Ai No Kusabi is a Japanese novel written by Rieko Yoshihara. Originally serialized in the yaoi magazine Shōsetsu June between December 1986 and October 1987, the story was collected into a hardbound novel that was released in Japan in 1990. This futuristic tale is set in a world where the Elites are assigned various social classes based on their hair color in the city of Tanagura. Iason Mink, a high-class “Blondie”, runs into Riki, a black-haired “Mongrel”, and makes him his “Pet”, which Riki resents being. As Riki learns of the dangers Iason faces by keeping him, he finds himself developing feelings for his master. Focusing on the relationship between Iason and Riki, Ai no Kusabi also explores issues of caste systems and social exclusion.
The novel was partially adapted into a two-episode original video animation (OVA) by Anime International Company (AIC), with the first episode released in August 1992 and the second in May 1994. In November 1993, an audio drama entitled Erogenous Dark was released focusing on a time period left unexplored in the original novels. A new twelve-episode OVA adaptation, also from AIC, was scheduled to begin releasing in Japan in the spring of 2010, but was cancelled for financial reasons. The project was picked up again and was released on January 18, 2012. However, the series was once again discontinued after four episodes.
The novel is licensed for an English language release in North America by Digital Manga Publishing, which published the novel over an eight-volume series.
Ai no Kusabi takes place on the world of Amoï, which is ruled by a computer named Jupiter. Jupiter has introduced a number of strict social rules to society: Elites of Tanagura, Midas citizens, and Mongrels from Ceres. The Elites are genetically engineered by Jupiter, are of the highest social class, which is determined by hair color, and occupy the capital city of Tanagura. Under Jupiter’s restrictions, the Elites are sterile and forbidden from indulging in sexual activities. They keep “pets” (adolescents in their late teens) for about a year, for purely voyeuristic purposes, before discarding them. Further emasculation is seen in the “Furniture”, adolescent boys who serve the Elites.
Outside Tanagura’s walls is the satellite pleasure city of Midas, which is heavily occupied by rich citizens and tourists alike. Near Midas is an independent slum area called Ceres. The mostly male population of Ceres lives in high poverty; therefore, they are often called “Mongrels” by both Midas citizens and Tanagura elites and are looked down upon.