Anime of the Week: Made in Abyss

Despite being named 2017’s Anime of the Year, Made in Abyss isn’t well known among the anime community. I was recommended this anime by a friend of mine, and while the promotional art looked too cutesy for my taste at the time, I was promised a dark and emotionally-heavy story. And I was not disappointed.

Art. While the character designs look like they come directly from Strawberry Marshmallow, they are a beautiful contrast to the highly detailed and beautiful backgrounds that would fit in seamlessly with any Studio Ghibli film. As Riko and Reg venture deeper into the abyss, the designs become otherworldly and horrific compared to our two main characters’ simplistic design. At the beginning of the series, the color palette is filled with warm browns and yellows with bright greens and blues, but further into the series, and further down into the abyss, the colors become more dull and cool with deep purples and blues to reflect the change in direction within the narrative.  

Characters. To be point blank: I am in love with both Riko and Reg and the relationship between them. Riko is an optimistic, positive, and driven person with a strong desire to explore the abyss that leads her study all she could about the abyss. On the other side of the spectrum is Reg: quiet and withdrawn, often questioning the things around him due to his absence of memories from before Riko found him. And what I like about these two is the co-dependent relationship between them. While Riko has her encyclopedic knowledge of the abyss, she is still just a human child with no real defense against the more aggressive creatures within the abyss, she is also susceptible to the Curse of the abyss. Reg is nearly invulnerable with his incinerator cannon and grapple-hook like arms, without any knowledge of how to navigate the abyss and low confidence it would be hard for him to travel the abyss alone. And this relationship, making up for the others’ weaknesses, and working together to overcome obstacles was something I came to greatly enjoy throughout the show.

Plot. The series follows Riko and Reg, two children and their journey into a giant chasm known as The Abyss:  an alien-like world filled with priceless treasure, vicious creatures and disturbing secrets waiting to be discovered. Those who travel into the abyss in search of relics are known as Cave Raiders. Riko is a Red Whistle cave raider, meaning she is only allowed to explore the first layer; and on one of these dives, she discovers a human-like boy that will later become her companion named Reg. The Abyss is divided into seven layers, each descending layer being more dangerous than the last; and the farther one dives into the abyss, the less likely they are to return because of the Curse of the Abyss. The Curse is a set of afflictions that grows more severe the further into the abyss you go, it starts out easy with dizziness and slight nausea but ending in madness, loss of humanity and even death. However, the curse doesn’t affect those who are traveling down into the abyss - but those who are trying to rise up out of it. Which is why when Riko receives a letter from her mother that states she is waiting for Riko at the bottom of the abyss, it becomes apparent that this is not a journey either child will be returning from.

Going into Made in Abyss I didn’t have high expectations, but it has easily become one of my favorite anime from the last few years. While I recommend this anime to basically everyone, I especially recommend this to those who need a break from the type of anime that is currently popular within the anime community. The one true downside of this show is that it is only accessible through Amazon Prime Video or by buying a physical DVD edition of the series.  However, the 7-day trial of Prime Video is more than enough time to watch the entire series.

Rating: 9/10 Confikeys

Trailer links:

Japanese, but not posted by Sentai

English, but it’s the official Sentai trailer