Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between Vol. #02 - Destiny (Mania.com)
By:Danielle Van Gorder
Review Date: Thursday, April 10, 2008
Release Date: Monday, March 31, 2008
Translated by:Kelly Quine
What They Say
One night five years ago, Riki was wandering through the pleasure district of Midas when he found himself in a rather dangerous situation. As a consequence, Iason, the genetically engineered elite "blondie," has given him such levels of humiliation and unwanted pleasure that Riki's mind is still haunted by it. But Riki can't see the trap set to crush whatever is left of his pride that survived even his growing up in the slums.
Picking up where the last book left off, we find out part of what happened to Riki during the time he was missing, and how he met the blondie Iason. After a long and fruitful night parting richer folks with their money, Guy is ready to call it a night, not wanting to press his luck. Riki, however, isn't ready to head back quite yet, and takes off on his own to see what he can accomplish. His luck runs out quickly when he's caught by a member of the Midas Vigilante Corps. That's when Iason steps in, rescuing Riki on nothing more than a casual whim. Iason's cold indifference bothers Riki like no amount of self-righteousness could, and he insists on paying Iason back, so as to not be in his debt. Unsurprisingly, a slum rat has little to offer one of the elites of the world, so Riki offers Iason his body. The whole encounter plays out much differently than Riki had anticipated, and leaves him with an uncontrollable rage that taints his entire life.
When Riki gets the opportunity to work as a runner for the mysterious scar-faced Katze, he leaps at the chance, and quickly makes a name for himself in the black market. When he and his new partner Alex are contracted to run an unusual and dangerous cargo, Riki ends up running into a familiar face in what just might be the last place he expected to see him. It seems he's managed to get himself involved in some sort of very dangerous game, one where he doesn't even know all the players, much less the stakes.
While the prose isn't quite as florid as the last book and the story flows a little smoother, I still felt like I was missing something when I got to the end of the book. There just isn't enough story here to make me feel like I had finished a full novel - it's more like this is just one chapter in a larger book than something that should be able to stand on its own strength. There's a lot of exposition as well, designed to make the reader more familiar with the world of Ai no Kusabi, but I can't help but wonder if all that window dressing is really necessary when it interrupts the story and distracts the reader.
Just when the story starts to build some serious momentum, the book is over. I still want to know what happens, but it's frustrating as a reader to feel like I was finally starting to understand the appeal, just to have it end so abruptly. The next volume can't come fast enough - but there had better be more substance under the science fiction fluff.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
Orientation: Left to Right
Series: Ai no Kusabi (novels)