I stumbled upon Ai no Kusabi because of reading a discussion about whether the old or new OVA is better, and I don’t even know how I got there in the first place. It was never a series of interest to me, and I didn’t even know about the new 2012 adaptation, but the discussion and remake made me curious, so I gave them a go. Yes, both of them. Binge watched. Just because.
The story is set in a future where there is a massive gap between the powerful people, and those living in the slums. Riki, a teenager and gang member from the slums one day meets Iason, a powerful man from the high end society. Seeing as Iason saves Riki’s life, and he doesn’t want to feel indebted to the stranger, he offers the best payment he can; his body. While this should have been a one-time thing, they meet again because of Riki being too curious for his own good, which intrigues Iason, who then decides to adopt the teenager as his pet. A pet is just what the word means; a living being owned by a master. In this future, pets are usually bred and bought, as well as only used for sex for a few years until they are being replaced with a younger model. Since this isn’t the case with Riki, it takes Iason 3 years to tame him, after which he releases him back to the slums for 1 year, sure of the thought that the boy will realize his love for him when he is being picked up again.
Ai no Kusabi contains sex and violence, so it’s not for everyone. I did find it very interesting though, and would have loved for it to be a series instead of just an OVA, as it feels like there was a lot more story to tell. The studio behind must have felt the same way, as the remake is actually not a remake at all, and I don’t understand the heated debate about the older one being far superior. It’s true that they both tell the same story, share the same characters and have some points in the storyline in common, but it’s simply because the new OVA tells the story of what happened during the time Riki was being owned by Iason, which the old version never really got into, except for a few flashbacks.
I started out watching the new OVA, since people had complained about it not having a real ending, and I didn’t want to spoiler myself. But to be honest, I don’t think it would have made any difference had I watched it after the original, seeing as it just tells a backstory and fills in the blanks. It adds more to the story and characters, and it feels more complete after knowing what happened during the 3 years. In the original, we just get introduced to Riki and his gang, after which we see what happens when he meets Iason, and then it somehow skips 3 years, and Riki is back. Knowing what happened fills an empty spot in the plot, but you can always watch it after the original.
So, after having watched both, I really don’t see why people have to discuss which is better. They are both really good, and if you can’t tell by my review, I’m really happy that they filled in the 3 years of blank space. If you like Yaoi, and don’t mind the 20 years of difference between the OVA’s, which are both gorgeous by the way, you might want to look into this series. I surely do not regret having done so.