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Ai no Kusabi
Ainokusabi.jpg
The English first volume of the novel, subtitled Stranger
間の楔
(Ai no Kusabi)
Genre Yaoi, Science fiction
Light novel
Author Rieko Yoshihara
Illustrator Katsumi Michihara
Publisher Koufuusha Shuppan
English publisher United States Digital Manga Publishing
Demographic Female
Magazine Shousetsu June
Original run October 1990October 1987
Volumes 1 (Japan), 6 (North America)
Original video animation
Director Akira Nishimori
Katsuhito Akiyama
Writer Naoko Hasegawa
Studio AIC
Released August 1992May 1994
Runtime 60 minutes
Episodes 2
Original video animation
Director Katsuhito Akiyama
Writer Yoshiwara Rieko
Studio AIC
Episodes 13
Anime and Manga Portal

Ai no Kusabi (間の楔 ?)[n 1] is a Japanese novel written by Rieko Yoshihara. Originally serialized in the yaoi magazine Shousetsu June between December 1986 and October 1987, the story was collected into a hardbound novel that was released in Japan in 1990. This futuristic tale is set in a world where men are assigned various social classes based on their hair color. Iason Mink, a high-class Blondie, runs into Riki, a black-haired Mongrel, and makes him his "Pet." As Riki learns of the dangers Iason faces by keeping him, he finds himself developing feelings for his master. Focusing on the ill-fated love between Iason and Riki, Ai no Kusabi also explores issues of caste systems and social exclusion.

The novel was partially adapted into a two-episode anime original video animation (OVA) by Anime International Company (AIC), with the first episode released in August 1992, and the second in May 1994. In November 1993, an audio drama entitled Erogenous Dark was released focusing on a time period left unexplored in the original novels. A new thirteen episode anime OVA adaptation, also from AIC, is scheduled to begin releasing in Japan in spring of 2010.

The novel is licensed for an English language release in North America by Digital Manga Publishing which is publishing the novel across six volume series, with the first released in November 2007.

Contents

Plot

Setting

Ai no Kusabi takes place on the world of Amoi, ruled over by a computer named Jupiter. Jupiter has installed a number of strict social rules to its society. Among other things, social status is determined by hair color, Blonde being the highest, down to black or dark brown being the lowest. The Blondies, genetically engineered by Jupiter, are the highest social class and occupy the capital city of Tanagura. They travel to the satellite pleasure city of Midas, which has an independent slum area called Ceres. Under Jupiter's restrictions, the Blondies are sterile and forbidden from indulging in sexual activities. Blondies keep "pets" (young teenagers) purely for voyeuristic purposes and they are kept for about a year before being discarded. Further emasculation is seen in the "Furniture," young boys who serve the Blondies. Contrary to popular belief, the hair-color caste system only applies to those working in Tanagura and not in Ceres. The true separation is between those genetically created in a lab (those in Tanagura) and "mongrels" formed the natural way (those in Ceres). However it was written in the novel that Tanagura even manipulated the 'natural' births of Ceres, ensuring that its population did not grow by restricting the number of female births.

Story

Riki, a boy with pure black hair and black eyes, leads the street gang Bison in Ceres. At his side constantly was his second-in-command and pairing partner Guy. Bison was the cock of the walk in Ceres. Riki always told Guy he was going to get out of the slums.

One day he disappeared ...

Riki was out trying to steal a car in Midas when he was set upon by citizens of Midas. When they were about to kill him, a blondie interfered and saved Riki. Riki felt he owed him a debt for this, and offered to pay him with the only thing he had - his body.

The blondie was Iason Mink, the leader of Tanagura's syndicate and the most powerful man in the city. After Iason received his 'payment' from Riki, he decided to take him as his pet. Iason's friend Raoul warns him that he thinks keeping a mongrel pet is a bad idea.

Iason kept Riki as his pet for three years, which caused a lot of rumors to fly in Tanagura. Riki was too old to be kept as a pet (most are teens), plus he's a mongrel (when expensive, well-bred pets are available), and Iason kept him for much too long. The rumors also said the unthinkable - that Iason had broken the laws of Jupiter and had sex with his pet,(which is true).

Riki begs Iason for his freedom, and Iason grants him a year of freedom and allows him to go back to Ceres. Riki is welcomed back into Bison and returns to a normal life. He has changed, however, and is unable to forget the time he spent as Iason's pet.

When the year passed, Iason decided he wanted Riki back, and tells Raoul that he will get him back and that although he removed Riki's pet ring, he never cancelled his registration. Raoul warns Iason not to go against Jupiter and the laws of Tanagura. He refuses to be the one to tamper with Iason's mind.

Through his former furniture Katze, now a black marketeer, Iason arranges for Kirie, a young member of Bison, to set a trap and catch the gang. This ends with Bison being arrested. Riki was let go and told to return to his master, as he was listed as a runaway pet. The rest of Bison is set free on Iason's orders. Kirie's reward for turning against his gang is to have his mind tampered with and be turned into a docile pet himself. (However, one has to wonder, did Iason do all of this to not only have Riki all to himself, but also, punish Kirie for being a traitor and for being against Riki from the start and to also cover his tracks, since he is the one responsible for the break up of Riki's friends & his eventual kidnapping.)

