This is one review that’ll be difficult. Actually, I’m currently crying while I start writing those words. I’m not sure exactly what it is I wanna write. There’ll surely be spoilers this time around, so I apologize for it already. Somehow, I feel like I need to go more in-depth on things, otherwise, it wouldn’t do Made in Abyss justice.
Spoiler-free short review
For those who want to avoid all spoilers, I’ll write a sum up of what I think first.
Made in Abyss is a masterpiece but not a typical one. It is beautiful beyond beautiful, from story to art and sound, it’s all beautiful. Yet it is also horrible, gruesome even, and terribly harsh to watch. I definitely can’t recommend watching Made in Abyss, and at the same time, I want to tell you to watch it.
One thing is for sure if you decide to pick it up, be sure you are prepared. I would say it is not an anime for those who don’t have the stomach to handle it, yet I am one such person, and I still enjoyed it. Enjoyed is definitely not the right word, but I just can’t find any word that fits what I have felt. It is more akin to a love-hate relationship but more than anything, a longing to discover more. I’d say this is quite fitting, because that is, in essence, what makes Made in Abyss.
If you decide to start this adventure, be ready to feel quite many things, from amazement to disgust, from sorrow to relief. But in the end, Made in Abyss is still a masterpiece.
Some Notes and Thoughts
I actually was quite curious, about what others thought about Made in Abyss. So I went and read some reviews and the likes, mostly about the manga since I sort of want to read it. At the same time, I sort of doesn’t want to read it. Anyway, there basically three types of reactions. The ones saying it’s absolutely fantastic, the ones saying it’s totally disgusting, and those in between, saying it’s both amazing and messed up.
Now I’m pretty sure the anime did a great job not showing up certain disturbing things, from what I’ve read. From actual torture to se*ual abu*e, among other things, and let’s not forget that it happens to kids. Yeah, even if the anime does mention those things happening, hopefully, we don’t have to see it. But apparently, the manga does show this kind of stuff, but again, I didn’t read it so I can’t say for sure.
So anyway, even not having read the manga, I’m pretty sure the author must be some sort of psychopath, to some extent, to be able to create such a story in the first place. Luckily for us, the adaptation made a good job so things are a bit less messed up somehow. Well, I thought it’d be nice to mention such matters.
A Proper Introduction
I decided to watch Made in Abyss because I had heard about being unique and beautiful. On top of that, it’s extremely highly rated on MAL.
And, I was not disappointed. I also knew it was quite sad, so I was prepared to cry. Yeah, actually I was far from prepared for everything else. Honestly, I don’t think you can be prepared for it anyway. And if you don’t feel anything while watching Made in Abyss, I have no idea what anime could make you feel something.
A Beautiful Adaptation
I’ll start with the easy and short bits. Did I mention how beautiful Made in Abyss is already? Not enough times I guess. In terms of art, it’s simply amazing. Quite detailed, with great drawings and everything you’d want in an anime. And that is quite important because the story simply wouldn’t work at all without those beautiful sceneries, creatures, and so on. However, it’s not as stunning as some other anime.
Now about the animation, it’s not bad, but it’s also far from perfect. It’s easy not to pay attention to the animation though, actually most of the time the animation is all fine. But at certain times, it looks sloppy or cheap. Not a big deal really, but a shame that it wasn’t better.
The sound, on the other hand, has to be one of the absolute best anime I’ve watched in terms of sound. Which makes it both even more beautiful but also more gruesome. But the sound is truly over the top. But I did say it was a beautiful anime, yet I also said the drawings and animation aren’t perfect. That is because there’s something else, that actually uses all those things, that is absolutely fantastic. I’m talking about ambiance.
I’m pretty sure it’s that ambiance that draws most people toward Made in Abyss in the first place. It’s this mysterious, intriguing, dangerous yet beautiful place called the abyss. It’s how it’s shown, it’s the longing for adventure and discovery. I can’t describe it well enough so I’ll let you see for yourself.
An Original Story
I’ve already said so much, yet haven’t actually talked about what this anime is about. I’ll keep this simple, and I’ll dive into more details later on.
