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Ai No Kusabi Ai No Kusabi Ai No Kusabi Ai No Kusabi

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Title: Ai No Kusabi
Genre: Sci-Fi / Romance / Drama / Shonen-Ai
Credits: Rieko Yoshihara, June Magazine

Skysenshi's Description: In the computerized city of Tanagura, inhabitants are divided into classes that separate the elites from the mongrels. Many unfortunate women and lower class pretty young boys are kept alive merely as pets for the elites' exclusive entertainment. Pets do not have rights. They do not think. They do not have sex with their masters but perform intercourse with other pets in public circuits.

In this prejudiced world, Riki, a headstrong mongrel from the slums meets handsome elite Blondie Iason Mink in a fateful near-death situation. With Iason rescuing Riki from the hands of war-hungry gangsters, Riki offers to pay for his "debt" with his body. Little do they both realize that this is the start of a relationship that would threaten to destroy the balance of Tanagura.

Skysenshi's NOTE: This anime is only available through special order from June magazine. And, like most anime versions of beautiful manga and novels, this title doesn't contain all the details that made the novel a bestseller.

HN Opinions
Average Rating:

skysenshi (09.10.2002)
A Futuristic Romeo and Juliet
Based on the novel by Rieko Yoshihara, Ai No Kusabi (Wedge of Interval) has been re-written both for drama and this rare, special-order only, anime version. The world that Ms. Yoshihara paints is quite distinctive, having its own political systems and sets of beliefs that might even date back to the pre-historic age despite its sci-fi appeal. Imagine a world where women nearly do not exist and human beings have been driven to become the lowest of low just so a centralized computer could keep its balance. People are "bred" and raised according to their ranks, which are dictated by their hair color. Blondes hold the top position; Brunettes hold the lowest. There are "masters" and "slaves" and "furniture", eunuchs that serve as pets' bodyguards, and those who trade pets in the black market. Not a good place to live in, as the characters recognize this state of affairs, but the dark and depressing atmosphere can be blamed on the errors of human ambition that paved the way for a man-made electronic device to actually manipulate their way of living.

In the midst of all this, Riki, leader of the Bison gang, refuses to accept the lot given to him by circumstances. He gets out of the slum Keres and searches for his destiny, only to land in the arms of Iason, who violently tears him away from all that he has known, including his ex-lover and Bison second-in-command Guy. Moral dilemma arises from the fact that top Blondie like Iason takes a mongrel for a pet, keeps Riki for three years, and even has sexual congress with him. Law dictates that a pet must only be kept for a year, and Iason's insistence to have Riki by his side all the time causes a scandal that disturbs the entire colony.

The sequence of events is neither static nor linear. The central figures evolve, as they break away from the stereotypical mold that they were first introduced in. Iason's selfish lust and fixation for Riki develops into something much deeper as Iason finally learns how to give himself over for the one he professes to love. In the middle of it, battle of sides and hierarchies, begun by the scorned Guy, cause all logic to fade away. In its place is madness that ultimately ends in tragedy.

Ai No Kusabi questions love, obsession and desire. The nearly explicit male-to-male love scenes, characterized by a combination of rough passion and gentle appraisal, demonstrates the conflict between the characters' want for freedom despite being caged by their own flesh's weaknesses. The beautiful artwork adds value to the personalities, as none are portrayed to be effeminate, unlike most shonen-ai that rely on the dichotomy of "seme" and "uke". For a yaoi title, Ai No Kusabi banks more than just shock quality. It introduces fresh, new-fangled concepts loosely intertwined with basic human emotion. Truly, this is the formula that makes Ai No Kusabi a veritable classic.

Art/Animation: 9 Story/Plot: 8 Characters: 9 Sounds: 8 Ecchi Level: 6