After Riki is let go he rendezvous with Guy and after Guy suggests they return to being pairing partners again, he tells Guy about being Iason's pet. Guy is enraged by this and beats Riki up and throws him out. Riki decides to return to Iason.

After Riki returns to Iason he learns of the taboos Iason has broken to keep him with him, and of how Iason has protected him from the fate of former pets. Iason even decides to grant Riki a bit of further freedom by allowing him to work with Katze in the black market.

Guy misses Riki and doesn't want to believe that Riki has abandoned Bison. Instead, Guy decides that Iason is to blame, that he stole Riki away from them which in a sense is true. But no matter what feelings Riki has for his master, he did return to him on his own, even though we know that part of the reason he did return is no. 1.) a sense of obligation to said master and 2.) the break up of his gang, the sense of abandonment from his former friend, and the feelings of no where else to go.) As a result, Guy decides to get Riki away from Iason.

Guy kidnaps Riki one day while he is walking down the street and takes him to Dana Bahn. He demands an explanation of Riki's true feelings, and Riki hedges in giving them to him. Riki tells Guy that he is not the same person, and that this won't blow over. He'll never be free of Iason, and that as long as he wears Iason's pet ring. Or rather, as long as he has the ring on, he can be close to Iason. "So, take it off," Guy says. Guy therefore removes Riki's pet ring by castrating him.

Guy takes Riki elsewhere and gives him some painkillers, then contacts Iason and arranges to meet him in Dana Bahn. Riki activates a tracer in his watch and thereby contacts Katze. Katze helps him and together they go to Dana Bahn to stop Guy from whatever he intends to do.

Iason, thinking Riki is in Dana Bahn because of the tracer in the pet ring, meets Guy there. Guy gives Iason a box containing Riki's pet ring, telling Iason that there's now nothing to tie Riki down. Iason tells Guy he'll kill him. Iason hits Guy hard sending him flying to the wall and twists his arm. Guy activates explosives that he has placed in Dana Bahn before Iason kicks him making him lose consciousness.

Riki and Katze arrive. Riki enters Dana Bahn and is reunited with Iason. Riki asks Iason to save Guy and not leave him to the explosions, telling Iason that they (Riki & Iason) have driven Guy to this madness. For Riki's sake, Iason picks up Guy and carries him out. Riki can barely walk and Iason moves slowly so that Riki can keep up.

As they approach the front gate a huge explosion wracks Dana Bahn. Iason throws Guy ahead and grabs Riki, jumping and throwing him forward at the last minute. The gates of Dana Bahn collapse and slice Iason's legs off just above the knees. Riki is forced to leave him there while he takes Guy out of Dana Bahn.

Riki sees Katze, who has been waiting outside, and tells him to help Guy. Riki tells Katze that Iason is still inside and that he protected him and now can't move. Katze becomes angry at Riki for leaving Iason there, but Riki is going back to Iason.

Katze gives Riki some Black Moon cigarettes, which are poisonous. He heads back into Dana Bahn and sits down with Iason. They share a last kiss in the form of touching the end of the cigarettes together and finally die in each others embrace.

Outside, Jupiter gives out an anguished cry. Raoul whispers Iason's name as streams of electricity strike the city. Katze sits down in a chair back at his place and cries as he tries to smoke a cigarette. Guy stands in the ruins of Dana Bahn and thinking about what Katze said, what all has happened, and the pain of losing one arm ... and Riki.

Characters

  • Riki (リキ): Riki has been called the 'charisma' of the slums. He was the leader of Bison, a gang in Ceres, and eventually became Iason Mink's pet, which had a crushing effect to his human pride.

Riki is proud, fierce and defiant, but his experiences change him. Some men living in the slums feel he has lost his spark. He is torn between his pride and the feelings he has for Iason that he is unwilling to acknowledge. . In the audio book, 1990s OVAs and first drama CD, he is played by Seki Toshihiko. In the later drama CDs he is played by Itou Kentarou.

  • Iason Mink: Iason is not just any Blondie - he is the most perfect, superior and powerful of all of them, the one who talks directly with Jupiter and carries out Jupiter's commands. But he is in love with Riki, a mongrel from the slums, which casts a literally dark shadow over his seeming perfection.

Iason becomes interested, obsessed, and finally falls in love with Riki. He has an elegant and calm manner that hides a passionate, ruthless and unforgiving nature. For Riki, Iason is willing to flaunt and break all taboos. In the audio book, 1990s OVAs and first drama CD, he is played by Shiozawa Kaneto. In the later drama CDs he is played by Ookawa Tooru.

