The story of Made in Abyss follows the adventure of Riko, a young orphan living in the town or Orth. A town that is built around a massively deep hole in the ground called The Abyss. Exploring the abyss is part of regular life for those that live around it. Raiding the abyss and returning with it’s lost artifacts forms the backbone of the economy for the Orth but it’s quickly revealed that the abyss is far more dangerous than it first appears. It’s full of ravenous monsters, creatures and much more that gets revealed throughout the events of the season.
But when Riko recieves a message from her long assumed dead mother informing her that she is alive and stuck in the deepest parts of the abyss Riko sets off with her humanoid-robotic friend Reg on a descent into the abyss to rescue her mother. Although Riko and Reg quickly learn that this mission will be anything but straight forward when they discover the abyss also harbors a curse that affects all that travel into it’s depths. A curse that ensures that all who enter don’t come back out the same.
The story of Made in Abyss starts out as a quite light hearted fantasy story but continues to descend throughout into darker and darker plot lines. As more is revealed you realise how twisted the world truly is and how out of place a 12 year old girl should be in this environment.
One of the things I liked most about the series is that we learn about the world, the abyss, the curse and the numerous plot twists and turns at the same time as Riko and Reg. It’s unknown and mysterious to both the characters and the viewer. This makes the twists feel more genuine and kept me on the edge of my seat wondering where the adventure would take me to next.
The relatively small core cast in Made in Abyss along with learning the world and adventuring through the unknown with Riko and Reg allows you to become quite attached to the characters emotionally. Which only makes the dark and twisted outcomes of the abyss adventure hit even harder when they occur.
Even though it’s story is great the standout thing that made me attach to Made in Abyss so strongly was it’s fantastic character and world design. The show is the pinnacle of pretty. Containing characters that look quite cute and cheerful by design juxtaposes the dark and twisted things they will encounter and does a good job at catching you off guard. I will admit going in I thought based on the look of the characters and the lush and vibrant visuals of the world that I was jumping into a high fantasy style story but Made in Abyss does a great job at making you think it’s going in one direction only to pull the rug out and pivot into a new direction forever keeping things interesting. It achieves a lot of plot, world and character development in just 13 episodes. Something that other series fail to do even when given multiple season runs.
So I hope you’ve gathered by now that Made in Abyss is something special. But it wouldn’t be anywhere near as special and emotional if it weren’t for it’s brilliant soundtrack. The music in the series is fantastic. Composed by a fellow Australian Kevin Penkin, which was a nice surprise as having people outside of Japan involved in the creation/production side of anime is typically unheard of in the industry. But this isn’t like most other anime soundtracks. It has an incredible ability to set the scene and mood we should be feeling at all times and helps the high impact moments hit harder. I don’t want to throw out the cliche line of ‘It’s as much a character in the series as the main cast’ but it is a noticeable and core piece of overall product that makes Made in Abyss so great. Best of all, it stands on it’s own as a standalone piece of music for those that like to listen to anime or video game OST’s in their spare time. This score will quickly be added to your listening list.
Surprisingly the home release set contains a ton of extras. Somethign that is very rare to see on a Sentai Filmworks release. The Made In Abyss bonus features include: Clean Opening and Closing Animations, Japanese Trailers and Promos, an interview with composer Kevin Penkin, coverage from a Jouhei event, a feature called Music in Abyss as well as a 2-part Making Of series. Plenty to keep you invested in the world and it’s creation long after you’ve completed the 13 episodes.
Although I still have some questions that need answering and the core plot of the show is still unfinished at the conclusion of episode 13, Made in Abyss is something truly special and ends on a satisfying note that has me still clawing for more. It’s world and character design along with it’s fantastic soundtrack make it a must see series. It’s clear why so many people love this series, it’s because it breaks the mould in so many ways and tries things that push the envelope while also respecting the viewer at the same time. I can not wait to see what Kinema Citrus produce if we get that second season.
A Blu-Ray review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment for the purpose of this review.
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