Made in Abyss – 08

Once in a while there comes along an anime which makes me ask “How the hell did this happen?”, and Made in Abyss is one such anime.  While very well-regarded the manga is not an especially huge seller (the one-week cameo in the lower reaches of the Top 50 chart the anime managed to garner for Volume 6 was the series’ first ever), yet this adaptation is not only being handled with tremendous love and care by a powerhouse staff – it’s also being handled with a reasonably huge budget.  The production seems remarkably stable and the schedule manageable.  That pretty much defies all explanation.

The creative influences her are obvious enough – Studio Ghibli, Hunter X Hunter, Dennou Coil.  But in writing the paragraph above the series that springs to mind for me is Kyousougiga, not so much because of the financial circumstances (while notoriously cheap, Toei has oceans of money to spend on prestige titles, even if they rarely do) or the narrative or visual style, but because of the obvious passion of the creative staff.  When a staff really, really cares above making a project great, it’s unmistakable.  Kyousougiga was an original and this show is an adaptation, but I get the same sense of dedication and outright love.

With that said, Episode 8 was another classic (though I can’t help but notice there are only five eps left and we still haven’t met a character who’s all over the OP and ED – and fanart).  I find myself struck by how alike the Abyss and Ozen are – full of contrasts.  Ozen is undeniably a harsh and unforgiving woman, but she’s capable of genuine concern for others in her harsh and unforgiving way.  And as terrible and perilous as the Abyss is, it’s also oddly beautiful – as are the frightening and bizarre creatures who inhabit it.  The scene which Riko stumbled upon certainly qualifies – a pond swarming with Rohana, insects which give off a soft purple glow as they skim along its surface.  But this beauty is quickly interrupted when one of those bizarre creatures – this hippo-like beast – appears and charges at Riko, forcing Reg to save her.

This is a recurring theme, I’m afraid.  I don’t know if Riko can “die” as she’s technically an undead already, but it’s clear that if Reg weren’t around she’d do her best at it many times over.  She has no caution, no common sense – plenty of courage and curiosity, but those two “Cs” in the absence of the first two may be worse than nothing.  This of course is one of the main purposes of this survival training – for Riko to hopefully learn a sense of caution and not depend solely on Reg to save her over and over.  I won’t say it worked, but it was necessary – and obviously if Reg and Riko bought it here we wouldn’t have a story, so that was never in the cards.

I certainly hold nothing against Ozen for leaving the children in the woods to fend for themselves – they’ll need to survive far worse where they’re headed.  And as she waits for them and reminisces, we learn some very interesting tidbits about her past, and Lyza’s (and we see her face).  Lyza’s husband, apparently, was Torka – who didn’t last long, but was apparently someone she genuinely loved.  And Jiruo was indeed tasked with looking after Riko – Lyza calls him her “apprentice”.  While Lyza states that she intended for Riko to make her own choices about her future, it’s pretty obvious she always expected her daughter to follow her down to the netherworld.

When Reg and Riko return to the seeker camp, Ozen regales them with more information still – about the three white whistles who await at the bottom of the world (they seem, impossibly, even more terrifying and cruel than Ozen), about the mysterious slowing of the passage of time in one’s perception at the lower levels, about the secrets that white whistles share with each other and no one else (except, apparently, red whistles who follow them to the depths).  We don’t hear most of those, and we don’t yet know what the mysterious patterns that show up in Reg’s helmet are.

I kind of feel for Marulk in multiple ways, here – if Reg and Riko came back and said “that was just too hard”, I wouldn’t be terribly unhappy.  While both have compelling reasons to go on, it seems like an abject rejection of one’s life as having inherent value.  Poor Marulk – he’s such a kind and gentle soul, forced to endure the tender mercies of Ozen (though I don’t doubt she can be kind to him, in her way, she certainly seems to torture him plenty), and most of the people he meets leave on journeys that will end in their gruesome deaths.  When he finally meets someone who he can truly bond with, children his own age, they leave him too.  The world of Made in Abyss is indeed a harsh and cruel one, for all its wonders.

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18 comments

  1. Regarding the other white whistles … well … lets just keep it at that. -_-

    I am really beginning to wonder if this series will be announced as a split cour or something … possibly even spilling directly over into the Fall season, though I would sorta imagine the Winter season a better bet if it is so announced. Would give the studio some more time to do their work, perhaps.

  2. I don’t think there are enough chapters, even if it does give off a split cour vibe. It’ll probably burn almost 30, and isn’t the manga at less than 50?

  3. D

    I don’t want to think about it! Can’t these beautiful, amazing shows just stick around forever?

