Made in Abyss (Meido in Abisu) 2017
The story follows an orphaned young girl, Riko, who finds and befriends a humanoid robot Reg and descends with it into the titular “Abyss”, that leads deep into the Earth, in hopes of finding her mother. (wiki blurb)
So, an adventure into a dangerous abyss that mixes fantasy and science-fiction? I’m on board immediately!
I definitely remember a fair few late nights watching Made in Abyss – not just because I was really enjoying the series but because the pacing felt good and the episode endings usually left me if not precisely hanging from a cliff, definitely keen to see how certain things would be resolved next time 😀
Despite a point in the series where it was very clear that two of the major storylines were never going to come close to being resolved, I really think the pacing was top notch.
Where it drifted off a few times perhaps, the depth and variety of the world-building made up for it – that and the imagination on display throughout, along with its characterisation too.
It felt like the writers Akihito Tsukushi (manga) and Hideyuki Kurata (anime) did a great job at portraying the curiosity, fear and hope of younger children – and the heroes are a bit younger than in a lot of anime (which tends to put teens front and centre of course) so that was a nice change.
I often find myself wanting to see more stories about adults say, as teens can (unfairly) end up locked into general angst and school settings – but having said that, one of my favourite sub-genres is the Coming-of-Age-Story, so I’m hardly arguing for ‘no more teen-focused stories’ here.
As I’ve already mentioned, the world-building in Made in Abyss was enthralling – from the cave raider society and its whistle/colour-based hierarchy or the salvaging aspects, to the Abyss itself which was as disturbing as it was mesmerising. Every few episodes we were given a new horror (Corpse-Weepers come to mind here) or wonder (like the Outerhaven) as the kids descend further on their quest.
But there’s nail-biting moments aplenty that don’t necessary come from the creatures or other dangers too – often it’s via character choices, and if you’ve seen the main moment I’m alluding to here I’ll just leave it at that and not spoil things for folks who, like me, came a little late to this show.
Made in Abyss can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster too – and there’s some valid criticism floating around on one of the key tear-jerker moments. I’m in two minds about it – again, without spoilers – I think there was just enough lead-in re: the new characters to make the scenes have some impact, but I can see why folks would want a longer lead up, absolutely.
If you’re thinking of picking this one up then know that it’s unfinished in terms of the main ‘quest’ the kids are on, but it does have a resolution AND there’s a feature film due in a few months that ought to wrap some things up, so that’s nice to know.
And quickly, having said that there’s science-fiction here it’s generally of a low-key nature, more ‘tech being reawakened’ (a fav trope of mine) and appears mostly in smaller moments via our robot Reg, so keep in mind the fantasy/adventure aspects are probably stronger overall.
Perhaps worth noting also, that despite young protagonists etc, this isn’t exactly a ‘kid-friendly’ series due to some tough themes and a few equally challenging scenes.