Hmm sounds a bit harsh since I’ve not read the original novels yet ^^” Anyway…
Ai no Kusabi is one of the -MUST WATCH- Yaoi/BL animes in my opinion. Contrary to so many readily available BL resources on the internet nowadays, anything BL outside of Japan was extremely rare years ago in the 80s~90s. During those “desperate” times, there were only a few low quality short video and sound clips online to satiate the most deprived overseas BL fan. The sheer difficulty of obtaining a copy or even watching the full video was unimaginable now. Also, Ai no Kusabi introduced me to the intriguing world of S/M and Master/Slave BL relationships when I was still an innocent… where my exposure was only to Shounen-ai influences in Shoujo mangas LOL~ Thus, Ai no Kusabi holds a special place in my heart along with other classics such as the first Yaoi manga I read, Zetsuai 絶愛 1989 by Ozaki Minami 尾崎南 (well, that’s for another post ^^).
Ai no Kusabi is set in a futuristic, apocalyptic world where it is controlled by a computer program named, Jupiter, occupying the capital city of Tanagura. The inhabitants are divided into social classes based on their hair colour, ranking from the top class, “Blondies” to the lowest class, dark-haired “Mongrels”. Blondies live in Tanagura. Other areas mentioned are Midas, Eos, Apatia and Ceres (also referred to as the slum), etc. Population is strictly controlled and women are so scarce that the remaining men living outside the city form pairing sex partners with one another.
The main attraction of the story is the intense relationship between Iason Mink (Shiozawa Kaneto 塩沢兼人), the head official of Jupiter’s Syndicate and Riki the Dark (Seki Toshihiko 関俊彦), a Mongrel who is a leader of Bison, a street gang. After a chance meeting one night in Midas, Iason decides to keep Riki as his pet. Blondies are genetically modified and physically and mentally superior humans but they are sterile and forbidden by Jupiter to physically indulge in sexual activities themselves. However, they can keep “pets” or sexual slaves for voyeuristic purposes.
The master/slave relationship between the two is an intriguing one. Riki is a strong and proud character in his own right and it is not difficult to see why Iason is attracted by his wild and untamed spirit. Before he realises it, he has fallen deeply and hopelessly in love with Riki, jeporadising his very own exisitance in Tanagura as he takes more and more risks to bridge the wedge that keeps them apart. And Riki too is unable to explain the invisible chains that binds him to his master… Will he become aware of his own feelings before it is too late?
‘Ai no Kusabi’ translates literally to ‘Wedge of Interval’ or ‘The Space Between’. The context which this applies would probably be about the space between people/relationships. In Japanese both Love and Interval are pronounced ‘Ai’. (definition taken from Anime News Network)
The anime is very well produced and I also like the character design very much. However, if it wasn’t for the stellar performance by Shiozawa Kaneto-san that literally brought Iason to life, I don’t think Ai no Kusabi would have had such an overwhelming cult following. He gave Iason the kind of presence that you’ll literally go weak in the knees in the face of it X3 Seki Toshihiko-san also gave Riki a sense of vulnerability that makes your heart ache. Other notable supporting casts are Hayami Sho 速水奨 (Raoul), Tanaka Hideyuki 田中 秀幸 (Katze) and Tsujitani Kouji 辻谷耕史 (Guy). And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t attracted by the sex scenes between Iason and Riki. Although not explicit in the sense where you see the actual male anatomy, but you get to see pretty much everything else. ^^ Seriously, seriously HOT. The anime’s only flaw? Not enough sex scenes LOL~ So I guess we can only get to experience more of those in the drama cds (on my wish list items too).
Ai no Kusabi anime is not licensed yet and the novels were only licensed in English by Digital Manga Publishing recently. The videos were first released in 1992~1994. And to fulfill my little dream of owning a real, physical copy of Ai no Kusabi anime, I bled my wallet again for the 2002 DVD re-release which includes a video tokuten special and a reproduced script.