Ai no Kusabi 6

July 29, 2015

Rieko Yoshihara – DMP/June – 2009 – 8 volumes
this is a novel

I promised myself I wouldn’t read the ending to this series until I wrote up all the other volumes.  I wrote up 7 when it came out, and I’ve been holding out for years, waiting to write up 6 so I can read 8.  I know that doesn’t make sense, but that’s how this site works.  I did write up 7 after I read it because I read 1-6 at the same time and didn’t write about them.  And this is why I stop myself from doing that!

Anyway, I don’t have a lot to say about this one.  When I read it, I thought it actually was the ending to the series, because it was years before 7-8 were announced.  It leaves off in a weird place, with Riki back at Eos and… it’s implied he’s come to terms with it, because he kind of has to go back?  As an ending, it didn’t quite read like he was resigned, and it didn’t read like he was in love… maybe a little bit of both, but not enough of either to count.  And Iason obviously has plans.  Which I will talk about later.

The earlier part of the volume is about Kirie hiding out during his manhunt.  He’s staying with Riki, which didn’t make much sense at all to me.  More of this series needling me in the wrong ways, but I obviously didn’t care enough to stop reading.

The whole thing feels a little… sterile and uncaring, which you wouldn’t think would make for a good boy’s love story.  And it doesn’t, not really.  Nor is it good sci-fi/dystopia.  But… I guess there was something plenty compelling about it to make me read it in basically an afternoon, then put all sorts of restrictions on myself before I could read the ending as a reward.

Maybe the ending will be awesome!  I’m curious to see if Iason takes a dive.  That’d be worth this whole ugly ride.

Ai no Kusabi 4

April 21, 2013

Reiko Yoshihara – DMP/June – 2009 – 8 volumes
this is a novel series

One of the blessings and the curses of this novel series is that it’s very wrapped up in the world. That’s nice for a sci-fi series, and normally I would applaud a detailed world. But the flaw with Ai no Kusabi is that it tends to retread the same territory over and over again. Spending a whole chapter explaining just how shocking it is that Iason let Riki go, but kept him on file as a pet, might be something that it does. Explaining just how extreme things really are happens a lot, and it also re-treads a lot of the same ground from previous novels over and over again. Part of that is likely due to the nature of being a serialized novel, since you wouldn’t want to alienate new readers. But in a novel format, it’s a bit aggravating.

And I’m still just not that into the characters, or the relationships, but at the same time I sucked these novels down in an afternoon. I can’t really explain it.

This one mostly features the Darkmen, who come into Ceres looking for Kirie, who was recently a very bad boy. The Darkmen are an evil portent indeed, and despite the fact that Kirie has alienated basically all his friends in Ceres, they still do a lot to help him hide from the Darkmen. There’s some shuffling around and re-sorting in Ceres, along with missed connections, Katze comes back into play, and then… Kirie exits. Sort of.

Keep reading, is all I can say. If you’ve gotten this far, you know this kinda isn’t that good, but is addictive in its own way. Plus, as I said, the conclusion is finally coming out! Hooray!

Ai no Kusabi 3

March 16, 2013

Rieko Yoshihara – June – 2008 – 6 volumes
This is a series of BL novels.

For whatever reason, I wrote this two years ago and never posted it. With the ending of this series imminent, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit these volumes and write up the ones I didn’t get to. So expect 5-6 soon, too.

At this point, I was pretty well taken with the series. I read 4-6 in one day. Why? I’m not sure. Admittedly, the sci-fi elements are really well done, and I loved watching the characters slowly succumb to the forces bearing down on them from all sides. In that, it’s like watching a train wreck, because you can tell from a mile off that terrible things are going to happen, and you just have to sit back and watch.

But I still have a hard time stomaching the violence and abuse, or really sympathizing with the characters. Riki isn’t doing anybody any harm, and is doing the best for himself that he can, but his aggressive nature makes him a bit less likable, although it earns him points for fighting off the assaults as much as he can. Then there’s Kirie and Iason, who… well, are antagonists, and haven’t really shown a good side. The most sympathetic is Guy, Riki’s partner. He will stand by and do anything for Riki, even without an explanation about Riki’s recent habits. Plus, he’s in the middle of a scheme meant to trap Riki here. He’s nicer than Riki, though still aggressive. Perhaps he would be less likable if we saw more of him.

In this volume, we learn more about the Guardian facility and… what it’s really for? We also meet Manon and are introduced to a terrible scheme of Kirie’s that doesn’t look like it could possibly go anywhere good. Meanwhile, Iason comes to collect his pet. The collection process will last a good long while yet, but it begins here, and we learn that Riki is still… well, all to Iason, which is a shame. I was hoping he’d use the chance to somehow break away from the bonds.

