Reiji’s life is as miserable as the small town he can’t escape. The most interesting thing that’s ever happened there is a double suicide down by the river. Does Reiji have any power over his fate, or will he too fall into the abyss? Reiji’s mother is checked out, he’s stuck caring for his grandmother with dementia, and his childhood friend treats him like a lackey. Then beautiful, big-city pop star Nagi miraculously shows up working the counter at the local convenience store. Reiji is starstruck. When she offers him the ultimate way out of his claustrophobic existence, will he succumb to temptation...?
Source: VIZ Media
For those seeking guidance on whether to embark on the journey of reading "Boy Abyss," I implore you to heed my warning and spare yourself the disappointment and frustration that awaits. Firstly, if you are in search of a manga with profound depth, metaphor, and an overarching theme, I must emphasize that "Boy Abyss" is not the answer. Despite tackling weighty subjects such as suicide, rape, and depression, the manga falls drastically short of exploring them in a meaningful and thought-provoking manner. To claim that this manga possesses depth merely due to its inclusion of these themes would be a gross misrepresentation. In truth, "Boy Abyss" feels like a haphazard amalgamation of disjointed ideas, woven together without any coherent order or purpose. It appears as if the author jotted down a spider web of concepts they wished to explore and then hastily concocted a contrived and implausible connection between them. Even after delving into 84 full chapters, the main plot remains woefully underdeveloped. The initial premise, centered around a high school-aged protagonist yearning to escape the oppressive circumstances of their life, quickly devolves into a chaotic whirlwind of random occurrences. To delve into explicit detail would spoil the experience, but suffice it to say that the actual story surpasses the level of depravity found in "Himegoto: Juukyuusai no Seifuku," another work by the same author, by a magnitude of ten. "Boy Abyss" presents a collection of disconnected events where characters continuously exploit and manipulate one another, with the author relying on soft-core touches and shocking themes to pique low-level curiosity. Unfortunately, any potential deeper meaning remains elusive, as readers are left to decipher implicit implications that lack substance. In a well-crafted narrative, it is the author's responsibility to deliver on these implications, rather than placing the burden on the reader to fill in the gaps. Regrettably, "Boy Abyss" fails to meet this standard. If you crave a "dark" manga that fearlessly confronts the grim aspects of the world and its inhabitants, I urge you to look elsewhere. While "Boy Abyss" briefly touches upon dark subjects, it does so fleetingly, utilizing them as plot devices for momentary shock value rather than delving into their depths. The author tantalizes readers with allusions and explicit mentions of these subjects, teasing their potential impact on a well-written story, only to abruptly shift focus to the next fleeting moment. Although the themes themselves possess the potential to evoke unease and discomfort, the author fails to establish a significant emotional attachment to the characters, rendering these fleeting moments devoid of genuine impact. One might argue that with time, the story will delve deeper into these themes, but even within the span of 84 chapters, "Boy Abyss" exhibits an unfortunate pattern of veering off course and abruptly introducing new storylines only to haphazardly tie them back later. Furthermore, considering the author's penchant for sacrificing plot in favor of deplorable content, it comes as no surprise when similar detours plague this manga. The overall pacing suffers greatly, with an unnerving speed that lacks meaningful substance. For those seeking a romance manga with elements of the aforementioned themes, I implore you to look beyond "Boy Abyss." There is an absence of any romantic qualities within this story. Any reader claiming otherwise, having endured the latest chapters, possesses a distorted perception of what romance truly entails. The only redeeming aspect of "Boy Abyss" lies within its artistry. The visuals exhibit commendable skill, with a mix of hand-drawn scenes that captivate the eye and filtered real-life pictures commonly found in slice-of-life manga series. If aesthetics alone can satiate your desire for an enjoyable reading experience, then this manga may hold some appeal. In conclusion, I must assert that "Boy Abyss" has received unjustified acclaim from many of its readers. While the manga possesses the potential to be something extraordinary, the erratic mess presented thus far, coupled with the author's track record, diminishes hope for a cohesive and remarkable narrative. Spare yourself the disappointment and explore alternative works that genuinely deliver on the depth, darkness, and romance that "Boy Abyss" fails to provide. Review was updated in response to criticism from the communities.
