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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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09/04/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi Novel Review: Ai no Kusabi, Volume 3"

Ai no Kusabi, Volume 3--Nightmare
Story by Rieko Yoshihara
Illustrations by Katsumi Michihara
Published by Juné, imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.
ISBN-10:  1569707847
ISBN-13:  9781569707845

Review by Jilly Gee

There is a heirarchy the world of the future presented in Ai no Kusabi, with Tanagura Blondies at the top and Ceres residents at the bottom.  Somewhere in between are the "pets", playthings of the Blondies; living beings specially bred to be sex toys for public erotic display; these pets and their owners normally adhere to certain rules of society, some official, some not.  Already breaking rules, the fact that an elite Blondy such as Iason has taken a Ceres slum mongrel such as Riki to be his pet pales in comparison to this slum mongrel being given special treatment by the Blondy.  To Riki, however, it is not special treatment, but torture.

Iason gives Riki special training through rough sex; these moments are never sweet, the Blondy entering him with extreme force and not letting him come at crucial moments.  Riki finds pleasure in the actions because of the way his body is teased, but not out of love for Iason.  Iason, on the other hand, realizes and admits that he has a twisted love for Riki, although not to Riki himself.  Breaking a commonly understood rule that the owners of the pets would never touch said pets themselves, Iason keeps Riki to himself, sending him to the sex soirees simply to get other Blondies off his back, but not actually mating the mongrel to anyone.  Possibly the only reason Riki is free of being a pet at the moment is that Iason did not want to execute Riki for a major breach of conduct.

The third volume of Ai no Kusabi doesn't just further the story of Iason and Riki; it fills in the holes that were (purposefully) left open in the first and second story.  Presented in a non-linear fashion that attempts to maximize intrigue at the cost of a bit of comprehension, the story alternates between present day Tanagura and the events that took place before the start of the first volume, namely the three years that Riki was missing from the slums.  Having finally shown readers the secrets of the past, the story of the present seems to be coming to a head; Riki prepares for a gang war by relying on a person he loathes and distrusts, Riki's past employer comes to have some meaningful words with him and warn him about Kirie, and Iason hires Kirie for some sort of scheme.

Compounding a constantly shifting time line with weighty social issues, this is the heaviest light novel in the Juné line yet.  Requiring a bit more concentration than the average boys love novel, Ai no Kusabi hits on the problems of class and societal structures more so than it does on love; the parts that do involve love are not of a normal love, but of the cold and twisted kind one such as Iason feels.  Normally, if it isn't lovey-dovey, I'm not all that crazy about it, but the motives underlying Iason's actions are touching, even if the actions are not, and I'm a big sucker for feelings like that.  I may be a bit twisted myself in rooting for him over Guy.

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