Ai no Kusabi 2

February 28, 2013

Rieko Yoshihara – June – 2008 – 6 volumes

I have a bunch of these reviews written up, but I never posted them. I’m going to do so now, but keep in mind that a few of them are super-sparse. There’s… just not a whole lot to say about what’s going on, honestly. It’s kinda the same, but more so in each volume. And I’m not quite sure what compelled me to keep reading…

We get more of the rape and abuse of Riki at the beginning here, and a look at just how “privileged” his life with Iason was.  I mean… he wasn’t thrown out like the other pets, but I wouldn’t say he was living the good life, either.

Then the story catches up to where we picked up at the beginning.  Kirie is beginning to make a name for himself on the black market and dealing with Iason himself.  It’s clear that Kirie isn’t quite the same sort of pent-up tough guy that Riki is, and that Iason will likely not “go for” Kirie’s brand of egotism.  But we also find out that Iason isn’t done with Riki yet.  There are the barest hints that Iason may really love Riki, in his way, and that Riki’s release into his old life is short-lived.  But… Iason isn’t even remotely affectionate.  He just… he tortures Riki.  Maybe it’s all he knows.

In fact, this series seems to be all about demeaning the characters.  We learn more about the Eos “furniture,” the people that are imprisoned in the Blondy apartments in order to take care of the Pet sex dolls and otherwise remain as unobtrusive as possible.  Much is made of Kirie’s step up in life. And a reminder of just how low the Ceres slums rank in the social heierarchy.  We’ll hear about that over and over and over again.  Boy do they rank low.

And, mysteriously, there is talk of a gang going against Riki and the Bison gang, and while we know the before and after of what happened with them, we are never told what actually happens.  Aggravating.  The timeline also starts skipping around strangely here.  While it does catch back up to the beginning of the story, we are treated to stories of Katze’s past as he tells them to Riki, and we also get a lot of flashbacks to Riki’s time as a pet, even though… we could’ve just learned that stuff while we were reading about him getting thrown out.  But keeping that under wraps for as long as possible is interesting, and it’s not like I was confused about when and what was taking place.

Ai no Kusabi 7

February 28, 2013

Rieko Yoshihara – DMP/June – 2012 – 8 volumes
this is a novel

I knew it! I thought that volume 6 left off in a weird place, but there was no trace of a volume 7 in Japanese. It is 6 volumes in Japan, I think, but… I think the Japanese volumes are longer? Volume 6 is 300 pages, whereas volume 7 in English is only about 130 pages. I can’t see it wrapping up with volume 8, but I’m not sure how much longer it’s going to go in English. I am curious, though.

Honestly? I’m not sure why. This series really isn’t my thing. This volume was all about Riki settling back into life as a pet in Eos. It’s basically a humiliation for him, periodically broken up by sexual abuse. He seems willing to let everything go as it is and not rock the boat this time, but the boat is rocked for him when other pets try to start trouble. Said trouble becomes problematic when Riki realizes where the Eos “furniture” (dehumanized slaves, basically) comes from, and blurts it out in front of other furniture. The furniture begins to panic and worry that their lives are going to be taken away from them, and thus Riki rocks the boat once too often, even for the pet of Iason Mink.

Also, Kirie turns back up. I think his role in the story is done though, unless he rocks the boat in Ceres a little more due to his previous actions.

Meanwhile, Bison is still looking for Riki, and their search takes them to other parts of Midas and interacting with other interesting characters. As hard as they’re trying to find Riki and Kirie, the information they’re receiving is still being fed to them by higher-ups. I’m not sure where that’s going. If there really is only one more volume, probably nowhere.

A story of humiliation and debasement isn’t my thing, so I’m not sure why I continue to read this. But… I couldn’t say no when the rest came out. I have to know, which probably makes me a terrible person. It sounds like the series is popular enough to maybe break DMP’s publishing embargo, so we may see it appear at Akadot within the next month or so. I was surprised when all the comments to DMP’s break were about Ai no Kusabi, and not a single one about The Tyrant Falls In Love. THERE’S ONLY ONE VOLUME LEFT.

(note: I wrote this in early 2013.  Though, if I wind up publishing this when I’m adding this note (April ’15), there is still another volume of Tyrant coming out in July, which was unlooked-for and you should totally buy it before it disappears)

(another note: I’m publishing this article in September ’15, and Tyrant got pushed back to December/Jan.  But you should still buy it.)

Ai no Kusabi 1

February 9, 2011

Rieko Yoshihara – June – 2007 – 6 volumes
This is a series of BL novels.

Wow. I don’t know how I missed adding this over here, but I reviewed the first volume of this classic BL novel series over at Manga Village. Please check it out.

As much as I’ve liked almost all the BL novels I’ve read from June, I was disappointed by the first volume of the series I hear about most. To be fair, the six novel version we’re reading in the US is apparently a re-working of what was once a single-volume work, so the first volume is only an intro. There are a lot of interesting sci-fi trappings, and the strict social hierarchy the characters endure is interesting, but… there is some overly flowery dialogue, and we are told some of the same details over and over and over again, with flowery language, every time a situation involving the rules of the hierarchy comes up. It can be tedious. Also, this is mostly an intro to the characters and setting, so the actual story doesn’t get going until later.