First Impression – Made in Abyss

I’m calling AOTS already

Hello everyone! Greetings from Laconic Land. As it turns out, I’ve decided to take the Summer 2017 anime season off, and so will not be doing all those weekly episodic posts. But that doesn’t mean I can’t stop by and say a few glowing words about a very special show.

Made in Adventure

This is such a wonderful place to explore

Well, since it’s anime, the first thing that strikes me so very hard would be Made in Abyss’ unique design. All the details, the line work, the town, and everything right down to the bottomless pit the show is named after, is sumptuous, gorgeous, and impressive. Everything! The location itself is so evocative, but keeps the appearance of being a working place, lived in, lively, whole. In short we’re not seen some stately and static distant shot, cool and unvisitable, but a place that has character itself. Yet it still maintains a distinct style, and it’s own sense of elegance. We’ve happened upon a real place, with a real story to tell.

I keep expecting to see a GUI menu pop up and tell me my inventory is full

So, by taking one step inside the Abyss you can see what all the attention to the mystery is really for. I’ve always been attracted to ancient hidden places like this in fantasy worlds. From a certain point of view, this can stand in for all or just some of the things we’ve lost that can be refound. To aid in that they’ve made the world building, just on the visuals, in both these episodes, nothing short of awe-inspiring. The clean-lined character design compliments it so well. Just by watching you can tell there are several competing cultures at work. The youthful and the adult, the known and the unknown, the ancient and the modern. Thou Riko and company are very cartoonish in design, it works and it works well for the program’s youthful themes of bold discovery and earnesty and child-born innocent mischief. I simply cannot wait to see what they dig up, who they discover, and how all of that ends up working out. From the get go, Made in Abyss command my attention and pays that investment back with some solid characterizations and plot elements.

Hey, those glasses are important don’t lose track of them!

Now, after having said all that, the design does have its antecedents. So, in interest of full disclosure, I stopped as an active console gamer over the years, but despite the passage of years even these old eyes can see the JRPG influence this show wears, and wears with such happiness. I think it reminds me most is what I’ve seen of the current Zelda game on the Switch. But beyond that it’s biggest reminder is Final Fantasy Crystal ChroniclesArrr! Me Asthma! But there are shades of so many others in the fine tradition of inspired JRPGs in there as well. So please feel free to comment on the game designs you see, there are bound to be several. In terms how well it evokes that strong sense of adventure, this work is so impressive, it makes me want to put my currently running steampunk-horror-cowboys-and-monsters-western pen and paper RPG on hold just to run something like Made in Abyss instead – and I could do it too! All of that has to do with finding out how things work. It’s all well and good to find a pile of relics and win a new whistle, gain acclaim, and all that. But what will it all be for? What can we learn about ourselves and the world around us?


To answer that question, we have the character of Riko. She’s just starting out, and we only have a few brief glimpses of her backstory, But there was that one scene in the second episode that struck me so clearly about her and about the true heart of this show. She’s giving her friends and classmates the list of exactly how different fantasy-cyborg Reg is from normal humans. It’s embarrassing to say the very least, running down some of those very clinical, but still unusual items. It’s embarrassing to us, it’s certainly embarrassing to Reg. But she does this without any sense of malice, nor any sense of shame in her own right. She recognizes humility after a fashion, but something tells me being strung up doesn’t stick quite enough yet. I couldn’t help but feel that she didn’t see Reg as a boy, so much as an adorable pet slash science experiment. Given her overriding need to prove herself, to take herself kicking and screaming down the Abyss as far as she can go, it’s hardly surprising how she sees people. Now this one scene might make or break people, but I think they played it off with “oh goodness the things kids say” aplomb. But in all seriousness, Riko has lost something very precious to her, but she doesn’t even realize it’s worth yet. She’s filling in those gaps with hunts and relics and dreams of new whistles. She has so much to discover about her world, and herself, and this is the start of her arc, and I cannot wait to see where she ends up. She’s honest, cheerful, and to her credit, a hard worker. This is one worth following.

