Shonen no Abyss Manga Review

少年のアビス, Shōnen no Abisu

Genre: Drama, Psychological, Seinen, Romance

Written By: Ryo Minenami

Publisher: Shueisha

Magazine: Weekly Young Jump

Volumes: 7

**Spoiler Warning: THERE WILL BE MINOR SPOILERS POSTED BELOW**

***TW: Includes discussions about sexual assault, domestic abuse, alcoholism, and murder.***

Thank you to @ice_tj for submitting this for a review!

Anyone read something that within the first few pages of the first chapter you were like “Oh, I think I can see where this is going” and then the next chapter happens and you don’t know up from down? That best describes my experience while reading this manga. Honestly, it was recommended to me by a good friend of mine, so I wanted to give it a read.

In a town with nothing, in the middle of a daily life with seemingly no signs of change, high schooler Reiji Kurose was “just” living. Family, dreams for the future, childhood friends. All of them were binding him down to that city. He thought he would “just” keep on living like that. Until he met her. Is there hope in living? Is there light waiting ahead? It’s the start of a boy meets girl series which reflects the “now”.

summary via anime-planet.com

Titled, “The Boy’s Abyss” the series revolves around the main character Reiji Kurose. To say his life is pretty depressing is an understatement. He’s only in high school and probably goes through more roadblocks than I’ve seen in a while. But the scary part is it’s not that far off with some of the realities teens today may be facing. Sure, they probably aren’t sleeping with former pop idols or their teachers but there are some who feel just as lost as Reiji does.

Shonen no Abyss was written by Ryo Minenami who is also responsible for Hatsukoi Zombie, Himegoto: Juukyuusai no Seifuku, and Oboreru Hanabi. This is my first time reading anything by this mangaka and wasn’t sure what to expect. The cover art alone was giving me Tokyo Ghoul vibes but it didn’t seem to involve anything supernatural.

I would also not recommend this for readers under the age of 18. It explores a lot of mature topics and features some very suggestive imagery. This one is for older readers.

To start with, the main character Reiji is literally being used by everyone. I feel for him. I kid you not, each time a new character is introduced, they end up using and/or abusing him in some type of fashion. Besides there being nothing in that town for him, I can understand wholeheartedly why he wants to leave. Everyone really…sucks.

Reiji is just a normal 17-year-old boy in high school. He’s trying to get by but unfortunately, that town will not let him have a moment of peace. We first learn about his family. He lives with his mother, who takes care of their grandmother and works, his grandmother, who apparently dislikes him, and his brother, who is a shut-in and very rude to his mother.

His life is just an endless…….abyss. He really only has 1 friend, Chako, who actually listens to him and wants him to get out of that city as well. She’s very smart and wants to be a writer and has a goal of getting into Tokyo University. She’s also a fan of Nagi Aoe, a member of the girl group Acrylic which Reiji also loves. They seem to be his outlet, or more specifically, Nagi seems to be it. It’s the one tiny joy he has in his life at the moment.

Characters

So I literally have to make a flow chart showing the characters and how they were related to each other and who was messing with who, it was a complete mess 🤣 That is how messy this manga is!

Reiji Kurose is the main character and the center of everything it seems. He is somehow connected to everyone, intentionally or not. It’s a small town so when I say everyone knows everyone it is not an exaggeration. You can’t help but feel sorry for him. He is literally being used by everyone he comes into contact with and for whatever reason he trusts these people even after they’ve shown their true intentions. I could say it’s possible to be similar to having trauma after being abused. Just when you thought someone would come along and help him, they just turn out to be trash!

He has this fixation on Nagi Aoe, an idol of the girl group Acrylic, which seems like a way to escape from his crappy town. He wants to escape but feels a responsibility to stay and take care of his mother, older brother, and grandmother. I hate this for him because nobody should have to feel tied down by anyone, including family.

