Loveless, Omnibus 1

Creator: Yun Kouga
U.S. publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 9781421549903
Released: October 2012
Original release: 2002-2003

I initially read Yun Kouga’s manga series Loveless after it was released in English by Tokyopop. I was surprised by how much I liked it, finding the story to be oddly compelling and engrossing if occasionally confusing. Tokyopop only released the first eight volumes of the ongoing series and so I was exceedingly happy when Viz Media rescued the license. The quality of Viz’s release is much better than Tokyopop’s, as well. Viz re-released the first eight volumes as two-volume omnibuses based on the special limited edition of Loveless published in Japan. The first omnibus, released in 2012, collects the first two volumes of Loveless as well as additional material previously unavailable in English. In Japan, the contents were released between 2002 and 2003. Since July 2013’s Manga Moveable Feast focused on Yun Kouga and her work, it was the perfect opportunity for me to revisit Loveless.

Ritsuka Aoyagi is a new student at Yano Jonan Elementary School. Though he can’t be bothered with his classmates, the withdrawn sixth grader does his best to at least put up a good front for his teachers. At such a young age, Ritsuka has already been through a lot. His older brother Seimei, who he adored, was brutally murdered and he suffers from physical, mental, and emotional abuse at the hands of his mother. Even Ritsuka’s past is obscured—his memories and personality from two years ago are lost, the amnesia brought on by what is assumed to be some sort of trauma. Ritsuka is alone and has nothing that he can claim as his own until he is approached by Soubi Agatsuma, a college student with a mysterious connection to Seimei. For never having met before, Soubi shows an unexpected and disconcerting level of devotion and affection towards Ritsuka, something the younger boy desperately needs but is hesitant to accept.

One of the most peculiar things about Loveless is apparent within the first few pages: many characters have cat ears and tails. Later it is revealed that this is a physical sign that those individuals haven’t had sex. It’s an admittedly strange addition to the manga but Kouga uses it quite well. The presence or absence of ears and tails impacts characters’ interactions and relationships, how they think about and act towards one another. The cat ears and tails also serve another purpose in Loveless, allowing many of Kouga’s characters to be particularly expressive. Tails bush out when they’re startled; ears fold back when they’re upset or perk up when they’re attentive. Actually, in general I find Kouga’s artwork to be beautifully expressive and emotive. It creates a mood and atmosphere that captures the story’s darkness, intimacy, and barely subdued sexuality exceptionally well without being overwhelmingly oppressive.

The beginning of Loveless is a story of intense yearning and loneliness with characters who have been broken, damaged, and twisted. But even when they despair they still cling to hope. Ritsuka has trouble accepting himself and difficulty trusting others; the attention he receives from Soubi is both welcomed and feared. Loveless is also a story about the power of words. In part because of his association with Soubi, Ritsuka is pulled into a world where battles are waged with words and spells are cast that can cause considerable pain and physical damage. Whether he realizes it or not, Ritsuka is already quite familiar with the even more insidious psychological agony caused by words uttered in everyday contexts—such as when his mother continually denies that he is even her son. The first omnibus of Loveless raises more questions than it provides answers, but it does establish an intriguing tale and characters. Even having read it before, I still find Loveless to be a strangely enthralling and compelling manga.

Manga Giveaway: Loveless Giveaway Winner

And the winner of the Loveless manga giveaway is…KenshinGirl!

As the winner, KenshinGirl will be receiving two volumes of Yun Kouga’s manga series Loveless as published by Viz Media—the first omnibus as well as the ninth volume. Loveless was originally published by Tokyopop, which only released up through volume eight. Happily, the license was rescued by Viz Media last year. For this giveaway, I was interested in learning about other license rescues that made people happy. (Check out the giveaway comments for the responses.)

