Riko and Reg have reached the Seeker Camp; a haven for cave raiders nestled at the bottom of the Abyss’s second layer. Here they meet Ozen, a White Whistle and former companion of Riko’s mother, as well as her apprentice, Marulk. Ozen allows them to stay the night, but it appears that not everything is well in the isolated refuge. In the morning, their host offers to explain the situation, but also delivers grim tidings of Lyza’s fate.
After the sobering jaunt through the Forest of Temptation, episode 6 gives Riko and Reg some time to get their bearings and enjoy the relative safety of the Seeker Camp. The structure looks like something straight out of a classic JRPG, built into a massive upside-down tree and sporting an enormous telescope with which to observe the approaches from the rest of the Abyss. Though more claustrophobic than the vistas we’ve been treated to so far, it’s still another beautiful environment in a show that’s already sported a lot of them.
Unfortunately for our young adventurers, the warden of the camp is much less inviting. Ozen the Immovable is as impressive as she is unsettling. Her character design is fantastically striking, and the show goes to great lengths to make it clear just how strong she is without contriving reasons for her to show it off.
If Ozen is impressed that Riko and Reg have made it so far into the Abyss, she hides it well. Her open contempt for these children is strong, but considering that she went just as deep as Lyza, she’s not speaking from a position of arrogance, but one of hard-earned experience. She and Lyza were the ones who carried the infant Riko out of the Abyss all those years ago, and Ozen makes it clear that she thought more than once about abandoning the child. However, there’s a certain way in which she talks about Lyza that shows how much she cared for her, which hints at a much more nuanced character that I hope we continue to learn more about.
In the camp, we also get to spend time learning more about the details of cave raiding with Ozen’s apprentice, Marulk. Though she’s only about Riko’s age, she too made it far into the Abyss, and apparently impressed Ozen enough for her to take the girl in (another hint that Ozen may have hidden layers we haven’t seen yet). Through Marulk, we hear more about some of the mysterious relics found in the middle layers, and the role the Seeker Camp plays in exploration and salvaging. It’s more solid worldbuilding through the eyes of children, which is something the show continues to do very well.
Of course, the other thing Made In Abyss does well is feed a sense of subtle yet ever-present dread by reminding us that the Abyss is as terrifying as it is magnificent. When Riko wakes up in the middle of the night, she encounters a nightmarish creature that looks like a rack of ribs grew terrible arms. Though hardly the goriest thing I’ve seen in anime, I found it deeply unsettling. I’m sure that’s partly because it reminded me of the moment Dark Souls made it absolutely clear that it was not messing around.
After Riko’s late-night scare, Ozen offers to explain what she’s just seen. The implication is that Riko will finally be confronted by some of the true horrors of the Abyss and consider turning back. I’m a little dubious as to how that’s going to play out, since she’s already stumbled upon people being devoured and their voices turned into lures for fresh victims (crap on toast, Made In Abyss, that was gruesome), without showing much terror. Still, Ozen also tells Riko more about how she recovered her mother’s whistle, which may put her quest into question in a more personal way.
The show continues to be rock-solid in terms of story, world- and character-building, and presentation. We get to interact with some new and compelling characters who I’m definitely interested in learning more about. Frankly, the only complaint I have is that while Ozen’s appearance, dialogue and movements all play into making her seem aloof and dangerous, her voice actress leans a little too hard on the creepy voice. When every line sounds like it’s being delivered by someone trying to spook you at a haunted house, it loses some of the impact when she says something that’s supposed to be truly concerning.
Still, that’s a minor complaint at worst, and I’m nervously excited to follow Riko and Reg as they learn more of Lyza’s fate and the nature of the Abyss itself.