Young Riko has spent her entire childhood dreaming of exploring the Abyss, an enormous pit and series of caves filled with wonders and terrors that only the staunchest Cave Raiders have survived to bring back ancient artifacts from its depths. No one knows just how deep the pit is, but Riko's own mother disappeared into it years ago, leaving her daughter behind with a powerful urge to follow after her and learn the Abyss's mysteries for herself. One day Riko discovers a boy who seems to have originated from the Abyss and appears to be a sort of robot. Can he aid the little girl in her quest to find her missing mother? Or will the children become the Abyss's next victims?
This show is like a pretty looking mystery box, booby-trapped with a dozen poisoned needles. It’s beautiful to watch, painful to approach, and disappointing once you open it. What I mean by that, the only incentive it’s giving you is the scenery porn, the torture porn, and the constant unknown of what lies ahead. All three of which have been proven to be disasters for any title. The setting of the show is Kaiba gone terribly wrong. In both series, we initially know nothing about the world and the amnesiac main character. By the time the show is over a dozen episodes later, we know everything about Kaiba, and absolutely nothing about the Abyss. It’s a perpetually ongoing mystery, existing for the sole purpose of teasing the viewer, before it overstays its welcome and becomes nonsensical in the likes of Lost.There is no sense of meaningful adventure. Rico wants to explore the abyss, find her mother, and does neither. Gon in Hunter X Hunter for example, was also looking for his father, finds him at the end, while informing you about every area he was going to. Rico on the other hand didn’t find her mother and didn’t discover anything, since the only thing she knows about the Abyss is scattered information other explorers have already recorded in books. Said information is limited to items and creatures. It doesn’t say anything about what the Abyss is. There is no lore about what the hell is going on here. Why is there an upside down forest, who made it, for what purpose, why is there still sunlight miles below the surface? You don’t know; it’s just a cool looking scenery. There is no history or logic, and the people exploring it are just looking for artifacts as if they are easter eggs instead of a historical puzzle they are trying to solve. There are not even any traditions or folklore regarding the explorers and how they are living around the abyss. The hole has nothing to do with them. They just moved there to essentially pillage the place for money, and have nothing to say about their civilization or the culture they are currently tomb raiding. So basically, despite the setting being a very deep hole, there is absolutely no immersion. It’s vapid air, nothing is fleshed out. Going back to Rico, she is so bad at exploring, to the point she would have died a dozen times without Reg and his “kill everything” beam. You can’t even call Reg a character, since his only motivation is saving Rico because … fuck he knows. He has no motivation; he just appears out of nowhere and becomes her pet. He is literally a walking plot convenience, since he can one-shot any monster, jump around long distances, and never gets damaged because he’s indestructible. He’s just there to debuff an otherwise impossible journey. And yes, there are cases when can’t overcome a challenge but even then there is an unbelievable amount of plot armor. There’s this crazy explorer who overpowers them, and just about when she is ready to kill them, she goes “trololol, I was just kidding, I never wanted to kill you.” There is another scene Rico gets poisoned and out of nowhere someone appears to save her. It’s all fake suspense, since every time they are in danger, everything is instantly resolved in a lazy way.It doesn’t help how every character is a plot device, existing either for infodumps or plot armor. Everything they say or do is happening in a forced and artificial way since it happens exactly when it needs to happen. Even the freaking curse of the abyss is a plot device, existing for preventing the characters from moving too fast, instead of having an in-series excuse for being part of the setting. That is also why every scene with injury and suffering is torture porn, since it’s forcefully happening for the sadistic pleasure of the viewer and is then quickly taken away so the plot can go on like nothing happened. Speaking of viewer pleasure, the characters are shamed by constant sexual teasing and low brow erotic jokes. It doesn’t add anything to their personalities besides fueling fan fiction and deviant doujins. Even if you filter out the deviance, Rico and Reg are completely basic personalities, and are only defined by a couple of vague features. There is nothing memorable about them compared to the things they experience, effectively falling victims of the curse. Not the one of the abyss, but rather the one of shock factor, where the viewer cares about the horrible experience, instead of the character experiencing it. The best character ends up being not in the main ones, since it’s the fluffy bunny, for being the only one with a backdrop story and a lot of knowledge to survive with practical skills instead of deus ex machina bullshit. Unfortunately, she is introduced late in the show and most of her appeal is furry fan service, and even more misery porn by being a victimized cute girl.And that’s why Made in Abyss is nowhere as good as many make it seem. Even Mahoujin Guruguru, a show airing at the same time, does everything better.