  • Guy (ガイ) : A former pairing partner of Riki's. (He, too, is overly obsessed about Riki.) When Riki was the leader of the Bison gang, Guy was his second-in-command, and Guy assumes the leadership when Riki vanishes. In the audio book, he is played by Kozima Takayuki (小島貴幸). In the 1990s OVA, he is played by Tsujitani Koji. In the later drama CDs he is played by Toriumi Kosuke.
  • Katze (カッツェ): A former furniture of Iason, he then gets involved in the black market. Something of a computer genius, he once almost uncovered what he calls the 'Secret of Tanagura,' being caught in the act by Iason. This earned him a nasty scar on a cheek which he usually covers with his hair. He returns Riki to Iason by manipulating Kirie. In the audio book, he is played by Hōchū Ōtsuka. In the OVA he is played by Hideyuki Tanaka. In the later drama CDs he is played by Miki Shinichiro.
  • Daryl (ダリル): (from the novel) Daryl Iason's furniture who serves as Riki's caretaker. He calls Riki "Sir Riki" and loves him because of his pride and his will not to bow down. Both lived in Guardian Orphanage when they were little. Daryl dies in the novel because he lets Riki escape. It is unknown what happens to him in the CD Drama. Like Katze, Daryl is intelligent for hacking the system. In the 1993 drama CD, he is played by Ryōtarō Okiayu. In the later drama CDs, he is played by Eiji Hanawa.
  • Jupiter: Jupiter is the Artificial Intelligence which rules Amoï. She placed her android-like Blondie "children" at the pinnacle of society.
  • Raoul Am: A Blondie and the second in command of Tanagura, he is also Iason Mink's friend. He serves as the voice of reason, concern and societal pressure as Iason's infatuation with Riki becomes more obvious. In the audio book, he is played by Ikeda Hidekazu. In the 1990 OVAs and first drama CD, he is played by Hayami Sho. In the later drama CDs, he is played by Takaya Kuroda.
  • Mimea (ミメア): Mimea is Raoul Am's female Pet of the highest breeding. She develops a liking for Riki's unusual ways, falls in love with him, and has forbidden intercourse with him. To Riki, she seems little more than a way to test Iason's feelings, make him jealous, and ruin his public image. She was played by Emi Shinohara in the first drama CD, and by Kawaragi Shiho in the later drama CDs.
  • Kirie (キリエ): Once the youngest member of Bison, Kirie is lured into lucrative deals by Katze as part of Iason's scheme to bring Riki back after his year of freedom. Kirie is eventually made to betray his former comrades. In the end, he becomes a pet, learning the "ways of Tanagura," as Iason says. In the audiobook, he is played by Taiki Matsuno. In the 1990s OVAs, he was played by Shigeru Nakahara.
  • Enif: (エニフ) A former high-class Pet who used to pick fights with Riki, he is now discarded and used as cheap labor, in stark contrast to the freedom and unkind treatment Riki still enjoys.

Media

Novel

Written by Rieko Yoshihara, the individual chapters of Ai no Kusabi were serialized in the yaoi magazine Shousetsu June between December 1986 and October 1987. The chapters were collected and published as a single hardbound novel in 1990. The novel is icensed for an English language release in North America by Digital Manga Publishing which published the novel across six volume series.[2][6] The first volume was released on November 20, 2007; as of March 2009, five volumes have been released.[7][8] In June 2009, DMP made the first volume ofAi no Kusabi, Stranger, available as an Amazon Kindle e-book.[9]

CDs

An audiobook was the first spinoff from the novels, being released on 31 May 1989.

Five soundtracks were released:

  • 間の楔 オリジナル・サウンド・トラック (Ai no Kusabi Original Soundtrack)(10 October 1992)
  • 間の楔 SENSE OF CRISIS(10 December 1993)
  • 間の楔 AMBIVALENCE(25 March 1994)
  • 間の楔 SYMPATHY(10 July 1994)
  • 間の楔 Sound Selection of "AI NO KUSABI" 祈り-ORACION-(25 January 1995)

The first drama CD was released in November 1993, called 間の楔 DARK-EROGENOUS.

Three more drama CDs were released by a different company through 2007 and 2008.[10]

  • 間の楔I 〜DESTINY〜 (25 May 2007)
  • 間の楔II 〜NIGHTMARE〜 (25 April 2008)
  • 間の楔III 〜RESONANCE〜 (25 October 2008)

Original video animations

Anime International Company created a two-episode anime Original Video Animation adaptation for the series. The first episode was released in August 1992, and the second in May 1994.[3] Directed by Akira Nishimori and Katsuhito Akiyama, the episodes were based on a screenplay written by Naoko Hasegawa. They featured character designs by Naoyuki Onda and music composed by Toshio Yabuki.[4][11]

Ai no Kusabi Remake

A second thirteen episode anime OVA adaptation, also from AIC, is scheduled to begin releasing in Japan Sping 2010. Akiyama will again direct and Onda will provide the character designs. The screenplay, however, will be written by Yoshihara herself.[11]