And, because I can, I’ve compiled select list of (North American) English license rescues that have made at least one person very happy. So here are twenty-two manga that got another chance or two in English:

07-Ghost by Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara
     (Go! Comi ► Viz Media)

Alice in the Country of Hearts by Soumei Hoshino
     (Tokyopop ► Yen Press)

Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma
     (ADV Manga ► Yen Press)

Blood Alone by Masayuki Takano
     (Infinity Studios ► Seven Seas)

Cardcaptor Sakura by CLAMP
     (Tokyopop ► Dark Horse)

Chobits by CLAMP
     (Tokyopop ► Dark Horse)

Clover by CLAMP
     (Tokyopop ► Dark Horse)

Crayon Shin-Chan by Yoshito Usui
     (ComicsOne ► CMX Manga ► One Peace Books)

Crying Freeman written by Kazuo Koike, illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami
     (Viz Media ► Dark Horse)

Embracing Love by Youka Nitta
     (Be Beautiful ► Viz Media)

Fist of the North Star written by Buronson, illustrated by Tetsuo Hara
     (Viz Media ►Gutsoon! Entertainment)

Genshiken by Shimoku Kio
     (Del Rey Manga ► Kodansha Comics)

Kizuna: Bonds of Love by Kazuma Kodaka
     (Be Beautiful ► Digital Manga)

Lone Wolf & Cub written by Kazuo Koike, illustrated by Goseki Kojima
     (First Comics ► Dark Horse)

Loveless by Yun Kouga
     (Tokyopop ► Viz Media)

Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa
     (Tokyopop ► Vertical)

Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki
     (Tokyopop ► Del Rey Manga ► Kodansha Comics)

Message to Adolf by Osamu Tezuka
     (Viz Media ► Vertical)

Slam Dunk by Takehiko Inoue
     (Gutsoon! Entertainment ► Viz Media)

Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi
     (Tokyopop ► Kodansha Comics)

Tokyo Babylon by CLAMP
     (Tokyopop ► Dark Horse)

Yotsuba&! by Kiyohiko Azuma
     (ADV Manga ► Yen Press)

Why a list of twenty-two? Mostly because I felt like it. And I was being a little silly—two twos for second chances…or something. (Anyway, don’t mind me.) Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway; I hope to see you again for the next one!

Manga Giveaway: Loveless Giveaway

Once again the end of the month approaches which means it’s time for another manga giveaway here at Experiments in Manga! This month you’ll all have a chance to win a copy of not one, but two volumes of Yun Kouga’s Loveless series as published by Viz Media: the first omnibus (which collects the first two volumes) as well as the ninth volume. So really, it’ll be like winning three volumes of manga. As always, the giveaway is open worldwide!

I would also like to extend a special thank you to Kate Dacey of the now retired Manga Critic for sending along these copies of Loveless to offer as a giveaway—Thanks again, Kate!

License rescues—manga that was once released in English only to fall out of print or be left incomplete for one reason or another which are then given another chance by a different publisher.

Between 2006 and 2008, Tokyopop released the first eight volumes of Yun Kouga’s Loveless. Much to my surprise and delight, Viz Media rescued the license in 2012, re-releasing the first eight volumes in four omnibuses and releasing for the first time in English volume nine and the volumes following. While it’s certainly not to everyone’s liking, I find Loveless to be oddly engrossing. I was very pleased that Viz picked the series up. (The quality of Viz’s edition is much nicer than Tokyopop’s release, too.)

Actually, there have recently been quite a few license rescues that I have been excited about. Just to name two more: Later this year Sublime Manga will be releasing Youka Nitta’s Embracing Love, one of my favorite yaoi series, which was partially released by Be Beautiful. I was also absolutely thrilled that Vertical brought Osamu Tezuka’s Message to Adolf back into print, which was originally published by Viz back in the day under the title Adolf.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win some Loveless?

1) In the comments below, tell me about a license rescue that you were excited to see. (No rescues that you find exciting or you don’t pay attention to such things? You can simply mention that instead.)
2) If you can, name a second license rescue that hasn’t been mentioned by me or someone else for a second entry. (It doesn’t necessarily need to be a recent or current re-release.)
3) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

It’s as easy as that! Each person can earn up to three entries for this giveaway. As usual, there is one week to submit your entries. If you have trouble leaving comments (Blogger doesn’t always work very well), or if you would prefer, feel free to e-mail me your entry at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com. and will post the comment in your name. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on May 1, 2013. Good luck!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address, link to your website, Twitter username, or whatever. If I can’t figure out how to get a hold of you and you win, I’ll just draw another name.

