soubi's fighting name - Beloved - which is carved into his throat, bleeds when he fights.)

2/2 is told more from Ritsuka and Soubi's perspective - the stalkee and stalker. And on page 185 there is the most beautiful frame of Ritsuka, if I knew more about the copyright of manga I would scan it, but I don't, so you'll just have to get the book and see it for yourselves.

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