Loveless (Manga Vol 8 - preread) Yun Kouga
Uncomfortable Reading: Thoughtful Reading
Tonight, before I fall asleep, I'm going to crack open the latest English language release of Yun Kouga's beautifully rendered manga Loveless.
I'll give you fair warning: you're going to read a lot about Loveless here at Squeefinity, both the manga and the anime. M and I are big fans. We're both writers. We're both readers. We love words, and we feel, or at least I do, that this is a manga as much about language as it is about anything else. It's interesting for a graphic genre is so centered in language, or maybe not at all.
M and I also like to read things that make us uncomfortable, works that force us to fall in love with a character who may, to outside eyes, be despicable. Loveless can be very uncomfortable.
There is no doubt that the central relationship of this work is highly questionable. Soubi, a "Fighter Unit" is much older than Ritsuka, his "Sacrifice." The relationship is sexualized to some extent. Ritsuka may be exceptionally mature for a twelve-year-old, but the fact remains, he is twelve. Soubi's advances, though I'm not quite sure that's the right word, are confusing and comforting and Ritsuka is subtly aware that he can exert control over Soubi through what can sometimes be an uncomfortably adult affection, or a mimicry of adult affection. Soubi is an adult, and as such, should know better than to relate to Ritsuka in this way, but to be fair, he's lost and confused and in terrible pain himself.
In the context of any other narrative, I would find Soubi creepy --at the very least. However, Yun Kouga is a master story teller. She creates characters of such depth and complexity that what would seem like a clear cut taboo becomes something beautiful and forgivable when nestled in its framework. The relationship, which just isn't quite right from the outside, is the most stable and gentle in the entire work. It invokes a kind of a desparate feeling, a sad passion. It feels a little like a late Autumn day --you'll understand when you read it.
It's a manga worthy of intellectual discourse, because it is smart and elegant and beautiful and strange.
More to come...