BE WARNED, THERE ARE SPOILERS IN MY REVIEW! TL;DR I binge-read this entire series in the span of one night, and I could feel it actively making my mental health state worse with each volume I read. If you're in a fragile mental state, I do NOT recommend reading this series, let alone bingeing it as I did. If you want an insane, twisty, horrific drama of a manga series, then this is probably the pinnacle of it. Anything else, I would avoid this series, personally. I'm not going to pick it back up as more chapters come out, because I value my mental health. Volume One - 3.5 Stars A very tentative 3.5 stars. I...I don't know how to feel about this one. Reiji's life is an extremely grim one. Seemingly locked into his life situation with seemingly no way out of it. Treated like trash by his childhood "friend", stuck trying to support his mother while she cares for their dementia-stricken grandmother and violent shut-in older brother. He has not been allowed to choose his future, so in his eyes. he has no future, except to work doing menial labor in his dying small town, forever. He meets Nagi, a former (?) pop idol who asks him "Hey, do you want to die together?" The overarching plot for the volume is Nagi and Reiji talking about committing suicide, either together or separately. I can't tell if this manga is romanticizing suicide or just being very strange about it? I know suicide in Japan is viewed differently than how it is in other countries, but it's still very baffling how blase it is about the subject. Neiji keeps teeter-tottering between living and dying. He keeps flickering between the two, trying to weigh the pros and cons of his current life or just dying. Is death better when your life is so miserable you might as well be living dead? (The answer is NO, by the way, there is ALWAYS a way out and life is always the better option, even if the way is extremely difficult.) This manga is honestly deeply unsettling, and if someone has a history of suicidal ideation, extremely upsetting. I felt myself reading on in the "It's terrifying but I can't look away...I need to know what happens next for my own closure" way. I also should not have double-tasked and read this while listening to someone play a Japanese horror game. [SPOILER] <label class="spoiler" for="b855bc0a-3f25-4ea1-a333-cd02c632b88c">Also, the fact that a teenager is sleeping with a 20-year-old is very...yikes. I'm going to hope he's somewhere close to eighteen since he's talking about getting a full-time job that year. But seeing as Nagi herself does "Oh, I'm breaking the law" whilst sleeping with him...yikes. Also not sure how I feel about it being made out as if Nagi sleeping with Reiji was erotic or something. It wasn't. It was so uncomfortable to read. Also extremely confused by Nagi, who is only twenty, being married to a forty-six-year-old man. It's been told to the reader, over and over, her husband is a bad person. But...bad how? What did he do? [END SPOILER]</label> Volume Two - 3 Stars ...What the fuck. What the hell is this series? Is this just supposed to be nothing be pure misery, the entire time?! I'll give it to the third volume, if it doesn't improve, I'll have to stop. The only reason I'm giving it a 3-star right now is because it has excellent art. The artist also does a good job of making you feel the subtle horror of it all. <label class="spoiler" for="8d1a9727-a3e2-4318-8c48-1bcfb3318dba">[SPOILER] But seriously, what is this series? I thought MAYBE there would be a normal person in the teacher, but not. I thought maybe she'll be the driving force for Reiji trying to live, but instead, she just uses him to satisfy herself. The way she INSTANTLY became obsessed with him was disturbing. I thought Nagi being a twenty-year-old sleeping with a seventeen-year-old was bad, but the teacher as a twenty-nine-year-old sleeping with a seventeen-year-old is even worse. The teacher is clearly unhinged. She tells him "Let me indulge in this illicit student teacher relationship. You'll understand when you're an adult." I the reader am an adult and I sure as hell don't understand why you would want to sleep with a TEENAGER. The childhood friend attempting to roughly have intercourse with Nagi on the side of the road only to abandon her angrily once she says Reiji is trying to die was a whiplash. Why does he treat him like such garbage if he doesn't want Reiji to die?! Also, which is the final chapter, where they trying to imply that Gen is sleeping with Reiji's mother?! What the fuck?! This series shouldn't be called Boy's Abyss it should be called Human