As I stated previously, his older brother is a shut-in, meaning he pretty much stays in his room all the time and rarely goes outside of their house. By the end of the chapter, he has been entangled with nearly everyone in the series and is further and further away from the “freedom” he was seeking. He completely gives up and just accepts that he’s going to stay in that little, crappy town.

Nagi Aoe can honestly be classified as one of the antagonists if you ask me. When we’re first introduced to her, she is working at a convenience store and had everyone like “Uhhhh…..huh?” but it seems only Reiji recognized her. Apparently, she was on hiatus and moved to this small town. It was also revealed she was actually married to a man way older than her. We’re introduced to him briefly once we discover he’s actually the same man Reiji mistook as a homeless person Nagi was giving food to.

Honestly, she was a mystery when she first appeared. I couldn’t make heads or tails of her. She just seemed to mirror Reiji’s hollowness. She didn’t really care to live anymore. She’s actually the one who kickstarts everything. If Reiji is the fuse, she is the lighter (which is funny because of this scene when she lights his cigarette with hers).

Most of the time, I couldn’t tell if she was a victim or abuser. She is one of the people that use Reiji and she also sleeps with him. Mind you, this is after she reveals she’s actually 20 and he is a high schooler, 17 to be exact. Now we’re in the murky territory because that’s technically a no-no. This sets off a chain reaction of events. They get discovered by her husband who is oddly fine with it. Later on, we find out that the pair only married so she could have a sense of direction and purpose in her life, taking orders from her husband.

Of course, it wouldn’t be out of love because there’s no drama in that! Her idol personality and her true personality are completely different from one another and that’s what makes her scary. She’s good at acting so do we feel sorry for her or do we keep her at arm’s length? Reiji decides to choose the former. I do think he is genuinely in love with her, which is scary. I mean she did try to convince him to commit suicide with her like their first meeting, and he was actually gonna go along with it! She’s a dangerous character.

And you know what? She’s not the only one. Let’s move on to Reiji’s friend, Chako. Her real name is Sakuko Akiyama but due to her being chubby, they give her the nickname. I really wanted to love Chako. I thought she had the most promise out of all the characters. She was supportive of Reiji and wanted him to get out of that town with her. Also, each time he was being manipulated by someone, she basically smelled the BS from a mile away and tried to help him.

Then, she pretty much becomes another user. She is just using Reiji as well and what’s sad is she has some feelings for him that I believe are genuine but her jealousy blocks her common sense. We see her be this spark of light at the beginning and by the current chapter, I think her mental state is hanging on by a thread.

She was an aspiring writer who had a fascination with Kosaku Esemori. You know the saying about how you shouldn’t meet your idols? Well, she definitely can vouch for it. Upon the meeting, he attempts to sexually assault her and that’s where her admiration for him ends. She then has to deal with her parents who do not support her going to Tokyo University since they cannot afford it and that really sets her off.

Chako pretty much loses herself. She becomes so depressed at the thought of having to stay in that town forever, eating the same food her mother prepares for her and seeing the same people. After a while stops eating altogether and loses a ton of weight. All of her books were thrown out and her personality became more withdrawn. And then we get the dreaded scene; she tries to get Reiji to sleep with her *facepalm*. Unbeknownst to her, he apparently can’t “get it up” anymore after being stabbed. Yes, we are getting to that, I promise.

So she’s jealous because she knows he slept with Nagi and their friendship just turns really awkward and a downward spiral. I sort of feel bad but then again I also think the two of them need to part.

This brings me to my next abuser; GEN. Dear God, Gen is a MESS. See, all three of them, Gen, Reiji, and Chako were childhood friends. Gen was mainly saving the other two from getting bullied all the time. Gen also witnessed Reiji getting abused by his alcoholic father. He had this feeling that he needed to save Reiji and his mother from that abuse. Fast forward to now and he works for his father’s construction company, pretty much bullying Reiji, like……huh?

