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
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.