Boy’s Abyss Volume One focuses on a high school boy named Reiji Kurose who lives in a rural town.
Boy’s Abyss Volume One
Written by: Ryo Minenami
Publisher: Shueisha, Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: April 25, 2023
Reiji has a rough family situation. His mother works as a nurse and also takes care of Reiji’s grandmother, who has dementia. His older brother is a shut-in who is very demanding. Reiji wishes he could leave to go to college, but his plan is to stay in town and get a job in order to help his mother out. He also has to deal with Gen, who has bullied Reiji his whole life.
On the positive side, Reiji’s childhood friend, Sakuko Akiyama, has introduced him to an idol group named Acrylic. They both really like Nagi Aoe, one of the members of the group. One day, when Gen bullies Reiji into buying cigarettes for him, a new cashier refuses the sale because she sees him in a school uniform, which indicates that he’s underage. Later, Reiji discovers this cashier is Nagi Aoe, and is surprised to find her in his podunk town. Nagi is surprised that someone in this little town even recognizes her, and she makes sure that Reiji will keep her secret. She also convinces him to show her around town.
Unfortunately, this turns out to not be the sweet and innocent encounter it would come across as from that description. It turns dark when Nagi asks Reiji to make a suicide pact with her, which would see them jump off a bridge in the area that’s become famous because of a popular book. This leads to a sexual encounter, which then leads to another surprise… Nagi’s much older husband coming home when she didn’t expect him to. And it turns out the husband has a couple of twists attached to him as well, which gives him some very strong links in this story.
When I was doing some research on this title, I found that it’s being labeled in the “psychological” genre. After reading this first volume, I would agree with this classification. If the revelations about Nagi weren’t enough to potentially scar Reiji emotionally, he also learns that his mother lied to him about something rather important. Before her lie is revealed, Reiji’s mother had come across to me as a sympathetic character trying to deal with her elderly mother and her difficult older son. But once this lie is revealed, it starts becoming a little harder to feel as much sympathy for her.
The story in Volume One went in directions that I hadn’t anticipated, and by the end of it, you have to feel bad for Reiji for how he’s been treated and used by the end of it. But these unexpected twists did make me want to read more if VIZ Media makes the next volume available for reviewers. At this point, Sakuko seems to be the only character that’s truly looking out for Reiji, but with the way things are going, I’m almost afraid that if I do get a chance to read more of the series, that she’ll do something to change my perception of her as well.
When it comes to the art, I found it to be rather hit and miss. There are some panels that look like Minenami put in effort on them, and others where it feels like they were done in a hurry because they just don’t have a lot of detail to them. And it should be mentioned that during Reiji and Nagi’s sexual encounter, there are some panels that contain female nudity and depict sexual acts.
If you enjoy psychological stories, then I would recommend giving Boy’s Abyss Volume One a chance. While this may not get to the level of any of Junji Ito’s stories, I still found it to be a fascinating read. It was an uncomfortable read for me at times, but it needs to be uncomfortable in order to make the psychological aspect work.
The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media