Made in Abyss Episode 1 [First Impression]

This is one to watch.

Impression

Wow. I’m really impressed. Of everything I’ve tried out so far this season, this is the one that I’m most invested in so far, and for all the right reasons. I had some initial prejudice to work through too – because, whilst I loved the synopsis and was really excited for it at first, I was not a fan of the anime’s character designs (in comparison to its manga equivalent) at all. That hasn’t changed after watching the episode, but everything else about Made in Abyss is interesting enough for me to look past it. Mind you, I’m not saying that the production values as a whole are terrible – in fact, many of the watercolour backgrounds were amazing, especially at the end when the city was revealed in its entirety. It’s just that the character designs of the manga in particular didn’t make a great transition to its anime adaptation. They’re not objectively bad in the context of the show, it’s just… well, it would have been nice if the faces weren’t so wide. Riko would fit right into Hidamari Sketch.

Still, it was something I quickly forgot about as the episode went on. I’m an anime-only, and I didn’t read up on it beforehand, so to me it was a fascinating watch. As great as the characters are, the setting was what sold it for me – it felt very Ghibli-like, as well as reminding me of Breath of the Wild with its leafage and the Sheikah-looking relics that the cave raiders can find in the Abyss, though I’m not sure whether I’m only making the connection because I’ve been playing through that recently. It’s just this massive, sprawling fantasy world just waiting to be explored, and that applies just as much to the city the characters all live in as well as to the Abyss itself. The vertical arrangement they have in the orphanage classroom was especially funky. When I got to that point I actually paused the episode and spent some time staring at it to figure out how it all worked, and I did the same when the entire island was revealed at the end, as well as when the concept art for the Abyss and its depths was briefly shown after the credits. The entire thing almost feels post-apocalyptic in how there’s ancient junk to be found everywhere and how a civilisation has built itself up around this huge, mysterious crater, although at this point we’re not aware of what the world is like in places that aren’t the island (or whether said world will even be relevant).

Also, Riko is the cutest and the best. I’m starting to really like Tomita Miyu’s comfy voice, and clearly the industry is too, given that she’s getting more and more lead roles (the most recently high-profile of which was Gabriel in Gabriel Dropout) although I didn’t make the connection to Gab-chan at first – she just sounded like a younger Minase Inori to me. I hope you’ll adopt Riko as your seasonal daughterfu, by the way. Isn’t it great to have something this season featuring both lolis and an exciting plot? Usually the two are mutually exclusive. The one point worth making in conjunction with this is that, apparently, Made in Abyss gets pretty dark from here on out. Whether that’ll be toned down for the anime adaptation is yet to be apparent, but the minor depictions of blood from when Nat was almost eaten indicates that Kinema Citrus might not shy away from depicting exactly what the source material did. I’m actually glad that the orphanage setting wasn’t as foreboding as it easily could have been – I was wondering whether the children were being used for unwilling slave labour at first, on pain of punishment like how Riko was strung up naked, but as far as I can tell both the Leader and Director are generally benign, albeit strict, and Riko and friends all seem relatively happy doing what they’re doing. The kids will still probably have to run away if the story will be about them descending into the Abyss, though, since I don’t see the orphanage letting them graduate from being Red Whistles anytime soon.

A minor reservation I do have (other than the character designs, though it’s not unrelated) is that this adaptation might end up falling short of its source material due to time constraints, or sacrificing quality in an attempt to make up for said constraints. I very much doubt that Riko will reach the bottom of the Abyss by the end of the season, but at the same time I’m not sure that one cour is enough time to properly flesh out the setting so that this anime doesn’t just end up being an advert for the manga that never hit its full potential in its own right. In other words, it feels larger than we have time for, which will be a pity if it really as good a story as this first episode has suggested. The manga itself is on-going too, and so there’s the risk that it ends up being one of those adaptations without a proper conclusion. I guess, if it’s any consolation, we could always jump ship to the source material once it ends – which, by the way, has recently been licensed by Seven Seas, as was announced during their panel livestream at AX 2017 a few days ago.

Everyone should give Made in Abyss a go. You might not end up liking it (not because it’s boring so much as because it might feature more suffering than you can stomach) or the adaptation might lose steam halfway, but it’s definitely interesting enough to spend time making an informed decision about.

Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed
Possibility of Blogging: Guaranteed

Vantage

I love cute things.

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4 Responses

  1. Kassandra says:

    Oh boy, this show.

    I do love the collorful nature of the anime and the amazing Backgrounds. The makers have put a lot of work into it. However, as somebody that read the manga, I am concerned. People are speculating that the end of the season will be around Chapter 39, which without spoilers feels like way to much for just 13 episodes, unleas they skip stuff which I really, really hope doesn`t happen. Also I am worried that they cencore or skip a lot of the more…mature contend, which would be sad. The tone-shifts and dark content is one of the major things in the manga, it would also give an amazing contrast to the happy colorful artstyle of the anime. All in all, I do hope that this Show is able to deliver.

    • Vantage says:

      I’m worried about the pacing too. I’d love a faithful two-cour adaptation, but it’s possible that the main purpose of this anime (like many others) is to promote the manga, and in such cases they care less about such things.

      As for censoring, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s toned down to some extent to cater for the fact that it’s a relatively early TV broadcast (9.30pm in Japan, whereas most seasonal anime airings are closer to midnight). They can’t actually show Riko strung up naked, for example.

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