I don’t know about any of you, but do you think that this season of anime has been kind of lack luster? To me, the most interesting shows this season are the good multi-cour shows from last season that have either stayed at the same level of quality or have gotten better in this summer period. Some hyped up shows like Welcome to the Ballroom, well…you guys know how I feel about that show and most of my opinions have not changed about it at this moment with a forecast of not changing anytime soon. Restaurant to Another World is alright, but I wouldn’t call it a stand out. At this moment, I think the only show that is “best of the year” material which started airing this season is Made in Abyss. I realize that everybody and their mother have probably talked about this show to incredibly lengths, but I haven’t done it yet and it’s my turn damn it. Let’s dive into what I think is great about Made in Abyss.
There are a lot of great things about Made in Abyss, but the first thing that caught my attention was how the main characters are written. They are incredibly believable children. While they are children that ended up at a school to eventually become abyss explorers and collectors and have been given the knowledge of how to survive, they never act like know it all adults who have the answer for everything. This is especially true for Riko and Reg who jumped into the abyss. While on paper they can be classified as “the brains” -> Riko and “the brawn” -> Reg, they are still kid characters put into these roles. They don’t know everything and anything and by working together, they are barely hanging on to surviving while traveling down the Abyss. The two also have some great chemistry with each other. Seeing how these kids survive a new challenge every episode is incredibly exciting and makes the week long wait hard.
The lore and the world was something that caught my attention next. Made in Abyss has such a well-developed and interesting world that I am almost sad that Riko and Reg didn’t stay around to explore it more. Especially with Reg having the whole fish out of water experience and not knowing anything about the surface world. An extra episode explaining the world more to this guy would have slowed down the show a little bit, but I would have liked it. That’s just me though, I’m kind of picky about the things that I watch. The history of the abyss, the relics and their classifications, the map that explorers have made, the whistle system, and so many things were so interesting and they could have been explored a little more, but what I got was good enough. The lore is not the main focus of the series, just a side thing that adds more intrigue and thought into the series.
Ok, now for the things that everybody talks about. The art and music are AMAZING. Each setting of the abyss is so incredibly detailed and feels like their own alien world. I love the hell out of it. Especially with the wide variety of creatures that show up in each setting. I should mention the wide variety of color palettes too. This adventure series truly feels like one because of all of this. Then there is the soundtrack. How many songs do they have? Besides it being great, it feels like Made in Abyss has at least three times the amount of songs that a usual one cour show has. They each perfectly fit the setting they are placed in context. I often forget about it so often because it merges in with the show so well. These two aspects really sell the adventure aspect of this show and I’m glad these are more places were effort and hard work were put into as well.
Lastly, I need to talk about Ozen. How can you talk about Made in Abyss without at least mentioning her? She is this six and half foot-tall piece of scary work who was Riko’s mother’s best friend and was the one who dragged Riko up from the bottom of the Abyss. I wouldn’t say that she is a fun character, but she is a complex one. When she was testing Reg’s and Riko’s abilities, she laid out some scary truths that I originally thought was for mocking them, but turned out to be true. A part of a mystery that was hinted at in the most terrifying way possible the episode beforehand. This mystery women means well, but is clearly scared from her experiences in the abyss. Not only in form, but mentally as well. Ozen is a good marker of what traveling down the Abyss does to people. While Made in Abyss was never the most light-hearted adventure show, Ozen and her seeker camp represented a tone shift for the series, because she wanted the kids to know the danger of what they were facing when they were moving beyond right now instead of later. Her way of teaching, I suppose.
If I had any major complaints about the series, it’s how pedophilic the series can be. From some constant comments about Reg’s….manhood, to stringing up these kids naked for punishment, and to Riko just not caring about how clothed she is at times, this show can feel incredibly creepy in this way. Apparently, this is toned down compared to the manga, but still. Does this material need to be there? It doesn’t take away from the series at large, but it’s still an aspect that is there and wastes a minute or two of episode time. Time that could have been spent somewhere more interesting and less creepy.
I know that this is on amazon strike, which I am paying for unhappily and continually complaining to amazon about, but this show is incredibly worth it. It’s beautiful in many ways, is exciting, has great character work, and almost everything to make it a classic. It’s maintained a high level of quality for nine episodes and if it can maintain it longer, which I think it can, then this is will be one of my favorites from this year. If you can, please give this one a watch. It really deserves a lot more attention, even if it’s already getting a lot of attention. I can’t help but hype this one up. Sorry not sorry. Right now, Made in the Abyss easily fits somewhere in my top five for the year. Fall looks like a heavy hitter of a season though, so let’s see if this claim holds up in December.