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.