Depravity. [END SPOILER]</label> Volume Three - 3 Stars It...seems to have gotten a bit better? It's not just purely doom and gloom anymore, it's turned into a dark drama. It's still very grim, but there are now plot tendrils that hint at bigger secrets that will slowly be revealed. So now it feels like there's a reason to read on. Still, this would still be down at 2.5 if the art wasn't so good. I am seeing a pattern with characters giving these huge confessions to Reiji, and then something terrible happening. Not sure how I feel about it. [SPOILER] <label class="spoiler" for="aa1aa491-bb83-4b15-94bb-891a94db9e4f">Seeing the track record for the first two volumes, I was terrified that the female best friend Chako, would end up sleeping with the author, Esemori. I breathed such a heavy sigh of relief when she rebutted his advances and left. The teacher is still unhinged, but setting asides her atrocious behavior of sexually using Reiji, at least she has a goal of saving enough money to get him out of their town forever and cutting him off once he's gone. At least she's one of the very few who wants Reiji to live. The reveal that Chako likes Reiji romantically honestly felt like a breath of fresh air. Finally, a hopeful point in this cesspool of misery. Also, now I really want to know what the hell is up with Esemori. I have a feeling that Reiji's mother is much more deeply connected to Esemori than what has been explicitly stated. [END SPOILER]</label> Volume Four - 3 Stars I thought it was already twisted, but my god, it's now become an insanely tangled mess. It's so tangled it looks like a Rat King. Why am I still reading this? What the hell is it about this trainwreck that makes it so I can't look away? <label class="spoiler" for="dff5c556-2b94-484d-98c1-fae13a4b8e06">[SPOILER] I swear to god, every woman in Reiji's life is insane in some way. My assumption of the mother was the one who was planning on committing suicide in the '90s. But I did NOT expect her to respond to her son saying "I attempted to kill myself" by saying "Well if you're committing, we can do it together". Like...HUH? WHAT? The reveal that the Mom is sleeping with Gen's dad isn't even that shocking, compared to everything else going on in this story. Hell, it feels almost tame. Now the teacher has gone from just sort of delusional, to literally insane. Like obsessed stalker insane. She's seriously scary, seeing her mental flow is so scary. I am so concerned for Chako near the end half. She's the most normal person out of anyone in the volume. Even though she's trying to sleep with Reiji, I think that's her way of desperate attempt of being more like an adult and trying to regain normalcy. The cliffhanger of this volume makes me EXTREMELY nervous though. Is volume five going to be the volume where the teacher finally snaps? [END SPOILER]</label> Volume Five - 4 Stars Every time I think to myself "Okay, this is it, this is the limit of how bad it can get", this series obliterates the limit, and gets even worse. Can Reiji not catch one single break? It seems like everyone claims that they love him and will help him get out, but then turns around and abuses him. Holy mother of god. What kind of tangled hellscape is this town?! [SPOILER] <label class="spoiler" for="44680d5d-ada1-45ee-8f78-a183632af397">Wow, the teacher is insane. Literally insane. Though I will admit, I did NOT expect the Mother to be like that towards Reiji (not sexual thank god, just...insanely possessive.) and I did NOT expect Gen to be in cahoots with her. My guess of her being connected to Esemori was correct, but I think their power dynamics with each other are not what I guessed. Also, Chako remains the only one in this entire series with any normalcy. Yeah, she's also going through it, but her responses to her strife are normal. [END SPOILER]</label> Volume Six - 3.5 Stars God, this story is so god damn dark. It's insanely heavy too. But now I feel like there is an element of mystery. Now I want to figure out what the hell the mother's deal is. There is clearly more to her than what appears. I liked seeing some of her backstory and seeing Esemori's backstory. It changes the light you see both of them in. Esemori was painted to be this powerful evil person, but this volume changes the perspective. The same goes for the mother. She's shown as the poor, fatigued suffering saint of a mother, but this volume has changed the color of her spotlight. I'm actually interested in what's going on in her mind space. <label class="spoiler" for="d64e85a8-7dd5-42b9-820c-f76208e3bc4b">[SPOILER] Now