The opening scene of Onani Master Kurosawa shows the titular protagonist vigorously pleasuring himself in an abandoned girls’ lavatory. The bottom of the first page offers a full, digitally-rendered shot of the stain he leaves on the wall. What else should we expect from a manga whose title begins with the Japanese word for ‘masturbation’?
Certainly not a Death Note parody, I’m sure. As we watch the aloof Kurosawa drift through school via vainglorious monologues, arrogant smirks, and carefully plotted toilet breaks, the manga appears nothing more than a puerile attack on a more popular title. The artist even goes as far as having the protagonist declare ‘I am Kurosawa’ with the same infamous over-the-shoulder shot as Light Yagami. This spoof seems an amusing but nonetheless quizzical choice for a beginning, as though it exists only because the mangaka wanted a light distraction. However, later, it proves the perfect way to show exactly how Onani Master Kurosawa differs from other shallower stories about disenfranchised youth.
The manga’s true intent worms its way out of the ludicrous premise as soon as Kurosawa meets the downtrodden Kitahara, a victim of bullying suffering from psychological breakdown. She’s small and reticent and utterly helpless, which makes a strong enough impression that Kurosawa decides to become a sick sort of avenger. In an unguarded moment of humanity, he betrays his ability to connect with someone more pathetic than he is, and everything from there is pure, marvellous character development.
Now, a straightforward revenge story would end with the victims finding relief in their torturers’ misfortunes. But this manga keeps things ambiguous in two ways. Firstly, victim and avenger find each other only because they both happen to wander the outer fringes of high school society and not because they in any way like each other. Furthermore, there is disturbingly little evidence that their relationship is a healthy one. Onani Master Kurosawa nurtures these ambiguities, ensuring that, even as we sympathise, we never become comfortable with the characters’ aggressive solution. It thus spins a moving tale of redemption while maintaining an unflinching eye for human weakness.
Of course, the chosen sexual motif is base and disgusting, but the intense personal drama simultaneously reveals an uplifting truth that many will identify with: even seemingly irredeemable people are anything but. Just as Kurosawa’s caricatured antipathy is mere scene setting tossed aside as soon as the story gets underway, his selfish pleasures prove a brittle mask intended only to keep people from discovering his fragile, love-starved soul.
With rough, sketchy lines that fray and overlap, the mangaka delivers a bold, unapologetic style that leaves every pencil stroke naked to the eye. On the one hand, this coarseness grants Kurosawa’s face the fluidity to shift easily from sinister glee during monologues to wide-eyed innocence when addressing others. And his design succeeds brilliantly at demonstrating his anonymity: he wears nondescript clothing and has the lank, longish hairstyles seen on heroes of plenty of other manga. Sometimes he looks like Light, other times he looks like no one in particular.
However, most of the supporting cast also sport disappointingly mundane traits - cute cartoon faces with large, bulbous eyes and small mouths. Moreover, since atmosphere is utterly irrelevant to this character study, backgrounds look perfunctory and exist only to provide a vague school setting.
At its most radical, the manga doesn’t shy away from cum stains, presenting more detailed shots of gloopy, stringy stuff than the average reader will be used to. Miraculously, these depictions never seem gratuitous or exploitative - after all, if the manga’s intention was to titillate, then the last thing it would show is actual spunk. Rather, the shock quickly wears off and the graphic images become vital, if also ugly, glimpses of a person in his most intimate and undignified moment.
Kurosawa’s beginnings as a petty Light allow him to shame the latter’s caricatured portrayal of apathetic youth. He is at first a stereotypical blank slate who interacts as little as possible with his peers and harbours a blunt hostility towards the world. Initially, he seems like a train wreck that’s already happened, offering only sinister laughs and depraved sexual fantasies. But the mangaka finds a glimmer of humanity in all that darkness and uses that leverage to pry him open panel by panel. By the end, he seems not just to have changed, but to have evolved into a uniquely inspiring sort of delinquent.
Onani Master Kurosawa’s cast generally includes people who think they are dirty and dark inside. Their insecurities make them bitter about other people’s happiness, but never inspire them to change or think of themselves as deserving of love. They are the kind of people so used to pushing others away that they cannot accept others accepting them. How can such persons ever escape their spiral of dejection? How will they reconnect with society and make friends? It’s this painful process of relearning their worth that will keep viewers turning from page to page as, I suspect, it speaks a blunt language to anyone who has felt self-doubt.
Onani Master Kurosawa is no ecchi trough from which fanservice animals can feed - it’s too graphic and direct for shallow titillation. And though it starts like a nihilistic piece set only to ride the opportunistic wave of Death Note satire, it eventually carves a new path with moving character studies. Here, high school children are not aloof geniuses but vulnerable beings who make big mistakes. If the Death Note-lite beginning is necessary, it is only to show that cartoon characters can be anything but.
