After a mercifuly quick recap of the entire season, we are treated to the utter tragedy that is Nanachi and Mitty’s past. Both kids were originally starving orphans with no hopeful future in sight, and so didn’t think twice about accompanying a mysterious man for an expedition down into the abyss. This man’s name is Bondrewd, and he is one of the immensely powerful white whistles who is currently running some experiments on the Curse and its effects. But hey, free food, free shelter, and an escape from the bitter cold and pointless existence, right? It’s a fair trade, right? Nanachi and Mitty think so at first, finding being inside the abyss incredibly exciting. Although they’d never met before, they become fast friends.
However, one day Bondrewd chooses them for a particular experiment on lessening the effects of the curse from the sixth level, and has them both ascend in custom-built elevators from there. According to his hypothesis, this should cause the full force of the curse to concentrate on one of them while the other gets a lesser version of it, and that’s exactly what happens – Nanachi my have turned into a furry, but they’re still completely self-aware…although they probably wish they weren’t, as they just had to watch the horrifying body-horror specatacle of Mitty melting away into what she is now. Eventually, after Nanachi is forced to help Bondrewd with his experiments and Mitty is experimented on over and over again due to the fact that she is apparently incapable of dying (yet can still feel pain), Nanachi – with Mitty – manages to escape the facility.
Since then, Nanachi had been desperately searching for a way to put Mitty out of her misery, fearing the day that they wont be around to look after her anymore, which would leave the immortal Mitty to suffer for presumably all eternity. And that way has now finally come in the form of Reg, whose Incinerator apparently has the same properties as a certain weapon of Bondrewd’s which injured Mitty’s other eye (being the only part of her that can’t regenerate). After an incredibly tearful, ceremonial farewell, Reg grants Nanachi’s wish to blow Mitty to smithereens.
The sadness is abated somewhat when Riko finally wakes up, and after an incredibly difficult, painful recovery process, it’s finally time to head off again…but this time with a new companion. …In the next season, anyway.
Well we had a good run but it’s time to set the ‘episodes without Reg’s dick being mentioned’ counter back to zero, folks! We did get that ‘hot springs’ part after all.
Anyway, I will admit to being a little worried about how Made in Abyss was going to end the season, because the part where it seemed logical to end seemed to me like they’d have to really cram way too much in. The good news is that it ended exactly where I expected to, and nothing got crammed at all, because thankfully this final episode is a double-length one. Because wow there was a lot to get through, and it was certainly done well. While part of me regrets binging the manga and ‘spoiling’ so much of the plot – because I do think that so far the anime has been a better medium to appreciate the story in – seeing everything animated and with music and voice acting really did pack a punch that reading ahead still didn’t prepare me for. There were so many absolutely phenomenal scenes in this episode with a staggering emotional power to them. Obviously of course the standout one is Mitty’s ‘funeral’ – it was sad enough in the manga, but seeing all the small touches added – the music, the way Reg shakes as he tries to steady his aim, and both he and Nanachi crying all over eachother, was just…damn. That’s scene of the year stuff.
And it wasn’t even the best scene in the episode – the flashback stuff was all well done of course, but one of my favourite moments was during the end credits where Riko sends a message up to the surface, and we get to see the balloons slow journey up through all the layers they’ve passed on the way down – it even gets stuck near the Seeker’s camp, so Marulk and co send it on its way until it’s eventually picked up at the edge of the Abyss. It was just a really beautiful way of reminding us how far Riko and Reg have come and what they’ve been through, and there was something eerily emotional about the whole thing (enhanced with that gorgeous music of course).
There were so many good scenes in this episode that it’s completely easy to forgive the incredibly awkward bathing scene – which – mercifully – isn’t as eyebrow-raising as it is in the manga. The massive elephant in the room that I have refrained from properly addressing in any of my reviews of this show is that if you read the manga – and honestly, if you read too much into a lot of the anime scenes – the mangaka is…kiiiiinda a lolicon and almost definitely a shotacon. (and ‘kinda’ may be being generous here) He draws some absolutely incredibly stuff, some insanely beautiful landscapes and mesmerizingly detailed backgrounds, but it’s really not hard to pick up on this. To be honest, it’s not something that ever really bothers me, more like something kind of just lurking off in the background, but that bathing scene was one of the parts where it was the most obvious. So kudos to the anime team for toning that down a bit – it would have been at complete odds with the rest of the episode. Instead it becomes more like something nice and light-hearted to defuse some of the rampant tragedy, and ended up working pretty well. In a ‘haha lets laugh at the robot boy getting a robot boner’ way, anyway.
This was an incredible close to what turned out to be one of the best shows I watched this year. I can’t wait for part two.
Made in Abyss is one of those anime that seem so expertly, perfectly crafted that it makes you appreciate the industry all over again. The animation, the characters, the scenery, the directing, the music – it’s a complete package, and while some episodes were better than others I don’t think this season truly had a ‘low’ point. The closest thing would be the anime-original content where Riko acted alone while Reg was unconscious, cos it was kinda ridiculous, but even that was still perfectly decent. Sure, there’s the aforementioned lolishota hints, and the obsession with Reg’s dick gets really weird really fast (and if it follows the manga exactly, rest assured it’s gonna get weirder), but it’s a testament to the sheer strength of everything else about the show that those things are more like vaguely amusing quirks to me than anything particularly detrimental to it.
While I could gush for ages about how almost touchingly beautiful the entire show constantly looks, I haven’t actually spoken that much about the show’s soundtrack even though it’s worth mentioning. Most of (if not all of?) the music used in Made in Abyss is composed by Kevin Penkin, an Australian guy who definitely needs to be hired to write more music for anime. His music really injected so much more into these scenes, and he deserves every bit of the praise he’s currently getting. I hope this new lot of recognition leads to him getting even more work in the anime industry.
I don’t know when Made in Abyss will be back, but I’m really glad it’s taking a break. With how stunning and beautiful this season was, I’d like the next part to look just as good.