So, there’s this place, The Abyss. A huge hole on a remote island. No one knows how deep it goes. It’s filled with ancient artifacts, and of course, humans being humans, go on adventures to find those and make a profit. But there’s a catch. While it is not so hard to go down The Abyss, it’s quite difficult going back up. The curse of The Abyss as they call it, whenever you ascend in The Abyss, you are hit by the curse. And it hits hard, from simple nausea to the loss of one’s humanity, the deeper you go, the less likely you are to come back.
Well, that’s the gist of things. The story follows some kids trying to make it to the bottom. Except, they aren’t allowed to, because they aren’t white whistles. Whistles, for some reason, everyone going down The abyss brings a whistle with him. You can see them as a sort of ranking, the highest being white. And every rank has a limit on how deep one is allowed to go. Anyway, our protagonist of course wants to be a white whistle, and go see what’s at the very bottom of this cursed hole.
The Protagonist: Riko
Yeah, it’s time to present the different characters. Now, this is where spoilers are gonna start flowing. So if you haven’t watched Made in Abyss yet, I suggest that you stop reading here.
As always, gotta start with the protagonist. I present you Riko.
She’s the naive and upbeat kind of protagonist. She’s also 12, but somehow, she’s drawn like she’s 7. Actually, all characters that are around 12 years old are drawn as if they were 7. It’s a bit unsettling, and because of that, it’s easy to think the characters are kids when they are more like young teenagers really.
Now about Riko, she wants to follow in her mom’s footsteps. Her mom as a white whistle and went on a journey to reach the bottom of The Abyss. I think it is quite easy to criticize how Riko is written if you don’t think carefully.
I’ve read quite a few reviews saying that the different characters, particularly Riko, are written poorly and that they aren’t developed properly. But I don’t think that’s true at all. Yes, Riko is naïve, and you’d think that, after all the hardship she goes through, she would be less naïve. But she appears to still be the same happy-go girl. In truth, she’s not, and if you are careful then you can easily tell. Actually, I’d say she never was so naïve in the first place.
She’s quite smart, many other characters even say so, yet people seem to think that she’s stupid. See, it’s not because she keeps going, keeps being so upbeat, that she’s stupid or naïve. She simply has a resolve and knows that things can be hard and that there will be losses, but she is prepared for all of it and stays true to her feelings.
A couple of notes regarding the characters
Anyway, most characters in this anime, I don’t think they should be treated like normal humans. They are all special in one way or another, and The Abyss is a very special place. From a normal standpoint, they all seem crazy and stupid. But that’s the sort of place The Abyss is. So I’d suggest paying extra attention and thinking outside the box for a bit. And you’ll see that the characters are actually well-written. They all fit in the environment of this weird place. It’s true that it’s more of The Abyss and the adventure that makes us keep watching rather than the characters. But I’d say those characters are actually enjoyable and, more than anything, interesting and unique.
The Other Two Main Characters
Reg, that’s the name of the robot that accompanies Riko in her adventure.
He lost his memory. He’s probably the most mysterious character in the entire anime. He probably comes from the bottom of The abyss, we don’t really know why he went up for. He apparently knows Riko’s mother and a couple of other important characters.
Actually, the name of the anime, Made in Abyss, seems to refer to Reg, well it’s a possibility. As for what kind of character he is, the total opposite of Riko. He’s strong but clumsy and a bit stupid, he lacks resolve as well. But somehow, when we get glimpses of his past, he seemed different, so surely the memory loss affected him quite a bit.
And the most mysterious thing is how Riko gave him the same name he has before losing his memory, even though she couldn’t have known. I think there’s an actual explanation for that, but we don’t know for sure yet. Anyway, in the end, we discover more about Reg as the story progresses.
Then we have everyone’s favorite furry, Nanachi.
Her story is actually all said in the anime, so there’s nothing mysterious about her. She’s the older sister type, super reliable, and dependable. She’s definitely a heartbreaking character, the more you learn about Nanachi, the more you wanna cry. And obviously, she’s super cute, both in her looks and reactions. She’s a really cool character, and I believe she’ll become even more important later on.
Other Important Characters
I’m not sure who exactly I want to include here but anyway let’s see how it goes.
Guess it all starts with Lyza, Riko’s mother.
We don’t know too much about her. She went on a journey in The Abyss, she’s also a white whistle. We learn bits here and there, through other characters, and parts of her journal. But she’s quite important, in many ways. She’s part of what drives Riko forward, she knows Reg, and she helps them indirectly through her journal. And there’s also the fact that she decided to abandon her whistle, which is very surprising but there’ll be a part about whistles.
