Another Friday, another superlative episode of Made in Abyss – and one that raises far more questions that it answers. We’re getting to that point in many one-cour adaptations where it starts to become clear just how little of the story is going to be told in the anime, and that’s always a depressing realization. There remains some hope here – Stalker thinks this series is going to do OK on disc, and Vol. 6 of the manga broke into the charts – which I believe is the first time that’s happened with Made in Abyss. I won’t hold my breath for a second season, but there’s at least a thread to cling to.
Interestingly, after last week’s intense and scary episode we get something that definitely dials down the horror element – at least in terms of action. This ep is plenty creepy, but it does more to set up the darkness to come than unleash it (though there are moments). Again, it raises many questions but offers few answers – “cryptic” is the word I’d use for almost all of it, right down to a few details (like the abundance of egg-shaped relics or the repeated mention of the “Eternal Fortunes” flower) which either don’t seem to make a lot of sense or practically shout out their significance.
Ozen is a big part of that, certainly. She’s tall and sinister, with a visage possessed of a perpetual sneer. It’s easiest to assume that Riko is the “kid” she refers to as still alive (and several other times, too), but I kept getting the impression there was someone else she was referring to – not Riko or Reg. Ozen does at least allow the two kids into the seeker camp, instructing her servant to lower the gondola for them after getting a good look at Reg’s arms. We see that even this relatively short climb towards the surface is enough to make Riko nauseous again (it’s no wonder she reeks of vomit by now) though Reg seems totally immune.
That servant is another cryptic element here – that’s Marulk (Toyosaki Aki). There are telltale signs that this young miss is a young mister, starting with the fact that Marulk uses “boku” self-referentially. And indeed Reg notices this immediately (Riko is not exactly the queen of observance), and seems to confirm it in a conversation with Marulk (during which Reg also observes that he “doesn’t feel like a robot”) while Riko is in the (cold) bath washing off the stink of puke. But why would Ozen force Marulk to dress as a girl – which is what seems to be happening, judging by the tone of the conversation he shares with Reg? We learn only that Marulk is a blue whistle before the required age of 15 due to being a white whistle’s servant, and that he’s sensitive to the sun and can’t live on the surface. There’s something strange going on here, that’s for certain.
Then there’s the strange creature Riko encounters while looking for a place to pee in the night (a sojourn which concludes with her wetting the bed – Reg’s bed). Why is such a thing inside the seeming safe refuge of the seeker camp? I’ve long harbored a suspicion that some or all of the strange beasts we encounter were once humans, now warped by the Abyss into their current forms – but this one practically reeks of it. It looks like a half-fleshed human skeleton with a tail and no head, and Riko is right to be terrified of it. But it’s worth noting that it doesn’t follow Riko back to the kids’ bedchamber, and that Ozen implies that she’s well aware of its presence.
Ozen is the key to a lot of these mysteries, I think we can assume that. She does tell Riko that her mother is dead, and that she didn’t write the letter the girl assumes she did – but I’m not taking anything this woman says at face value yet. I’m not sure just what secrets she plans to reveal to Riko and Reg inside her chamber, but I suspect they aren’t going to be pleasant ones. It seems as if Riko’s decision to continue to search for her mother – even after Ozen confirms her death and poor Marulk practically begs the children to stay at the seeker camp – is one which casts aside relative safety and security in favor of deadly peril. But I’m not at all sure staying at Ozen’s side would be any less dangerous than continuing to descend…