Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translation Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 18 and Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 8.95
  • Pages: 250
  • ISBN: 978-1569707852
  • Size: Shinso
  • Orientation: Left to Right
  • Series: Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between

Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between Vol. #04

By Danielle Van Gorder     March 13, 2009
Release Date: November 18, 2008

Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between Vol. #04
© Digital Manga Publishing

With Guy held captive and Iason holding all the cards, Riki learns how powerless he really is.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Rieko Yoshihara
Translation: Kelly Quine
Adapation: Kelly Quine

What They Say
Released from Iason's curse, Riki is spending his days idly in the slums when he's drawn into a trap - is it a secret plot of uninvited visitor Kirie, or could it also be a cruel way to force Riki to choose between the body of his old roommate Guy and his own pride? Riki revives the memories of his three years of lust and masochism with Iason. Is freedom just an illusion?

The Review!
A year earlier, Iason took off Riki's pet ring and set him free, but it was strictly a temporary freedom.  Using Kirie's overweening ambition, Iason buys Guy, knowing that he's one of Riki's few vulnerabilities.  Riki nearly loses his mind when he finds out that Iason bought his former pairing partner to use as a pet, since nobody understands better than him what a hell that really is.  But Iason's real goal is much more twisted.  Knowing that the only way to truly posess Riki body and soul is for him to give in willingly, Iason offers him a twisted trade - his freedom for Guy.  Meanwhile, Kirie finds himself thrown away, and discovers that money only goes so far when what he truly wants is power.  Thrown away by Iason but determined to claw his way up using whatever means necessary, Kirie discovers the petty, privileged, and sheltered Manon, and slowly works to transform him into a tool for advancement.

More than any of the previous volumes, this book focuses on power and how utterly essential it is on Ceres for anyone who wants to live as more than a simple tool.  Iason's power over everybody - Kirie, Guy, Riki, and even Katze overshadows everything, while the shadow of Riki's former power drives Kirie.  And it's Katze's power despite his lowly past that makes Manon so vulnerable to Kirie's manipulation.  What makes this all the more poignant is that Guy recognizes his own powerlessness, and recognizes that he's being used as a tool to some end, although he doesn't know what or why. 

As with the previous volumes, it feels like just as soon as the story gets moving and I get engaged as a reader, it's over.  There's so much potential here, but I can't help but wonder if the original, pre-expansion version of this was better.  The pacing problems are as pronounced here as they were in the very first volume.  Still, with more background and a bit more story, there's less exposition to slog through, which at least made this an easier read.  The prose still gets embarassingly purple, so if the earlier volumes scared you, this one isn't likely to change your mind.


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