The Betrayal Knows My Name

"No matter what you say or do... I'll stay beside you. I will never forsake you. So long as you wish it... I'll be by your side." - Luka

The Betrayal Knows My Name is an anime and manga series about Yuki Sakurai, an orphan with secret powers who found himself in the center of an unending battle between warring clans. Unbeknownst to Yuki, his existence was crucial to the outcome of the war, and as such both enemies and allies from his past lives were drawn to him, including his mysterious protector Luka, who vowed to dedicate his life to him. After meeting and befriending the Zweilt, pairs of fighters who guarded the Giou clan and Yuki in particular, he struggled to come to terms with his place of importance, keeping his new friends safe, and dealing with a terrible betrayal from the person he felt closest to in all the world. With Luka's steady presence by his side, Yuki worked to find the strength within himself to remember pieces of his long forgotten and buried past. He hoped with that knowledge he would be able to move forward, as well as put an end to the war that had taken so much from both him and those he cared about.

As a fan of other manga by Hotaru Odagiri, I was excited to read The Betrayal Knows My Name. Her artwork is just gorgeous and this series is the longest one that I have read by her. The anime adaptation followed the first several volumes pretty closely and was able to capture the essence of the characters and the story. Although the manga goes more into detail on some of the nuances of the characters (such as how Shuusei enjoyed teasing and manipulating Hotsuma), I was satisfied with how they were portrayed in the anime. One thing I really loved about the manga was the detail that went into the styles of the characters - Luka especially always looked so cool. I felt that both versions of the story complimented one another and were also able to stand alone well. In addition, since the manga is still ongoing, it was nice to have some sense of closure with the finale in the anime, even though it felt somewhat open ended.

My favorite thing about this series was the characters and the bonds that they all shared. I just loved Hotsuma and Shuusei and the complicated yet precious connection that they had, and how Tsukumo and Tooko just treasured one another. Since these characters had lived and died beside one another over many different lifetimes, their relationships felt so strong with all they had been through yet also fragile as they knew it could all slip away at any moment. I loved Luka's dedication to Yuki and how Yuki, although he didn't remember his past with him, just knew that Luka was special. This series had so many characters (in the manga especially) that sometimes the focus could be scattered, but since it always came back to Yuki, Luka, and the Zweilt it didn't deter me too much from following the series. One serious problem because of all the characters was that I never felt like I knew enough about Luka or Yuki. It is possible that their shared past is revealed in a future volume of the manga, but the short glimpses at their history never really fully explained their story. In fact, in the anime it felt that Yuki had more of a connection with Kanata than Luka, which I felt was an issue since the prevailing theme in the series was that Luka would never betray Yuki.

In the anime I absolutely loved the incredible soundtrack and voice acting. The music fit the series so perfectly and added so much to some of the scenes that I had loved in the manga. The cast also matched how I pictured the characters sounding and really brought them to life. Shuusei was my favorite character in the manga, and I was particularly impressed by Mamoru Miyano's interpretation of the character. This was the first role I had heard Mamoru in and he has since become one of my favorite singers and voice actors. I thought Daisuke Ono had a very memorable performance as Hotsuma and added even more depth to the character then I felt was in the manga. I also really enjoyed Takahiro Sakurai as Luka, especially considering how opposite Luka was from Misaki in Junjo Romantica, which was the first role I had heard him in. It is amazing how versatile these actors are as they are able to sound so different in other roles and still come across as genuine and real.

The story in both the manga and the anime could be both confusing and compelling at the same time, as I wanted to know more about the Duras, the past relationship and history between Yuki and Luka, or how it all fit in with the real world where the Zweilt still had to lead lives as regular high school students, but it never quite got there. In the manga there were so many different storylines going on at once, or new characters being introduced in almost every chapter, that the main focus of the story could get lost at times. However, most of the time it really didn't matter to me because I just enjoyed reading about the main characters and their interactions in the present. My favorite storylines involved Hotsuma and Shuusei and when I think about this series I actually immediately think of them over Luka and Yuki. Their story was just really interesting to me and out of all the characters I felt their motivations, personalities, past, and current relationship were the most full and developed.

I really enjoyed this series. Although the story felt a little over ambitious and incomplete to me in both incarnations, the likable characters, beautiful artwork, memorable soundtrack, and compelling relationships more than made up for any shortcomings.

Shuusei, Hotsuma, Tsukumo
Anime Episode
Scars, To Be a Pair
Manga Volume
Hotsuma/Shuusei, Tsukumo and Tooko, Senshirou/Kuroto