Ai No Kusabi


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On the outskirts of the Pleasure City of Midas lies the Ceres special autonomous area, commonly known as the slums. Gang leader Riki, looking for an easy pocket to pick in the nightlife districts, gets caught red-handed…by none other than one of the highest-ranking, golden-haired android elites ruling from the capital Tanagura: the “Blondy” Iason Mink!
By all rights, a Blondy standing at the pinnacle of aristocracy and a slummer should have never crossed paths—their chance encounter marks the beginning of a love twisted by obsession, soon spiraling into a karmic chain of events…

⬇️ //// About the Japanese novel and anime adaptations ////
⬇️ //// About the English translation ////
⬇️ //// Current translation status ////
⬇️ //// Drama CDs, prequel and side stories ////

//// About the Japanese novel and anime adaptations ////

Originally serialized in the bimonthly magazine Shosetsu June (小説ジュネ) spanning six chapters from December 1986 to October 1987, the novel was released with minor revisions into a hardcover edition in 1990.
This first version of the story received a two-episode/OVA anime adaptation in 1992 and 1994.

Between the years 2001 and 2007, the original story was greatly expanded upon and released in six paperback volumes. After a change of Japanese publisher, two more volumes were released between 2009 and 2010, completing the series (the six aforementioned volumes were released as volumes 1-4 in the newest Japanese edition).
This second version of the story was meant to be adapted into a twelve-episode OVA anime—initially planned to release in 2010—but was postponed to 2012, only to be discontinued after the fourth episode’s release.

//// About the English translation ////

The English paperback expanded edition is made up of eight volumes: the six first volumes (Seibido/Crystal edition) + the two later volumes (#7 and #8 in English, but #5 and #6 in the newest Tokuma/Chara edition).
The change in Japanese publisher led to a change in translator for the English edition between vol1 to 6 and vol7 to 8: it is highly recommended to read the fan translations of #7 and #8 as opposed to reading the licensed edition, due to the massive loss in translation (expect a 50% word count difference between the two).

//// Current translation status of the different editions of the novel (as of April 20th, 2024) ////

. Shosetsu June edition, unlicensed: 2/6 chapters, ongoing fan translation.
. 1990 hardcover edition, unlicensed: 2/6 chapters, ongoing fan translation. An older fan translation had 4/6 chapters translated but the project was dropped.
. 2000’s expanded edition, English licensed: fully translated, complete.

//// Drama CDs, prequel and side stories ////

– The Shosetsu June story was adapted into a drama cassette and a drama CD (Dark Erogenous).
– The expanded story was adapted into three drama CDs (Destiny, Nightmare, Resonance)
– A prequel called Midnight Illusion was serialized in Shosetsu June between December 1992 and April 1993, and released as a hardcover in 1996. 3/6 chapters have been fan-translated into English.
– The 5 side stories have all been fan-translated into English (Kizu/Wound, File-0, Cal’s Sighs, Musk, Illusion Night) and are based on the expanded version of the novel.

Look up online “Ai no Kusabi Master List LiveJournal” to find the links to all the material listed above and more.

[This page was updated as per an anon’s request, all credit goes to the AnK community where credit is due.]
Associated Names
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9 Reviews sorted by

rymes rated it
April 14, 2020
Status: Completed
Just good enough to capture your attention, but just bad enough that literally everyone and their mother were driven to write fanfic about it back in the day. It's the only series I know of where there's been masterpieces of fanfic translated from Russian, Spanish, etc as well as Japanese and Chinese into English (and back again). If there's one thing you can praise AnK for, it's that it launched international relations and cultural exchanges between fujoshi worldwide (And pre-internet! This baby was being passed around on VCR!).

I highly suggest... more>> the (first, older) audio drama series as the best rendition of the story, followed by the Memorial drama CD as the best highlights/music collection. The OVA is how most people got introduced to AnK, and it's a good place to start, but comes across like a PowerPoint of scattered scenes. The books get repetitive and dull, but if you like SF they're the most comprehensive at world-building and add quite a lot of atmosphere to the story. Buy the official English translations if you can, they're quite well done. All the reboots (OVA, audio dramas) can be skipped. <<less
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catharcity rated it
May 7, 2017
Status: epilogue
Saw the OVA, then read the official English novel.

Plot holes exist; characters are relatable even if not likeable; the setting/world could have been better developed or expounded upon.

But I loved it anyway.

There's something about it that differentiates it from the other BL stories out there. It's memorable, even as the years pass. Maybe it's the tragic ending; maybe it's just because it's BD*M in a sci-fi setting --- ok, guilty pleasure acknowledged; maybe it's the fact that the author managed to portray the silver of genuine love in that cesspool... more>> of decadence & debauchery.

Whatever it was, it made Ai no Kusabi worth a read.