An 8 minute digest of the first episode has now been released and can been viewed on youtube.[12]

Reception

Mania's Danielle Van Gorder felt the prose of the first novel was "florid", and criticized the finishing point of the second novel as anticlimactic.[13][14] She found the characterization of Iason in the third novel to be realistic and compelling,[15] and felt the theme of the fourth novel was power.[16]

Patrick Drazen has described the Ai no Kusabi OVA as a "magnum opus" of the yaoi genre, and the setting as dystopian, similar to Fritz Lang's Metropolis.[5] Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy describe the society of Ai no Kusabi as being like that of Ancient Greece, where power is restricted to a class, and women do not figure significantly. They consider it ironic that Jupiter is a feminine computer, and describe her as being like Ghost in the Shell's Motoko Kusanagi — Jupiter is "a man-made idea of the female in a world run by masculine elites".[4] Anime News Network's Maral Agnerian praised its interesting, well-developed plot and "fleshed out and complex" work. She also praises it for being one of the few series from its time to contain "actual gay sex in it instead of the usual angsty moping and shoujo-esque sparkly kisses", while noting that the scenes are primarily in the second episode.[17] Anime News Network's Justin Sevakis highlighted the OVA as a "Buried Treasure", calling it "one of the best yaoi anime". He described Riki and Iason as both being "alpha-males", rather than a seme/uke pairing, and noted how the costuming was elegant for the higher eschalons of society and revealing for the lower classes. He criticized the OVA's adaptation of the story, explaining that it was assumed all viewers would be already familiar with the tale through Shousetsu June.[18]

Notes

  1. ^ Aestheticism describes the title as "untranslateable".[1] Digital Manga Publishing includes the English translation The Space Between on the covers of its release of the series.[2] In its English website, AIC refers to the series as Wedge of Interval.[3] In the first edition of the Anime Encyclopedia it was listed as Ties of Love.[4] Many other fan translations are known.[4][5]

References

  1. ^ http://www.aestheticism.com/visitors/reference/aestheticism.htm
  2. ^ a b "Ai no Kusabi". Digital Manga Publishing. http://www.junemanga.com/titles?n=90. Retrieved 2009-03-31.  
  3. ^ a b "Ai no Kusabi". Anime International Company. http://www.aicanime.com/products/ainokusabi/. Retrieved 2008-02-01.  
  4. ^ a b c d Clements, Jonathan; Helen McCarthy (2001-09-01). The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917 (1st ed. ed.). Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press. p. 401. ISBN 1-880656-64-7. OCLC 47255331.  
  5. ^ a b Drazen, Patrick (October 2002). ""A Very Pure Thing": Gay and Pseudo-Gay Themes'". Anime Explosion! The What, Why & Wow of Japanese Animation. Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press. pp. 95–97. ISBN 1-880656-72-8.  
  6. ^ Digital Manga Publishing (2006-10-25). "Juné Manga ~ News: October 2006". Press release. http://yaoi-manga.com/news?mo=10&yr=2006. Retrieved 2008-02-01.  
  7. ^ "Ai no Kusabi Volume 1: Stranger". Digital Manga Publishing. http://www.junemanga.com/titles?n=90&t=206. Retrieved 2009-03-13.  
  8. ^ "Ai no Kusabi Volume 5: Darkness". Digital Manga Publishing. http://www.junemanga.com/titles?n=90&t=411. Retrieved 2009-03-13.  
  9. ^ http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-06-06/ai-no-kusabi-offered-on-amazon-kindle-e-book-devices
  10. ^ http://mee-maker.com/kusabi.html
  11. ^ a b "Ai no Kusabi Boys — Love Novel Get New Anime Remake.". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2008-12-29/ai-no-kusabi-boys-love-novels-gets-aic-anime-remake.  
  12. ^ "Aarinfantasy – The Yaoi Collection". http://www.aarinfantasy.com. Retrieved 2009-12-04.  
  13. ^ Van Gorder, Danielle (2008-03-18). "Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between Vol. #01 - Stranger". Mania. http://www.mania.com/ai-kusabi-space-between-vol01-stranger_article_83696.html. Retrieved 2009-03-13.  
  14. ^ Van Gorder, Danielle (2008-04-10). "Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between Vol. #02 - Destiny". Mania. http://www.mania.com/ai-kusabi-space-between-vol-02-destiny_article_83756.html. Retrieved 2009-03-13.  
  15. ^ Van Gorder, Danielle (2008-08-06). "Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between Vol. #03". Mania. http://www.mania.com/ai-kusabi-space-between-vol-03_article_82005.html. Retrieved 2009-03-13.  
  16. ^ Van Gorder, Danielle (2009-03-13). "Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between Vol. #04". Mania. http://www.mania.com/ai-kusabi-space-between-vol-04_article_110991.html. Retrieved 2009-03-16.  
  17. ^ Agnerian, Maral. "Ai No Kusabi: Wedge of Love". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/ai-no-kusabi. Retrieved 2009-03-13.  
  18. ^ Sevakis, Justin (2008-01-10). "Ai no Kusabi". Buried Treasure. Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/buried-treasure/2008-01-10. Retrieved 2009-03-16.  

