Rolling Review – Made in Abyss (11)

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EPISODE SYNOPSIS:

Nanachi takes Reg and Riko back to her hut so she can tend to Riko’s arm and drain the poison out of her system. Reg goes hunting for items and later, begins to hear voices in his head that sound awfully familiar. The mystery of the Abyss continues to deepen as Nanachi reveals herself as a Hollow.

Review:

After the soul breaking Episode 10, Episode 11 is surprisingly tame. Nanachi sends Reg on a mission to collect ingredients to help cure Riko’s poison. He’s also collecting Nanachi’s dinner, but hey, he was out anyway so why not?!

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Well duh, delivery boy!  Of course you’d pick up dinner on the way home!

If I had to guess, I am going to state that I think the writers of Made in Abyss are poising themselves to roll out tragedies in a strategic manner. I think they realize if all you do is pump out tragedy, the audience eventually becomes immune to it. Giving people a break and then handing out another set of pain is more effective for drawing out emotion.

Nanachi’s introduction as an “acidly sarcastic” individual lets us all take a breather from the sickening sequences we experienced last episode. Watching her playfully torture Reg into doing what she wants is very entertaining and I appreciated the show’s choice in her character design. Given her adorable bunny body it would have been easy for the creators to make her cutesy and poised to be the “moe soft toy sell” of the show. Instead she’s like an old lady who’s seen too much sh&t in her life and knows a thing or two.

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Whatcha starin’ at kid?!

This episode is more on the edge of what Scott’s been getting, where not a lot happens but the show still crams meaning into it’s 20 minute run time. We learn more about the Abyss and its creature. We also gain some insight into the eco system of the Fourth Layer. I desperately want a water bear, by the way. Just look at these little cuties!

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They have widdle mustaches!!!

I really admire this show’s attention to detail and desire to showcase the Abyss as a living, breathing, biome of sorts. It’d be very simple to design the show to just be a series of downward trials where super deadly monsters live, akin to a “Pit of Trials” in an RPG. Instead the show wants you to know that there’s beauty, peace, AND danger lurking here. Some parts of the Abyss even look like a paradise. I mean seriously…who doesn’t want giant hot tubs practically everywhere you go!

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Hot Tub Time Machine!

If I had to complain about one thing, it would be the show’s random dives into perversity. These are short moments but they are just…out of place and bizarre. I admire that the show candidly does what it needs to do (in the beginning of Ep. 11 Reg just gives Riko mouth to mouth, without that stupid anime-nonsense of “Oh my God, it’s a kiss!!” *blushies*), but this gets undone when Reg is blushing like a summer rose everytime Riko needs to get naked or some manner of bodily function is mentioned. It’s weirdly atonal.

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Really…show…really?!

Now, it’s back to my first comment; Rolling out tragedies slowly and giving you a break in-between. In the midst of the peace of this episode, we get the next painful hook set up. Reg overhears a noise and Nanachi reveals that it’s her roommate Mitty. When Mitty is revealed there’s an instant recoil. The show has given me Episode 10 with no holds barred, so my mind is aflutter with horrible thoughts as to how Mitty came about. Nanachi makes to no bones about explaining that Mitty and herself are Hollows aka victims of the Abyss’s curse. She also says some things that are very curious. Needless to say, I am eagerly awaiting this weekend to learn more.

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No sarcasm here.  This genuinely scarred me a little…
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Curiouser… and Curiouser..

SUMMARY:

Made in Abyss takes a little break to get poor Riko patched up and drop us some more mysteries. The show really seems to know how to layer in pain and it’s likely that the last two episodes of this show are gonna cause more heartbreak. Regardless of that, the show’s incredible art direction, attention to detail and well realized world keep me eager for more.


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Rolling Review – Made in Abyss (07)

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EPISODE SYNOPSIS:

Ozen has brought Riko, Reg, and Marluk to her chamber to reveal a secret box.  The truth behind the box is mortifying for Riko and Reg, and spells out terrifying things for what lies deeper in the Abyss.  As Ozen reveals more about her nature and about the nature of the Abyss itself, we are left to wonder…how are these poor kids ever supposed to make it to the bottom of this awful place?

