If you haven’t seen Made in Abyss your missing out. Despite its colorful environments and adorable characters, the series has a dark foreboding tone. They released season 1 of Made in Abyss in 2017. Based on Akihito Tsukushi’s manga, Made in Abyss follows two adventures, Reg and Riko as they travel though the levels of a bottomless pit. Each level gets worse, increasing the potential dangers. Our duo survived a few levels, however, once they reach the fourth, they encounter an Orb Piercer. The creature resembles a porcupine. The Piercer are herbivores, but they are territorial. In order for Delvers to pass through the 4th level, they must pass through the Orb Piercer’s territory. Over the years, the creature has either taken the limbs or lives of hundreds of Delvers.
What makes them so dangerous is their poisonous needles that surround their bodies. These needles can pierce metal. The poison is slow acting but spreads quickly. Reg and Riko become the latest victims of the creature. When Riko gets hit in her hand by a quill, she becomes poisoned. Panicked, Riko and Reg have no choice but to descend further into the Abyss. This causes Riko to hallucinate and then bleeds from every orifice. Riko’s hand swells. She tells Reg that he must amputate. First, he has to break the bone of her arm. Then he has to cut the arm off. Suddenly, a swarm of insect appear. Riko stops breathing. The entire scene is the most gruesome thing I’ve seen in anime.
Made in Abyss Movie 3: Dawn of the Deep Soul is the third movie, following the two recap movies. Dawn of the Deep Soul focuses on the Ido Front Arc, which covers chapters 27 – 38 of the manga. Made in Abyss Movie 3: Dawn of the Deep Soul opens with Reg, Riko, and Nanachi exploring the “Garden of the Flowers of Fortitude”. Reg and Nanachi hear the screams of some Delvers. When Reg goes to investigate they encounter an Umbra Hand. The man explains that he caused the scream and returns the Blaze Reap to Reg. Made in Abyss quickly gets into the dark tone it’s known for when Riko notices an insect that resembles a leaf. The “Amaranthine Deceptors” disguise themselves as Flowers of Fortitude, they attack any organisms and lay their larvae inside.
Made in Abyss illustrates this with the semi-living corpses of delvers. The Deceptors feed themselves to these corpses so they may survive longer. These corpses reflexively scream and repeat the word “who”. It’s a gruesome scene that reminds you of how unforgiven nature can be. As the Umbra Hand begins to burn the deceptors and the delvers, Reg accepts that he can’t do anything to help and returns to Riko and Nanachi. The Umbra Hand tells him that the “Sovereign of Dawn” awaits.
The Fifth Layer, the Crossing Sea
Nanachi explains the location of Ido Front, the “final point you can return from while remaining human”. Inside is the “Last Dive” where the Sixth Layer can be accessed. She anticipates conflict with Bondrewd. As they approach the Ido Front, they’re spied on by a mysterious young figure. She turns out to be the “daughter” of Bondrewd, Prushka. As they introduce themselves, Bondrewd arrives with several Umbra Hands. He is weirdly polite, telling Nanachi that her “hat suits her” and congratulates her for “releasing” Mitty. Sensing Reg is going to erupt with rage, Nanachi quickly asks Bondrewd to let them pass. He’s willing, but they need a white whistle to activate the Altar. Such a whistle can only be activated by the original owner, so Riko’s mother’s whistle won’t work. While in the room Bondrewd prepared for them, Nanachi and Reg realize that Reg has a limit on the number times he can use the incinerator.
Nanachi and Bondrewd
Restless, Nanachi leaves the room in the middle of the night. She encounters Bondrewd on the way. He tells her that he’s glad she returned and they have much to talk about. When Riko wakes up she’s alone. Panicked, she rushes to find her friends only to discover that she been locked in. She attempts to climb the forbidden steps that climb through the curse and is overcome. Prushka saves her and with the help of her pet Meinya, she escorts Riko through. By inhaling Meinya’s scent, Riko is able to visualize the trail with her eyes closed. Meanwhile, Bondrewd asks Nanachi to work for him again. She agrees only if he doesn’t harm, Reg or Riko, and permits them to reach the Sixth Layer. Unfortunately, Bondrewd has already taken Reg. His men have Reg strapped to a chair naked. They sever his arm off resulting in blood gushing, have a tube attached to his penis to collect urine, and subject him to pain to test his receptors.