  4. Yeah, for my money another cour isn’t possible until the manga finishes its current arc.
    And even then, the series wouldn’t be finished. The author seems to be expanding more than we imagined. If he’s going for the long haul, at his current pace, it’ll take quite a while.
    For reference, we are currently on chapter 42 in the manga; and chapter 17 in the anime.

  5. The good news: I was wrong in my prediction last episode that they wouldn’t be able to include Ozen’s flashback. In fact, this whole episode was basically one chapter plus that flashback; but the pace was unmistakably genius. They beat out the manga here. The Rohanas were splendid, as was the music when Marulk cries, and the face & overall body frame of Lyza. It really seems like Riko inherited Torka’s dumb-face; she lost the genetic lottery, lol.

    The mixed news: Since we’re at at the beginning of chapter 17, there are very little chances that the anime will make it past chapters 24. But that’d offer it a possibility of a split cour, with a bit of expansion in the deeper layers, which have been rushed because of plot in my opinion. There must be more exploration!

    At the same time, the fact that we’re adapting so slowly gives me mixed feelings in the short term. What if this ISN’T a split cour, and it’s the last we ever see of Made in Abyss animated? I think it’s unlikely, but in the production committee era… You cannot be sure enough. Especially since the manga is known for torture, gore, and child nudity.

  6. This is a world where Hunter x Hunter got 148 episodes, I’d think that theres definitely a chance that Made in Abyss would go the same way.

  7. H x H sells over a million copies per volume. It’s only ever charted for that one week for V. 6, but I’d guess MiA has never topped 35-40K.

  8. R

    I think there’s enough for another cour in terms of pure number of chapters. My main concern is there’s no great “cutoff” point for a second cour that wouldn’t dive into the following big arc. You’d need to end on a cliffhanger or go anime original I think.

    I actually have the same concern for Shokugeki no Souma but season 3 was announced for that so who knows

  9. s

    So, the handful of anime that have made me cry (not counting Grave of the Fireflies, you have to question your humanity if you don’t sob through that): FMA Brotherhood. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. Your Lie in April (shameless manipulation!) Cowboy Bebop. This episode of Made in Abyss. Poor Marulk.

  10. I found the BGM while Marulk’s tears and Ozen’s flashback played to be… ethereal. Almost transcendent.
    I need to find the author to this piece of art immediately:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw-BFh7iaIs

  11. Yes, that BGM during that scene was amazing. But then, I find the BGM here generally perfect.

    I may have cried a bit from Your Lie – tears of rage at having wasted a couple hours of my life before I dropped it. Obviously GoTF is the ultimate, but also Kaguyahime, Moribito, Cross Game… There are a few out there.

    It’s worth noting that “Poor Marulk” was basically the cover of Kinema Citrus’ website yesterday. It really was heartbreaking watching his reaction to his friends leaving him. His life is a series of goodbyes, but this one hurt more than most.

  12. Me personally, Meruem & Komugi never cracked me, but Reina finding her mother in 136 just blew me away… I was a scene after that one. It just tugs at our heartstrings because of a basic truth about humanity… but I’m not sure how to quite define this element. It’s the same reason Boku Dake’s emotional highs were the conventional drama behind Kayo; the same reason Red Turtle touches a very primal part of the human experience. The same reason Marulk’s goodbye touched so deeply, although we only got to meet him and his inner psychology for 2 episodes.

    Perhaps it has to do something with cohesion, catharsis, compassion… or the fact that these struggles are universal to the human condition; they’re deeply relatable & connectable. I’m not sure. But this quality is surely grounded in the human heart of us all.

  13. what’s your take, Enzo, on the aforementioned quality?

  14. I agree with most of it but heartily disagree about Boku Dake…

  15. What’s the highest emotional point you found about Boku Dake, if not Kayo? I imagine Satoru & Sachiko?
    If so, that plays into my argument quite well actually… A warm-hearted mother & son caring for each other. So sweet, those two.

  16. G

    The voice actress that plays Ozen couldn’t be any better. She is Sayaka Ohara and plays a wide range of characters from Alicia in Aria, Lelouch in Code Geass, Erza in Fairy Tail, Sofia in Jormungard, Miya in Sekerei, Bel Peol in Shakugan No Shana, and Yuuko in XXXholic just to name a fraction of her work.

  17. M

    Well, this is Japan we’re talking about. Might just be a case of one of the anime staff members being related to some big-ass geriatric on the board of directors (actually, that probably works in any country), or maybe said geriatric has a grandchild that likes the manga. Who knows?

    I just hope that the upcoming Hakumei & Mikochi gets half as good an anime treatment as MiA is getting.

  18. R

    I didn’t know Hakumei & Mikochi was getting adapted and now I get to sit here screaming in excitement for the next hour or so. I certainly do hope it does as well.

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