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Manga / Boy's Abyss

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"Your life is your life"

Reiji Kurose has had a hard life. His mother is torn between looking after his senile grandmother and NEET older brother; he's being bullied by his former childhood friend; and worst yet he feels listless and anxious in his small countryside town. While he figures he can get by living like that, everything changes once he meets his favorite idol, Nagi Aoe — and she offers him a way out in death.

Shounen no Abyss, also known as Boy's Abyss, is an ongoing manga written by Ryo Minenami (previously known for Hatsukoi Zombie and Himegoto - Juukyuusai no Seifuku). The manga currently runs in Weekly Young Jump, and has been there since 2020. The series was picked up for an English release by Viz Media.

The series announced a live action adaptation in 2022.


Boy's Abyss provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Very few parents in the series are all that great to their children. Reiji's childhood was contaminated with a physically abusive father and he's been manipulated and groomed (along with his brother) into a passive and dependent young man by his mother for his whole life; Chako's parents don't care for her beyond her good academic standing with her father hitting her after her date with Reiji gets found out; and even Yuko and Esemori had rotten childhoods thanks to their parents.
  • Adults Are Useless: Practically every adult in Reiji's life is worse than useless. They're actively harmful and toxic towards Reiji. The parents of the other kids aren't much better; Chako's father washes his hands of her and her mother goes along with whatever he says, for example.
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  • All Love Is Unrequited: It's a rare thing for any cast member's feelings to go reciprocated in this story. Eventually, Sakuko, Shibasawa, and Gen are revealed to be in love with Reiji, but the latter only has eyes for Nagi, whose feelings on anything are a mystery. Esomori's female high school acquaintance Shino'oka seemed to have a crush on him as well, but he had a mutual crush on Yuko.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Chako eventually tries to sleep with Reiji in an act of desperation, feeling like his unwillingness to have sex with her compared to Nagi and Shibasawa meant that he didn't look at her as a woman. Reiji explains that he considers her special because she hasn't had sex with him yet, but also warns her that he'll stop giving her special treatment the moment they do.
  • Attempted Rape: Gen has a problem with Chako— he recognizes that she's becoming like the toxic and manipulative women of the town, and now desires to marry Reiji to keep him tied down to her. The former does not take this plan well, but his solution to the problem is to attempt to steal Chako away first before she can ever win Reiji over. Said 'stealing' is an aggressive attempt to rape her, which is only stopped when Reiji catches them struggling.
  • The Baby Trap: Yuko's ultimate manipulation of Shibasawa boils down to this. If Reiji wants to leave town, then the only way he'll possibly stay is making him feel like he has duty and a family. Yuko tells Shibasawa to coerce Reiji into impregnating her.
  • Barefoot Suicide: Several times both Reiji and Nagi are barefooted on the bridge talking about committing suicide together and almost do.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Thoroughly disappointed and disgusted by Ms. Shibasawa's behavior, Reiji tells her that he would like "Ms. Shibasawa" the teacher back instead of "Yuri" the lover. She answers this request by going to Chako's school and reporting her near-sexual assault of Reiji to them, under the guise of a good teacher protecting her student.
    • Sakuko's father never wanted her to go outside of town, constantly rejecting her even when she had the academic prospects to back her up. After the incident with Reiji, she has finally given up leaving town, but now she's not going anywhere; her reputation at school is ruined and she's become a Hikikomori.
  • "Begone" Bribe: Shibasawa manages to swindle her grandfather out of over ten million yen, adding that to her current expenses just so she can bribe Yuko into giving her Reiji. Shibasawa intended for her to use the money to put her aging mother and Kazumasa in institutions while Yuko leaves town entirely, while Shibasawa claims to put Reiji in separate housing and finish his studies there. Yuko recognizes that the teacher's intentions are anything but pure, so she holds off on the arrangement.
  • Driven to Suicide: Almost every character in the series has thought of this or attempted this over circumstances in their life that gives them a seemingly hopeless future. An in-universe novel that gets minor focus, Spring's Coffin, concerns two lovers' double suicide due to the village not approving of their relationship.
  • The Dutiful Son: Filial piety isn't exactly praised in this setting. In fact, anyone offering to stay in the town and help take care of their family is portrayed as a person who gave up on their dreams and "matured" into yet another lifeless adult. Chako became this, but Reiji is encouraged not to...which fails, as he's lifelessly supporting the Kurose household after he returns Nagi to Esomori.
  • Dysfunction Junction: None of the named characters in the town can be considered well-adjusted or truly happy with their current lives. Many are deeply troubled individuals that mask their feelings as they go about their day.
  • Elemental Motifs: Water. The town's biggest attraction is a river that acts as the set piece for an infamous town suicide and the backdrop of Esomori's most famous book; rain is a constant presence in the story; and more than once water relates to the animal imagery of fish, best associated with Nagi, Reiji, and those on the volume covers.