External links


Template:Safesubst:
間の楔
(Ai no Kusabi)
GenreYaoi, Science fiction
Light novel
Written by Rieko Yoshihara
Illustrated by Katsumi Michihara
Published by Koufuusha Shuppan
English publisher Digital Manga Publishing
Demographic Female
Magazine Shousetsu June
Original run October 1987October 1990
Volumes 1 (Japan), 6 (North America)
Original video animation
Directed by Akira Nishimori
Katsuhito Akiyama
Written by Naoko Hasegawa
Studio AIC
Released August 1992May 1994
Runtime 60 minutes
Episodes 2
Original video animation
Directed by Katsuhito Akiyama
Written by Yoshiwara Rieko
Studio AIC
Episodes 13
Anime and Manga Portal

Ai no Kusabi (間の楔?)[n 1] is a Japanese novel written by Rieko Yoshihara. Originally serialized in the yaoi magazine Shousetsu June between December 1986 and October 1987, the story was collected into a hardbound novel that was released in Japan in 1990. This futuristic tale is set in a world where men are assigned various social classes based on their hair color. Iason Mink, a high-class Blondie, runs into Riki, a black-haired Mongrel, and makes him his "Pet." As Riki learns of the dangers Iason faces by keeping him, he finds himself developing feelings for his master. Focusing on the ill-fated love between Iason and Riki, Ai no Kusabi also explores issues of caste systems and social exclusion.

The novel was partially adapted into a two-episode anime original video animation (OVA) by Anime International Company (AIC), with the first episode released in August 1992, and the second in May 1994. In November 1993, an audio drama entitled Erogenous Dark was released focusing on a time period left unexplored in the original novels. A new thirteen episode anime OVA adaptation, also from AIC, is scheduled to begin releasing in Japan in spring of 2010.

The novel is licensed for an English language release in North America by Digital Manga Publishing which is publishing the novel across six volume series, with the first released in November 2007.

Contents

Plot

Setting

Ai no Kusabi takes place on the world of Amoi, ruled over by a computer named Jupiter. Jupiter has installed a number of strict social rules to its society. Among other things, social status is determined by hair color, Blonde being the highest, down to black or dark brown being the lowest. The Blondies, genetically engineered by Jupiter, are the highest social class and occupy the capital city of Tanagura. They travel to the satellite pleasure city of Midas, which has an independent slum area called Ceres. Under Jupiter's restrictions, the Blondies are sterile and forbidden from indulging in sexual activities. Blondies keep "pets" (young teenagers) purely for voyeuristic purposes and they are kept for about a year before being discarded. Further emasculation is seen in the "Furniture," young boys who serve the Blondies. Contrary to popular belief, the hair-color caste system only applies to those working in Tanagura and not in Ceres. The true separation is between those genetically created in a lab (those in Tanagura) and "mongrels" formed the natural way (those in Ceres). However it was written in the novel that Tanagura even manipulated the 'natural' births of Ceres, ensuring that its population did not grow by restricting the number of female births.

OVA plot

Riki, a boy with pure black hair and black eyes, leads the street gang Bison in Ceres. At his side constantly was his second-in-command and pairing partner Guy. Bison was the cock of the walk in Ceres. Riki always told Guy he was going to get out of the slums.

One day he disappeared ...

Riki was out trying to steal a car in Midas when he was set upon by citizens of Midas. When they were about to kill him, a blondie interfered and saved Riki. Riki felt he owed him a debt for this, and offered to pay him with the only thing he had - his body.

The blondie was Iason Mink, the leader of Tanagura's syndicate and the most powerful man in the city. After Iason received his 'payment' from Riki, he decided to take him as his pet. Iason's friend Raoul warns him that he thinks keeping a mongrel pet is a bad idea.

Iason kept Riki as his pet for three years, which caused a lot of rumors to fly in Tanagura. Riki was too old to be kept as a pet (most are teens), plus he's a mongrel (when expensive, well-bred pets are available), and Iason kept him for much too long. The rumors also said the unthinkable - that Iason had broken the laws of Jupiter and had sex with his pet,(which is true).

Riki begs Iason for his freedom, and Iason grants him a year of freedom and allows him to go back to Ceres. Riki is welcomed back into Bison and returns to a normal life. He has changed, however, and is unable to forget the time he spent as Iason's pet.

When the year passed, Iason decided he wanted Riki back, and tells Raoul that he will get him back and that although he removed Riki's pet ring, he never cancelled his registration. Raoul warns Iason not to go against Jupiter and the laws of Tanagura. He refuses to be the one to tamper with Iason's mind.

