Recently, I decided, “Hey, why not take a short little break from watching my backlog anime to go on a little manga binge?”
I’ll still be keeping up with this fall season and writing posts about it and what not, but I’m going to put a quick halt to watching all the anime on my backlog and step into some manga instead. Of course, I’m a picky bastard and I’ll only be reading supernatural or psychological dramas where romantic elements are involved.
I’ll be randomly updating what I’ve been reading and trying to convince you, my readers, to pick up (or avoid) said manga. Anway, enough blabbing about. It’s time to talk about two magna I recently finished that really hit home with me, Onani Master Kurosawa and Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge.
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Onani Master Kurosawa
Our male lead, Kurosawa, is a pathetic anti-social prick who does nothing more than to lust after the girls at his school. He doesn’t have any ambitions or motivations in life. All he does is take pleasure after school to jerk off in the girl’s bathroom stall up at the third floor.
Ok, ok. If you’ve read the synopsis of the story, don’t leave in disgust, I too was turned off by the premise of the story. But God, after nervously plunging myself into the manga, I was rewarded with a fantastically well-developed, ruthless and touching coming-of-age story.
Anyway, our prick of a male lead continues his act for a good while until he’s caught by the female outcast at the school, Kitahara. Bullied and rejected, she threatens Kurosawa that he must take revenge on all those who ostracized her and if he doesn’t she’ll let the cat out of the bag.
Forced into agreement, more out-of-the-ordinary events begin to take place in Kurosawa’s life and later falls in love with a girl he meets at a library; the first girl he’s ever fallen for and not out of lust. Things spiral out of control after that.
And it’s brilliant.
The first half of the magna isn’t the most compelling. It’s good for the fact that it introduces and gives out outstanding initial characterization. Kurosawa, who in the first quarter is pretty much showcased as a hopeless bastard, is given hints of redemption as he begins to slowly change for the girl he’s fallen madly in love with.
But without giving out major spoilers, the second half is the kick to the teeth. From a seemingly optimistic direction, the tone shifts into a brutal direction. Twist after twist, turn after turn, luck doesn’t seem to be on Kurosawa’s side and he slowly begins to delve into madness and apathy, seeking revenge and giving in to Kitahara’s spiteful whims.
Now, though I’m far from being in the same pathetic realm of Kurosawa, his sudden lurch forward into true love, friendship and wanting a place in society hit home with me.
Onani Master Kurosawa is another series where its core concept and themes lack novelty on paper, but its beautiful emotionally gripping presentation is what drives the manga forward into a heartbreakingly touching tale of maturity and how even our smallest wants in a society can plunge us into downhearted desperation and monstrosity. It handles our male lead with so much care, life-like pain and his development is truly something so many series to fail to achieve.
If you can stomach the sexual content and, specifically, the unrelenting dark atmosphere that looms over the story, then I’d highly give this 31-chapter manga a shot.
Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge
I didn’t even take note that the author of this manga was the same guy who wrote Welcome to the NHK until halfway through. It doesn't quite reach the same level of being a masterpiece that NHK was, but Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge was amazing, nonetheless.
Much like Onani, Chainsaw Edge is a pretty straightforward story in which its run-of-the-mill story is brought to life with its well-executed presentation.
Yamamoto begins to find life meaningless and loses all interest in trying to achieve anything after his best friend dies in a motorcycle accident. One night, after he’s just shoplifted some pork, he meets a young girl, Eri, waiting out on the cold streets for a hooded chainsaw man she says she needs to fight.
It’s a short and sweet little story about the two coming to terms with their true self as they begin to fall in love.
And while I did love Master Kurosawa, Chainsaw Edge left a bigger final impact impression on me. Yamamoto was a character hard to hate and his personality really drew a resemblance with me. Rather than portraying him as the pathetic loser who’s fallen deep into misery like a typical series would, Yamamoto is shown to remain a light-hearted kind of guy with a soft, caring heart. Before and after his best friend’s death he’s still the same awkward and loud-mouthed kid, speaking whatever’s on his mind with absolute honesty, even in the worst moments.
But he’s obviously a conflicted character and even though he remains the same guy on a surface level, hidden beneath is boy who can only look at the glass half empty. He has no idea why he still laughs and smiles. He has no idea why he continues to live the way he does. He attempts to have fun, but for no apparent reason. Death shatters his once naïve view of the world and numbs his sensibility. So when he encounters Eri, he clings onto her and vows to stay by her side no matter the cost even if he can’t do much than watch on the sidelines every time they go out to hunt down the chainsaw man.
Even when Eri claims that she doesn’t need Yamamoto at all and has little care even if he moves away, he’s able to read between the lines and becomes dead set in convincing Eri that she’s just like himself, a lost kid in denial and how they need each other's support.
Again, it’s a simple story but it digs deep into showcasing the juxtaposition of human emotions and actions, how we deal with a current set of problems with a set of new ones in delusion that we’re healing, how we inscrutably grasp onto the past and, in essence, how stupidly stubborn we can be. Like NHK, Chainsaw Edge sends a clear and powerful message, amidst the darkness of life, in hopes of opening up the reader's eyes and telling us that we're in need of following the small sliver of light right at the edge of our vision.