Myths of Ai no Kusabi
Lurking about the fandoms I noticed one very interesting thing. We all know what fanon is. But do we know that at least in some fandoms fanon becomes more popular than canon? Especially when the original anime/manga/novel is hard to find, people tend to base their knowledge about it on the stories written by other fans. They believe the picture presented there, not quite aware (or caring) that it is often far from the canonic truth. Eventually fans can't really discern canon from fanon and that's how myths are created. Unfortunately, there are plenty of such myths in Ai no Kusabi.
I happen to be the lucky one who read the whole novel (it was officially translated into my native language), watched the anime, read the translation of the audio drama and had enough time to analyze all that. Eventually I came up with quite a consistent picture of Yoshihara's world, which I believe is more or less true.
Here are a few of AnK myths all I can think of at the moment. When I come up with more, I'll surely add them to this article.
1. All elites are Blondies
No! Let's give voice to Rieko Yoshihara:
"They (elites) were organized based on a class system called 'Norms', according to which they were divided by their hair colour. The ones dedicated to office work related to the outside, in other words the ones who were in charge of government business, were those with black hair, the 'face' of Tanagura. As counselors in these matters, the members of each specialized field were divided according to the degree of their knowledge into red, green or blue haired. The highest responsible for each of these fields had gleaming silver hair. And, finally, the elite among the elite, the ones having the privilege of direct contact with Jupiter were those with golden hair, better known as Blondies."*
It might also interest you that in the latest (third) edition of the novel other castes of elite are given their names as well. And so: black-haired elites are called Onyx, red-haired Rubies, green-haired Jades, blue-haired Sapphires and silver-haired Platinas.
2. All mongrels are black-haired
Another no. Just look at Guy, Kirie (both had light brown hair) and Katze (red hair). Katze at one point of the novel says to Riki: "Iason (...) told me the story about a very unusual mongrel. He described him to me as a kid of extraordinary arrogance, strange black hair and eyes, and I immediately knew that he was speaking of you."* All mongrels, huh?
Hair color determined position only among the elite. What distinguished elites from the others was in fact purity of their hair color, indicating their finest origins and pure blood, while hair color of people breeding naturally (mongrels and probably sometimes also Midas citizens) varied among all possible shades, including of course, but seldom, pure ones (typical diversity of natural selection). So Riki's pure black hair by no means made him a typical mongrel, quite the other way around it was actually an elite-like feature. Exotic among the mongrels.
3. Jupiter is a she
No. This popular notion probably stems from the anime and the way Jupiter was depicted. Both its visual image and the way it treated Iason strongly suggests its femaleness. But in the novel Jupiter is referred to as 'it'. Though this particular change doesn't seem to be in any way harmful to the canon. On the contrary, it makes the whole thing more interesting, if not more reasonable. Besides, it's much easier to say 'she' (or 'he') instead of 'it' about a highly intelligent, self-aware entity such as Jupiter.
4. Pet rings = cock rings
No! It's very clearly put in Dark Erogenous, which really isn't that hard to find in the net. Actually cock pet rings were rare. Riki wearing the ring on his penis was quite an exception. It was Iason's perverted sense of humor to put it there and not for example on his neck. Daryl in Dark Erogenous says: "Necklaces, earrings, bracelets the type of ring varies." Quite clear, isn't it? This way also there is no problem with girl pets.
5. Ai no Kusabi is BDSM-heavy
Absolutely not true! There are no paddles, whips, taming sticks and other gross equipment in the original novel or anime. The only means of punishment mentioned in the canon are the said pet rings designed especially to keep pets in control. There probably were some other ways to punish a misbehaving pet, but I honestly doubt that all Amoi elites and not even a considerable part of them were typical BDSM doms, reveling in spanking and whipping, and aroused by bruised butts. Members of the upper class were refined people with very strongly developed self-control, meanwhile what we see in the fan stories oftentimes gives us a completely different image.
The only other BDSM item 'starring' in the canon are chains so we can assume that there were also various kinds of collars, shackles, cuffs in use (but none of them required in public). So yes, there is slight BDSM in AnK, but it's a tiny fraction of what the fans seem to believe in. Honestly, you may hate me for saying this, but the abundance of completely misplaced BDSM in AnK nowadays makes me sick.
6. Elites and sex
It seems that fans are well aware of the fact that sex was not acceptable among the elite, but for some reason they choose to ignore it. What we can see in the fanfics instead are elites taking their pets (or furniture!), or sleeping with each other on everyday basis. Raoul raped his new pet, and so what what's so strange about it, why should he feel guilty? Raoul and Iason were lovers once... but of course! A typical Blondie can't go through a day without a fuck... why should anyone be surprised? We start to get an impression that sex among the elite is absolutely common and normal, that the whole taboo in fact doesn't exist.
But if that was so, what would make Riki and Iason so special?
We can assume that Iason wasn't the only elite in Eos who broke his celibacy. There had to be others that yielded to the temptation (although if any of them did it regularly is a whole another question). Still, it was something rare or at least unspoken of, it was considered a shame, disgrace and first of all it was forbidden. The picture of elites fucking around and making no big deal of that seems a bit out of place to me.
7. Furniture's origins
In a few fics I read about furniture recruited from among Midas citizens or ex-pets. Well, no. It's clearly said in the novel and in Lupin Gang's introduction to the OVAs that all furniture were Ceres mongrels. Katze was as much a mongrel as Riki was.
They didn't choose their fate by themselves although mongrels might consider becoming a furniture a better life. By the way, they were not aware of the castration issue. If they were, the job probably wouldn't have been so desirable.
All furniture-to-be were chosen after a very careful selection. They had to meet a few criteria: high IQ, physical beauty, compliance. They by no means could be rebellious which is a nice explanation of why Riki was not chosen to become one (he surely met the first two requirements).
I hope those few points will help to rectify some of the false common beliefs in Ai no Kusabi. I absolutely don't claim that fanfics must strictly stick to the canon. I love many AnK stories that do not. However it would be good to know the true picture to be aware what we choose to ignore. Or to be able to avoid untruths when we want to stick to the canon after all. Building up more reliable picture of Amoi reality in the fanfics would surely be very helpful for those fans for whom fanon is the only source of knowledge about Ai no Kusabi.
* All quotes in this article are taken from the fan translation of the novel (hard-cover edition). The translation was made by Shabriri Lin, Shiromori and San-chan.