I’d had this anime on my list for quite a while, but after seeing that it won the 2017 Crunchyroll award for “Best Anime,” I figured I should finally watch it. In general, I don’t pay all too much attention to the Crunchyroll awards, mainly after the disaster of 2016 when Crunchyroll had to literally delete their tweets about the winning anime, because people were being so brash and disrespectful about it. This time, it wasn’t nearly as bad, but as I’d expected, My Hero Academia won half of the awards. Still not as bad as 2016, I’ll give it that.
The one award that I saw nothing but positive toward was Made in Abyss winning “Best Anime,” and I really was curious to see why.
I still haven’t delved too deep into this anime, since I’ve only watched six episodes, but I’ll give what I know so far. I haven’t had any spoilers, and I ask to ensure that I don’t receive any. I really want to have a pure watching experience, to feel what everyone else did.
Riko lives in an orphanage, where she is trained to delve into the depths of the abyss that descends in the middle of her town. She hopes to one day follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a white whistle, the most experienced and respected level of those who brave the abyss. After being saved by a strange boy who shares some traits of a robot, Reg, she receives a letter that is supposedly from her mother who was rumored to have died in the bottom of the abyss. She makes it her duty to travel all the way to the bottom of the abyss, risking the dangers of insanity and death, in hopes to find her mother.
I’m starting with this because it was the first thing I noticed. The character designs are so cute. Everyone has a rounded face, a head too big for their body, and large eyes. The only thing I knew about this show before getting into it was that it was dark. When I’m greeted with adorable 10-year-old kids, dark is not the first thing that crosses my mind. And maybe that’s the point.
The monsters are definitely not cute. They’re utterly terrifying, and incredibly detailed. I wouldn’t be able to stand in front of one without passing out.
And the scenery is gorgeous. I’m not entirely sure how I’m supposed to elaborate on this point. It’s realistic enough, but has a sense of whimsy as well that makes it a fantastical setting for this adventure to take place. I especially love the way the portion of the abyss that’s upside down is designed and sought out incredibly. It’s quite a sight. The characters walking along this log-like bridge, with all of the trees and waterfalls upside down around them, but yet they are right-side up. It’s really surreal to look at.
The Story and How it Engages You
That leads to this point. I wasn’t entirely sold on the story at first, but it’s the description of the horrors lurking in the depths of the abyss, and the hope for meeting Riko’s mother, who risked life and limb to save her from perishing in the abyss before she was even old enough to know what was going on.
In the beginning, I didn’t think the concept was all that incredible. An abyss lies in the center of a town, everyone around wants to find out more about it, those who have made it to the bottom are worshiped. It seemed all predictable. What really interested me about it was the orphanage Riko and the other children were living in. It seems like the adults are manipulating the kids to want to go into the abyss, and do all of the dirty work of bringing artifacts and material to the surface. What seems to be a bunch of curious kids on the surface quickly turns to a question of “Why are these adults allowing young children into someplace so dangerous, when they have more experience and could do the same job?” I’m not sure if my suspicions are correct, but I don’t think the orphanage is as innocent as it seems on the surface.
Along with this, there’s Reg, the supposed robot boy who saved Riko from a monster attack. He doesn’t know who he is or where he comes from, which is a common trope, but I’ll let it pass because it does add a deeper sense of curiosity to the plot. My immediate guess is cyborg, but who could’ve made him? And why would he come to the surface? I’m not sure. And I really want to know.
I love the opening and endings chosen. The opening is intense, and showcases multiple pieces of scenery that are present in the abyss, and just sets the show up for having mystery and adventure. The ending, however, shows the characters and background in a cheery cute style, with poppy music to match. It’s funny when you finish the episode, have all this new information to process, and then are met with this ending that belongs more in a comedy adventure rather that a show that is quite dark when it wants to be.
Why so Much Unnecessary Sexual Talk?
The one thing that bothers me to no end is how this show seems to bring up genitals and sexual content way more than it should. It’s worse than a vast selection of anime with teenagers as a cast. That’s sad. These are kids, ten years old roughly, why should this be something talked about? Riko seems a little too thirsty for Reg, which is unsettling, the topic of whether Reg has real reproductive organs has come up like three or four times, and there are a couple scenes where Riko is just naked and has no shame for it at all, and of course there’s embarrassment for those who see her.
It’s annoying. I expect it from a shounen with the cast being in high school, where fanservice is expected, though still not welcome in my opinion.
If I could change one thing about this show, it would be to eliminate this aspect. If this were gone, I’d have no complaints.
I’m interested to see how this plays out. I want to see why everyone was so happy with this winning “Best Anime,” when there were so many anime that came out last year that were incredible as well. I’m having fun watching this one, and I hope the rest of the journey is just as enjoyable as the beginning.