Now, I totally wanna include her.
She’s super badass, and she knows a lot. Well, we only see her for a tiny bit so there’s not much to be said. But she was a great help to Riko. She’s also a white whistle. I wish that we could learn more about Ouzen and the stuff she knows.
Bah, let’s keep going with the white whistle.
The last white whistle we actually know. And he is quite a peculiar character. He’s quite complex, and it’s hard to tell if he’s actually a villain or not. He’s presented as a villain. Nanachi’s sad story is all because of him. And he even hurts Reg. He experiments on humans, among other immoral things. And yet, despite all that, it’s hard not to think that he’s actually not a bad person. But he’s definitely a crazy dude. Just from his whistle you know he’s totally insane.
The artifacts he has are also quite special. It’s also hard to tell what his goals actually are. He achieved things that no one else has ever done, he’s done good stuff and bad stuff. And it would seem he’s found a way to travel back and forth the sixth layer. He definitely knows more things than it seems at first. In the end, he’s the reason Riko & co could continue their journey.
And last but not least, we’ve got Faputa.
Guess I have to include her, after all, she should become one of the main characters from then on. Her story’s quite well-detailed in the anime. And she’s super strong, also immortal, at least to some extent. She’s very fond of Reg, and is quite childlike. I’m not exactly sure what to tell about her since she only appears in the later part of the second season. But she definitely holds some knowledge about what’s beyond.
Mysteries of The Abyss
I definitely want to write about some more stuff. The Abyss is a fascinating place after all. And by now, we have learned a few things, yet we don’t know the full extent of the stuff we learn along the way. I did say I would write about the whistles, now’s the time.
More specifically, white whistles. So we know they are important, they may very well be the reason why all delvers carry whistles, even if not the same kind. They are people who turned to stone, which means, every person who possesses a white whistle probably lost someone important to them. But we also know that there were rituals in the past to turn people into stones.
Now the weird part is that there are definitely stone people deeper in The Abyss, yet the ritual site was made to be able to go deeper, but who made it? Surely there was an ancient civilization living in The Abyss, but it’s not so simple, did they come from The Abyss, or were they strangers who conquered it? It makes no sense if you think about it for a bit. It would be too long to explain my thoughts, but if you think about the fifth layer, then it’s totally weird why there would be such a place there.
Then, the whistles have to be carved, We know who carved Riko’s, but what about other white whistles? And who will do it from then on? There are so many mysteries surrounding the whistles. They are also used to trigger certain powerful artifacts, yet if you think about it once again makes no sense. Then what of the stone people that were carried by those robots?
I really can’t tell if the author planned everything in advance, I hope so, it would make quite a beautiful canvas. But I can’t help being afraid that it’s gonna end up messy.
Past, Present, Future
Why am I talking about all of this? because those mysteries are one of the things that are really interesting in Made in Abyss. And the other thing that’s quite amazing about The Abyss, is how it indeed links everything. Riko meets people from the past, there are the remains of that civilization. Time is definitely weird inside this hellhole. That seems quite important. Those journeying inside, carve the path for future delvers to follow them. Yet they can actually meet inside the abyss, and it would seem the deeper you go, the more time is messed up. I’m expecting a lot from this particularity.
Bondrewd also talked about a few things that seem quite important, how the curse could also be a blessing, among other things. It’s hard to understand the stuff he said for now. But there’s definitely even more amazing stuff awaiting.
That is the kind of place The Abyss is, and this anime is a journey inside. It’s so unique, so amazing. I can’t wait for what’s coming next.
I’ll keep it short since I already wrote so much. Beautiful, sad, gruesome, intriguing, there are so many words I could use to describe it. The further it goes, the more you want to keep going, despite all the messed up stuff. It is harsh to watch, and the movie is particularly horrible, but it’s also beautiful.
While many would say that it’s just sad and horrible to make us feel bad, I do think there’s a point to all of this story-wise. It’s easy to criticize many things about Made in Abyss. Maybe I’m messed up, being able to enjoy this anime, to justify all those things. But in the end, it is still deserving of being called, a Masterpiece.
Hey there, I’m TangAce. I love Japanese culture and video games. I’m on a journey to review every anime I’ve watched and every manga or novel I’ve read.
I’m also autistic, and I’m writing to get people to discover new things.