Okay, Ai no Kusabi is one of the better examples of Yaoi that I've seen thus far. The story line is sci-fi in nature__centering on a planet which consists almost entirely of a male population and over lorded by a super-computer by the name of 'Jupiter'. This masculine society is separated into a caste system by hair and eye colour where, as is to be expected, the 'Brahman' and the 'Kshatriya' are usually blonde-headed, fair skinned, and pale eyed. The 'Dhalites' or 'Harijan' of this caste would be the dark-skinned, brunette, and brown-eyed men from the so-called 'slums'. The red-heads and dirty-blondes and such are somewhere in the middle...
Now, the overall story line of this anime is semi-original. It bears some resemblance to the futuristic ideas shown in anime like Cowboy Bebop and Trinity Blood, but as of yet, the general plot and events are new although cliché.
The main characters Iason Mink((voiced by Shiozawa Kaneto)) and Rikki 'The Dark'((voiced by Seki Toshihiko)) are from 'entirely different worlds' to use the clichéd, but totally appropriate, idiom. Iason Mink is a high-ranking 'Blondie' from the capital city, and Rikki is a 'Mongrel' gang-leader from the slums. The two characters meet completely by accident. In the first few minutes of the first OVA, we are shown a scene where Rikki is being chased down for some unknown reason by four to five men who are of a higher class than he. He is more or less overtaken and overpowered by these men, and is about to get the s*** beat out of him, when Iason Mink steps in. Now, Iason is shown as being very large in stature, probably along the lines six feet three inches to six feet seven. This being said, he is able to defeat Rikki's attackers quite easily.
Rikki, having a sense of pride that is made known to us fervently throughout the anime, seeks to repay Iason's deed with his own body. This is where the story begins in earnest.
The rest of the first OVA consist mainly of Rikki's exploits with his gang. We are introduced to Guy, who is currently Rikki's best friend, and formerly his lover__or 'pairing partner'. There are contentions between the two: Guy is suspicious of Rikki's sudden return after a long absence, and is concerned about Rikki's sudden change in character. Rikki, of course, denies any accusations of said change, and brushes off Guy's concern.
From there, the conflict evolves from a simple 'concerned friend' situation to a 'jealous lover' feud. The love triangle between Rikki, Guy, and Iason turns this anime into a tragic love story similar to the one in Anne Rice's novel Interview with the Vampire, involving Lestat de Lioncourt, Louis de Pointe de Lac, and young Claudia. I will not give out any more details for those of you who haven't yet seen Ai no Kusabi through to the end.
Now, on to the animation. The overall art of this anime is very good. It strays somewhat from the usual Yaoi/Shounen-ai character design, which consists of very effeminate men and floofy-girly-girls. The animator for Ai no Kusabi instead chose to make his characters very tall, graceful, and undeniably masculine. This was a very wise decision, for it gives the viewer a truer sense of the yaoi theme, and emphasizes the 'all male world' that the anime takes place in.
If one were to watch this anime, I would highly suggest watching it in HD, or ordering it on disk. Since it was made in the early nineties, the quality of the OVA has degraded and is not as good as it might have been. The sound quality is excellent for such an old anime, and the voice actors were well-chosen.
Overall, I give this anime an eight and/or four stars. I highly recommend this for anyone who is a fan of yaoi and needs an OVA that is explicit, but not quite hentai. I hope this review has been of help, and thank you for taking the time to read it.
overall score: 8/10
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