Before they can cut open his stomach to see inside, Nanachi arrives to save him. The Umbra Hand’s surround her, but Prushka orders them to stop. With her help, they escape on a boat. However, Bondrewd follows their footsteps. He offers to repair Reg, but Nanachi, Reg, and Riko spring a trap. Using the ax, Riko begins setting off explosions. As Reg and Nanachi escape, a nest of violent insects called the Kasshou-Gashira (Stingerhead), eviscerate Bondrewd’s Umbra Hands. They don’t harm Bondrewd as he has his weapon the Sparagmos. Unphased, he applauds Nanachi’s efforts. Riko, Reg, and Nanachi spring into action. Reg attacks with a bomb. When that fails Riko shoots him in the side with an arrow that releases some Amaranthine Deceptor larvae into his body. Then Reg unleashes a barrage on him, knocking him into the water, and finally exposing him to the Sixth layer. Finally, he crushes him with a bolder.
Bondrewd, Prushka, and the blessing
Despite all this, Bondrewd survives. He knocks out Reg with his tail and shoots Riko with “shaker needles” that only “slightly turns viscera”. Bondrewd reveals that each Umbra Hand is another version of himself. He tells Nanachi that she received what he calls the blessing. The key to this is “love”. He leaves Nanachi devastated. Later, he is shown experimenting with Prushka. Riko wakes up, recalling an artifact called Zoaholic that allows you to “plant yourself within another person”, but you may go insane. They plan on blowing up the Zoaholic. Reg heads to absorb the power plant’s energy reserves, causing a blackout. Elsewhere, Bondrewd discovers Nanachi and Riko again. During their discussion, he tells them that the substance necessary to create a white whistle is a human being. Riko actually deduces that Bondrewd used his original human body to create his white whistle.
Reg attacks Bondrewd, who wishes to test his power. However, Nanachi interrupts the fight, and Reg returns to normal. During the second part of the fight, Bondrewd reveals that he turned Prushka into a cartridge, curse repellent created from humans remains. We get a flashback from Prushka’s early life. She was caught in an accident while traveling through the fifth layer. Subjected to tremendous pain, she is saved by Black Whistle Gueira. However, all attempts to help her failed, leaving Bondrewd to save her. He gave her the name Prushka, the creature Meinastoirim (Meinya), and her mind back. Bondrewd is defeat, for now, having many other bodies. Riko cries while holding the cartridge of Prushka’s remains. The cartilage turns into stone, becoming the Riko’s white whistle.
A movie for the fans
Made in Abyss Movie 3: Dawn of the Deep Soul is everything that one would expect from the series. All the hallmarks are there. The stunning animation, lush environments, the horrifying creatures, and creative lore. Made in Abyss is still full of body horror, that can shock, but never seems overdone. This movie played with my emotions, much like the main series. I was always on edge afraid of what would happen. Made in Abyss still has it’s creep sexual aspects. Prushka is a child but her breast are large. The weird penis contraption Reg was in during his torture and Riko’s explanation of Reg’s penis and what an erection is. This results in Prushka creepily saying “you mean like Papa’s rod”. I don’t know what she actually referring to but it definitely sounds like she has seen Bondrewd naked.
Speaking of Bondrewd, he’s a fascinating villain. Manga and anime are full of horrible villains, but Bondrewd feels different. No matter how much the heroes destroy his lab or harm him he never gets mad. The always calm and weirdly cheerful. This is in contrast with how violently he fights. Bondrewd is a character that you both look forward to seeing but regret it later. The main trio remains the same dynamic from the anime series. Nanachi is the stoic, highly intelligent, and cute victim of Bondrewd’s cruelty. Reg is still brave, tough, and really shows how he can handle himself in a fight. Riko can come across as the weak link, often having to be rescued and protected. However, she ultimately proves her worth. Riko has knowledge Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul requires you to have watched or read the manga to understand. Overall, if you love the series this movie has everything that makes Made in Abyss so great.
The first episode of Mob Psycho 100 hits you with a torrent of fluid action and vibrant colors. The art style strongly resembles that of it’s creator ONE. Like most of the anime on this list the action itself is worthy of praise, but it’s the characters that shine. Our main protagonist is Shigeo Kageyama (Mob). Quiet and reserved, Mob is mostly ordinary except for is ESP abilities. Under the guide (or manipulation) of his boss Reigen, Mob is trying to learn to control his emotions. He’s in constant fear of his powers, while lacking the control necessary to prevent exploding. Mob Psycho 100 features interesting characters like Reigen. The con man that uses Mob for profit. What could have been a one note character, becomes a more sophisticated one. Is he evil? Does he really have Mob’s best interest at heart? Mob Psycho 100 is a stand out series. It has it all, unique visuals, action, animation, humor and interesting characters.