"I'm truly sorry."
People can change. A simple theme that Onanie Master Kurosawa manages to delicately capture and portray through a coming of age story that weaves the lives of two social outcasts as they maneuver through school.
Kakeru Kurosawa is a Junior High School Student who masturbates in the girl's bathroom. He is a loner, not wanting to have friends and preferring to keep himself out of any involvement with anyone in his school, even with people who genuinely like him. He adopts a facade of intellectual superiority. Aya Kitahara, on the other hand, is bullied by her classmates to no end. Both find themselves in a situation where they wreck havoc among their peers, which leads to a rollercoaster of emotions and drama that is heartbreaking but also optimistic, inspiring change in a genuine way.
Onanie Master Kurosawa chooses to stay grounded with its story, allowing Kakeru to grow meticulously alongside the happy and sad moments of the manga. The manga is pretty intense, with some chapters leading to triumph, and others leaving the reader with their heart pounding. This is due to how believable the drama is and how Kakeru and Kitahara themselves are easily sympathisable and empathisable characters. The manga does a great job at connecting the reader to the main characters with the way it conveys the thought processes and mindsets of both of them. It is easy to say that a lot of their deeds are wrong but it is also easy to understand why they are doing the things they are doing. It is clear where they are coming from. They are not perfect characters, and it is exceptionally shown just how ugly their ugly sides are but also how beautiful their growth is as well.
And that is why the redemption of both of these characters is so beautiful. Because it is genuine and sincere, and it does not hold back. Kakeru's redemption is not something that happens in the blink of an eye. People do not just easily forgive him. He suffers for his actions, and the aftereffects are not easy to overcome. The consequences are perfectly reasonable, and the manga shows that actions do indeed have consequences in a blunt and realistic way. But it also shows that redemption can come if you can endure, and Kurosawa chooses the path filled with thorns for a glorious and extremely satisfying redemption arc.
Kitahara, on the other hand, has a harder time coping with her self-destructive habit of revenge. Not everyone can take the hard path, and Kitahara is one of them. This does not make her pathetic or weak-willed in any way, however, as her background and reasons for being the way she is has already been meticulously established throughout the course of the story. It is easy to sympathise with her own circumstances, not just because of her being a victim of bullying, but also because of the fact that she finds it hard to let go. It is hard to look to a better future, and it is hard to start the change yourself.
But change inspires change.
Kurosawa's change helps Kitahara to change. Through Kurosawa's redemption comes his desire to help Kitahara overcome her own inner-conflicts. This is all manifested in an authentic way, with Kurosawa's reformed line of thinking pushing through to inspire Kitahara to also take that first step forward. The outcome is sweet and grants a nice sense of closure for her character.
Bullying, revenge, consequences, and change are prominent themes of Onanie Master Kurosawa, and both are conveyed deeply without any bounds. The manga does not shy away from the hard and ugly truths, but it also communicates the idea that there is a lot to hope for from the "outside world" as Kurosawa describes it. Being lonely sucks. Being bullied sucks. Revenge sucks, too, because it only grants a fleeting sense of happiness. These messages are things that one can easily understand. What Onanie Master Kurosawa communicates most, however, is the idea that with change comes true happiness, and the way it conveys this notion is genuine and sincere, leading to a wholesome outcome that grants a wonderful sense of closure for the reader and which also leaves a positive lasting impression.
It's quite rare for a manga to catch my attention just by title. Summary, reccommendation, artwork - sure, this can easily make me want to read something. But titles are usually more of a cover, that I don't really care about. This time it was different. Onani master Kurosawa - "what the hell? no they didn't..." - those were the first thoughts that went through my head, after noticing this on the list of mangas. Curious about it I went to read summary, and bursted with laughter - they actually did made a manga about a guy who is master of masturbation. The concept was so ridicoulous I couldn't help but check it. I never suspected, that this manga would be a real wild card, unexpected gem that could be truely called awesome story.
Story - 8.5/10
Kurosawa Kakeru, like many young boys hitting puberty, starts to discover his sexual desires. However unlike the other boys he likes to play a dangerous game - masturbate in girls bathroom, after classes are over. During his "daily activities" as he calls them, he relieves the stress by imagining various sex scenes with the girls from his class as the main heroines. In those fantasies, he punishes them for any behaviour he found annoying during the day. Than one day the unexpected happens. Kitahara - the quiet, bullied girl discovers that secret. Suprisingly she reveals her hidden side, and demands his cooperation in "judging the bullies". Blackmailed by her, he is forced to deal "punishment" outside the dream world - by spreading the white juice over gym clothes, text books or whatever else his new accomplice finds suitable object of revenge. Sounds sick? It is sick.