Through his former furniture Katze, now a black marketeer, Iason arranges for Kirie, a young member of Bison, to set a trap and catch the gang. This ends with Bison being arrested. Riki was let go and told to return to his master, as he was listed as a runaway pet. The rest of Bison is set free on Iason's orders. Kirie's reward for turning against his gang is to have his mind tampered with and be turned into a docile pet himself. (However, one has to wonder, did Iason do all of this to not only have Riki all to himself, but also, punish Kirie for being a traitor and for being against Riki from the start and to also cover his tracks, since he is the one responsible for the break up of Riki's friends & his eventual kidnapping.)

After Riki is let go he rendezvous with Guy and after Guy suggests they return to being pairing partners again, he tells Guy about being Iason's pet. Guy is enraged by this and beats Riki up and throws him out. Riki decides to return to Iason.

After Riki returns to Iason he learns of the taboos Iason has broken to keep him, and of how Iason has protected him from the fate of former pets. Iason even decides to grant Riki a bit of further freedom by allowing him to work with Katze in the black market.

Guy misses Riki and doesn't want to believe that Riki has abandoned Bison. Instead, Guy decides that Iason is to blame, that he stole Riki away from them which in a sense is true. But no matter what feelings Riki has for his master, he did return to him on his own, even though we know that part of the reason he did return is no. 1.) a sense of obligation to said master and 2.) the break up of his gang, the sense of abandonment from his former friend, and the feelings of no where else to go.) As a result, Guy decides to get Riki away from Iason.

Guy kidnaps Riki one day while he is walking down the street and takes him to Dana Bahn. He demands an explanation of Riki's true feelings, and Riki hedges in giving them to him. Riki tells Guy that he is not the same person, and that this won't blow over. He'll never be free of Iason, and that as long as he wears Iason's pet ring. Or rather, as long as he has the ring on, he can be close to Iason. "So, take it off," Guy says. Guy therefore removes Riki's pet ring by castrating him.

Guy takes Riki elsewhere and gives him some painkillers, then contacts Iason and arranges to meet him in Dana Bahn. Riki activates a tracer in his watch and thereby contacts Katze. Katze helps him and together they go to Dana Bahn to stop Guy from whatever he intends to do.

Iason, thinking Riki is in Dana Bahn because of the tracer in the pet ring, meets Guy there. Guy gives Iason a box containing Riki's pet ring, telling Iason that there's now nothing to tie Riki down. Iason tells Guy he'll kill him. Iason hits Guy hard sending him flying to the wall and twists his arm. Guy activates explosives that he has placed in Dana Bahn before Iason kicks him making him lose consciousness.

Riki and Katze arrive. Riki enters Dana Bahn and is reunited with Iason. Riki asks Iason to save Guy and not leave him to the explosions, telling Iason that they (Riki & Iason) have driven Guy to this madness. For Riki's sake, Iason picks up Guy and carries him out. Riki can barely walk and Iason moves slowly so that Riki can keep up.

As they approach the front gate a huge explosion wracks Dana Bahn. Iason throws Guy ahead and grabs Riki, jumping and throwing him forward at the last minute. The gates of Dana Bahn collapse and slice Iason's legs off just above the knees. Riki is forced to leave him there while he takes Guy out of Dana Bahn.

Riki sees Katze, who has been waiting outside, and tells him to help Guy. Riki tells Katze that Iason is still inside and that he protected him and now can't move. Katze becomes angry at Riki for leaving Iason there, but Riki is going back to Iason.

Katze gives Riki some Black Moon cigarettes, which are poisonous. He heads back into Dana Bahn and sits down with Iason. They share a last kiss in the form of touching the end of the cigarettes together and finally die in each others embrace.

Outside, Jupiter gives out an anguished cry. Raoul whispers Iason's name as streams of electricity strike the city. Katze sits down in a chair back at his place and cries as he tries to smoke a cigarette. Guy stands in the ruins of Dana Bahn and thinking about what Katze said, what all has happened, and the pain of losing one arm ... and Riki.

Characters

  • Riki (リキ): Riki, or "Riki the Dark" has been called the 'charisma' of the slums. He was the leader of Bison, a gang in Ceres, and eventually became Iason Mink's pet, which had a crushing effect to his human pride.

Riki is proud, rebellious, fierce and defiant, but his experiences change him. Some men living in the slums feel he has lost his spark. He is torn between his pride and the feelings he has for Iason that he is unwilling to acknowledge. . In the audio book, 1990s OVAs and first drama CD, he is played by Seki Toshihiko. In the later drama CDs he is played by Itou Kentarou.

  • Iason Mink: Iason is not just any Blondie - he is the most perfect, superior and powerful of all of them, the one who talks directly with Jupiter and carries out Jupiter's commands. He is the head of the Syndicate, Tanagura's black market for pet trade. He is in love with Riki, a mongrel from the slums, which casts a literally dark shadow over his seeming perfection.

Iason becomes interested, obsessed, and finally falls in love with Riki. He has an elegant and calm manner that hides a passionate, ruthless and unforgiving nature. For Riki, Iason is willing to flaunt and break all taboos. In the audio book, 1990s OVAs and first drama CD, he is played by Shiozawa Kaneto. In the later drama CDs he is played by Ookawa Tooru.

