The anime/manga genre that appeals to me the most is Shonen. So I was surprised that I loved Made in Abyss. On the surface Abyss looks like it’s going to be for kids, with it’s chibi like characters and bright color pallets. Abyss, a Seinen series is for my age group mind you but I generally don’t like the genre. What initial drew me to the series was what always draws me to a series is the high quality animation.
Made in Abyss is an impressive series that subvert the expectations of the viewer. The adults take a backseat to the children and cute bunny like characters. The background environment are often colorful, with bright sunlight even as they travel deeper in the abyss. This anime is a full on display of body horror. The effects of abyss on the human body and mind are brutal, “evisceration, hemorrhaging, swelling, parasitism.” Not to mention the abuse that adults inflicts on these children.
It also tugs at the heartstrings. I haven’t seen many anime that is as balanced as this one, while fighting isn’t it primary purpose, it has good action. The story is incredibly intriguing, the feeling you get from the characters is enthralling. It might be too dark for some, but I find that to be the reason I enjoy it.
Nanachi remembers her childhood when she meets the white whistle Bondrewd and he offers the orphans an opportunity to explore the Abyss. He sends the orphans to the fifth layer of the Abyss, the Sea of Corpses as it’s referred to. While being transported down below, Nanachi meets Mitty and they become partners. Both were outcast due to Nanachi being a smelly and dirty child and Mitty being “an idiot,” or simply excitable.
It was always implied that Bondrewd was an evil character considering what Ozen had previously stated regarding the other explorers. It is revealed that Bondrewd wasn’t interested into becoming a surrogate father to the orphans and instead intended to use them as experiments. Specifically, he wanted to test the effects of the Curse of the Abyss. Bondrewd sends the orphans down an elevator to the sixth layer. At this point viewers already know what’s going to happen, however, it’s still terrible to watch the inevitable.
Mitty and Nanachi
The transformation was horrible to witness as Mitty was being painfully ripped apart begging for death. This of course explains why Nanachi requested Reg kill Mitty for her. Mitty existence is a miserable one, an nearly immortal mass of flesh capable of experiencing pain. Reg unsurprisingly is hesitant ending Mitty suffering. However, he’s convinced by Nanachi that Mitty’s life isn’t worth living. He finally gives in, killing Mitty with his incinerator while teary eyed.
Riko awakens without movement in her left hand. Riko quickly bonds with Nanachi and teaches her how to cook delicious food. Despite the traumatic first half of, Made in Abyss, the second was more comical. Riko, Reg and Nanachi have all overcome so much trauma. The three manage to work well together playing of each other. The second part of this episode is a stark departure from early, representing what makes this series so enjoyable. Made in Abyss does take great effort in examining the effects of harsh environments and now terrible explorers but does counter with happier moments.
Riko and Reg invite Nanachi to join them, they send a message to the surface. Finally, we see that Bondrewd is able to track the victims of his experiment through their energy signature. He states that he is eager to meet Nanachi again. Overall, this season and series has impressed me. I haven’t seen a series that manages to blend the innocence of children with the horrors of the environments so well, everything from the tone of the series to the art style creates a contrasting world and a endearing series.
As the title suggests we primarily focus on Nanachi in this episode. The episode strikes a lighter tone, relative to the previous one, however, the gruesome elements still remains. We see some remnants of Nanachi’s past, Nanachi appears to have work for, Bondrewd the Novel. We are also introduced to Mitty, a human the was transformed by the curse of the Sixth Layer. Mitty, unlike Nanachi wasn’t transformed into a cute rabbit creature, but into a tragic grotesque, hairy, one eyed flesh creature. Mitty has lost all her intelligence and is largely limited to making various moans and sounds. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for what Mitty has become, while at the same time feel repulsed by her appearance.
Nanachi saves Riko
Nanachi gives Reg a list of ingredient to help save Riko. Made in Abyss continues with it’s weirdly invasive interest into the bodies of the prepubescent characters, while largely non-sexually it’s seems to be a consistent theme in this series. In this episode, this focus is on Riko, instead of Reg, as Nanachi inserts a suppository into Riko’s rectum and constantly mentioning the fact that Riko urinated blood through her clothing and having Reg wash them. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but necessary to add to this series harrowing environment.
While washing Riko’s clothing, Reg has a flashback to a past memory. He hears a voice and remembers that he was once in present at a grave-site, marked by Lyza’s Blaze Reap. This scene adds to the future intrigue of the series, who created Reg and what’s his connection to Lyza? Clearly, Reg will get more of his memories as the series continues, creating anticipation for what they will reveal. Overall, the series continues to expand the it’s world, while reminding the audience that more dangers await.
Reg and Riko begin to head down towards the fourth layer, the Goblet of Giants. Riko quickly displays her knowledge of the new layer’s plant life, however, while Riko is excited, Reg is concerned. This layer will cause such a strain that you will “bleed out of every orifice in your body.” Reg feels the presence of a creature, it turns out to a “orbed-piercer” that has spines that can penetrate steel. They are also covered in poison, Reg and Riko attempt to escape, but the orbed-piercer catches up to them.
Reg and Riko vs the Orbed-piercer
The orbed appears to be more intelligence than originally thought. It prevents Reg and Riko from fleeing, while blocking the blaze reap. Riko gives the scaled umbrella to Reg, he uses it to block the orbed attack, but pierces the umbrella and Riko’s hand, poisoning her. Reg ties a rope around Riko’s arm to prevent the poison from spreading, the blaze reap is submerge under water and he can’t use his incinerator or he’ll faint. Reg’s only choice is to flee upwards, as the orbed prepares to strike he yells distracting it, then uses his arm to pull them up.