Studio: Kinema Citrus | MAL: 8.83 | Genre: Dark Fantasy
When I first started watching Made in Abyss, I though this should be a fun series. The art style lulls you into a false sense of security. It’s very much intentional. Made in Abyss is a visual marvel, particularly the detailed environments. The initial tone of the series is betrayed by the events depicted. The adorable children are orphans. Not yet jaded or still ignorant of the horrors this world offers, they are excited to explore. That world is the Abyss. A massive chasm that reaches down into the Earth. Each layer getting more and more harrowing the further you go down. Individuals known as “Divers” fearlessly head into it, hoping to discover and understand the secrets of the Abyss. Our main character Riko and her friends will aim to follow in her mother legendary footsteps, it will cost her.
One Punch Man is the first series from ONE. It is his second anime/manga series in my top five. Based on a 2009 web comic of the same name, One Punch Man, is a parody series of shonen superheros. One Punch Man makes fun of the over dramatic stories and the inevitable result (the hero winning) of shonen series. Saitama is an unemployed part time superhero that has somehow become so powerful that he often defeats monsters with , well on punch. Saitama and other heroes battle against mutants, cyborgs, ninja’s, aliens, martial arts, kaiju and many other creatures that seem to get larger and larger. If Saitama is a calm and cool type, his “student” Genos is the straight man. Genos unlike his master is constantly getting stronger, learning from each battle and hoping to learn the secret of Saitama’s power. Despite being a cyborg he feels the most human when compared to the godly power of Saitama. The second season was disappointing compared to the near flawless masterpiece of the first, but One Punch Man still ranks highly regardless.
Studio: Wit Studio | MAL: 8.47 | Genre: Dark Fantasy
Attack on Titan is a stand out anime series. The tone is similar to that of Made in Abyss and The Promised Neverland. However, unlike those series, AOT started with this dire tone. Centuries ago, mankind was nearing extinction by mysterious giant humanoid creatures called Titans. To increase their likelihood of survival humanity retreated behind massive walls. For a century humanity was safe until their piece was destroyed by the Colossal Titan. Eren Yeager witnesses the death of his mother at the hands of one of those Titan, resulting in his vow to exterminate the Titans. Eren along with friends Armin and Mikasa join the Survey Corps. The war against the Titans are brutal, with the Corps consistently taking heavy casualties. As the characters struggle for humanity’s survival they suffer heartbreak, betrayal and pain, along with joy, laughter and friendship. AOT is a dark series that can be intense, but if you can stomach the hardships depicted in the series you will be rewarded.
Nobody is more surprised than me that Hunter X Hunter top’s my list of the top anime of the decade. I deliberately avoided the series assuming that it was merely a mediocre shonen series. I think that the manga is terrible. Like most shonen, the action is important to the series. It was watching an out of context fight seen from the series, that convinced me to give the show a chance. I was glad I did. On the surface, Hunter X Hunter is no different from other shonen series. Gon is your typical, dumb hero. However, he’s more selfish than originally let on. It’s this selfishness that results in Gon willingness to allow an innocent girl to die for his own revenge. The final arc, the “chimera arc,” is among the best and darkest arc in anime history. Hunter X Hunter is a series that is often underestimated, but with its variety of characters, complex fighting system and narrator, Hunter X Hunter is a series that must be witnessed.
To celebrate my 900th blog post, I decided to make my top ten anime of all time lists. When coming up with the top ten I focused on series that had the most impact on me. At the same time I also choose anime that can and have stood the test of time (even from an animation stand point), and I would recommend to anyone. I don’t think any of these series are going to be surprise anyone, as most are mainstream to an anime audience.
[Note] One Piece, Naruto and Bleach aren’t on the lists because I prefer(ed) the manga.
10. Dragon Ball Z
If this was a list of the series that I was the most nostalgic about Dragon Ball Z would be number one. Most of my childhood was centered on DBZ . The Cartoon Network would torture me by repeating the same arc’s over and over again. I must have watched the Radditz arc at least 50 times before they moved on to the saiyan arc. The series has come to define anime for many anime fans and non-anime fans. It’s hands down one of, if not the most popular anime series of all-time. Dragon Ball Z has been often mocked for it’s constant screaming and it’s “inaction sequences.” My mother would often comment “did they start fighting yet” as she would walk past the t.v. Despite it’s iconic status, DBZ as a series had a lot of problems. This is mostly due to running up against the manga. DBZ had many bad fillers, dragged out fights and at one point took ten episodes for planet Namek to explode. Even with this, the series had some of the most epic fights and has clearly left a mark on anime in general. Dragon Ball Z still remains an anime series that I consider a must see.
9. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
A mecha anime series by Gainax, Gurren Lagann focuses on mankind’s rise from a subterranean existence to the galactic exploration. Taking place in a future where Earth is ruled by the Spiral King, Lordgenome, a young digger named Simon and his “brother” Kamina dream of reaching the surface. As they and Team Gurren make their way to the skies, they engage in epic, over the top mecha battles. Gurren Lagann features high quality animation, surprising deaths, fanservice, theme music power ups and cool mecha designs. Gurren Lagann resulted in another anime classic for Gainax.
8. Made in Abyss
My favorite anime genre tends to be shonen, but Made in Abyss made me appreciate the seinen genre more. Made in Abyss plays with expectation, if you think the adorable characters are going to have a fun adventure, you are wrong. While only having one season under it’s belt, Made in Abyss had a profound impact on me. Exciting, ruthless, filled with body horror, tear jerking moments and has a intriguing mystery to discover. Made in Abyss is not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth the emotional scarring.
7. Hunter X Hunter
For some reason I kept avoiding Hunter X Hunter. After running into a little bit of an anime drought, I decided to give the series a try. I wasn’t disappointed. On the surface Hunter X Hunter feels like a typical shonen series, but it’s more than that. Gon Freecss, the main protagonists, is a prime example of the undermining of shonen tropes this series does. I loved it’s complicated power system (Nen), character development, action and the uses of a narrator. Narration seemed unnecessary at first but I think it is an amazing addition to the series that adds to it.
6. Mob Psycho 100
An anime from web-comic creator ONE, Mob Psycho 100, is about a 14 year old boy named Shigeo Kageyama. He aims to be ordinary despite the fact that he’s extraordinary with telekinesis. He is a complicated young man struggling with his emotions and fear of his power harming others. Mob Psycho 100 main moral lesson is that despite having an extraordinary abilities you still need work to improve yourself as a human. Mob in particular embodies this theme. Despite his psychic powers he doesn’t think he’s better than anyone. That said, Mob Psycho 100 is still a shonen series with fluid animation, bright colors, humor, funny characters and epic battles.
5. One Punch Man
The creator of Mob Psycho 100 is also the creator of One Punch Man. The title is to be taken literally, as the main protagonist, Saitama is capable of defeating most monsters with one punch. One Punch Man is a parody of the shonen superhero series. It makes fun of the over the top and somewhat silly nature of the typical shonen anime, that results in the main character always defeating the bad guy. It’s surprising how satisfying you find Saitama’s one hit victories. The series does have interesting action, usually it’s other less powerful characters are doing the fighting though. Despite this the series does manage to keep us wondering, which monster can make Saitama hit it more than once. The first season is considered perfect, the second one, not so much. Still, One Punch Man remains an important series for anime fans to watch.
4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
The story of the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse is a sad, tragic tale. Born into a world that practices alchemy, the brothers arrogance leads them to believe that they can break one of the most important rules of alchemy. Trying to resurrect their mother, Ed loses his right arm and left leg and his brother loses his entire body. The brothers go in search of the “philosopher stone,” so they can transmute without consequences. While maintaining a sense of humor, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, is full of themes like sacrifice, death, selfishness, what is truth, and the value of life. If you want to watch an anime series that balances dark themes, comedy and great action, FMA is it.
3. Attack on Titan
If you read this far it’s clear that I love anime series that manage to successfully combine dark, mature themes with great action and top animation. Attack on Titan is a series that lives up to those standards. What separates Attack on Titan from typical series is the level of dreariness. While the main characters are largely safe, you’ll never certain. Secondary characters and any other character are fair game. With characters that are constantly underdogs, failure is the most likely outcome. Often in anime you feel that everything will be fine, in Attack on Titan your surprised that half the squad is still alive. Attack on Titan has mystery, what are titans (weird giant humanoids) and why do they eat humans? Conspiracies, what is the government doing? As they fight for human survival, the scouts deal with trauma, lost and death.
