Made in Abyss Episode 5: Incinerator
I want to protect Riko’s smile.
Jesus. That was tense. I had a feeling that the ‘voice’ crying out for help might have been a trap in some way, but I was thinking it would be a hostile cave raider trying to lure people to his or her location instead of a strange creature that can mimic the sounds of the prey it kills. In hindsight, the corpse weepers are actually a really cool concept (I wish they’d translated the dictionary entry it had in the title eye-catch) but at the time, all I could think about was how vulnerable Riko was. It’s their first (of many, I’m sure) real brush with death, and while Riko remained relatively unaffected it clearly came way too close for Reg’s comfort. Stuff in the second layer is enough to kill a Purple Whistle, and on top of that many of these monsters live in groups. Just like with that spider from last week, Reg couldn’t even properly pierce the corpse weeper’s body with his arm. It’s looking like sheer physical ability is really important in the Abyss, and the capabilities of top cave raiders like Habo or Ozen attest to that even further.
Reg does have the Incinerator. And it’s super helpful. He’s right to worry about its lack of control, but (assuming he can now use it on command, instead of subconsciously like in this episode) the bigger issue is that it tires him out. I doubt he can use it more than twice or thrice without fainting on the spot, upon which Riko will be left all by herself if whatever they’re up against remains a threat after the Incinerator’s gone off (which might not be impossible in the deeper layers). Interestingly, Reg didn’t lose all of his memories upon waking up after firing off a massive, uncontrolled blast, whereas he did when Riko found him after he shot off the smaller one he used in the first episode. Does that suggest that it was something else that caused his amnesia? If anything, it’d be more likely to be something to do with his own functionality than anything in the first layer, since he must have come up from the sixth or seventh at least.
The other thing the episode really made clear was that, despite Riko’s lack of combat ability, she serves a really important role of being an emotional bedrock of support for Reg. Even though she’d have died a few times over by now without Reg to protect her and help out with shortcuts, Reg himself is (ironically, for being a robot) burdened by many human concerns and worries about himself and the situation they’re in. He’s hesitant to eat the meat from the corpse weepers, and frightened by the destruction he alone can cause – whereas Riko isn’t fazed by anything (not even being naked) and immediately wants to name Reg’s attack as her first concern when she sees what his arm can produce. That simple optimism and cheerfulness is also a good thing, and I have a feeling it’s something the two of them will need as they head into the deeper layers and encounter regular threats to their lives.
We’re proceeding at a slower pace than I thought we’d go at. By no means was the episode meaningless, but I was thinking the two of them would have properly met with Ozen by now (who clearly recognises Riko, but for some reason sounds very ominous and very obviously less helpful than Riko is hoping she’ll be). From an anime-only perspective, this adaptation’s doing fine, but I’ve heard some things here and there about the anticipated pacing of events from manga readers that’s keeping some worries lingering in the back of my mind.