Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Manga Review: Onani Master Kurosawa - Volume 1

It has been a long time since I've wanted to review a manga straight after reading it. I just finished volume 1 of Onani Master Kurosawa – a brilliant manga that is considered doujinshi because it is a parody of Death Note. It also helps that the scanlators dubbed this Fap Note, especially since “Onani” means “masturbation”. Now, if all you innocent young readers out there are getting a little shocked, I'll have to remind you that I've reviewed worse things on here, and I probably will review ones even worse than those! But at this point, don't underestimate this manga just because of the title. There is a substance to this that I so deeply adore.

Onani Master Kurosawa is a manga that isn't simply about a guy who likes to masturbate. That is only the general setting for the story. This manga is about a guy with a habit. And then one day he uses that habit to deal out justice. Then he kinda gets caught and is forced to use that habit a little more. And that habit is – yes, you've guessed it. Onani. His “daily duty”, he calls it. See, our leading man, Kurosawa, goes to the girls' bathroom in the old school building every day after school, and masturbates to fantasies of him screwing with the girls in his class. At first you're thinking “Ugh, honestly, where's the substance in this? He's just a horny kid who jacks off in a bathroom stall to images of his female classmates choking on his dong.” Well, honestly, it's more than that. The plot does thicken!

Aaaaand, random art fangirling off-topic starts now! Oh. My. LORD. I love this artwork. This is one of the situations when the artist of the manga is different to the author, and I'm not familiar with this artist. Did my research and figured out that since this is a doujinshi of sorts, this is the only work he has that has been published, but there is more in store for this blooming mangaka. I know I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye on him! This is sketchy and raw with gorgeous pencil lines and a meticulously careless way of shading things. To some extent, it's funny, but I love the way he draws hands. I notice lots of expressions through hands, and more so in this manga. Partially because the artwork is so attractive to me, and partially because this guy is a freaking talented genius. What I mean to say is, I noticed a subtle use of hand gestures here. The way a character might refer to something, an indicator of someone's stance or even force and movement. Aaah, good artwork satisfies me in a way nothing else could at 1AM. Also, might I say this man has a TALENT for drawing expressions. I love it. I must say I laughed when I saw the cover page for this manga. When this artwork is cleaned up and has colour added to it, I'm sorry to say it loses its charm. I can't imagine it being anything other than roughly done in that sketchy, unfinished style. I also hope he can improve on his line finishes when he inks, because the cover looked like it was done by an amateur, which was pretty disappointing after reading an entire volume then going back and looking at the front. Sad, I tell you! But I adore it anyway :)

Right, let's get down to talking about what this manga is actually about! Kurosawa, a boy with distaste for everything. Well, mostly for the people around him, like the annoying, clingy Nagastuka Keiji or the otakus or his teacher even. It's a little bit funny sometimes, because it reminds me of my high school days where I'd stare at everyone around me and go “Why am I surrounded by a bunch of shallow idiots?” - but that's not what this is about. It's about the good, the bad and the ugly of human nature. Now, I know you're sitting there shaking your head at the screen going “How can masturbating tell you about human nature?” Well, shut up and keep reading! That's why you made it this far, right?

There are various social settings that our protagonist partakes in, which are all essentially part of the same collective ruling – the brutalities, inhumanities and stupidities of school life. What perturbs me at times is the fact that these kids are only 14, but you get over it quickly once you become absorbed in the story – which I'm not sure is a good or bad thing. Apart from the fact that Kurosawa masturbates every single day after school, he's quite observant to the different cliques that the students hang out in and the social hierarchy that they've split themselves to – and he chooses to stay out of it. That, I think, is pretty smart, but at the same time it doesn't mean he's ignorant. He notices who has been bullied, who has the unspoken authority, who is downright annoying – all that. The beginning half of the volume is pretty much an introduction to this. You get to know more about Kurosawa's daily habits and you understand the social setting through his eyes. Mostly, this view is disdainful and judgemental, but you start to understand that this isn't just the harrowing monologues of a dark seething pre-teen. I think there's a truth behind it that you don't immediately realize, but it sneaks up on you quite well.

So the story so far seems like two disconnected things: a disgustingly realistic portrayal of school life – and a chronic masturbator. How these things come together (hahahaha, come. I'm so childish!) is from the help of a little mousy (she's described as “squirrel-like” in the manga) girl called Kitahara. She's the main victim of the bullying and after a gut-wrenching scene that will certainly make you want to gag and cry at the same time, Kitahara is filled with frustration and rage. Given the right opportunity, that combination can be quite dangerous. Now hold that thought while I go on to talk about some masturbating, then I can connect these two things together.

Kurosawa is also raging. His rage is due to the fact that everyone knows where the injustice is, but no one will do a thing to correct it. So what does he do? He takes matters (and his man-meat) into his own hands, and masturbates. All over the bullying girls' clothes. Not while they're wearing them, of course, that would be awkward. But through careful deliberation, Kurosawa deals some revenge – and justice – through jerking off. Since this is an entire volume review, I'm not going into detail, so I encourage you to read it and find out exactly what happened and how it all went down. Like some dick-tugging vigilante, Kurosawa anonymously becomes a saviour!

Or so he thinks.

Let's go back to raging, frustrated Kitahara. She's pretty smart and puts things together pretty quickly, so she seeks Kurosawa out and asks him for a favor in return for her silence about his “daily duties”. He got back at two girls, but there's still one that she thinks deserves some pain too. And how does she intend on doing this? By being “the catcher in the toilet” – appointing Kurosawa to do her dirty work for her. (I swear I'm not making all these bad puns on purpose!) The volume ends with Kurosawa accepting this arrangement – because he has no choice, and Kitahara about to state her proposition.

Then it's over. Honestly, you're just salivating for more at this point. And you have to admit, once you get this far, you know the next volume is really going to be worth it. It's right now that you realize that the story has only just begun, and there's so much that could be done with this story. So far, I'm impressed. My only hope is that it doesn't escalate into heights of stupidity, or lose the plot along the way.

Random notes on this volume are Kurosawa's hilarious punchlines at the end of each of his sessions (such as his references to his “man juice”. Is he serious? Haha!) – an obvious play on the style that this was written. This is a story that has its dangerous side while being subtly laced with satirical overtones, and it's then that the parody of Death Note comes out. The comedy in this is in its overplayed seriousness. Kurosawa's serious or malevolent expressions sometimes seem comical because you can connect it to Death Note so well that it makes you laugh. Especially when you realize that he's talking about jerking off. It's classy, smart and funny, in an odd masturbatey way. However, on a more serious note, the connections to Death Note are also in Kurosawa's observations of people, his distaste for them and his inner monologue that basically picks out every human flaw these people carry. It's sad, but true, because sometimes you can't help but agree with him, despite his magnified aversion to social situations. But somehow, you can't help but tie it back to his own habit. It's almost like a paradox, but who's judging who at this point?

Now, I've pretty much devoured my way through this manga, and I think you should too. So stay sharp kidlets, and keep your hands to yourselves! Or don't. Depending on how much you like this manga. I won't judge *wink wink*



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