WOW I fell way behind doing this – due to circumstances I never even got to finish the first impressions I’d been assigned, and I barely even got the time to watch more episodes of the shows I was actually excited to blog for once. (I’m currently two episodes behind on this one). I’ll hopefully be able to get up to date soon, but unfortunlatey I’ll have to make this pretty brief in order to do so.
The second episode of Made in Abyss squeezes in a good deal more exposition about the nature of the abyss and the cave raiders who explore it to harvest the mysterious relics found there, as robo-boy Reg adapts to his new life and confirms that he really does have no memory of anything that happened before Riko brought him to Orth. At first the kids attempt to hide him from the adults at the orphanage, fearing that he’ll be confiscated and Riko punished since he’s technically a relic himself, but eventually he manages to convince them that he’s an orphan himself.
More exposition reveals the true danger of descending into the abyss is not the monsters, but the strange effect that it has on humans who try to return to the surface. The higher levels cause effects such as illness and fainting, and these effects get worse the further into the abyss the ascent is attempted – eventually culminating in madness and loss of self, and then finally death. The raiders with the White Whistles, those with the clearance to explore the deepest, are therefore not expected to return from what is called their ‘last dive’. Riko’s mother went on her own last dive, and in this episode her whistle is brought to the surface, which Riko inherits.
Riko also learns some startling things about herself – which may relate to the title of the series – she was actually born in the abyss herself and sent up. Her needing glasses is due to the abyss’s curse, and she suffers terrible headaches without them. Furthermore, whilst many are convinced that her mother has died, Riko is able to decode a message from her sent up from the depths – ‘In the bottom of the abyss, I’ll be waiting.’
People have already said this, but it’s almost hard to watch Made in Abyss without expecting the screen to suddenly switch to a gameplay mode, because it really does feel like cut-scenes setting up the story for a whimsical RPG. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, but it makes me wonder if it was intentional. The backgrounds, towns and general ambience really do feel like RPG-inspired – but in the rare way where RPG-inspired means ‘lovely and whimsical’ and not ‘paint by numbers pseudo-european’.
Anyway, before this aired, and even as far as episode three, there was a whole lot of smug ‘oh you THINK it looks cute, just you WAIT, lol -smug emojis-‘ stuff from manga-readers, as though the concept of a show that looks cute but later contains horrific content is something that literally no anime fan has seen before. I’ve never read the manga of this but like…come on. The word ‘abyss’ is in the title. If there wasn’t anything dark later on I’d feel ripped off. Already there’s plenty of foreshadowing of less cutesy things, though – and to be honest the cutesy style the diagrams showing the affect the ‘curse of the abyss’ has makes it even more creepy. What I am hoping for with Made in Abyss is the good kind of pain/suffering/dark and not just grimdark gore nonsense. I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s going to upset me, but after so many series doing the ‘wow what a shocking twist it looks cute but the subject matter is in fact NOT cute!’ thing it becomes second-nature to be cautious.
This episode certainly did make me like Reg even more than I did already, because holy moly he’s adorable. As for Riko, she’s still a likeable lead character, and it was good to find out even more about her. I’m wondering if the fact that she was literally ‘made in the abyss’ is going to give her any advantage there, and i’m sure this will be important later on.
Now that Reg has been made a red-whistle raider by the orphanage who…really don’t seem to care too much about where their recruits actually come from (or even making sure they’re human), it’s time for his first ‘dive’, which is a success, which here means ‘they recovered some artifacts and found more skeletons from dead people, in case you forgot the abyss kills people’. Reg is particularly good at this, but the main pro seems to be that, given the fact that he isn’t human, the Abyss doesn’t affect him. The same can’t be said for Riko’s friend Nat, who gets sick from the ascent, citing the Curse.
Riko is determined to venture into the Abyss alone thanks to the message from her mother, and while she has some support from the other orphans, Nat doesn’t want her to, believing her mother is already dead. They end up fighting about it…but make up again in time for Riko’s departure.
Meanwhile, apparently there is an urban legend about kids dying on their birthdays. The youngest kid at the orphanage, Kiyui, is feeling sick, and it’s apparently his birthday soon! But surely that won’t come up again…
Riko was so ready to go in episode 2 that I expected her to have left already in this episode, but she doesn’t leave until the very end. While I was kind of impatient about it it’s probably for the better, it gives us time for a bit more world-building about the abyss, the orphanage and Orth, and also to inject a whole load of foreshadowing about the fact that some kids are definitely going to die soon.
At the moment I think Reg is a much bigger mystery than the abyss itself, or Riko’s mother – seeing that there are drawings of something that looks like him in the mysterious pictures sent up from the abyss. It’s likely that he was built as some kind of artificial human who could withstand the affects of the abyss – but if the affects are mainly for going -up- rather than further down, the purpose could have been to contact the others. I’m just spitballing here but I kind of like the possibility that he was built by Riko’s mother for this exact purpose. Either that, or it’s something a lot more sinister…although either way, he can’t remember.
I’d say more about this episode but there’s not much else I can say other than gushing about the atmosphere and backgrounds – plus I need to get around to watching the latest two as these reviews are late enough as they are. Well, the ‘kids are dying on their birthdays’ urban legend thing felt like it came out of nowhere. I’m sure it’ll be important but it felt pretty tacked on.