I want to know what the hell the deal is with the older brother. The reveal of his actual blood relationship added even more confusion to this story. Also, I am constantly scared something is going to happen to Chako, or that she's going to get manipulated into doing something horrible. Totally hope the teacher gets her just desserts, cause she clearly needed to get put away. [END SPOILER]</label> Volume Seven - 3.5 StarsI....what the hell. What in the goddamn hell. There HAS to be a limit to how insane this story can be. There has to. I sort of suspected the reveal at the very end of the volume, but it still shocked me. This series is insane. I feel like I'm going insane reading it. [SPOILER] <label class="spoiler" for="2bb4a3e8-8f36-4e66-9ff8-d2fc17290805">Okay, I'm not going to lie, I got some unrequited angry pining vibes from Gen in later volumes, but I didn't think he would come out and say it. Also, really did NOT expect the revelation that HE is the one who killed the dad. I thought Gen's father was the one who killed the dad. The mother is such a manipulator too. The whole scene in the closet and after made me realize that she manipulated Gen into killing the dad because she knew that Gen's father wouldn't let his son get punished for it and would completely take care of the cover-up. She probably couldn't afford to pay off someone to kill him, so she used Gen's love for Reiji in order to get rid of the dad. Absolutely insane. Now we know WHY the mother and Gen can't leave the town, they have to stay to make sure the body remains hidden away. And now we know why Gen is so obsessed with forcing Reiji to stay alive and stay in town. If Reiji dies, then what was the point of him killing the dad? God, how deep of a pit of insanity is Reiji connected to? I now also want to know, what the hell is the brother's role in all of this? We now know he's not actually a shut-in but is being forced to be a shut-in. Why? Because of who? I'm assuming the older brother is also being manipulated by the mother as well. [END SPPOILER]</label> Volume Eight - 3 Stars So the pace has slowed way back down and returned to the more grim and gloomy feeling of the first few volumes. It's gone from insane to depressing. Everyone has fallen into a pit of despair, with seemingly no hope of light at the end of the tunnel. Is the series going to end this way? Are none of them going to make it out of this cursed town? Are they all either going to die unhappy? This series is so depressing. Also, the teacher...god that aggravating teacher. I'm honestly now only reading to see if someone, anyone, gets to get out of this hellscape and be happy. Not holding out much hope, but good god, can just someone get an okay ending?! <label class="spoiler" for="740c95c6-8bb3-469e-aa21-743acec61742">[SPOILER] I was suspicious when the teacher suddenly started acting "normal" and that she regretted her actions. I forgot to say previously, but I am glad at least ONE character said, "Hey you slept with a seventeen-year-old, that's really messed up.". I did start thinking that maybe, the teacher really was regretful for her insane actions and was trying to actually atone. But nope, she was faking normalcy. God dammit. I'm also not sure what's up with Gen. Why would he randomly try to kill his girlfriend, whom we never meet? So confused about that one. [END SPOILER]</label> Volume Nine - 3 Stars This is the point in the series where the story feels like it's wavering. The plot feels like it's being dragged on longer than it should be and should have ended somewhere around volume seven or eight. It also feels like it's just inventing more ways of making the story miserable. I'm finding myself irritated and impatient for the ending to come around. I just want this series to end already. <label class="spoiler" for="745c76ef-438e-45aa-8ac9-71099818c54e">[SPOILER] Also...seriously? You couldn't let Chako at least be the one who gets out? Why does she have to get dragged down into misery with everyone else? Also, is this story implying that it's Reiji's fault everyone else is screwed up? I thought this might try to broach how generational trauma can cause horrific events for people suffering from it. Because clearly the mother suffered from generational trauma and passed it down to Reiji. But...the fact that it's generational is kind of ignored. Also, what the hell is up with Gen. He's now kind of annoying, he just gets angry and smacks people around. Also, he's not gay? He just had a crush on the mom the entire time? [END SPOILER]</label> Volume Ten - 3.5 Stars If it wasn't