Made in Abyss S2: Retsujitsu no Ougonkyou – 01

「羅針盤は闇を指した」 (Rashinban wa Yami o sashita)
“The Compass Pointed to the Darkness”

A deadly one-way trip.

There’s a certain gritty-ness to Made in Abyss that is hard to describe. It’s embedded in how it treats its characters like play things, not glossing over things like sea sickness; Showing actual vomit coming out of someone’s mouth, or how people, including animals, have to go potty due to biological needs. I’ve always held proper that sort of thing to just Tsukushi-san having a field day whichever which way he can. Indulging would be a much better word. But it’s not just about that, it’s the reality, dubbed hyper-reality for the sake of this post. Tsukushi uses this “hyper-reality” to give a sense of grounded storytelling. Kids are not idolized, they just are, they’re cute, they’re fun, but also they’re at that age that is coming to terms with their own sexuality. This hyper-reality makes the story go places others don’t even dare to touch. Wouldn’t it be normal to go potty next to your friends if you found yourself suddenly descending down to the sixth layer of a place that can literally kill you just by breathing wrong? At least that’s how it feels like.

At the same time, they are thrown into extraordinary situations that pitch them against the grain. They still hold that glimmer in their eye, that naivete and wonder that all young teens have, and when things go south, that same glimmer of unrelenting hope is broken, taken away and we as viewers get to see exactly how, when, and why. This is what makes those hard-hitting moments all the more shocking. Yet, it comes back, we can see it in their eyes when exploring the abyss as it becomes something new and exciting every time they hit a deeper level.

There are many examples of this happening throughout the series, heck there’s even a whole movie about it. I think this is why the story just hits different. Yes, there, I said it. The narrative itself is well crafted, and even if quite simple, the lore is never forgotten, and when it feels like it does, it explains why. i.e. Nanachi finding the mantle that would inflict less of the curse. But other than that, the curse of the abyss is pretty much respected all of the time. This is a one-way journey, and at this point, Riko, Nanachi, and Reg all but accept their fate.

It goes without saying, the deeper you dive, the harder it will become for you to ascend. I’m sure all three of us will mention that at least once during our review. However, that’s the cool thing about Made in Abyss, the stakes are high, yet still, Riko decided to take that first step into the man-eating hole at the center of the earth.

So are we all caught up?

Huh, already been a couple of paragraphs and I’ve still yet to talk about any of what happened during this week’s first episode?! An avid reader of the manga here, but worry not, there will be no spoilers! And let’s try and keep them out of the comments as well, please!

What I can say is – I’m quite happy this new season started the first episode with some new characters, which serves to not only renew interest in the mystery of the Abyss, for those that have been away for some time. But also serves story-wise to foreshadow future events to come. Pampering us with its mythology and rounding out the story. Let’s not forget, only one more layer to descend before reaching the unexplored depths, where only word of mouth and rumors are known about. Fear not though, these prologue characters will become important in the Reg and Riko story! Vueko (Terasaki, Yuka), Belaf (Saiga, Mitsuki), and Wazukyan (Hirata, Hiroaki) all head to an island after, Juroimoh, Vueko’s keeper, (yes she was being assaulted by this man) discover a gentleman on a deserted ship who has clearly gone insane, after witnessing mutilated corpses and a scorching body, the man utters some words and gives the crew the oh-so-important compass, (the one Riko lost all the way back) so they head towards the Abyss.

This is a prequel that I’ve named “The First People”, not quite though, “The First Explorers” is more fitting. As they reach the island, a tribe of people has already settled there. Not much time passes before they reach the gate to the lower floors, the one Bondrewd was trying to hide from Riko and Reg. They do come across some danger but apparently are able to get through it just fine. Before more story could be explored Riko jumps through the portal and we are finally head down to the sixth lower level, it only took what, two years?

Not much story for those that were expecting a grand return, however, all this setup is extremely important, just mark my words.

But hey! Before you start getting comfy in your chair there, the episode ends as they finally reach The Capital of the Unreturned. Not much else I can say without reaching spoiler territory, so I’ll stop there.

It’s going to be a wild ride being able to talk about this upcoming arc, and you get to read three different perspectives to boot! As I’ve said, I’m actually quite happy they’re treating this adaptation and putting the characters on the boat first, making them feel human foremost, making us care about them, and introducing us to their struggles. I think it’s rather important. Nonetheless, I’m quite excited about the return of Made in Abyss.

Author: FJ

A young fantasy writer during the night, motion graphics and illustration during the day. Currently living in Mexico. Aspiring to make a feature film.

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