Manga Review: Boy’s Abyss

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known and Shounen no Abyss and 少年のアビス

Score: 7.2/10

Boy’s Abyss is a heavy, emo drama mostly about depression and suicide. It’s also got a lot of nudity in it. However, this is one of those stories where the nudity pales in comparison to the subject matter discussed. This is a sad story about people trapped in their circumstances and how being trapped can have extreme effects on people’s behavior.

Boy’s Abyss is about a high school student stuck in a dead end town in Japan. His family has no money. His grandmother is senile and needs constant attention. His father is no where to be found. His brother is a thirty year old shut in. And all these people are being supported by a mother who is just scarping by financially and emotionally. The student also has his own troubles as he is constantly bullied and will likely need to drop out of school to work and support his family. The protagonist fears he will forever be trapped in this abyss. One day, he bumps into a girl who asks him if he’d like to commit suicide with her. As the plot progresses, we learn about the abyss within many of the town’s residents.

This is a deeply depressing story. What’s interesting is that it reminded me a lot of independent movies from the United States. Many indie films cover the same type of subject matter like sadness and depression. There’s just something very artistically attractive about a story involving suicide and depression. Boy’s Abyss feels like one of these stories and follows very similar beats to one of these indie dramas.

The other interesting aspect is that there is quite a bit of nudity and sex in this manga. However, this story is one of the few times where I felt the sex and nudity actually served a narrative purpose. Sex in this story is simply an escape, a minor detour down the road of depression. For some characters, life is meaningless, so sex is just about as meaningless and numbing as any other action they can take in their lives. Most interestingly, sex is often engaged in only when the characters in this story hit absolute rock bottom. Instead of something relating to pleasure or joy, it’s often used in this story as a symbol of despair. When these characters have absolutely nothing else in life to look forward to, sex becomes the only thing left.

The art is fine, but it’s the plot that matter.

Overall, I enjoyed this story but was affected by it. It’s a sad story with really sad characters. There’s smut and sex here, but it’s depressing because sex is the only way out for these characters who have no way out. And yet, there’s an ordinary-ness to it all. It’s a very suburban look at depression and sadness. Even though these characters are suffering, they aren’t suffering in the way a child starving to death in a third world country is suffering. These characters are trapped in a way people from first world countries are trapped, which is not horrifically painful, but still sad in a quiet and relatable way.

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