Myriad manga are set in the school environment and granted, a lot that I've come into contact with focus on cute high school girls. Onani Master Kurosawa however, is unlike anything I've ever read before. At its heart it's a coming-of-age drama that follows the titular Kurosawa as he matures from his anti-social beginning, looking down on everyone around him, to learning the importance of friendship and social contact. Where this manga differs is through is that the central themes, and eventual catalysts for his change are revenge and masturbation.
Kurosawa is a self-alienated boy who keeps very much to himself. He actively chooses not to interact any more than is absolutely necessary with his classmates, and - despite hiding it well from others - actively despises the one person who consistently attempts to reach out to him - a kind hearted otaku named Nagaoka. The only thing the boy actually cares about is his "Daily Duty", and every day after school he waits in the library until everyone leaves before retiring to the girls' bathroom where he proceeds to jack off while picturing one of his female classmates. Charming, right? Well it gets better as when he notices a girl being bullied, he decides to dish out his own form of justice where he steals their uniforms and leaves his sticky white calling card all over them.
Now, I'm no prude by any stretch of the imagination, but the scenes with Kurosawa jerking off in the girl's lavatory weren't pleasant. They were explicit without showing anything (other than a few... "stains" on the wall), mainly due to the blunt and coarse internal dialogue. I confess at this point I was on the verge of dropping Onani Master for its sheer grossness. But I felt I should give it more of a chance. Following his stunt with the bullies, the victim, a quiet and frankly nutty girl, Kitahara, approaches Kurosawa in the bathroom and says that she will keep quiet about his daily activities, if he'd perform the same, twisted vengeance on anyone else she so desires. Frankly, this didn't sound like it was going to get much better, since now it seemed to be a manga about manipulated wanky justice. However, shortly after, the story took a turn that made it far mroe interesting. Slowly, through his relationship with a girl in his class, Kurosawa begins to undergo a gradual transformation and what follows is a fairly impressive tale of love, atonement, and the importance of never being alone.
I personally think that the artwork is probably the most impressive aspect of Onani Master, which doesn't necessarily fly the flag for great story and characters. However, the art style is unlike anything I've seen in another manga. The main drawings look to have been drawn by pencil, and instead of using screentone, the shading has been created again by pencil. Then in an odd contrast to this very hand-drawn feel, the gradient tones appear to have been digitally added. It's an odd sort of effect, but at the same time it's oddly effective. This rougher, more sketchy style of artwork, complements the crude nature of the content - after all if a scene with a boy whacking off was crisp, precise and pristine, it would give off too much of a clinical vibe, and this is meant to be dirty. Dark, unsavoury, and dirty.
Certainly, if you can get over the initial parts with Kurosawa's vulgar, no-nonsense toilet exploits, then you may well enjoy this manga. Honestly, I'm glad that I did continue reading. It may not be one of my favourite series ever, but for a teenage tale with a twist, it was quite impressive. So if you have some spare time, it's only four volumes long, why not give it a go.