  • Extreme Doormat: Nagi and Reiji are both this. They're both unsure of what they want in life, and generally only follow what their peers expect of them. While we still don't know what's made Nagi this way, we do know Reiji was deliberately raised to be subservient and listless.
  • Foreshadowing: In Chako's rant to Esomori, she explains that she hated one avenue of his female characters—that at their core, all they want to do is be "stained" by someone. She further elaborates that she feels girls fear rejection more than any "staining", and that it would hurt harder. This more or less explains Yuko's motivations when her backstory is revealed: she's used sex to get her way and has been forced into sex by her parents, but while she was upset by this, what truly broke her was Esomori leaving and eventually hating her. Her treatment of Reiji stems from using him as a substitute.
  • Generation Xerox: A lot of Esomori and Yuko's backstories are mirrored in Reiji's. Like Esomori, he has a chubby glasses wearing female friend who wants to support him, doesn't have a good relationship with his schoolmates, got bullied on the regular, and was a withdrawn, passive boy. Like Yuko, his older brother doesn't have a good relationship with his parents and isolated himself, his mother is always working, and his father was abusive.
    • By the late game, the whole story looks to be an intentional recreation of Yuko and Esomori's adolescence. A Minegishi was possessive of Yuko and violently protective of her; a bookish, plain looking girl with comparatively milder circumstances served as Esomori's other love interest; Esomori's reactions to Yuko are parallel to Reiji's for Nagi.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Though the children aren't happy either, becoming an adult in the soul-sucking nowhere town is shown to be a borderline Fate Worse than Death. Miss Shibasawa deeply resents her career and prospects. Esemori and Yuko go from good-natured and kind children (with horrible home lives) to become cruel and manipulative adults. Chako announcing that she would remain in the town and grow into an adult is a result of giving up all aspirations for a better life and resigning herself to a life of misery that others have inflicted upon her. As a child, Esemori even proposed that Yuko kill herself with him, as he felt it would be a better fate than living on and becoming an adult himself.
  • Incest Subtext: Yuko is never actively incestuous to Reiji, but as we slowly learn over the course of the series, her obsession with him can rival a lover's sometimes. Everything she's done up to this point was part of a twisted desire to keep him in the town with her, and she fully intended on dying together with him akin to a lover's suicide. She gets pissed off when Reiji calls out for Nagi before he stabs himself, and Esomori pretty much confirms that she was using Reiji as a substitute for himself when he couldn't die with her as teens.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: What makes Shibasawa so effective as a toxic influence is the fact that she's right about a lot of the things she says to Reiji. She agrees with the notion that he needs to get out and away from the town, that Reiji thinks too little of his entire living situation, and that he needs help. However, she thinks that all can be fixed if he simply stays by her and never pursues other girls.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Chapter 45, we see Shibasawa for the first time since Reiji got hospitalized and she arrested for running over Yuko. Rather than disheartened or broken or incarcerated at all, she's rather happy and planning her next steps in her apartment. The panel where she's first seen in full after so long is even positioned as if she was speaking to the reader, smugly asking "Did you think I was in jail?".
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Played for Drama. Everybody in the story uses someone else as this, but nobody is better off for it. Reiji has expectations put upon him by his mother, Yuri, Gen, and even Chako for various reasons, but he feels used and unseen for this, eventually realizing how much everyone relies on him emotionally. He also unknowingly does this to Nagi; As Esomori puts it, Reiji never asked Nagi what was troubling her, and only came to her when he was in need of comfort.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: After Reiji reunites with Sakuko, the latter asks the former to have sex with her and comes onto him in a moment of desperation. Reiji, however, cannot get erect, and after multiple tries proves to her that he's not making it up. His current depression has everything to do with it.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Ms. Shibasawa goes from a mild mannered teacher who feels the mild need to get married, to a full blown toxic manipulator who wants to keep Reiji for herself and "save" him from his depressing life after they have sex for the first time.
  • Love Triangle: Reiji's childhood friend Chako likes him and wants to leave their hometown together. Reiji likes her back and also wants to go together to a university in Tokyo. While his homeroom teacher/girlfriend Ms. Shibasawa falls for him hard enough to get Yandere over him, stalking him and refusing to accept his break-up attempt with her. Meanwhile, he dismisses them both for his infatuation with Nagi.
  • Men Use Violence, Women Use Communication: A dark example. Multiple times the series shows the toxic influence of men on the lives of the characters, particularly physically, but the people that end up doing the most harm are always the women. Most girls try to control their peers with manipulative words or appealing to their better sides to get what they want since they lack the power to chase after it themselves, or at least feel trapped enough that they can't. Meanwhile, most town men use some form of violence to keep people in line or to accomplish goals, such as Yuko and Reiji's fathers abusing their families or Gen pushing Reiji around. Deconstructed, though, in that violence and communication very rarely get them what they want or need, rather than what they think they want in the present time. Everyone is still miserable.
