Friday, April 6, 2018

Ai no Kusabi (1992)

When Orphan released Cathexis last year, it was supposed to be the first release in an ambitious project to redo early BL OVAs with modern encodes and softsubs. The original Lupin Gang scripts were available, as were laserdiscs or DVDs of all the shows. The plan was to create new encodes, translation check the existing scripts, and publish the shows in rapid succession. Then reality set in, and the project has been delayed significantly. Here, after a delay of nine months, is the next offering, the 1992 sci-fi OVA Ai no Kusabi.

Based on a novel by Yoshihara Rieko, Ai no Kusabi is a contemporary of Zetsuai 1989 and shares with the latter the same over-the-top emotional palette and tragic outlook that characterizes BL shows of that time. The plot is a fujoshi's fever-dream take on traditional science-fiction themes. An all-knowing supercomputer named Jupiter has constructed an artificial world with a caste structure based on hair color: blondes at the top (I guess blondes do have more fun), silvers-hairs next, and so on, down to the black-haired "mongrels" at the bottom. For some reason, the denizens of this universe are mostly men, although women do exist. Sex slavery - the creation of human "Pets" - is an integral part of the structure; in fact, it seems to be the primary business of the blonde elite. For more information on the Ai no Kusabi world, see the Wikipedia article.

The main characters are a Blondie named Iason, who runs the illegal Pet trade from the elite city of Tanagura, and Riki, a black-haired mongrel from the slum city of Ceres. Iason rescues Riki from a tight situation and makes Riki his Pet. Blondies are allowed to have Pets for observational purposes, for no more than a year. Instead, Iason falls in love with Riki, has sex with him, and keeps him for three years, in violation of "the rules." Riki pines for freedom, and eventually, Iason sets him free for a while to return to his old life, his old gang (Bison), and his old lover (Guy). However, Iason plans to reclaim Riki by a devious plot. This sets in motion the chain of events that leads to the story's inevitably tragic outcome. It feels like a strange grand opera, although there's no fat lady to sing at the end.

Seki Toshihiko (Riki) should be a familiar name to readers of this blog, having appeared as the hero Seitarou in Hoshi Neko Full House, Miroku in Yuukan Club, Chuuta in Satsujin Kippu wa Heart-iro, and the fighter Nagase Jun in Akai Hayate, all Orphan releases. He also played Sanzo in all the Saiyuuki TV series and the title roles in Alexander (Reign the Conqueror) and Kaiketsu Zorro. Shiozawa Kaneto (Iason) played Rock Holmes in Fumoon, Shiina in Chameleon (both Orphan releases), the egotistic comic relief Shin in Hiatari Ryouko, and numerous other roles before his untimely death in 2000. Tsujitani Kouji (Guy) played the title role in the Captain Tylor franchise and the lead role in the 3x3 Eyes OVAs. He also played Shou in Condition Green and Seishirou in Yuukan Club, both Orphan releases. His most recent role was in Kokkoku, which just finished.

The original script was from Lupin Gang Anime and was pretty good. Sunachan checked the translation and corrected a few of the more baffling lines, like the reference to "an Achilles" in the second episode. (The Japanese phrase actually means "an Achilles' heel.") M74 timed and encoded, I edited and typeset, and Calyrica and Yogicat did QC. This is a joint Orphan-M74 release.

When it was released, Ai no Kusabi was considered quite daring and trailblazing. Nowadays, it would scarcely raise an eyebrow. The sex scenes are discrete and indirect. Nothing is censored or needs to be. It is BL, of course, so if that's not your cup of tea, you shouldn't download it. You can get Ai no Kusabi from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on


  1. >The original script was from Lupin Gang Anime and was pretty good.

    Thank you! The original script was by Jimaku Animation out of the UK, but it had a number of "Briticisms" in it, plus a weird "joke" translation about Manga Video. We had those bits retranslated. AnK was, oddly, never released on laserdisc, otherwise I'd own them, and the VHS tapes cost, I shit you not, $120 EACH. Now, while I was more than willing to drop that much on laserdiscs, I was not willing to spend that on VHS tapes, so we borrowed the VHS tapes from fans who owned them.

    1. Thanks, Erik. The base script was quite good, regardless of its provenance.