Review:

Oh my…Hello Made in Abyss.  What’s that you have there?  That’s…an awfully large hammer..

An..awfully…large…sweet Jehosefat don’t swing it over here!

Ozen is insane….and I love her character.

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With that out of the way, I’m going to tackle the incredibly unsettling ideas that are presented in this episode.  Spoiler Warning: The contents of this review have massive spoilers for Ep. 7

Riko and Reg get to see the mysterious box that Ozen has in her chamber and it is…horrifying.  We learn that the box is an Abyss artifact that can bring the dead back to life.  It goes beyond that though.  If something that was once living has been altered, and then is put in the box, it reverts back from whence it came.  Hint: that thing Riko saw in the hallway in Episode 6 was Ozen’s dinner previously…

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Ozen…maybe we should get you Netflix or something…

Ozen discusses how Riko was stillborn when Lyza gave birth in the Abyss.  When she was placed in the box, she magically started moving again.  Her creepy mocking voice in conjunction with the fact that the interior of the box bears an uncanny resemblance to female genetalia, give the show an edgy, pseudo horror vibe.  Made in Abyss has been doing an amazing job of fusing the beautiful atmosphere of the Abyss with the sheer horror of the creatures that inhabit it.  Episode 7 pushes this boundary and leaves us with a terrifying notion.  Riko is literally birthed by the Abyss itself.  What this means for her character, only fills me fear for her future.

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You know…most people keep a lamp in their room

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Afterwards Ozen makes mincemeat out of Reg simply to prove that the kids aren’t ready to brave down into the deeper parts of the Abyss.  Ozen’s outfit is awesome, and we learn the secret to her seemingly eternal “youth” (she calls herself an old-lady and her character design makes it hard to distinguish if she actually looks young).  We also get a glimpse into the mentor/mentee relationship between her an Lyza.  As Dan and I predicted, there’s a certain degree of care and dare I say “compassion” that she has for Lyza which extends down to Riko…although it’s very twisted.

That isn’t to say she goes easy on these kids.  Good gracious Ozen…

She wrecks Reg and with mere flick of her index finger practically crushes Riko’s skull.  Heaven help whoever gets in the way of her punch.

To end, I want to discuss another important discussion that Ozen has with Reg and Riko.  She explains that the fact that nobody has even seen the bottom of the Abyss is akin to people believing in God.  The Abyss has become God itself, which opens the story up to being an exploration of numerous themes.  It all make sense and adds to the slightly eerie feel of the show overall, but also gives the tale a sense of grandeur.  The closer people get to “God”, the more warped they seem to become.

Ozen nearly killing Reg and Riko turns out to be a setup for her teaching them a lesson about how tough the journey into the Abyss will be.  She then strands them in the middle of Zone 2 (that’s where we are…right?) and tells them to survive for ten days.  Training montage here we come!  Before anyone else states it, the parallels between this and Fullmetal Alchemist are uncanny.  Ozen is the Izumi to the Fullmetal Bros/Reg-Riko pair.

My only real concern lies with how far the show will go, and I’m already hoping there’s enough love for this gem to merit a second season.  With a stopover for training it looks like we might not even make it out of this floor.  Let’s hope the show continues to be as fantastic as it has up until this point.  Be sure to catch the next episode of Fullmetal Abyss!

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SUMMARY:

Made in Abyss is fantastic but the halt for training episodes may cause the series to drag out a bit.  We’ll have to wait and see how it goes.  Episode 7 serves as a character building episode for Ozen, and we gain a new perspective on the Abyss and Riko/Reg’s journey to the bottom.

The show blends in the fear factor flawlessly as we learn the origin of Riko’s birth and gain insight into just how powerful these Abyss artifacts can get.  The show has kept the artifacts and other details about the Abyss close to the vest so here’s to hoping we get more knowledge about these items as the show closes out in its second half.

As a final note.  What is it with this punishment?!

