Revealing the Secrets of Tanagura
About the author
There isn't much info about Rieko Yoshihara in the web. From what I managed to figure, the lady specializes in dark, twisted yaoi dramas. Her other works are: Gin no Requiem (1988), Yami no Kodou (1997), and Nijuurasen (2002). These are all yaoi novels or mangas (with Rieko as a script author).
Nijuurasen her newest novel has been lately (april, 2004) turned into the CD drama. If you look closely in the web, you will find the translation. The title has been translated as Double helix. The summary says: "Shinomiya Nao used to have a happy family until the day his father abandoned them for another woman. After that, the family fell into doldrums. Still, Nao tried to live his life normally. However, the day he returned home to find his brother and mother doing 'it', his life completely crumbled. Later, his life slipped further into darkness when his brother began a taboo relationship with him." Well, it certainly is twisted.
Novel vs. anime in general
1. Many of the scenes, as well as the storyline itself, are very similar in the novel and in the anime. They nicely correspond even when it comes to the three-year period Riki spent as Iason's pet in neither is it well described. In the anime it is shown as a couple of flashbacks, in the novel as a short synopsis.
2. The order of the scenes is, however, different. The plot in the anime goes straight ahead, while the novel jumps back and forth, especially at the beginning.
3. There is graphic sex in both, but since the video is, I'd say, R (naughty bits are always hidden behind other bits or in the shadow), the novel should be, for sure, rated NC-17.
4. There are some threads in the novel that can't be found in the anime. And in reverse there are scenes in the anime that you won't find in the novel. In both however these plots are secondary and don't affect the main storyline much.
5. There are some serious differences between the background described in the novel and the one from the anime. Whether they are intended or just an effect of some translation slips, I don't know and I won't try to guess. But with those differences I'd like to deal here.
About the Background
The producers of the anime assumed that the viewers were already familiar with the background and didn't explain any of that. The intro at the beginning of the first video was kindly provided by The Lupin Gang who prepared it using an article by Jeanne Johnson (aestheticism.com).
You may be thinking that everything is well explained in the novel. Well, you are wrong. It's certainly better explained, but the book still leaves many questions. The author didn't really bother to give us many details of the universe she is describing. Sometimes it looks like she, herself, didn't think it over too closely.
Most of the sites provide us with some Ai no Kusabi background info, like terms, places, characters, and so on. However they are mostly based on the anime only, and the anime leaves many things unclear and dubious even after the great job The Lupin Gang made. Beneath I present the main differences between the anime and the novel backgrounds. I try to bring those two together and hopefully unravel some of the doubts. All the conclusions I draw are strictly my presumptions, though.
System of social classes
There is a paragraph in the book that says:
"Generally the elite living in Tanagura kept their hair long in order to be distinguished from the androids. They possessed perfectly proportioned bodies and singular beauty, but, aside from an IQ of over 300, the elite were only artificial beings incapable of reproducing.
They 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."*
So according to the novel not only the blondies were the elite. They were the highest ones, yes, but there was basically every hair colour among the elite.
The introduction to the anime suggests something different. Hair colour determines social position in general the darker hair you have, the lower you are. That would mean all the elite were blondes, all mongrels were black-haired. And they weren't just look at Guy and Kirie, what's more Riki, the black-haired, was their leader. So it's more likely that hair colour determined position among the elite only, and assigning occupation rather than rank. Beyond the elite every person could have every hair colour and that applies to mongrels as well (well, perhaps pale blondes were unusual). And what's more Riki having plain black hair could be actually quite pure-blooded in spite of being a mongrel. Especially that it is mentioned in the novel that such pure hair colours were a real rarity among the mongrels (they were mongrels, right?).
* Taken from the translation by Shabriri Lin & Co.
Eos and Apatia
These two places seem especially dubious. There are many discrepancies among the website guides about what they are, where situated, and how connected.
According to the book, Eos is "the highest class residential zone in the whole of Tanagura". It's the district of tower blocks, the seat of the top elite. And of course as expected, Iason lives "on the top floor of the tallest building among all the skyscrapers of Eos."