  • Red String of Fate: One cover has Nagi and Reiji connected to one.
  • Rule of Symbolism: When Reiji goes over to Nagi to confess all of his anxieties, he is framed in shadow. It's meant to invoke his confessional game with Chako, where both wear cloth over their faces so they can safely confess their worries. As Reiji took off his cloth and left before he could ever tell Chako anything, his obscurity here shows that he feels safer talking to Nagi about things.
  • Small Town, Big Hell: The manga takes place in a small countryside town, but it is a dreary, soul sucking place. The residents don't take kindly to outsiders and bully them relentlessly, their biggest tourist attraction is a river where two lovers committed suicide together, and it seems like everyone is up in each other's business, as they are wary of the main character because of his mother's promiscuous background and abusive father. Everyone stuck there wants to either leave or make the most of their situation, but they get by on doing this by developing toxic, codependent relationships with each other.
  • Small Town Boredom: The story loves to play with the idea that the town itself is a soul-sucking place. There is very little to enjoy there besides a convenience store and one tourist attraction, the population is aging, and the youth is either unmotivated or trying their hardest to get out of town when they have the opportunity.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: There is no one to really turn to in their town. Reiji couldn't get any help dealing with his toxic household , his abusive father had to be run off by the local gang rather than the authorities (or at least that's what Yuko tells him), and other signs of domestic abuse, like Shibasawa's financial and emotional hold on him and Chako's father's abuse of her mother, go quietly past the rest of the town. And let's not get into the underage prostitution, also perpetuated by a kid's parents...
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Shibasawa, at first, struck up a sexual relationship with Reiji that was only to last until he graduated high school, but as she grows more obsessed with him we see that she really does crave his affection, but justifies it with her martyr complex.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: A weird inversion. As multiple people point out, both Reiji and his mother have genuinely toxic personalities; however, one is more passive-aggressive about it while the other simply absorbs the lessons he's been taught by his peers. However, both of them are treated as "abysses"—while they don't actively do harm to whoever they come into contact with, their attitudes somehow attract others and threaten those enthralled to sink deeper to their rock-bottom emotional level. It's up to the affected to either fall in or resist temptation.
  • Victim-Blaming: Gen tries to guilt Reiji into staying in town by naming him as the root cause for his mother's prostitution.
  • Wham Line: When Rei's older brother makes his first present-day onscreen appearance, his immediate response to Yuko coming home is to beg her to allow him to use the bathroom on his own. This immediately implies that his Manchild outbursts in the earlier chapters weren't him being a spoiled older brother— he was instructed to be so by Yuko, for whatever reason.
  • Wham Shot: Gen has one when he's shown in his room — it's filled with all the cigarette boxes he forces Reiji to buy for him, and he cradles the latest one affectionately, hinting that his behavior towards Reiji is much more than a friend turned bully.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Chapters 49 and 50 focus on Esomori's adolescence, and how he came to fall in love with Yuko.
  • Yandere:
    • Ms. Shibasawa slowly becomes a rare analytical version. When she becomes obsessed, she stalks her student/sex friend Reiji Kurose, constantly tries to persuade him to leave his family and friends behind so he can live with her. However, she knows that her behavior will come off as inappropriate, so her attempts to isolate Reiji include taking official means and convincing others to rid of her perceived threats to their 'relationship'. When he attempted to break up with her, she invited his mother to a parent teacher-conference in an attempt to separate them by having him agree to go to an outside university. Shibasawa also destroyed Chako's last ticket out of town by informing her school of her attempted sex attempt on Rei, which kicks Chako out of the student council program she needed to qualify for a prestigious university and demolishes her teacher's recommendation for said school. Even Shibasawa's bold and blatantly suspect move of attempting to buy Reiji outright from his mother for ten million yen, comes with the caveat that the mother must use some of the money to find a facility or shelter for Reiji's grandmother and older brother respectively as well as move out of their original home. This plot ensures that whatever family ties or concerns keeping Reiji bound to the town are safely severed, leaving herself as the only person in his life he can lean on.
    • A seemingly non-romantic example is Gen, Reiji's childhood friend, when he learns that Nagi tried to have a double suicide with Reiji but was Interrupted Suicide. He threatened her, telling her to stay away from him and to leave. Gen told her that he won't allow Reiji to leave, not even by dying and that Reiji was his. He keeps a pile of cigarette packs in his bedroom when he forces Reiji to buy for him every morning. As it turns out, he does have feelings for Reiji after all—but these feelings are a mixture of guilt for killing Reiji's father, a need to protect Reiji in the only way he knows how, and a supposed interest in Yuko that he projects onto Reiji instead.
    • Reiji's own mom gives off vibes of this, considering she stabs herself after he does while saying they'll always be together.