Title: Boys Abyss Vol. 1
Author: Ryo Minenami
Release Date: April 25, 2023
Publisher: VIZ Media
Written by Ryo Minenami, Boys Abyss Vol. 1 centers around Reiji Kurose as he plans his future. He is caught in a dilemma over how to choose which path to take for his future on the crisp of graduating from high school. However, he soon discovers that idol singer Nagi Aoe has been secretly living in the town with her husband and working at a convenience store for the last few months. Upon discovering this, Reiji soon makes a twisted promise to Nagi that brings about a domino effect on those around him.
One of the positives that Boys Abyss Vol. 1 has to offer is how beautiful the rural town setting that the story takes place in feels as well as its lore which soon becomes central to the story and how it relates to Reiji making the pact with Nagi in the first place as well as how dysfunctional their lives have become.
Each chapter in the volume gives introductions to those that will be important in the story as it goes on, such as Reiji and his life with his family and how he has to deal with his brother, who has anger issues, and grandmother, as well as his mother Yuko who is exhausted with doing her job at the Hospital, as well as dealing with her dysfunctional family.
The story also focuses significantly on Nagi and her issues as to why she’s on hiatus from her idol career and why she moved to the rural town in the first place. Her life puts into perspective relatable things that an idol singer like her has to deal with, which eventually causes her to make the pact with Reiji and why she came to the town in the first place.
A bit of a warning going into this story, Boys Abyss Vol. 1 is not some slice-of-life story taking place in a small town with a bright outlook for the future. While it has the remedies of, such as the main character meeting a new person and life-changing around them, it is also a dark and cynical tale about people clinging onto a teenage boy who starts to manipulate him into situations he suddenly has to brace for as Reiji’s relationship with Nagi, turns adult for him. On the other hand, Yuko is pressuring him into taking a job that he might not even like. Lastly, his old childhood friend Gen, who hangs out with a rough crowd, also works there and intends to use his position to abuse Reiji while in power.
It might be too cynical at times for readers, and they’re some scenes that might be off-putting at times, but the story at least tries at times to be lighthearted, such as scenes with Reiji and his friend Chako. Although Chako wishes to move out of town and to Tokyo, she also happens to be a fan of Nagi and her husband’s works and becomes increasingly suspicious of how quiet Reiji has become the more he sees Nagi herself.
It also caught me aback at times with how the story goes; expect to see some twists and turns where you discover a character that was introduced earlier in the story comes back a few panels later with the reveal that they will be an important character from that moment on in the story.
Despite its cynical and quick turn towards dark content, Boys Abyss does at least give you parts where you sympathize with characters such as Reiji and Nagi as this volume delves into Nagi’s past and why she became the way she was now. However, what she still does with Reiji is still creepy.
Reiji is still a good protagonist for a story like this as you end up feeling his struggle to either stay in town or go to Tokyo and continue his education through college. However, Reiji also has a struggling family to support, and he doesn’t want to leave them behind, despite the stress it’s giving him as it slowly builds to a boiling point.
Boys Abyss Vol. 1 takes place in a cynical town, with the story slowly moving in a cynical direction, but a few characters stand out as they try and move towards their future and handle the dilemmas they face. As Reiji struggles to choose his future, he ends up getting a dark third solution thanks to the pact he makes with Nagi.
Boys Abyss Vol. 1 deals with dark themes such as suicide and mentions of abuse, so if you can stomach how dark a story like this can turn into, as well as sexual themes, then Boys Abyss is a good, if flimsy, step into a dark version of the slice of life genre. But if you’re expecting the story to make another turn and be happier, don’t be so hopeful.
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