2. Cowboy Bebop
For many Cowboy Bebop is the greatest anime ever. Considered to be a masterpiece, Shinichiro Watanabe blends elements of westerns with elements of film noir. The classic anime series Lupin the third was a visual influence and the three main characters of Cowboy Bebop are inspired by Lupin, Jigen and Fujiko from Lupin. The overall story is influence by Japanese cinema. Cowboy Bebop also uses a jazz heavy soundtrack that is iconic on it’s own, marking a major departure from the common use of J Pop. Cowboy Bebop focuses on mature themes like loneliness and difficulties escaping the past, it’s well animated, well (voice) acted and generally entertaining. Cowboy Bebop is considered a “gateway series” for anime, and I couldn’t agree more.
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion
When I first began watching Neon Genesis Evangelion it was for the epic and violent mecha battles. I couldn’t comprehend the more complex themes and imagery woven into the narrative. Evangelion is credited with revolutionizing anime as a medium. Set in the year 2000, a global cataclysm called the “Second Impact,” changes the world. Antarctica is destroyed and the planet’s axis shifts, causing flooding and a altered climate. After nuclear war, half the worlds population is wiped out. Teenagers, Shinji Ikari, Asuka Langley Soryu and Rei Ayanami pilot massive mecha called Eva’s. Their enemy are physic altering monsters dubbed Angels.
Evangelion explores complex themes like depression, human subjectivity, and child abuse. The series makes many references to philosophical, psychoanalytic concepts, as well as references to Kabbalah, Christian and Jewish religions. Evangelion even uses religious texts like the Book of Genesis within the series and the Angels share names found in religion like Sachiel. The series has been described as both a ” both a critique and deconstruction of the mecha genre.” On the surface, Neon Genesis Evangelion, is a mecha anime with distinctly designed robots that engage in brutal battles. However, the series has levels of deeper and more sophisticated themes that makes Evangelion one of the most well regarded series ever.
The Promised Neverland (Yakusoku no Neverland) is a series that starts off happy and endearing, but quickly becomes heartbreaking and horrific. The fact that the anime involves children makes it even worst. Emma (a happy and energetic girl) awakens, she then wakes her “siblings,” and gets them ready for breakfast. We meet Norman and Ray as well. We are also introduced to the seemingly kind caretaker, “mom” (Isabella) as engages the children in prayer.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the children have (what I’m assuming is tattoo’s or at least permanent ink) large numbers on there necks. It’s not made clear what the numbers are actually representing. The children are also subjected to testing, that requires the children to answer questions in 9 seconds. Regardless, Norman, Ray and Emma scored perfectly on them. Don seemingly jealous of Norman challenges him to a game of tag. The game seems to take on a significant importance in this series. The children even compare not getting caught to “surviving.” I might be reading too much into that though.
The game of tag is considered to be more complicated than just chasing after each other. Ray states that it’s “chess with your whole body.” Don challenges Norman again, this time he’s it. Everyone runs in search of Norman, Emma finds him at a short blue fence. Clearly curious as to why they were warned not to go “near” the fence, Emma considers touching it. She’s stopped by Ray. He’s skeptical of the “dangers” of the fence, calling it a “obvious lie.” Emma seems to believe anything Mom tells her, but Ray doesn’t.
The siblings discuss why they haven’t received letters from the children that were adopted. The conversation is hopeful, with the children discussing what they wish to see when they “go outside.” Interestingly, Emma claims that she doesn’t want to leave at all. Conny says her farewell, but leaves her bunny behind. Emma and Norman run to return the bunny. The tension at this point in the episode increases dramatically. I spoiled myself on what happens hear, but wasn’t sure that they would show Conny’s body. They did, instead of being horrified though I was sad. She was so happy to be “adopted,” and adorable too.
The animation at this point also becomes more dynamic. The camera zooms in on the faces of Emma and Norman as they discover the “monsters” and ease drop on them. The monster states that he wants the “top three” next. Emma and Norman leave Ray in the dark, they plan on rescuing all the children together. I really enjoyed this episode more that I anticipated. I would image that if I didn’t know the ending of this episode it would have more of an impact.
The Promised Neverland series reminds me of Made in Abyss. Both feature orphan children yes, but it’s the contrast between the innocent children and the horrible environments they’re trapped in that connect the two the most. The adults aren’t doing what’s expected, which is protecting and tacking care of them. In fact they are neglectful at best. This results in the children having to grow up and take care of themselves. Would this series be similar to Made in Abyss I don’t know, but I loved what I’ve seen.