I decided to write a part two to my Ai no Kusabi- The Original post because I felt like since I was trying to not discuss any spoilers for the show I couldn’t dive into some of the aspects of the show that made me feel like it was so great. So this post is written more for people who have already seen the show and like me want to discuss it even more! If you’ve never seen this show seen this show and want to know more about it spoiler free please read my first post.
From this point on we go charger full speed ahead into spoiler territory…
Okay! Again I can’t stress how much I enjoyed this series and I just wanted a chance to go through some of the themes that I think make this show so amazing. I think a lot of people who know me would in some ways be surprised that I liked this show so much because it does deviate from my normal shows. I tend to stick with more light-hearted anime, which this certainly isn’t. That actually leads me into one of my first reasons I loved this show.
I feel like some of you are scratching your heads right now thinking, “She likes light-hearted anime but she loves this show because it’s sad? What!” I know it doesn’t seem to make sense but it’s true. One of the reasons I like this show is that it is sad. Every once in a while I just need to watch something that makes me feel if that makes sense.
Ai no Kusabi is an anime that really made me feel and think for that matter. Since it is set in a world where not only does the sex trade thrive but also it is perfectly legal it raises a lot of ethical questions. Humans can be the most despicable beings on the planet and Ai no Kusabi really delves into that idea. As a viewer you can’t help to feel uncomfortable with the world Ruki lives through.
Each of the characters are trying to survive a world that is on principle corrupt. This doesn’t bring out the best any of these characters and also makes the chance at love nearly impossible. Looking at the three main characters shows us that.
Riki is the main character and the storyline is only possible because of him. Through each of the other characters we are able to see different sides of him. Through his love for guy we are able to see the leader Riki is. Not afraid of backing down from a fight, he’s fearless. Guy remembers the man who truly believed it was possible to pull himself from the slums, even though the rules of society considered him trash. Guy is able to believe in Riki’s ability to do this because Riki seems so daring and confident.
Once Riki is made Iason’s pet though the years of his time with him bring out Riki’s doubts. As much as he tries to stay his own man Iason’s sexual abuse has his effects on him. He begins to see how raising himself out of the gutters as anything more than a sex slave is impossible. This is the way the society in his world works and nothing he does is going to change that. The best he can hope for is to try to protect Guy from being hurt.
In the beginning I believe Riki has value in himself regardless of what society believes in him. However his time with Iason shows him an even seedier side of the world and casts doubts in himself about what is his worth is. Now that he has become a pet his only value is the value Iason sees in him, or so he begins to believe.
I find his descent into this line of thinking to be realistic. In light-hearted anime the main characters are always able to pull themselves up and continue having confidence. This isn’t realistic to humanity though. Sometimes as humans we do things to each other that are irreversible damaging. We can’t always bounce right back from these things and sometimes we never can. That’s why humans can be so dangerous. Riki’s character shows this side of humans.
His character is in essence broken by his life with Iason. As much as Guy tries there is nothing he can do to bring the Riki he once new back. Riki can’t just forget about Iason because psychologically and physically he’s been broken. Those types of emotional scares and chains cannot just be forgotten.
As much as he hates Iason he also begins to care for him. His warped mind is able to see what happens to other “pets” when their “masters” have discarded them and cannot help but interpret Iason’s protection of him from that fate as love. In my eyes Riki is the perfect example of a Stockholm Syndrome Case.
Speaking of Stockholm Syndrome we cannot forget what Iason’s character brings to the table. I think it is important to look at Iason in honest light. He has been brought up in a world where his hair color means he is better than Riki on principal. Riki isn’t Iason’s first pet and he has no reason to believe that he should give any thought to the wants of his pet.
This world is engrained in his being. He doesn’t see anything wrong with the sex trade. Not only does he willingly participate in it but also he helps to continue it without any remorse. I think this is important to note because it helps us look at the love that Iason begins to have for Riki.
I don’t believe that Iason loved Riki from the moment he saw Riki. I think he wanted him, it’s as simple as that. I believe he begins to love Riki though in some ways for the same reasons as Guy. However unlike Guy he sees Riki’s strength and wants to control it. This makes sense for Iason’s character.
