Review

by Maral Agnerian

Ai No Kusabi

Wedge of Love

Synopsis:
Ai No Kusabi
The barren world Amoi was terraformed and settled centuries ago by scientists seeking to create an ideal civilization. Instead, their supercomputer, Jupiter, attained consciousness and then went mad.

The society Jupiter created is a bizarre one. Women are rare. A person's status is determined by their hair color, with the "Blondies" the ruling elite. The Blondies are genetically engineered to be both stronger and smarter then the oridinary human, but are sterile. They keep human "Pets", which are specially bred and trained for the task (the males are tagged with rings around their penises), for voyeuristic entertainment - and "Furniture", castrated males from the slums who serve as bodyguards for Blondies and their pets. Favored pets are kept in condos in the rich suburb of Eos. On the opposite end of the spectrum from the elites are "mongrels" from the slum city of Ceres, who reproduce naturally and are not even registered "citizens". The people in Ceres are descendants of a group who had rebelled against Jupiter but failed and were cast out of Tanagura, Amoi's capitol city.

Iason Mink is one of the highest of the elite, a leader of Tanagura, a man in direct contact with Jupiter. Riki "The Dark" is a slum-dwelling non-citizen at the bottom of the caste system, and the leader of the Bison gang. When Iason saves Riki from some vigilantes, Riki offers his body, the only thing he has to give, as payment.

And so when Iason decides to take Riki, a mongrel, as his favorite pet, rumors fly and the social infrastructure is shaken. Riki is too old to be a pet (he's 17 to 20 during the time covered in the story), wasn't trained or raised to be a pet and isn't even a citizen. Plus, Iason has no intention of letting him go (most pets are only kept for a year) and even has sex with him (which is taboo). And then there's Riki's jealous ex-lover...

'Ai no Kusabi' translates literally to 'Wedge of Interval' or 'The Space Between', not 'Wedge of Love'. This would seem to deal with the space between people/relationships. In Japanese both Love and Interval are pronounced 'Ai'.
Review:
This is the ONLY anime I'm aware of that has actual gay sex in it (instead of the usual angsty moping and shoujo-esque sparkly kisses), and if you lay that out beside the innumerable straight or lesbian hentais, it's just a *little* unbalanced. Be warned, of course, that if you're not into pretty guys making out then you should probably stay away from this title.

I sat down to watch this show expecting it to be basically your average 'Plot? What Plot?' hentai, only with guys. I was surprised to find that it actually *had* a plot, and a well-developed one at that. The story and world are fleshed out and complex, even down to very small details of architectural and prop design -- it's not a regular hentai with a thin veneer of a 'sci-fi' setting thrown on top to make it 'different'. I found myself torn between impatiently waiting for the sex scenes and getting caught up in the interesting story and characters. Granted, it isn't a classic work of literature, but it's pretty good. You can really tell that there's a lot of back story that was explored in the previous novels and radio dramas--for this reason you should watch the Lupin Gang version as it has a detailed explanation of the world before the show begins, so you know what the hell's going on. Apparently the people who made Ai no Kusabi assumed that anybody watching the anime was familiar with the novels.

The music is pretty much average synth BGM, and the sound effects are really silly sci-fi 80's stuff. Character designs, on the other hand, are a big plus, as the guys are all really attractive, unlike Zetsuai or most yaoi anime with their freaky spider-boys. Animation quality, since it's an OAV, is pretty good. The voice acting is top-notch; Iason's seiyuu, Shiozawa Kaneto (D from Vampire Hunter D and Larva from Miyu), is just soooo smooth, and of course Seki Toshihiko is just delectable as Riki. It's almost worth seeing this show just to hear Seki-san say 'Do it to me' in that incredible voice of his.

As for the sex, it's on early hentai levels, i.e. all suggested, with no actual naughty bits shown on-screen. This is somewhat telling, I think, since AnK isn't that old and contemporary *straight* hentai shows pretty much everything. Even so it's still pretty steamy, and beggars can't be choosers.

On the whole, you shouldn't go into this show expecting non-stop sex like I did; you'll spend the whole first episode frustrated and annoyed, since it doesn't get really hot until the second ep. Sit back and enjoy the interesting plot, and then watch Riki get screwed. Then rewind the tape. ^_~
Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (sub) : A

+ Interesting Story, Good Character designs
Not enough sex in first episode, lame music

Director:
Katsuhito Akiyama
Akira Nishimori
Scenario:Nahoko Hasegawa
Music:
Terumitsu Honma
Tsutomu Ohira
Toshiro Yabuki
Original creator:Rieko Yoshihara
Original Character Design:Katsumi Michihara
Character Design:Naoyuki Onda
Art Director:
Yasuhiro Moriki
Yooichi Nangoo
Animation Director:
Kouichi Arai
Naoyuki Onda
Masahiro Yamane
Mecha design:Shinji Aramaki
Sound Director:Yoshikazu Iwanami
Executive producer:Isoshi Miyasaka
Producer:
Toru Miura
Toshihiko Sagawa

Full encyclopedia details about
Ai no Kusabi (OAV)

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