Monday, April 21, 2008

Ai No Kusabi - printed slash

I’ve written about slash before, so if you’re not familiar with the word - or its meaning in this case - check it out here. For all others, on to the main point.

I first read about “Ai No Kusabi” a long time ago - in one of the first issues of “MangasZene”, in fact. By now, the magazine does no longer exist (although the article was republished in their last special issue about Yaoi and Yuri). The story is settled in a ‘distant future’ environment. In the city of Midas, there are a lot of different people. At the top stand artificially created humans - and among the most important of them are the so-called Blondies who, as the name suggests, are all blond. And male, just to throw that in, too.

Women are a limited resource on Midas anyway. Those able to give birth never live alone, but stay within ‘Guardian’, the place where ‘normal’ children (who have been born the usual way) are raised. So relationships between men are quite the rule, especially in Ceres, the slums of Midas, where those without official citizenship live. They are released from Guardian as teenagers, organize themselves in gangs and do what they have to survive.

One of them is Riki, a seventeen-year-old boy, slender, but an amazing fighter. He’s the leader of Bison, actually, the most important gang around. Riki’s life is pretty normal for a slum mongrel - until fate makes sure his path crosses with that of a Blondy, Iason Mink.

What starts of as some sort of ‘bribe’ to make sure Iason - who has caught him stealing from tourists - doesn’t hand him over to the authorities, takes a life of its own, in time.

Riki remembers the night he met the Blondy very well, even years later, because it was one of the most humiliating experiences of his life. What started out as a simple ‘sex for silence’ deal, was turned into the first round of a battle of wills - Riki’s against Iason’s.

The relationship between the slum mongrel and the Blondy is a difficult one. They can’t live with each other, they can’t really live without each other, either. After finding Riki again, Iason wants to turn him into a pet (technically speaking some kind of love-slave, but pets are bred especially for this job, Riki wasn’t). After a while (so volume 1 suggests), he lets him go again, but only to lure him back later on. Riki, on the other hand, can’t really stay clean of Iason either.

What fascinates me so much about this story is the basic unwillingness of both parties to admit they are really interested in each other. Iason is too arrogant to even think of a mongrel like Riki as an equal - and Riki is to proud to submit, even to someone who’s socially high above him and physically a lot stronger. So it’s not an easy love-story. Because of the man-man relationship, the story is slash (or rather Yaoi or Shonen Ai, as it’s from Japan). Because of the rather radical means Iason is not above using to ‘tame’ Riki, it also has quite some things in common with bondage.

Currently, two volumes are out in English (good for me, as I’m not fluent in Japanese and always wanted to read the story), the third will be released this summer. In addition to the written story, the books also contain some very nice drawings that illustrate the story nicely.

I’m so glad I’ve finally found it in a language I can understand...

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