Ai no Kusabi
|Name:||Ai no Kusabi (間の楔)|
|Date(s):||December 1986 – October 1987 (serialization), 1990 (novel), 1992–1994 and 2012 (OVAs)|
|Medium:||Light Novel, OVAs, CD Dramas, Magazine Publication|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
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Ai no Kusabi is set in a space age civilization on the fictional planet Amoi, originally founded by a colony of scientists from the Abis Think Tank. However, an artificial intelligence system overthrows, gains control of society, and imposes strict hierarchical order. It assigns the ruling class to its cyborg creations. The highest of which are the Blondies.
The story is mainly set in three areas: the capital Tanagura, the city Midas, and the slums Ceres. Between the first two and the latter, there is a major wealth gap, and the people of Ceres are neither recognized as citizens or humans. Another category of nonhumans are Pets, living sex dolls or effectively sex slaves, which are considered luxury accessories.
The main character from Ceres, Riki, is taken as a Pet by Iason Mink, a high ranking Blondie. Initially, high society perceives the choice as unorthodox. However, the situation worsens as Riki rebels, and Iason's insistence of keeping him starts to hint at unacceptable infatuation. The story spans five years and contains achronological jumps.
The media with the most exposure in the Anglophone fanbase are the OVAs, light novels, and the radio dramas; meanwhile the side stories published by Chara and CD dramas remain untranslated. However, the latter media have been translated by the Russian fanbase.
Cyborg creations of Jupiter are immortal and eternally young, but it is never stated how old they are.
- Riki— A 16-21 year old biker gang leader from Ceres. After a failed pickpocketing attempt in Midas (novels) or losing a street fight (1992 OVA), he encounters Iason Mink. The gang, Bison, is considered dominant within the slums but falls in notoriety after Riki's disappearance.
- Guy— Bison's second in command. Guy is both Riki's best friend and partner. After Riki's return, their relationship is strained.
- Katze— A black market broker with a mysterious scar on his face despite available scar removal technology. He briefly employs Riki as a courier in the black market, but also has connections to Iason Mink.
- Iason Mink— A Tanagura Blondie known to influence information technology on Amoi, facilitate interstellar diplomacy, and manage business within the black market. He intercepts Riki's pickpocketing attempt (novels) or saves Riki's life (1992 OVA) in the first encounter and was initially willing to conclude the encounter as is.
- Raoul Am— Iason Mink's close friend. A Tanagura Blondie stated to have a role in biotechnology; however, his portrayal is limited to representing concern and disapproval of Iason's relationship with Riki. He is mentioned to have the ability to alter memories and is unwilling to do so to Iason should the artificial intelligence mandate it.
- Mimea— Raoul Am's pet and Riki's only friend in Eos. Riki and Mimea have a close relationship, but she is assigned a significant other ("pairing partner") she does not approve of.
- Daryl— Iason Mink's personal attendant ("Furniture") and Riki's caretaker. Sympathizing with Riki's lost freedom, he breaches security momentarily to allow Riki to escape.
- Kirie— The youngest member of Bison, recruited during Riki's disappearance. He is later employed by Katze and by extension Iason to lure Riki back to Eos.
- Jupiter— An artificial intelligence, initially known as Lambda 3000, that gained control of society. While it has limited presence in the novels, it makes more of an appearance in the OVAs. Consistently, it is given no dialogue or spoken roles. In the 1992-1994 OVA, it is depicted a holographic gynoid and a mother figure to Iason; however in the 2012 OVA, it is depicted androgynously as divine authority over Iason.
- Orphe Zavi— A Tanagura Blondie that supervises Eos, a palace tower in Tanagura. Like other Blondies, he is curious about Riki's unorthodox presence but considers Riki a source of inconvenience.
- Gideon Lagat— A Tanagura Blondie holding the title of Lord of Midas. Contrasting the rest, Gideon is expressive and extroverted. He considers Riki as a source of entertainment, though he does not expressly support Iason's relationship.
- Aisha Rosen— A Tanagura Blondie holding the title of Lord of Tanagura. Aisha is stated to be exceptionally cold-hearted compared to other Blondies. Despite his name and feminine appearance, Aisha is male.
The Anglophone fandom primarily focuses on Tanagura and the canonical pairing Iason / Riki; however the noncanonical pair, Raoul and Katze is the second most popular. Due to the nature of the canonical ending, stories led by Iason and Riki include alternate endings, alternate universes, miraculous scenarios, or the untranslated gaps in canon. Conversely, the Russian fandom is inclined to focus on secondary characters.
Canonically, there are thirteen Blondies. Only four of which other than Iason--- Raoul, Orpheus, Gideon, and Aisha--- have significant appearances. Another four have minor appearances or passing mentions, Silbert Domina, Marcus Jayd, Hubert Boma, and Haynes Salas. The rest are unnamed. While the light novels describe multiple ranks within Tanagura, no named characters from them appear.
In fanfiction, the minor Blondie characters are given extra characterizations that vary between story to story. Additionally, an original character may appear as one of the unnamed Blondies or from another elite class.
Meta & Primers
- FANDOM OVERVIEW: AI NO KUSABI by thornsilver for crack_van (Dec 2006)
- Raoul/Guy - Ai no Kusabi by beccaabbott for ship_manifesto (Nov 2004)
- Ai no Kusabi in a Russian Way by Juxian Tang for ainokusabi.net