So what's so good about this manga? First half is pretty much all about Death Note parody. Inner monologues of main character, his overgrown ego and "outsider in the society" attitude makes him an obvious caricature of Light Yagami. Even the artwork supports that route, making him visually almost identical to infamous Kira. Watching how he deals "justice" inside the fantasies instead of "magical notebook" is a source of large amusement. In the background a serious slightly dramatic, slightly cute story is slowly shaping. It's not amazing, but it's enjoyable. In a dirty way, but still... However, first half isn't what makes this manga so great - it's what comes after that...
Chapter 17 is a first turning point for this title. Unexpected turn of events suddenly shatters all the comedy, and leaves only dark and slightly insane seinen. Serious story, previously hidden in the background, takes the center stage and plunges this manga into a realistic and psychological study of corruption. But it doesn't stop there - there is yet another turning point (this time won't spoil the exact chapter, read and enjoy the suprise) which shifts the story into completely different direction. All the changes makes it hard to believe it was comedy once - at this stage it's a moralistic manga about growing up, and paying the price of your actions. Saying anything more will really give out too much of the story, so I'll only add, that second half is really valuable reading experience.
Art - 7/10
Drawing style looks like sketched version of Death Note doujinshi. Onani Master Kurosawa doesn't have too much computer cleaning done on it. You can clearly see the pen lines in characters hair, sometimes also clothes, at almost every panel. The character designs are very appealing, though they are almost the only thing that can catch your attention, due to very simplistic backgrounds. Even though this style seems kinda rough, I think it fits the twisted content of the story well. I have a hunch, that it wouldn't be so appealing with clean, normal graphics.
Characters - 8/10
How often do you meet a caricature of some famous character, that surpasses it? For me this is the first time. Kakeru Kurosawa, at the beginning was just a bleak shadow of Light Yagami glory. Suprisingly he turned out to be way better person than his predecessor. More real, more human, more likeable and mentally stronger than corrupted Light, Kurosawa shows what Kira could've been if he hadn't drown in his giant ego and pompous yet pointless actions.He is unique at one more aspect - very rarely we can see such a tremendous growth of ones personality at such a small amount of time. I never expected this from manga composed only of 4 volumes (31 chapters), but the suprise was very pleasant. In the end he doesn't feel like weird and artificial person. If anything he is a lost kid, unable to communicate well with society.
Other characters, while well developed and interesting, still stay in Kurosawa shadow. It's hard to beat a main characte that uses inner monologue almost every chapter. Two most interesting figures are Kitahara, with her desperation and build up hate, and Takigawa, with some of her unexpected actions (not to mention she even gets her own chapter, featuring her inner thoughts ). The cast isn't large, instead it's rich in terms of personality.
Overall - 8/10
If you like deep stories, but gave up after few chapters since it seemed silly - give this manga a chance. If after second half you will still feel dissatisfied, then you have my apologies, but I'm almost certain you won't. It really is a great and readworthy piece of Seinen, dealing with various problem that fan of the genre should find appealing. Highly reccommended read.
well it is best story i have ever come across with such a beautiful narration hats off to master katsura splendid story just out of 100% normal life with no supernatural or killer type of stuff. it talks about the part of life of boys which everybody knows but not speak . at start it feels pretty disgusting but as story procceds it i became more synch with the character not in deeds but in thoughts ending was also preety good the only problem of this story was art which because of being only doujin feels like it was greatly neglected and remained at only beta level all in all that is the only reason for mark deduction otherwise it would have been a perfect series.those who are readin it at first yime bear it with first 3 chapters after that you will understand why i said so . also highy recommended for men though not for women becase i think it is a more man oriented story. anyway you are going to relate to it if have ever such complexity in your life in which you have to mastrubate to stop yourself from going on a wrong path though not like main character who goes in girl's bathroom and do it like daily ritual.
Reviewed after completing the manga.
I was very pleasantly surprised by this manga at the connection the author had managed to create between the reader and the main character.
We literally became the main character and it was as if our thoughts were being magically printed onto its pages as we read it. Weirrrd. Essentially what made this series stand out for me was that it taught me how a series with such a easily misunderstood title (search onani's definition if you don't know) managed to tell such an inspiring story of self-discovery and responsibility after a torrent of psychotic decisions I never imagined anyone would be able to come back from.
It taught me the importance of being able to live with yourself.
I highly recommend this.