Summer anime hit series Made in Abyss shows how to do adventure stories right. There’s cave raiding, whistle ranking systems, and even childhood trauma. Dare to jump into the wonders of the abyss?
Stories about adventure are some of the most common in anime, and yet they rarely ever succeed. An adventure has to be able to give us a sense of mystery and wonder, and its pay off has to be rewarding and even more mysterious. These stories also have to be exciting and make the audience feel like anything could happen at any time. And that if it did, we would care for those affected.
For doing all of these things right, Made in Abyss is, at the very least, a serious contender for anime of the summer.
Starting with the world building, Made in Abyss contains one of the most mysterious and creepy worlds from this year of anime. You get the main idea of the abyss and its origin in the first episode, but you still feel like you know nothing about it by the end of the series. In fact, each explanation opens up a bunch of new questions that make us want to continue exploring.
An exciting and peculiar world is usually enough for an adventure story, but Made in Abyss also manages to be surprisingly terrifying. The sheer cruelty of the events that take place, and the way the abyss system works, contrasts with the youth of the main characters. Choosing to stay away from the usual teenage characters, Made in Abyss stars Riko and Reg, who are both kids (prepubescent at most).
The target of a series usually coincides with the age of its main characters, so as a result, Made in Abyss turns out to be exceptionally cruel and shocking during its most dark scenes. (Although the downside of that is that there were some unnecessary sexual jokes, given their age).
Speaking of Riko and Reg, all the characters have a different purpose and place in the story. Riko’s thirst for adventure is adorable without getting to the obnoxious levels of other shonen series, while Reg is caring and innocent, but without falling in the “oblivious character” cliche.
Nanabi, who appears later in the story, is straight up one of the highlights of the anime. She appears as a saving figure, and someone who’s there to share their wisdom, but by the end of the season we realize that she has a troubling, and vulnerable side to her.
Manga readers speak wonders of the adaptation. The only filler scenes and episodes that there were added to the plot positively. Unfortunately, that came at a price, as there were some slower and uneventful episodes in which things started getting boring. On the other hand, the 40-minute extended finale was well-paced and very emotional, but it would have been a nice touch to at least see the other side characters one more time (notably, the rest of the kids).
To be fair, those mistakes are all fairly standard in manga adaptations of this nature. The series can be watched and enjoyed on its own, and based on the faithfulness of the anime, and the quirky yet charming art style, it’s clear studio Kinema Citrus had a lot of fun with this project. Season 2 when?