Contest winner announced—Manga Giveaway: Loveless Giveaway Winner

My Week in Manga: November 8-November 14, 2010

My News and Reviews

I stayed home sick from work for two days this past week. I ended up sleeping for most of the time, but I also got some manga reading in and finished watching Moribito when I could sit up again. I was also able to get a couple reviews written. One, Tourism in Japan: An Ethno-Semiotic Analysis, was written as part of the 2010 Green Books Campaign. I had the chance to participate in this event last year, too. The second review (and my first in-depth manga review for November) was for Yumiko Shirai’s Tenken, which won the 2007 Japan Media Arts Award Encouragement Prize—it’s a gorgeous manga if nothing else.

I also made a few updates to the Resources page. Two publisher pages have been added: Manga University and DrMaster. In the “News and Reviews” section I’ve included MangaCast, run by Ed Chavez and Khursten Santos; Manga Views, which includes a nice aggregator feed among other things; Manga Report, the manga specific site of fellow librarian Anna from TangognaT (who also runs Manga Views); and Slightly Biased Manga which has a lot of great manga reviews.

Quick Takes

A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio. I wasn’t originally going to pick up this collection, but then a lot of people whose opinions I respect started raving about it. I’m very glad I bought a copy. There’s a lot of depth to these short stories, sometimes more than what first appears. It’s a great selection spanning Hagio’s entire career so far. I’ve not previously read any of Hagio’s works, but after reading this collection and the included interview I really want to. Not much is available in English by this influential mangaka yet, but I hope that changes. I’m particularly interested in reading her science fiction and boys’ love pieces.

The Embalmer, Volumes 1-2 by Mitsukazu Mihara. I came across this manga mostly by accident, but I’m glad I gave it a shot. The second volume is even better than the first, so I’d definitely like to read the rest of the series as well. Shinjyurou is an enigmatic and charismatic character and I want to know more about him. At first he seems only to be a good looking playboy, but it’s soon apparent he’s deeper and more complex than that. He faces a fair amount of discrimination as an embalmer in Japan but believes in his chosen profession and the peace it can bring to the living. So far, the manga seems to be fairly episodic although there’s an underlying story and romance.

GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka, Volumes 21-25 by Tohru Fujisawa. It’s outrageous, over the top, and completely unbelievable, but I do love this series and was very happy when I was able to find the last few volumes. By this point some of the plot elements seem a bit repetitive, some purposefully so, but Fujisawa never fails to surprise me. He also found a way to end the series that works and I’m not sure that it could have been sustained for much longer. Onizuka is a great character, granted a bit of a lecherous bastard, but he’s honest with himself and others and forces others to be honest with themselves. He gets into all sorts of trouble in the process, but always manages to pull through for his students.

Loveless, Volumes 1-8 by Yun Kouga. This series goes to some really dark places and the characters are twisted and damaged, but I care immensely about them. The loneliness, betrayal, and rejection that they have to deal with is heartbreaking.There is a lot that is left to be explained and a lot that I don’t understand about the world-building, but at this point I don’t care, hoping all will eventually be revealed. It’s a complex story with great art and I want to see where Kouga goes. I really hope that Tokyopop or another publisher is able to bring over the rest of the series (it’s up to at least nine volumes in Japan) because I am completely engrossed in this manga.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, Episodes 13-26 directed by Kenji Kamiyama. What a wonderful adaptation! I loved the original story and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this series, either. There were a few episodes that felt like filler to me, but for the most part the anime is marvelously done and the animation is beautiful. The second half of the series includes Balsa’s backstory which is just as tragic if not more so than Chagum’s. Chagum really grows throughout the series, from a spoiled child prince into a fine young man. It’s definitely a show that needs to be watched in order to get the full impact and you don’t want to skip any episodes, but it’s great.