Apatia isn't a part of Eos as some claim. In the anime Syd says: it's a "prominent area in Midas where they (the elite) keep their pets". I don't think the pets in question are the most special ones, since these were kept in Eos with their owners. Riki was moved to Apatia not because he was special, but because he hated living in Eos.
According to the novel, Apatia is an exclusive Midas hotel, where "one could keep their lovers." As we can guess "one" refers to the well-situated citizens of Tanagura, "their lovers" to their presumably a bit worse situated concubines, since they needed to be "kept".
Whether Apatia is a single building or the whole area, whether these are pets or concubines kept there, is the minor question. The main thing, I guess, is clear.
To see exactly where those two, as well as the other places in AnK, are situated take a look at the map of Tanagura and Midas.
Let's start with the basics. Female population is maintained low on Amoi. Why it isn't well explained. The intro to the video says: "The population in Ceres is kept male-heavy to keep the people there unstable and unable to organize." But that refers to Ceres only.
There is, however, another explanation. Since the society on Amoi was so strictly structured, divided into classes, with the blood purity a really big issue, it also had to be controlled. It's much easier to control society when it can't reproduce naturally. And it can't anyway it can't efficiently when there are almost no women.
In the intro to the anime it is said that only people from the slum reproduced naturally. And in the same time only the blondies (or rather the elite) were genetically engineered. The anime doesn't say a word about the others, and the book doesn't give the answer here either. Pure races that are several times mentioned in the novel, refer to the most carefully bred pets, rather than to Midas citizens.
But of course we can speculate about the methods of reproduction among the middle classes. It was probably also somehow assisted, however not involving genetic engineering, or involving it to some lesser extent. But since the citizens of Midas had sex, and weren't sterile, their blood purity wasn't so great at all. Therefore they were different from the mongrels, different from the elite, and from those carefully bred pets too.
Pets from the Academy were probably strictly genetically engineered just like the members of the elite. According to the book, they looked a bit like the blondies exceptionally beautiful, with blonde hair, and sex difficult to tell only from their looks. Any randomness is out of question here. That's probably why they were considered so exclusive.
So far so good, and everything can be explained. There is however a problem when we take a closer look at the breeding in Ceres. It isn't mentioned in the anime, but is made clear in the novel that all the Ceres kids were born and brought up in an education center called the Guardian. And the Guardian was under Tanagura's control. That's how the birth rate was controlled and female population kept low. And when I think about it, the questions arise. For example: how come, if the mongrels bred naturally, were they born and raised in such place? What about their mothers? Where are the mothers if there were hardly any women?
The only logical solution is that the reproduction in the slum was not so natural at all. Even if part of the children were bred naturally, there was no way to keep Ceres population from declining if the women were so rare. There must have been some additional sources maybe the unplanned children of Midas citizens or women from Midas brothels and harems. Or maybe all the boys were bred just like the others with the assisted methods, already in the Guardian, but with the reservation they shouldn't be pure-blooded. And why such reservation? To keep Midas citizens convinced about the natural breeding in the slum? To keep Tanagura's protection in secret? Because the crossbreeds had some exceptional features that made them attractive? According to the novel they usually had strong personalities (I'd say it was an effect of the conditions they lived in, rather than genes), some of them were very good-looking and surprisingly smart. Furniture were chosen specifically from among the mongrels and they unlike pets couldn't be stupid.
An interesting solution to the problem of breeding in Ceres offered Juxian Tang in her Force Majeur. Why didn't the number of mongrels decrease, assuming that they did breed naturally? Of course every man in Ceres tried to satisfy his natural drive to reproduce. In effect all women in the slum were the most desirable trophy and gave birth after birth for most of their adult lives. This way the population probably could be sustained. Still, there would be a problem with girl babies why didn't the women ratio increase in that case? We can assume that would-be mothers were paid for having an abortion when the fetus was female, but then still half of the so-hard-to-uphold population was being killed.
The whole thing with the Guardian and breeding in the slum is very unclear and there are no easy answers here.
Well, that's it. All the things I said in the last two subsections are no more then my guesses. I'll drop it right here, as there is no basis in the book or in the anime to venture any further. My last guess would be or maybe the author just didn't think it over and that's the whole secret.