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Rolling Review – Made in Abyss (03)

 

Episode Synopsis:

Riko sees a message left by her mother that reads “At the netherworld’s bottom, I’ll be waiting”, and instantaneously assumes it’s for her. She decides that now is the time for her to get out of the confines of the orphanage and deep dive into the Abyss. The other kids support her, but Nat is strongly against it. After all, this will likely be the last time Riko sees any of them ever again.

Review:

I don’t know that I was prepared for the story to move this fast and for it to be this emotional. Made in Abyss has this unnatural way of framing very dark subjects in side dialogue and this whole episode gives me this sickening Madoka Magica vibe. Nothing is ever going to go well…is it…?

Episode 3 is surprisingly laid back for the dark content and game changing story beats that it brings to light. Riko is happy as a clam, and excited that her mother left her a message to meet her at the bottom of the Abyss. To piggyback off of Dan (cause that’s the trend we are going for, right?), it really helps that the cast are all children. If the cast was a group of adults I don’t even think the decision to venture into the Abyss would be possible. It’s also the setup for what I feel is a deep tragedy. The naivete of children is something that Japan loves to bend to the point of breaking.

Riko’s nonsensical optimism aside, the hero (and minor butthead) of this episode is Nat. As I stated in the synopsis, Nat seems to be the only voice of reason among Riko’s friends. Despite acting like a butt in the beginning of the episode, he is the gravitas for us the viewers as we remind ourselves that Riko is not just setting out on a normal heroine journey. There’s a sequence where we are talked through the map of the Abyss and each new horror described leads me to believe these kids are never going to make it out of this.

Riko, honey…maybe you should just stay on the surface. We could have a nice slice of life show, eh?

It’s also important to note that this episode adds a layer to the mystery of what Reg is and why he was made.  He’s clearly part human as he possesses human anatomy and thought that isn’t robotic in nature.  He also was something that Lyza took note of in the Abyss and her discussions about him don’t match up with the seemingly innocent Reg we have come to know.  I like that the show is layering all this in, and having Reg contemplate his existance is a an obvious choice for why he would accompany Riko in the Abyss.

You are a creature of the Negamoon Reg!

I’ll stick my negative comments in the middle here, because there was really only one. When Reg decides to go with Riko down into the Abyss, he sneaks off at night to say good by to little Kiyui. This gets him caught by Leader and he makes up a lie about being up to check on Riko, who he claims in having intense diarrhea. I’m not sure if this sequence is supposed to be funny, but…it isn’t. It’s also so obviously a ploy so when Leader believes it and sends Reg on his way, you are left saying, “Why did you even animate that encounter in the first place??”. Also, how does Leader not catch on that Reg is lying?

Keep it up kid! You’re super believable…aparently…

To tie back to the line I wrote up above about side dialogue, I’ll end with the fact that the leadup to Riko and Reg leaving for their adventure is heartbreaking. The Abyss is heavily guarded due to the fact that illegal artifact raiding has been known to occur. It is in this episode that we learn about the Wharf. Riko and Reg need to sneak into the Abyss from a less…savory location to avoid detection, so Shiggy tells them to meet him late at night. Nat appears and takes the gang through the Wharf, revealing that he was born there and left alone after his sister died. As we walk through the Wharf with him we learn that it’s basically a hive structured slum for those not able to live in the countryside. It’s all told through Nat’s calm voice stating things like, “If I hadn’t been picked up, I would have just died of disease or starvation..like most of the kids around here”. Through this simple set of words we see a whole new world open.

The finale of this episode has Nat unable to stutter out how sad he is to see Riko go. Riko finally breaks down and cries, telling him that even if she never makes it back, they will always be connected by the Abyss, because those who are lost leave their voices behind to guide those who venture in. I have the worst feeling about this and everything in this scene made ME almost cry. Hang in there kids…

As with the previous 2 episodes, everything in this show is beautiful to look at. Each shot could be a poster in your house. The sequence with the map blew my mind as it harkened back to Seirei no Moribito where animators poured so much love into 2 second shots.

Summary:

With gorgeous art and strong world building I highly recommend getting into this show. Just..be prepared for tragedy because my female instincts tell me there’s a storm a comin’.


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