Guest Blog: Blak Rayne
The Best OVA
First, I’d like to thank Lucy for having me at her blog today! Thanks so much!
This article is dedicated strictly to OVAs, and graphic novels, which are another forever-growing part of the Japanese anime/manga industry. There isn’t anything new about OVAs, or graphic novels, both have been around for decades. OVA means ‘original video animation’ (not the plural for ovum), it is an animated movie released as ‘direct-to-video’, which translates the movie hasn’t had prior theatrical or TV viewings. A graphic novel is a narrative work where the story is presented to the reader through art in either an experimental design or a traditional comic format. These novels have plots that range from romantic to action and every genre in between. I like to call the GN a fancy-shmansy comic book. LOL It’s like taking LOTR, and cutting all the description out, add basic dialogue then pump the images up on steroids. Yeah that works!
My awakening happened in 1998. I was surfing through the Internet on a friend’s computer (because I didn’t have one of my own) when I happened to come across these unbelievable Japanese anime pictures. I’ve been into anime since childhood, and I’d seen some Yaoi images, but nothing quite like Ai no
Kusabi. It was love at first sight. The story and characters were amazing, and I was instantly hooked. This was the very first yaoi OVA that I watched. After downloading every picture I could find, I took an interest in writing yaoi-based novels, which was a departure from my usual fantasy, sci-fi, and fiction writing.
As an artist myself, I find Japanese anime/manga to be unique, beautiful, and unparalleled in the animation world. To this day Ai no Kusabi remains my favourite yaoi. Iason Mink and Riki are gorgeous. In my opinion the art work in the original OVA is the best and the new OVA (released in 2009) doesn’t quite do the characters justice.
Written by Rieko Yoshihara, Ai no Kusabi, which has several English translations, ‘Wedge of Interval’ or ‘Love’s Wedge’ is a sci-fi drama. The central characters are Iason Mink (seme/blond) and Riki (uke/dark). These two men meet by fate, and Iason, though considered above the slum dog, Riki, ends up falling for the young man. Of course, the sex is borderline abusive in the beginning, but that soon fades. These two men have quite the history together as you discover later, and their relationship seems to be in constant peril spanning a long period of time. Soon as they reach some type of understanding, and Riki begins to accept the love that he holds for Iason, someone tries to destroy their relationship. If you’re looking for humour, a huge climax, or maybe a happy ending, move on my friend. This story doesn’t have any of those qualities. Ai no Kusabi is dark, dramatic, and bitterly sad. Believe me, I cried at the end. But that isn’t to say the story is poorly written. ANK just doesn’t have a happily-ever-after, which is rare but remains true to the original yaoi guidelines. The very first Japanese homoerotic stories didn’t have happy endings. Most were filled with angst, and if you’re a yaoi fan you know exactly what I mean. LOL
When I first discovered this yaoi, no one had heard of it–well Western culture knew little of the Japanese yaoi world at that time anyway. Now, things have changed with the spread of the Internet. There are over 99,000 websites dedicated to, or have pictures/write-ups, or mention Ai no Kusabi. Yes, I said 99,000–unbelievable isn’t it? The author, Ms. Rieko Yoshihara, passed away, and wherever she is, I’m sure she’s thrilled with the success of her novel. If you’re interested in learning more about this yaoi, the first website is totally awesome, one of the best I’ve ever come across, and I’ve come across quite a few! LOL Ai no Kusabi has graphic sex, gorgeous characters, realistic plot, and sad ending; the story sticks to its yaoi roots.
Happy Yaoi Hunting!