Ai no Kusabi is one of those 'seminal' yaoi works, that everyone seems to know.I (after a very long time) have finally gotten around to reading the Ai No Kusabi novels...I've just read the 6th one, and I have to conclude, it's a very interesting story, with a very intriguing(though probably somewhat contrived) setting, told in probably the worst way possible.
Yoshihara really doesn't seem to get the 'show not tell' rule...not at all. I'd watched the OVA(both new and old) and liked it, and was hoping that by reading the novels, I'd finally understand the story a bit better...but no...really, the writing style is just driving me bonkers. 80% seems to be purely explanation of a situation, or the setting, rather than stuff actually happening. Reading the descriptions of the cities and people was interesting the first time around, but by the 6th book it was just getting tedious and I just wanted stuff to actually happen! Because it's actually pretty good when there is action and the story is moving forward, rather than being mired in very purple prose. The author also stops to relate incidents that are totally irrelevant to the story, except for perhaps more world building that is unnecessarily detailed and/or repetitive- I got it the first time around, now can stuff happen? I could be being over critical here, as I draw stories rather than write them, so the approach to exposition is different, but still, I was really starting to lose my patience. It does get better as you progress through the novels. I have Volume 7 still to read, and volume 8 comes out later this year, and I am looking forward to finally being able to read the conclusion, despite the writing.
I'm reading the English translation by DMP, and while I think the translation is probably fine, the editing was not, and there are some really obvious grammar mistakes, typos and repeated sentences. I'm pretty sure that's not just me being an anal English teacher, but it seriously needs proofreading.
Having said that, once I've managed to sort out the plot from the quagmire of explanation, it is the type of story that does grab me. Sci-fi, dystopian setting, exploration of boundaries of social expectations, and gratuitous porn(though this does suffer from longwindedness, and reads like trashy romance novels), it has all the stuff I like. Admittedly,(and believe it or not) I'm not particularly fond of reading and writing porn, when it's in prose form.(Visual is a whole different story though, as even just a casual glance at my tumblr would reveal =p, apparently this means I have a man brain, according to my old housemate)
I find Iason the most interesting character, and the conflict of human feeling against the controlled machine logic of his creation and surroundings, and even though he's at the top of the hierarchy, the social boundaries he's going against. As you can possibly guess, Ai no Kusabi(in general) has probably influenced my own work more than I admit. I like sci-fi and dystopian fiction and I like BL, and it's not often you find these settings in the BL genre.
Reading the afterwords at the ends of the novel, seems the edition I'm reading was from an expanded version. I'm thinking Ai no Kusabi really didn't need that extra padding.