If you're unsure whether you should give this a try, I'd recommend watching the OVA first, since it's only 2 episodes. If you enjoyed it, give the novel a try because it elaborates a little more on the setting and the dynamics between the characters. If you can't get over the tragic ending, there's always Taming Riki, a fanfic that's very famous in the AnK circles; beware that Taming Riki is essentially 50% BD*M pwp and 50% drama, so the tone of the story is extremely different from the original ANK, which is a lot heavier and more depressing. <<less
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dysry rated it
May 10, 2016
Status: --
Ai no Kusabi is one of the best known yaoi light novels, the other being Mirage of Blaze. And both are classics in their own way. AnK goes to great lengths to describe a sort of dystopic future with a caste system, denial of basic rights and a mix of anarchy and facism. While the leading couple is placed at opposing ends of the hierarchy and need to overcome social barriers to be together. The concept is quite good, however the deliver falls short of the extensive set up, with... more>> the leading couple preoccupied with flaunting their affections in a cheesy way, several additional characters and subplots that divert from the main story with no real purpose, and the author’s obsession with Riki’s bu*t >>. All of which are included for no reason except to prolong the story before they reach a proper ending. While the antagonist suddenly had a change of character in order to fulfill his role in the ending. Overall the story fell short of its reputation and anime (it’s short and abrupt but it gets all the main points across – unfortunately you need to read the story to understand the references), with weak characters and a dull plot wasting the story’s potential. It would’ve been better off if it were half as long. <<less
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Ainslee rated it
December 4, 2021
Status: v0c0
One of the earliest novel/bl anime that I've ever addicted to.

There're several version of the anime, the current novel cover actually taken from the latest version of the anime.

It was a tragedy, which I hate. But back then there's not many BL novel or anime to choose, unlike now. So I just grabbed any BL I found online.

This was a sad story, but I truly appreciate the originality of it being a world of it's own in my teenage memory.
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Andro rated it
February 18, 2018
Status: --
This was my very first light-novel in the early 2000's after I watched the old OVA. I didn't even know what a light-novel is, but I really loved the story, the characters and the world. It was more complete than the OVA, so I found it much better after I read it in english.
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Christened12 rated it
October 24, 2021
Status: v0c0
I discovered this when I was 14. It was one if my very first night novels, after watching the OVA and reading the novel.

I cried and I wept. It is so tragically beautiful. This will always be close to my heart.I do encourage people to read this and definitely watch the OVA definitely worth it.

There really aren't any stores like this. It's unique in its way
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Vdallen rated it
August 21, 2019
Status: v7c0
This was my very first yaoi novel I have ever read and I loved it and hated it at the same time. The hardest part for me was the ending and

Riki accepted Iason in the last novel. This knocked it down a star because I preferred the relationship as Iason=possessive to Riki and Riki= hatred at Iason


This is just my personal opinion.
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Shio rated it
May 9, 2016
Status: --
Ai no Kusabi was set in a future world where the planet is controlled by a super computer. The government was handled by Tanagura blondies, an elite group of human race who kept 'elite' breed human 'pet' as hobby. The MC (Riki) is the leader of a gang in Ceres, a slum city that is doomed for eternity after going against the central. Dreaming for something more, he went to the central, met a blondy, and was forcibly made into a pet. Many people consider Ai no Kusabi as a... more>> yaoi masterpiece. I can't refute the statement, but I can not completely agree either. Unlike other yaoi which tend to focus on romance and romance alone, the author created an utopia world with it's own social and political system. Which is nice. Just don't expect anything too deep. Character development wise, it was great. There are no useless background side character, and each cast has their own personality and motive so it's easy to differentiate supporting character.

I think the main reason I can't get into this novel is its protagonist. The MC, Riki, was described as a man with great charisma. This charisma also become the driving force behind many event, yet all I could read was a reckless young man.

I don't think the novel is anything special (Hako no naka leave deeper impression on me), but it's one of the most beloved bl novel in it's times. Just read the first volume first to see if you like the series. <<less
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psychemenace rated it
April 5, 2022
Status: --
"You know that I want you

And you know that I need you

I want it bad

... more>> Your bad romance"

I finished the ai no kuabi novels and I ended up liking Iason and Riki's relationship I was so shocked! I watched the animes in 2012 and thought I couldn't really support their relationship even though the ending of the 90s OVA was sweet and romantic. But now O.O

This work has everything I don't like: r*pe, obsessive yandere-ish ahole seme, passive-ish uke (at least what I initially thought years back) but it is packaged in a way that is palatable to me. Can you believe I find Iason cute? 😂 I think making Iason an android and making Amoi so f*cked up contributed to me liking it. It blows my mind the extent of Iason's love for Riki. He came from cruel, dom, arrogant seme to selfless love struck "fool" in the context of the story. His insecurity about never being able to be truly one with Riki because he is an android makes a mess of my heart. He is so straightforward in his love for him and seeing him come into terms easily with how human he has become was really great.

Riki's change was good albeit slow since he has suffered alot so it's understandable. Compared to what I initially thought, he isn't a passive uke. He fights and struggles in his own way, but he does it in a way that won't tick Iason off. He cares for his friends. He has no symphathy for Iason in the books, unlike the 90s OVA where they even had some pillow talk. Iason dominates him so he never understood why people say he is treated well, or why they say Iason dotes on him. It is only when Katze shoved it in his face how he reduced the most arrogant, proud and powerful blondie into a mere sexaroid. 🥺 The risks that it entails for Iason to insist being with him was huge and the fact that despite being proud, Iason put Riki before his pride and reputation as a blondie is a serious matter.


Iason really loved Riki but he has no other way to express his love other than possessing and dominating him because he was programmed that way. When he sacrifices himself for Riki's sake, OMG !!! That was the best. I really like how the 90s OVA put the scene where Iason was waiting to die and there is a flashback of him setting Riki free while waiting for him to comeback voluntary. He said that when that time comes, Riki would be truly his. At this point, it looks like he has resigned himself to the fact that he will never mean something to Riki. Guy will always be the one he loves but when Riki returned OMG! His wishes came true. That was truly the time he and Riki became one both body and soul.

😭 <<less
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