So much extra world-building

Sit back a spell, have a rice ball or two…

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I’m a sucker for a well thought out fantasy world. Since I loved loved loved last season’s SukaSuka so very much, I’m happy to see that this particular type of ball continues to roll in my favor. I think that Made in Abyss will become a very personal tale for both Riko and Reg, and the exploration and world building aspects will underscore that. This is a girl that looks at the stars and the compass of the stars and yet still she sees her destiny lying in a place much much deeper, but still below those stars. She’s looking for quite a bit down there in the deep. But what? The first episode pretty much implies that Reg is what or who was made in the Abyss, but the second one reveals that Riko was born there, and had to be shaped by it in a few twists and turns to survive for the nearly 11 years she’s been around. That doesn’t dampen her infectious enthusiasm, and the world of Made in Abyss is lucky to have her. Let’s see what she does! What else is made in abyss?

That new character looks really interesting

Phew, it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve typed out my thoughts in this space, I’m glad I remember where all the stuff is supposed to go! I think I might have one more FI to do pretty soon, so don’t think I’m here to go. As for the rest of the season, I’m sure that comments on this post and that possible future one will reveal what shows I’ve watched, dropped, or roasted alive in it’s own juices, and all that. I don’t want to lead on, but I’ll probably create some more essay-style posts in the future, maybe even a new show or two here and there? But not the same pace I used to keep.  Having said that, I know I’ll want to catch up with this one come mid season, or maybe sooner?

I’m glad you stopped by!


All around nerd that enjoys just about any anime genre. I love history, politics, public policy, the sciences, literature, arts...pretty much anything can make me geeky...except sports. Follow me @theskylion
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13 Responses to “First Impression – Made in Abyss”

  1. HannoX says:

    This was one of my most anticipated shows of the season, just based on its premise and seeing the promotional art. It did not disappoint. If anything, it exceeded my expectations.

    Riko is already Best Girl of the season.

    • skylion says:

      I had good vibes as well, but didn’t think all that highly of it when I saw initial internet material for it. I think I had cooled on Kinema Citrus due to that terrible KumaMiko ending perhaps? Not really this shows fault, but it does have Barakamon director behind it. I just read the first two chapters of the manga (scanlated) and it looks like it’s following it quite well. It did change scenes around, but I don’t think it suffers from it.

      Riko is always going to be a fave character style of mine. She has a passion, and she isn’t afraid to follow it. She’s a bit wonky about it, and maybe even slightly dangerous? But she has a good heart and they don’t over-indulge on the animeisms with her. I’m very happy you’re enjoying it!

      • BlackBriar says:

        Yeah, Riko has a good heart but that somewhat mischievous quality stitched to her personality is definitely her Achilles heel.

      • sonicsenryaku says:

        you sure the director of barakamon is behind made in abyss?

        • skylion says:

          I was sure when I wrote that, but now I realize I had my wires crossed. See, I knew I was going to do a post for Princess Principal at some point, and that show and Barakamon share the same director. So, I just got my facts mixed up from show to show.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    A so-so first two episodes. Not bad, really. The landscape animation looks really nice, you’d think studio Ghibli is behind it. However, having that mixed with the chibi-like character designs of the main cast is rather off-putting, if not distracting. I’m on the fence with this show so far but if I’m going to continue watching it, it’ll be on the back burner. Made in Abyss isn’t a series that qualifies in the “must see” section of my seasonal list. More the kind to watch if you have extra time on your hands.

    • HannoX says:

      Normally I’d agree with you about the chibi-like character designs since I’m far from a fan of chibi, but for some reason they work for me in this show. Maybe because these designs aren’t full chibi?

      • skylion says:

        I wouldn’t call them full chibi, or even half that. I think they both match and even contrast the backgrounds quite well, and that adds another layer to the whole show.

  3. skylion says:

    I love the map from the original manga, click here for a large image

  4. Rathje says:

    What the hell do you do when you drop your eraser in that classroom?

    • skylion says:

      …replace it with another one that you’ve brought along for just that specific purpose. If that fails, you get strung up naked.

  5. Namaewoinai says:

    First this Super Lazy Girl, then this Book-Eating Girl, and now…this, she looks simple but kinda…principled

    Seems likely that the VA of this chars has been a lot of…uh, Good things there!

    Now as for this show, Well.. Yes, I’am in to this Alright, Can’t wait to see something like

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