Riko begins to hallucinate, the curse of the abyss causes the poison to be “expelled” from Riko’s body, however, then her blood begins to pour out of her eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Meanwhile, Riko’s hand turns purple and begins to swell. Riko tells Reg to cut her hand off, she tells him that he needs to break the bone first, then cut it. Riko begins to turn pale and stops breathing, as Reg’s is crying an odd looking creature appears and tells him to perform CPR.
The creature introduces itself, as Nanachi a hollow. This episode was intense and harsh. Normally I would assume that Riko would always be okay regardless of what happens but even though she will survive this ordeal she won’t be the same. The breaking of her arm was hard to watch, but at the same time adds to the series realness and since of urgency. Reg and Riko have also lost several item intended to help them survive, making them more helpless than they were before. I don’t think this Nanachi is trustworthy but Riko and Reg need it to survive.
Ozen brings Riko and Reg to the forest for survival training. She tells them that they are to survive for ten days and cannot go beyond the Pillar tree. Ozen warns Reg against using his incinerator, due to the effects it has on him. According to her he faints for ten minutes after using it, potentially leaving Riko alone and in danger. However, Ozen encourages him to use it only when necessary and without fear. She abandons them to fend for themselves.
Riko and Reg survive
While exploring the area, Reg and Riko find some water. Rohanas, insect like creatures with a pink glowing tail, are indicators of the waters cleanness, as they only live in clean water. Riko attempts to get some water and is attacked by a hippo like creature, Reg is rescued by Riko. They build a hut like structure and start a fire. Riko assumes that a lot of creatures have “regressive” eyes and will keep their distance from them. However, the flame attracts insects instead.
Despite seemingly leaving them to take care of themselves, Ozen continues to watch Reg and Riko. Ozen notices that they depend on each other, she flashes back to her relationship with Lyza, as she reveals that she married Torka and lost her child (Riko). It’s clear that Ozen actually cared for Lyza, and took care of Riko. Both Reg and Riko survive the ten days and return. Ozen tells Reg and Riko about the time distortion effects of the fifth layer.
Beware of the White Whistles
Ozen tells Riko that she believes her mother is still alive, she then warns them against the white whistle found in the fifth layer. The Sovereign of Guidance, Wakuna the Chosen, The Sovereign of Mystery, Srajo the Mysterious, The Sovereign of Dawn, Bondrewd the Novel, are currently in the abyss. Ozen comically tells Reg that Bondrewd isn’t “as kind as she is.” Ozen tells Riko that the note that she has from her mother is written on a relic. Finally, she gives Riko a “Everlasting Pickaxe,” that belonged to her mother and is a weapon. Riko and Reg descend to the third layer, “Great Fault.”
This episode continues to expand the world of the series. Ozen as a character is more complicated than I initially thought. She clearly has a friendship with Lyza and made good on her promise to help her daughter. The white whistles all seem to be “bad” people, although Ozen appeared that way at first. Riko’s general knowledge of the animals and plants in the abyss make her a perfect partner for Reg, who lacks the knowledge and curiosity of Riko, but has strength.
We quickly learn that there are problems with going deeper into the abyss. A tremendous psychical toll can be a consequence the deeper you travel. When returning to the surface from the first layer you would experience “mild dizziness,” from the second layer you will experience, “nausea, headaches, and numbness of the extremities,” from the fourth, “intense pain throughout the body and bleeding.” When an explorer travels from the sixth layer or beyond, they will apparently result in their lose of “humanity or even death.” This phenomenon is dubbed “the curse of the abyss.”
Who or What is Reg
Based on the curse, Riko and the others conclude that it’s possible that Reg came from the bottom of the abyss. Reg wonders if that’s the case, but what’s his purpose. The check the “Compilation of Recorded Relics,” is a “field guide to the major Relics that have been unearthed.” Reg isn’t found in this book, however, Riko has done some research on Reg, he can function with food or electricity as a fuel source. He possess smooth but hard skin, flame retardant hair, superior sight and hearing, flexible material and apparently he has a normal human penis.
If that wasn’t strange enough it seems that Riko experimented on Reg without his consent. Due to all of the special material that made Reg he’s considered to be incredibly valuable, as a Aubade, “supreme treasure of the netherworld.” This unsurprisingly mean that he is in danger of being taken apart, captured and hidden. To proved him with a cover they give clothing to hid his arms and legs and a false story. Obviously, this is going to be an important plot point in the future. I think Reg will be exposed at some point and maybe Riko and her friends become outlaws at that point.
Learning about the whistles
Cave raiders are into groups, these groups are symbolized by the color of the whistles. The apprentices have red whistles, the proficient blue whistles, assistant-instructor Moon whistles, expert black whistles and the heroes the white whistles. This episode focuses on the white whistle, Liza the Annihilator, she is clear held as an example for the larger society. She’s even depicted as being a dragon and used to sell merchandise. The most important revelation is that Liza is Riko’s mother and much is expected from Riko, her father was a black whistle named Torka.
In this episode the world is expanded, as we learn about more problems with cave exploration. It makes since that robots like Reg would exists in the world with the harsh conditions, however, it seem strange that no one thinks robots exists or that they shouldn’t be created for everyone. Riko becomes a more complex character as her mother’s fame is presented, she will have a lot to live up to. Riko is reckless and is definitely going to get herself in trouble.