I just... I missed the hype train on this one, guys. There are sliight spoilers ahead - proceed with caution. I don't know how else to express my frustration without having to spoil something. I don't think the spoiler is severe enough that you can't read this review before watching the anime, though. I'd also like to put a trigger warning regarding this anime: These young children are sexualized to an uncomfortable degree. If this is something that bothers you due to having experienced your own trauma or because it bothers you in general, I would probably advise you to skip this anime. Even if there hadn't been hype around this, I would not have liked it all that much. I will explain why in this review. The story of Made in Abyss follows a young girl named Riko who lives in the city of Orth. In the center of this city is the great Abyss, a massive hole that goes seven layers deep. No one knows what truly lies at the bottom of this pit. Riko, a red whistle (the novice cave raider) receives a letter from her legendary mother, a white whistle (the highest a cave raider can go) to come and meet her at the bottom of the Netherworld. Riko immediately sets out with Reg, a humanoid that she had met the previous day, to descend to the bottom of the Abyss and find her mother. The rest of the anime is her journey and descent, which is very interesting. Here's the spoiler-y part: I have a huge issue with the writing. Riko is clearly an idiot. There is no way that she would be able to survive the Abyss. Seeing as I had heard that this was a masterpiece, I expected the writing to reflect that and it didn't. Riko doesn't die - which isn't a problem in and of itself - but is kept alive by a series of lucky strokes. That is weak writing. It's like when you read a fantasy novel and the protagonist just keeps getting help or getting lucky and that's why the story is able to progress. Anyone reading that would recognize that it's a case of the author wanting this thing to happen so the thing happens. It's the same issue here. The idea behind this anime is so creative. But the execution of it is flawed. The mangaka clearly just wants (or needs) to keep Riko alive and therefore has miraculous events happen around her in order to maintain this. It wouldn't have been an issue if it were once or twice - but every single time? It's lazy. The animation was fine. I'm currently reading the manga and I actually think the manga animation is much nicer. This felt a bit watered down. It's cute-sy, which is supposed to be a juxtaposition of the horrible things that happen to them (which is also exhausting and feels a little lazy) but I think the animation really shines not in the character design but in the background and scenery of the Abyss. The sound is going to depend on you, I think. The OST was awful for me because it is sung by high-pitched children and I sort of wanted to gouge my ear drums out with a knitting needle. While many people told me the background music added to the horrific events that happened in the anime, I disagree. I don't really think it added or took away from them. I say this because I literally don't remember the music. There is only one background song I remember and that is in the very beginning when Riko and Reg are ready to descend. It was really beautiful and, I felt, captured the mood perfectly. The characters were not well-developed and didn't undergo many character changes, even though they are faced with many obstacles. This is an issue for me. Riko remains an idiot (how on Earth does this girl not learn a lick of common sense!?) and Reg remains stagnant because he's suffering from amnesia, which is a typical anime trope that is also lazy. You would think that with as much horror and trauma these two kids go through that they would have some kind of development, but there really isn't any, particularly for Riko. I think someone could argue that Reg does (I'd like to hear the argument) but I don't think it was enough to justify the amount of absolute despair he has to go through over and over and over again. In terms of my personal experience, I would say I'd rate it lower than what I'm giving it now. I enjoyed it enough because I was watching it with a friend and we basically were just having fun ragging on it, really. I don't think that I would have dropped it, I didn't dislike it that badly, but I have very little interest in continuing the series. I've been told that the great parts are yet to come, but I don't believe people should have to slog through lazy plotlines and character development to get to something good. A good story is a good story. Overall, I'd honestly say skip this one. I realize that this is a bit of an unusual opinion because apparently this won Anime of the Year a few years back? (I only just learned this.) But I think there are other anime that have a similar message or a similar journey that are far superior. Even for my criticisms of the narrative structure of The Promised Neverland, I'd recommend that over this one. However, I'm clearly the minority in this, so give it a go if you're interested.
Well the manga itself is a MASTERPEACE, so I have no doubt the finished anime will also be one.Made in Abyss is a tale of a journey to the land of no return. Made in Abyss is an outstanding work of art by any standard. Cute and gritty, vivid and gloomy, delicate and overwhelming, heart-warming and spine-chilling - it'll sweep you off your feet and drag you down into the world of sinister beauty you'll never forget.So, what does make Made in Abyss so special? Just about everything.For one thing, it's the Abyss itself. It's a weird and fascinating place with its very own laws of physics, mythology and ecosystem.Mesmerizing scenery, lethal monsters, priceless treasures - the Abyss has it all, has it everywhere, has it in any combination.Beautiful flower meadow, eager to kill you dead (or worse)? Coming right up!Toothy monster of shocking visage that wouldn't hurt a fly? Got one right here!Legendary weapon that misfires regularly and gets lost all the time? Not even a problem!You might've seen many a dungeon before but rest assured you've never seen the like of the Abyss.For another, it's the art. It is amazing. Precise drawing, outstanding design and composition, exquisite shadows and lighting - it has it all and then some.Also, the characters. Some of them are extremely likable, some are instantly hateful, some are totally incomprehensible but every one of them (including minor parts making appearance in a couple of panels) is distinctly and beautifully drawn.It's exciting, dreadful, weird, breathtaking and totally unpredictable.
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