for the art, I don't think I would have read this far. This volume has some gorgeous art near the end of the volume. You can feel the tension and regret. This part of the story goes another deep dive into the mother's backstory. It is insane to see how drastically she changed from how she was in the past to how she is now in the present. Volume nine really wavered in the plot to me, but volume ten has seemingly evened out. I still wish the series was over already though, it's dragging on a little too much for my liking. Volume Eleven - 3 Stars Plot has slowed way down, but has evened out. A lot of this volume is backstory, and basically a long explanation of how we got from the events in the past to the chain of events in the "future". Also, the mother and the teacher are both plotting something, but I don't know what. Very ominous though. <label class="spoiler" for="1633019b-341d-4b1d-a527-7aa0f7f91968">[SPOILER] The fact that Esemori basically planned Nagi and Reiji meeting is wild though. Like, that required a LOT of coincidences to happen how he planned it. Also, I really don't like the mother manipulating the teacher into doing what she wants, in such a bizarre way. The teacher is a manipulator herself, but in comparison to Yuko, she's an amateur. The mother (Yuko) gets more and more ominous the more we learn about her. [END SPOILER]</label> Volume Twelve - 3 Stars Man, I really don't know how to feel. Every time a "truth" is revealed in this story, I'm never sure if it's actually the truth or another of Yuko's machinations. The plots are a tangled, gory spider web of insanity. Again, I'm still struck with the feeling of just wanting the final resolution of the series to come and get done with it already. This series is marked as a "dark drama" but my God, it feels more like a horror drama at times. Also, judging from how many chapters there are per volume, I think I technically read the equivalent of volumes twelve and thirteen. But there's no listing for thirteen yet, so it just all goes here. <label class="spoiler" for="59ff6185-3a29-450c-8b40-e15adab7edc3">[SPOILER] Jesus fucking Christ, Yuko being the mastermind being everything is insane. Also, I think it was implied that the stuff with Yuko and Reiji is more than generational trauma, it's a generational curse. A long generational curse, since Yuko's grandmother, talks about Yuko's mother being "punished" for daring to leave. This long chain of family misery is incredibly wild. I also really want to know who the fuck Reiji's blood father is. Also want to know Yuko's obsession with dragging people down with her. What the hell is that even about?? [END SPOILER]</label>
This is such a good manga, words can't express how i feel for this. The story is so dark and yet so relatable,I love how the author showed different perspectives of other people's issues. This makes the story way more relatable and really touches my heart man. The art is so good and each panel is conveyed in such a way which is relevant to the story. Like the hospital scene where Reiji was talking to Mr Esemori and how he said he doesn't know what freedom is, he is like a bird stuck in a cage. I got the chills when I saw the bars surrounding the hospital rooftop, truly showing that what he feels is real and that he truly doesn't know how to be free. How he sees Yuko in his son, how they are so similar. God this manga is so sad, the way the author is able to make us feel sympathy to even the worst bastards in this manga. This is such a well written and thought out story, even the panels have significance to it all. I think the only issue I have about this manga is the pacing. I think it could be handled better but instead this manga is just a bomb of despair, which I don't mind but this might not be your cup of taste. Everything is progressing very quickly without time to address all issues but some part of me feels as though that is what makes the manga unique. I mean it's just my opinion so if you don't enjoy that manga, it's okay. I highly recommend this to people unless they can't take in dark themes well. I'm still waiting for more and will continue, also waiting for english translation for the physical manga. I really want to purchase thisss and will support the author! ps: i think what mindset youre in determines how much you will enjoy this manga because I read this when I was in a very dark point of my life so... I would still rate this high because this manga was like something i find comfort in ( oddly enough) overall, 9/10 I loved it
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