He makes him buy things for him and basically orders him around. He tries to justify it as looking out for him but goes ballistic when he learns Reiji tried to commit suicide and wants to leave the town. It’s later revealed that Gen also has feelings for Reiji. Those feelings really turn out to be possessiveness. He is also someone who emotionally abuses Reiji and has a violent streak. He threatens anyone that tries to get close to him and makes him want to leave the town.

However, he also ends up getting manipulated by the same person who is manipulating Reiji the most; Yuri Shibasawa. I actually despise her. She’s the second character I hate the most. I personally cannot stand people like her who take advantage of kids and their situations. She’s a teacher at Reiji’s school and becomes immediately infatuated with him. It’s almost like she has a savior complex where she HAS to be the one to free him from the city. She offers him money, a place to stay, pretends to be on his side all the while using him for her own intentions. She also sleeps with him *Hard facepalm* like that is your student.

Then she turns around and manipulates Gen to the point he’s hiding out at her apartment due to an incident. I’m just not sure why she thought nobody would find out in a SMALL town like people talk.

But, there is one character who is even more despicable than Yuri. Yuko Kurose aka Reiji’s mother. You know when you hear about some parents and their crimes and you just think “Why did they even have children?” Well, that’s exactly how I feel about Yuko. She’s a horrible mother, abuser, manipulator, etc. She is also a victim, so again it’s hard to really criticize her because she grew up being abused by her alcoholic father then turned around and married someone who would also abuse her and was alcoholic. I’ve noticed most of the characters were products of abuse but I simply do not allow that to excuse them being abusers.

Yuko manipulates Reiji the most and the poor boy falls for it every time. She pretty much has the attitude of ‘Since I’m suffering, you should too!’ and I don’t like that. If you’re a parent in a poor situation, you should try everything to make sure that situation does not duplicate with your child. I stand firmly on that.

We also had to deal with the fact that she was sleeping with Gen’s father. She’s definitely not winning any mother of the year awards.

The final character in this mess is Kosaku Esemori or rather his real name is Akira Nozoe. He’s actually more sane than everyone but that doesn’t mean he’s not still messed up. We find out that he met Yuko Kurose when he was younger and the two had grown up together. He’d fallen in love with her. Was the feeling mutual? I didn’t really get that vibe. He’s now a famous author who is married to Nagi Aoe and moved back to take care of his mother…..or so he says.

The only thing that turned me off to him was him trying to assault Chako, which I found it to be random. It was like it just stuck out to me because it didn’t fit. My theory is he did it in order because he knew she would probably tell Reiji and he didn’t want them to get close (for reasons I won’t reveal). Like I said, he doesn’t seem like a bad person and he grew up being bullied and basically felt alone until he met Yuko. I don’t quite know what to make of him. Novelists are usually wise beyond their years so he probably is 10 steps ahead of everyone in town.

He also sort of sets off the main point of the story which is about the “Lover’s Abyss.” This is a reference to a story he wrote about two people who fell in love with each other but couldn’t be with each other in life, so they decided to commit suicide by jumping into a river together. It was clearly based off of him and Yuko or at least the relationship he wanted to have with her.

Highlights

  • Each chapter left you wanting more
  • Perfect for people who like to analyze characters
  • Does a great job of connecting each character to deepen the story

Conclusion

It’s hard to hate this series. I find it to be the equivalent to a train wreck that catches on fire in the middle of a river with a sunset behind it. You can’t look away but you also question why you keep staring. It just makes for a good drama and it is aimed for a more mature audience. I can say it is one of the more shocking managas I have read, plus this was recommended to me by a friend. Does it deserve a 5/5? I think I would need some more chapters and a satisfying conclusion, but I won’t say it’s the worst thing I’ve read. Therefore, I’m giving it a rating of

🍙🍙🍙

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My name is Tequila. My favorite color is blue, my favorite number is 5 and my favorite food is lasagna. I love anime and manga. I also enjoy a good game or two and I love talking about them with anyone who will listen. Do what you will with that information and enjoy my musings.

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