  • Guy (ガイ) : A former pairing partner of Riki's. (He, too, is overly obsessed about Riki.) When Riki was the leader of the Bison gang, Guy was his second-in-command, and Guy assumes the leadership when Riki vanishes. In the audio book, he is played by Kozima Takayuki (小島貴幸). In the 1990s OVA, he is played by Tsujitani Koji. In the later drama CDs he is played by Toriumi Kosuke.
  • Katze (カッツェ): A former furniture of Iason, he then gets involved in the black market. Something of a computer genius, he once almost uncovered what he calls the 'Secret of Tanagura,' being caught in the act by Iason. This earned him a nasty scar on a cheek which he usually covers with his hair. He returns Riki to Iason by manipulating Kirie. In the audio book, he is played by Hōchū Ōtsuka. In the OVA he is played by Hideyuki Tanaka. In the later drama CDs he is played by Miki Shinichiro.
  • Daryl (ダリル): (from the novel) Daryl Iason's furniture who serves as Riki's caretaker. He calls Riki "Sir Riki" and loves him because of his pride and his will not to bow down. Both lived in Guardian Orphanage when they were little. Daryl dies in the novel because he lets Riki escape. It is unknown what happens to him in the CD Drama. Like Katze, Daryl is intelligent for hacking the system. In the 1993 drama CD, he is played by Ryōtarō Okiayu. In the later drama CDs, he is played by Eiji Hanawa.
  • Jupiter: Jupiter is the Artificial Intelligence which rules Amoï. She placed her android-like Blondie "children" at the pinnacle of society.
  • Raoul Am: A Blondie and the second in command of Tanagura, he is also Iason Mink's friend. He serves as the voice of reason, concern and societal pressure as Iason's infatuation with Riki becomes more obvious. In the audio book, he is played by Ikeda Hidekazu. In the 1990 OVAs and first drama CD, he is played by Hayami Sho. In the later drama CDs, he is played by Takaya Kuroda.
  • Mimea (ミメア): Mimea is Raoul Am's female Pet of the highest breeding. She develops a liking for Riki's unusual ways, falls in love with him, and has forbidden intercourse with him. To Riki, she seems little more than a way to test Iason's feelings, make him jealous, and ruin his public image. She was played by Emi Shinohara in the first drama CD, and by Kawaragi Shiho in the later drama CDs.
  • Kirie (キリエ): Once the youngest member of Bison, Kirie is lured into lucrative deals by Katze as part of Iason's scheme to bring Riki back after his year of freedom. Kirie is eventually made to betray his former comrades. In the end, he becomes a pet, learning the "ways of Tanagura," as Iason says. In the audiobook, he is played by Taiki Matsuno. In the 1990s OVAs, he was played by Shigeru Nakahara.
  • Enif: (エニフ) A former high-class Pet who used to pick fights with Riki, he is now discarded and used as cheap labor, in stark contrast to the freedom and unkind treatment Riki still enjoys.

Media

Novel

Written by Rieko Yoshihara, the individual chapters of Ai no Kusabi were serialized in the yaoi magazine Shousetsu June between December 1986 and October 1987. The chapters were collected and published as a single hardbound novel in 1990. The novel is icensed for an English language release in North America by Digital Manga Publishing which published the novel across six volume series.[2][6] The first volume was released on November 20, 2007; as of March 2009, five volumes have been released.[7][8] In June 2009, DMP made the first volume ofAi no Kusabi, Stranger, available as an Amazon Kindle e-book.[9]

CDs

An audiobook was the first spinoff from the novels, being released on 31 May 1989.

Five soundtracks were released:

  • 間の楔 オリジナル・サウンド・トラック (Ai no Kusabi Original Soundtrack)(10 October 1992)
  • 間の楔 SENSE OF CRISIS(10 December 1993)
  • 間の楔 AMBIVALENCE(25 March 1994)
  • 間の楔 SYMPATHY(10 July 1994)
  • 間の楔 Sound Selection of "AI NO KUSABI" 祈り-ORACION-(25 January 1995)

The first drama CD was released in November 1993, called 間の楔 DARK-EROGENOUS.