This isn’t a light-hearted anime. Iason’s sudden discovery of love isn’t magically going to turn him into some super nice guy over night. He is used to having whatever he wants on his terms. His love is going to be the same, self-serving. The fact is the best thing for Riki would have been if Iason truly cut ties with him but he couldn’t. Iason’s character shows us the ugly side of love, the obsessive side.
I think some people would argue that Iason didn’t love Riki at all. I don’t think that’s true. I think the problem is we are used to seeing the happy side of love, the healthy versions of love. These are the versions we should all aim for. Iason however shows the darker side of love, the obsessive and unhealthy side of love. His need for Riki becomes more like a drug in my opinion. He doesn’t care what happens to Riki, himself, or the people around them as long as he gets what he wants.
Guy’s love for Riki in my opinion is the opposite of Iason’s self-serving love. That being said it is beyond perfect I would say. I believe that in the beginning his love for Riki is healthy but as he deals with the fallout of Riki’s change after Iason his love begins to spiral. Showing once again that humans aren’t perfect.
When he originally finds out where Riki has been his initial reaction is to victim blame. I believe this has a severe impact on Riki’s psychological development as well as Guy’s. For Riki this almost enforces the lessons that Iason has been cutting into his psyche. That what has happened to him is his fault and his only value is to Iason. Guy’s rejection of him proves to him that he can never go back to the way he ways. This leads him to go back to the only person he believes will accept him as he is now, Iason.
I believe that this is an action that Guy regrets deeply. It causes him to blame himself just as much as he blames Iason for what Riki is going through. He can never take back the fact that when Riki needed him most he rejected him. He sent him away. His actions are actually what breaks what I believe was the finally straw Riki had holding him together. For the first time Iason doesn’t go to Riki, Riki goes to him. I don’t believe Guy is able to forgive himself for doing that to Riki.
I think it is after this he realizes that the chance he had of saving Riki from Iason has passed. I think this is when Guy’s love for Riki becomes corrupted. He wants to save Riki but he doesn’t know how. He blames Iason for Riki’s change, but he also blames Riki and himself and I think this begins to drive him to the extremes.
I think this is where his hate for Iason becomes stronger than his love for Riki. When he succeeds in kidnapping Riki from Iason he learns that due to the ring the only person Riki can have sex with is Iason. I think this is something that breaks Guy. It’s at this moment that he puts his hatred of Iason above what’s best for Riki. In a moment he decides that he will take away Riki in the same way that Iason took Riki away from him and cuts off Ruki’s dick in order to take the ring off.
This moment also shows Riki how much what has happened to him has affected Guy as well as himself. Guy is no longer the same man Riki fell in love with all of those years ago. When Guy decides to trap Iason and essentially plans a murder suicide Riki is the one to understand that it is what has gone on between himself and Iason that has caused Guy to become this way.
It isn’t until the very end that Iason is able to do something not for his own happiness but the happiness of Riki. He could have left Guy behind and it wouldn’t have made any difference to him. In fact it would have made him happy to leave Guy behind. However because it means something to Riki to save Guy he does. That is the first and only time in my opinion that Iason does something out of love for Riki that isn’t self-serving.
When Iason loses his legs and is unable to continue he is finally able to let Riki go. I don’t believe at that point he has any illusions that Riki will come back for him after what he has done. I think this is when Iason finally sees a glimpse of how self-serving his love for Riki is.
After Riki saves Guy he goes back to Iason though to die with him. I think this has to do with a realization on Riki’s part that he will never be the man he once was with Guy. I also think that he believes that maybe his death will bring closure for Guy so that Guy can finally move on. Finally I think he is conflicted on how he feels towards Iason after everything that has happened. What other purpose does he have without Iason? I don’t think Ruki is in any state to answer that question so dying with Iason seems easier.
Like I sad this anime is sad, but it is also very deep in my opinion. It causes the viewer to reflect on a variety of issues that the characters are dealing with in a very realistic way. It’s able to show humanity at it’s worst while seamlessly sticking in some light within all of the darkness. It truly makes for a beautiful tale and it’s for these reasons that I enjoyed this anime so much. It is a departure from my usual anime but I’m glad for that.
Thanks for sticking around for this insane post! This one of my longer ones for sure but I really wanted to do Ai no Kusabi justice by looking at it closer, spoilers be damned! Comment below to let me know what you think of my post. Agree or disagree? Let the anime discussion begin!
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