The Ghibli esque background art gives off a surreal feeling of adventure and mystique which amazingly suits the themes of the show. The first episode jumps at the chance to showcase this in its first chain of events.
- Nat tells Riko that the area she’s searching in barely has anything left and has mostly been searched already.
- Nat brings up the star compass Riko has hidden for the time being. While Riko, in response, mentions that she often receives punishment in the form of naked torture.
- Riko mines out 4 relics and a skeleton while passing off the information that she sees these things regularly and has no qualms being around one.
- Riko sees Nat is about to get eaten by, what is known as a “Crimson Splitjaw“, so, she blows her whistle and gets chased by it.
- Riko Gets saved by a beam of light and she follows where that beam comes from to find an unconscious robot boy.
For some, this may be a shocking statement but this chain of events probably makes this the best first episode of the entire year and I’ll explain why in a sec.
Riko is very adamant about finding a whole bunch of relics in an already cleared out area. She finds at least 4 of them and stumbles upon a skeleton. As stated before, she’s used to this and that speaks volumes not just about her but of what is clearly a societal norm. This insane level of blissful ignorance is reinforced by the fact that society also has no problem punishing little kids in very dark manners. I just wanna say that within 3 minutes of the first episode, it is so impressive to have already set a standard for the rules of which this world’s society is okay with and grounded the almost twisted nature of its people. Then, we have the chase scene that is there to wrap the first part of an epic journey by leaving us with a thrilling chill in our bones. But the best thing about this chain is its root: the moment Nat told Riko that the area has already been searched. This little fact gives them and us the impression that there wouldn’t be much to find, only to set us up for the exciting turn of events I just listed.
Finally, we get a beautiful montage of our little friends carrying the robot boy back home with music composed by Kevin Penkin and vocals by Takeshi Saito to lead the charge for an absolutely breahtaking OST!
Skimming over the delectable fact that Riko lives in a torture room, Riko gets in trouble for what sounds like the thousandth time in a week. She ends up running away with Reg, the robot boy and introduces us to the city of Orth. One of the most perfectly odd cities I’ve ever seen in an anime filled with people essentially expecting the Abyss to be the next California Gold Rush. The catch here is that the deeper you go into the abyss the worse it feels to ascend from it. For example, if you ascend from the 6th layer, you may suffer death or, more likely, loss of humanity. It is treated as “suicide” if you descend further than the first layer.
I wanna call to attention that we’re shown a map of the Abyss in episode 3 and I like it when an anime gives me visual aid in terms of the world and locations we’re going to explore. It gives you an idea of what’s nearby and where the characters are. This is something a lot of other shows need to adopt when it comes to building a fully functional world.
Riko herself is also a very interesting little weasel. Her excitement for discovery and recognition completely eliminates any sense of shame and this is the best feature regarding her character. This has led her to be very thorough in researching Reg’s mechanical body. And when I mean very thorough, I mean “probing his ass and breaking the stick from inside” thorough.
Reg’s also proven to be very interesting. From the start, he understands that he has to protect Riko with more than just his life if they wanna succeed in this brutal adventure. He’s actually quite a simplistic character. Since he is a robot with amnesia and quickly grasps the fact that he comes from the depths of the Abyss, he’s curious to find out what he really is. Nothing wrong with keeping it simple. In fact, this makes way for reoccurring characters to be built up and enjoy the spotlight as they slowly unwrap the mysteries surrounding where Reg came from. And of course, the more mysteries we’re looking for, the more excitement this show garners out of me.
Speaking of reoccurring characters, I don’t think there’s 1 bad character in this entire show. Indifferent ones? Maybe, but the characters that matter all leave their mark to brilliantly build up this history that sucks you in and gets you interested to meet even more characters inside the story! And the unimportant ones do their job. Like how Shiggy became the guy that presented the map or how Nat quietly guided the dissimilar duo to the gondola dock. Right after demonstrating strong levels of concern that proved to be an amazing build-up conflict between him and Riko. This moment that is such a great display of emotional separation between them is generally where most viewers will find attachment and grow to understand that this is just the beginning of a highly emotional journey that’ll contain even more differing personalities and emotionally charged moments.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love and respect Nanachi. Despite feeling alone with nothing but her unkempt hands, she survived off of eating foods and reading books she found in trash cans. This goes on until she joins up on what almost seems like a fishy “school trip” spearheaded by Bondrewd, one of the legendary white whistles. Bondrewd is actually using these orphans for experimentation based on finding ways to mitigate damage from ascension of the 6th layer. Nanachi befriends a little girl named Mitty. Seeing as Nanachi is commonly treated as a street rat, she saw Mitty more than just her ‘only friend’, rather, she saw her as family she’d never part with. She loved her so much that she would draw a portrait of her while she wasn’t looking. But blissful dreams would not last long as Bondrewd would force them into an elevator where one of them is to take most of the curse in the hopes of it not destroying the other as well.
As they re-ascended after descension into the 6th layer, Mitty lost all remnant of humanity left in her while Nanachi retained her humanity and came out unharmed. But not without transforming into a “hollow” herself. Nanachi later escapes carrying the deformed Mitty on her back and escapes into what you might call a “safe zone” in the 4th layer where she and Mitty lived for some time. Nanachi would not give up on Mitty so she took to procuring medical supplies from her surroundings. And despite having no success, I cannot even begin to describe the level of fortitude she must have to endure so much tragedy in her life. That when she finally thinks she will be free to take her own life, I almost resented myself for not being able to think of a reason why she shouldn’t. And tossed no blame to Reg for not being able to tell her anything else but to just promise him to refrain from taking her own life.
At the end of the day, she finds friendship in Riko and Reg as she joins them on their adventure and I close the book on the first season with a smile on my face. The tribulations of Nanachi is a perfect excerpt in defining and understanding exactly what Made in Abyss is. That is, to be made literally inside an Abyss is a curse in of itself and I would not wish it upon my worst enemies.
With that said, I leave you all in good vibes and await for the second season of Made in Abyss.