Three more drama CDs were released by a different company through 2007 and 2008.[10]

  • 間の楔I 〜DESTINY〜 (25 May 2007)
  • 間の楔II 〜NIGHTMARE〜 (25 April 2008)
  • 間の楔III 〜RESONANCE〜 (25 October 2008)

Original video animations

Anime International Company created a two-episode anime Original Video Animation adaptation for the series. The first episode was released in August 1992, and the second in May 1994.[3] Directed by Akira Nishimori and Katsuhito Akiyama, the episodes were based on a screenplay written by Naoko Hasegawa. They featured character designs by Naoyuki Onda and music composed by Toshio Yabuki.[4][11]

# Title Director Screenplay Release date
1  Akira Nishimori[3]Naoko HasegawaAugust 1992
 
2  Katsuhito Akiyama[3]Naoko HasegawaMay 1994
 

Ai no Kusabi Remake

A second thirteen episode anime OVA adaptation, also from AIC, is scheduled to begin releasing in Japan Fall 2010. Akiyama will again direct and Onda will provide the character designs. The screenplay, however, will be written by Yoshihara herself.[11]

Reception

Mania's Danielle Van Gorder felt the prose of the first novel was "florid", and criticized the finishing point of the second novel as anticlimactic.[12][13] She found the characterization of Iason in the third novel to be realistic and compelling,[14] and felt the theme of the fourth novel was power.[15]

Patrick Drazen has described the Ai no Kusabi OVA as a "magnum opus" of the yaoi genre, and the setting as dystopian, similar to Fritz Lang's Metropolis.[5] Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy describe the society of Ai no Kusabi as being like that of Ancient Greece, where power is restricted to a class, and women do not figure significantly. They consider it ironic that Jupiter is a feminine computer, and describe her as being like Ghost in the Shell's Motoko Kusanagi — Jupiter is "a man-made idea of the female in a world run by masculine elites".[4] Anime News Network's Maral Agnerian praised its interesting, well-developed plot and "fleshed out and complex" work. She also praises it for being one of the few series from its time to contain "actual gay sex in it instead of the usual angsty moping and shoujo-esque sparkly kisses", while noting that the scenes are primarily in the second episode.[16] Anime News Network's Justin Sevakis highlighted the OVA as a "Buried Treasure", calling it "one of the best yaoi anime". He described Riki and Iason as both being "alpha-males", rather than a seme/uke pairing, and noted how the costuming was elegant for the higher eschalons of society and revealing for the lower classes. He criticized the OVA's adaptation of the story, explaining that it was assumed all viewers would be already familiar with the tale through Shousetsu June.[17]

Notes

  1. ^ Aestheticism describes the title as "untranslatable".[1] Digital Manga Publishing includes the English translation The Space Between on the covers of its release of the series.[2][dead link] In its English website, AIC refers to the series as Wedge of Interval.[3] In the first edition of the Anime Encyclopedia it was listed as Ties of Love.[4] Many other fan translations are known.[4][5]

References

  1. ^ http://www.aestheticism.com/visitors/reference/aestheticism.htm
  2. ^ a b "Ai no Kusabi". Digital Manga Publishing. http://www.junemanga.com/titles?n=90. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Ai no Kusabi". Anime International Company. http://www.aicanime.com/products/ainokusabi/. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  4. ^ a b c d Clements, Jonathan; Helen McCarthy (2001-09-01). The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917 (1st ed. ed.). Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press. p. 401. ISBN 1-880656-64-7. OCLC 47255331. 
  5. ^ a b Drazen, Patrick (October 2002). ""A Very Pure Thing": Gay and Pseudo-Gay Themes'". Anime Explosion! The What, Why & Wow of Japanese Animation. Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press. pp. 95–97. ISBN 1-880656-72-8. 
  6. ^ Digital Manga Publishing (2006-10-25). "Juné Manga ~ News: October 2006". Press release. http://yaoi-manga.com/news?mo=10&yr=2006. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  7. ^ "Ai no Kusabi Volume 1: Stranger". Digital Manga Publishing. http://www.junemanga.com/titles?n=90&t=206. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  8. ^ "Ai no Kusabi Volume 5: Darkness". Digital Manga Publishing. http://www.junemanga.com/titles?n=90&t=411. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  9. ^ http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-06-06/ai-no-kusabi-offered-on-amazon-kindle-e-book-devices
  10. ^ http://mee-maker.com/kusabi.html
  11. ^ a b "Ai no Kusabi Boys — Love Novel Get New Anime Remake.". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2008-12-29/ai-no-kusabi-boys-love-novels-gets-aic-anime-remake. 
  12. ^ Van Gorder, Danielle (2008-03-18). "Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between Vol. #01 - Stranger". Mania. http://www.mania.com/ai-kusabi-space-between-vol01-stranger_article_83696.html. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  13. ^ Van Gorder, Danielle (2008-04-10). "Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between Vol. #02 - Destiny". Mania. http://www.mania.com/ai-kusabi-space-between-vol-02-destiny_article_83756.html. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  14. ^ Van Gorder, Danielle (2008-08-06). "Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between Vol. #03". Mania. http://www.mania.com/ai-kusabi-space-between-vol-03_article_82005.html. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  15. ^ Van Gorder, Danielle (2009-03-13). "Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between Vol. #04". Mania. http://www.mania.com/ai-kusabi-space-between-vol-04_article_110991.html. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  16. ^ Agnerian, Maral. "Ai No Kusabi: Wedge of Love". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/ai-no-kusabi. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  17. ^ Sevakis, Justin (2008-01-10). "Ai no Kusabi". Buried Treasure. Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/buried-treasure/2008-01-10. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 

External links








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