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Loveless, Volume 5
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Gr 10 Up-After the death of his brother, 12-year-old Ritsuka meets a mysterious college student, Soubi, who claims he will protect him from Septimal Moon. Soubi is devoted to Ritsuka and expresses his love of the younger boy through gifts, acts of ritual devotion, and combat matches where the two are psychically linked as "fighter" and "sacrifice." This bond overwhelms all other relationships, including the nascent friendship between Ritsuka and bubbly blond Yukio, and Soubi and fellow artist Kio. Children and virgins are drawn with cat ears, while adults are not. This helps fetishize Ritsuka as a pet-the psychic combat literally manifests a collar and chains on him-while also muddling the dominance-tinged way in which Soubi feels obligated to help Ritsuka. Kio goes so far as to call him Ritsuka's slave. Soubi is further positioned as both a brother figure and a parent substitute, making the lingering sexual tension between the two convoluted in a manner more messy than complex. However, the author illustrates emotional interplay between the two in such a way that readers are meant to think that this is a meeting of soul mates. Other characters play the critical surrogate and express discomfort with the relationship, but their concerns are brushed aside as irrelevant compared to the repeated drawings of Ritsuka and Soubi yearning for each other. This is nothing so much as a jagged piece of emotional wish-fulfillment and sadomasochism disguised as a combat series.-Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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