Ai No Kusabi -- Light Novels -- Volumes 1-3

Why can't we just be two consenting adults who happen to be into some really sick stuff?

Publisher DMP
Graphic: 18+ 

A futuristic dystopia with designer humans, ghettoized youths, institutionalized homosexuality, cold blooded, pure-bred richies, and tons of graphic sex and corruption. This sort of sums up Ai No Kusabi, a classic yaoi series penned by Rieko Yoshihara.

I'm writing this review having read only half the light novels. I did see the OVA a number of years ago; it wasn't that great. I guess I was hoping the novels would somehow make up for it. They didn't do it for me.

So, I've probably said this before on the site, and if I haven't, I'll just say it now: I don't like stories where characters are underage, unless its a teenage drama and they're working through relationship in a consensual way with a person their own age.

Yep, I'm a prude that way.

I don't understand why the author just can't make the character older? She has that power. She is the writer. She can tack a couple years on there, no problem. And, that's not to say she can't complicate it with allusions to a messed up past, lurid details that enrich the story and move it forward, etc. Make there be a reason he's so young or show him some sympathy. Sure, he had to grow up early, but he's still a kid.

Ugg, I guess I should tell you who I'm talking about. Rikki, the fifteen year old leader of a gang of street toughs, Bison:

Hi, I'm Rikki, as portrayed in the OVA (as an adult).

Ai No Kusabi is focused around the "relationship" Rikki forms with Iason, a pure blooded upper crusty "Blondie" who basically kidnaps Rikki from the streets, breaks his spirit, humiliates him and forcibly does it with him a lot in graphic and painful ways. There's all sorts of explanation about castes and different groups and gambling and the underworld and human auctions and people who are pets, but these are all really just trappings for the sado-masochistic relationship at the center of the story.

Rikki's age isn't mentioned in the OVA, but I did get the impression he was much older than the character in the book, so I didn't feel as uncomfortable watching it, even given the subject matter.

I know that the world in which this story takes place is different and that the society is a lot more corrupt and blah, blah, blah but I just don't find the relationship between Rikki and Iason compelling. I feel bad for Rikki and I think Iason is slimy and gross.

Iason as portrayed in the OVA

Now let's talk about the writing. Hrm. I can't figure out if it is the original author's style to be so excessive or the translator's. Seriously, one writer to another: keep it simple. I know the writing was supposed to reflect the society's excess, but gee whiz: this is so florid. Also, this writer would benefit from one creative writing class in which the phrase "SHOW. DON'T TELL," was pounded into her brain. There is enough exposition here to make me cry and fall asleep at the same time.

Maybe this is why I only got through three books.

I will say: raise the age of Rikki. Make Iason not so gross and more sympathetic. Clean up the writing both stylistically and sex-wise. Cut the length of this by a half or a third, and it might be a good, interesting, even literary sci-fi-ish type story.

I hear a thirteen episode anime is coming out in 2012. Will it redeem this tale? I do not know. I do not care to guess. Now I am off to write and ponder tomorrow's breakfast.