Title: Boy’s Abyss Vol. 4
Author: Ryo Minenami
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Slice-of-Life, Drama
Publication Date: January 23, 2024
Things take an interesting turn here in Boy’s Abyss Vol. 4. After Chako ends up overhearing Reiji and Essemori’s conversation, she feels completely slighted and worthless. Reiji chases after her and ends up explaining everything, including his suicide pact with Nagi. After some back and forth between the two, Chako wants Reiji to bring her along to meet Nagi. She fangirls when she meets her and they end up going out to eat at a diner that Gen frequents. Of course, he’s there and things take a bit of a turn.
After Nagi leaves, Reiji, Chako, and Gen go for a walk. It seems that Reiji finally grows a backbone and tells Gen off. Also, right then and there, Chako and Reiji make a pact to stop seeing Essemori and Nagi, respectively. Gen, on the other hand, still has business with Reiji and invites him to his house tomorrow at 7 PM. When Reiji shows up, Gen takes him to a motel where his mother is seen leaving after visiting a man. It became quite obvious that she didn’t have a night shift to work; however, Gen reveals something more about the encounter that changes Reiji’s perspective on his entire situation.
Reiji has a new vow because of it; however, his teacher, Ms. Shiba, doesn’t exactly like Reiji’s new direction and gets a bit… manipulative. Our volume ends with Ms. Shiba interjecting herself in a desperate attempt to keep Reiji in her life.
Wow, there’s a lot to talk about here, character-wise.
First off, Reiji. At first, his goal was to escape the town to just get away from everything but once Gen intervenes and he learns something about his mother, that goal remains the same but with some differences attached to it. While I don’t want to get too deeply into it, I will say that the mother-son bond was reformed and, to be vague, one person was replaced with another. However, before anything can happen, Reiji states that Chako is precious to him and he wants to make sure that she gets into college first before he carries out any of his plans.
To continue that thought, let’s talk about Chako. At first, it seemed as if Reiji’s responsibilities to his family were the anchor keeping him from leaving town; however, it’s becoming clearer that Chako is now that anchor. Reiji was ready to move on in different ways… whether it was committing suicide, taking money from Ms. Shiba, to just up and leaving on his own; however, Chako has become the reason why he stayed, and in this volume, his desire to help her get into college confirmed that. Plus, Chako said in this volume that she felt as if she were falling further and further into darkness. His infatuation with Essemori is crumbling, her feelings for Reiji are trampled, and her hopes of them escaping to Tokyo are dwindling. She’s becoming quite desperate and, therefore, she’s ending up in the same boat as Nagi and Ms. Shiba, mentally.
There were signs all over the place that this would happen and now we are starting to see it all unfold. It makes me wonder just how much further Chako is going to fall into darkness and how desperate she is going to become. We’ve already seen a huge sign of that desperation when she and Reiji went to a net café together. I feel as if we’ve only started to scratch the surface with her.
Gen seemingly did a 180 but really didn’t. I know that sounds odd; however, Gen started off being reintroduced in this volume as that controlling, manipulative person who only cared about his company’s future. After Reiji stood up to him, he decided to reward Reiji with the truth about his mother. That’s when Gen breaks down the reason why his family is intervening and why Reiji is meant to work for him. Let’s just say it’s repayment for all of the trouble his family went through with trying to keep things quiet about what his mother had been truly doing. Gen, on the other hand, promised Reiji to just stick with it and that he was working on a way to solve all of Reiji’s problems. He even goes so far as to show his inner heart by telling Reiji that he still considers him his best friend and that’s why he’s going so far… not to hurt or belittle Reiji but to help him. Whether or not Gen means all of this and/or if Reiji buys it remains to be seen but it was an interesting twist that adds a new dynamic to Reiji’s home life.
Lastly, we have Ms. Shiba, who stated that her first name is Yuri. Just like Chako, she’s falling further into desperation. With Reiji changing his goals about leaving town, she sees Reiji slipping through her fingers and she’s not about to let him go by any means. She begins to use her authority as a teacher to begin to intervene, exposing a lot of Reiji’s wants and desires to his mother. Although she leaves out Reiji’s dark secrets, she does talk about his desire to go to college. This leads to a bit of development with Reiji’s mother as well as I aforementioned and alluded to in the story section. She’s definitely off her rocker and with the way the volume ended, I’m wondering what would happen if Reiji flat-out refuses her simple offer!
Just when you think that things are starting to fall into place, things end up getting even more messed up. Nagi and Essemori are out of the picture for now; however, I cannot see this being the end of them. Even if the pact stands between Reiji and Chako, I just can’t see these two staying gone… however… there is a chance that they may disappear. Unlike Yuri and Chako, Nagi and Essemori aren’t exactly the desperate type. Sure, they exuded those qualities in the first couple of volumes; however, when you take a good look at their personalities, they are more like a “go-with-the-flow” character type. In other words, after losing Reiji and Chako, it’s an “it is what it is” situation for them so that means we could have said goodbye to them for an extended period. I just wonder how they would be reintroduced later on… if they are even still needed at this point?
But it’s fine because we now have Yuri, Chako, and… to an extent… Reiji’s mother filled their previous roles. All of them are tied together through desperation but each one is going about showing it in their own ways. Chako is the anchor, Reiji’s mom is along for the ride, and Yuri is the person Reiji is trying to phase out who just refuses to disappear. It’s a weird three-way situation and it looks like Gen, the person who is trying to manipulate and control Reiji for his company’s benefit, maybe the only way out for him… and that’s only IF Gen was being genuine. There is zero guarantee of that right now.
No matter which way you slice it, Reiji is in an uphill battle and because he decided to make Chako his anchor, he didn’t really allow himself a way out of it. Of course, the simplest answer from the reader’s perspective would be for Reiji to just shut up, pack his things, and leave immediately. Sure, he’d have no money but he can live in an alley and do odd jobs around Tokyo until he gets picked up by a burlesque house or something (I would imagine that’s what would happen given the vibe of this series) but that would kind of end the manga pretty quickly, wouldn’t it? There’s still a journey here and Reiji’s final answer on how to solve his own mental torture is that carrot on the stick that strings us along. It’s been a great journey so far and it looks like Yuri will be front and center in the next volume. Let’s see how Reiji handles her intervention and if he can put her away for good!
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This item was provided for review by Viz Media