Made in Abyss is a fantastic series that captured me and many others with its incredible music and beautiful backgrounds on its very first episode.
That being said, it wasn’t until a few episodes later that I really began to enjoy the show and like it as much as I do now. The first 3 episodes of Made in Abyss are probably by far the weakest of the show. Excluding the first few minutes of episode 1, we are pretty much never exploring the abyss. Instead, we see the village that Riko lives in and are introduced to her friends, Riko herself, and Reg. There’s slight moments of action where Reg and Riko are trying to evade some people’s attention, and moments of mystery where we, the audience, ponder along with the characters on Reg’s origin. However most of this is pretty dull and kinda boring. Maybe it’s because I was rewatching it, but despite not remembering pretty much any of the content that was showing up, I did not find myself enjoying the show too much.
From episode 4, things start happening at a much faster pace. The characters begin to ascend the abyss pretty quickly, and with the unique and beautiful settings like the Inverted Forest, as well as unique monster designs (nearly all of which is hand drawn), I found myself having lots of fun with this show. This really fast paced-ness of descending the abyss doesn’t last for long(in fact it’s only for like 2 episodes), but with new characters and explorations of the lore, I didn’t find myself getting bored at all.
However, episode 10 is by far my favorite, and it’s for the scene in which Riko’s hand is poisoned, and she experiences the curse of the abyss. It’s a sort of turning point in Made in Abyss where it gets darker, and I saw some fans of the manga talk about this shift when the anime was airing. I don’t know if it’s appropriate to call it a tone shift, since there definitely were a few somewhat violent moments, even in the very early parts like in episode 1 where we see Nat with some blood on his head.
There’s other things too like the terrifying expressions of Ozen as well as the pretty dark and shocking past of Riko’s birth that is revealed by Ozen– the show definitely has a gradual increase into being more dark and edgy(I mean ‘edgy’ in a good context here) but none of this comes close to the extent of gore and fucked up-ness that we see in Made in Abyss from episode 10.
The setup for the scene is incredible. In the beginning, we see the Goblet of the Giants, which is where the episode takes place. Unlike all of the other places that Reg and Riko has explored so far, the primary color in this setting is a dark blue. It gives a feeling of uneasiness despite Riko’s enthusiasm when entering. This is further emphasized by how there’s fog everywhere, and due to the humid temperature, we see Riko and Reg constantly sweating.
About six minutes in, we see the ‘Orbed Piercer’ for the first time, who has a really unique and badass design.
Riko warns Reg about the Orbed Piercer being really dangerous, how its scales are all poisonous, and that Reg should run. This all sounds pretty scary and all, and there definitely is a sense of tension that’s always present in Made in Abyss. However, the audience has been exposed to similarly menacing monsters, and although they have definitely come off as being dangerous, none of the characters ever sustained any major injuries.
That’s why when Reg uses the metal umbrella looking thing, finds out that the plan fails, the music stops, and the camera slowly pans to Riko whose arm was impaled by one poisonous scale, it’s such a “oh shit” moment.
The episode just keeps getting better too, as Reg assesses the direness of the situation and it feels really intense. One of the greatest things about what makes this episode(and the series as a whole) is the stellar voice acting both by Reg and Riko’s voice actresses. Tomita Miyu makes really good screams(that… sounds pretty weird) that convince you of the pain that Riko is feeling, and when Reg cries and regrets his slow decision making later on, Ise Mariya does some stellar voice acting that feels really emotional and genuine. The two have many ‘moe girl’ roles(especially Tomita Miyu), and it was refreshing to see some more complicated and demanding characters being played by the two so well.
I feel like if I keep going on, this post is going to end up being a summary of the episode when you could just go to it and rewatch it. But another great thing about this is the contrast between the effects of the curse of the abyss that Riko experiences here to the effects she experienced just last episode. Before, it was some hallucinations that, although was supposed to be pretty dangerous, made for a more emotional moment that gives Riko more courage and motivation to keep descending down the Abyss. In this episode however, we instantly see how different it is with a shot of Riko’s hand from her perspective, which has some really weird and unique color scheme and some awesome animation that’s super gorey and makes you go “holy fuck what the hell is going on, what???’
The blood that comes out of Riko’s eyes(won’t include a photo of that) is extremely gruesome and made me physically cringe in pain, and the entire scene of Reg crying, breaking Riko’s arm, and nearly cutting it off is so fucking good.
Normally I’m not a fan of scenes that are not directly enjoyable, and this episode is far from that. And yet the intense atmosphere blew me away and it was great.
After this episode, the show is indisputably more dark. The last 3 episodes with Nanachi do have many ‘relaxing’ and comfortable episodes with no real impending danger or anything, but the backstory with Mitty and Nanachi is extremely fucked up and gruesome, probably more than anything else in the show. Similar things can be said about the sequel movie.
Anyways, those were some thoughts I had on Made in Abyss after rewatching it very recently. Hope you enjoyed reading!
Past nanachi is very adorable