OP: 「Deep in Abyss」 by 富田美憂, 伊瀬茉莉也 (Tomita Miyu as Riko and Ise Mariya as Regu)
There were some remarks last week about how chipper the OP song was, and indeed it’s no less so when listening to it this week. Perhaps it’s even lighter and fluffier when watching it set to animation. The OP sequence evokes a carefree, happy-go-lucky adventure tale with something of a boy meets-girl-story woven in. And the ED, rather than contrasting the OP as some anime EDs like to do, instead reinforces that atmosphere, somehow making the whole shebang even cuter. If I knew nothing at all about Made in Abyss, and you showed me just this OP and ED, you could easily convince me that it was in fact an educational children’s show starring a pair of curious siblings and their muppet friend, where they prance about on a fantastical adventure with Mary Poppins while they learn the importance of sharing and long division.
Yet, this second episode is about death.
Made in Abyss is fairly explicit about the dangers of the Abyss. For one we have an orphanage filled with kids whose parents died exploring the natural labyrinth under their very feet. And it wants us to know, in no uncertain terms, of the terrible fates that await those who dig too greedily, too deep. So death itself is not really all that much to write home about. What is interesting is how this city built around the Abyss copes with death, which seems to be the main purpose of The Resurrection Festival. The vibrant fantasy world of Made in Abyss is definitely its main draw, so I quite welcome all this development it is devoting to its culture and customs. Presumably, this cave diving is a very dangerous business so death should be commonplace, which is why it seems to be such a casual subject in Made in Abyss. This is a city that has come to terms with loss, in fact rallying around it, making heroes of its worthy dead, passing down their feats as part of their storytelling tradition, and even energising the local economy. There’s a suitable metaphor snuck early in the episode; even if one adventurer is devoured by some horrific beast, it just spurs the rest of the flock to fight.
Made in Abyss also finds time, though, to explore the more personal angle. Last week in the comments some mused about the ethics of using orphanage-produced child labour to explore the Abyss. The scene where Regu enrolls formally implies there may be little alternative for a lost child. Sacrifice seems baked into this society, and while some may not see the heroics in throwing one’s life away to the inevitable Curse of the Abyss, it seems to be the expected thing for a child to take up the mantle of a parent and take their place at the wall, so to speak. So it is for Riko as well, in some much welcomed development for her character. She’s obviously very enthusiastic about exploring the Abyss, and that’s been the gist of who she is up until now, but if we look at this drive as being as coming from her mother, then it takes on new meaning. What exactly is the legacy she is inheriting? Riko’s mother bore the epithet ‘the Annihilator’. She fought, and suffered, and sacrificed. Is that the future in store for Riko, if she wishes to be worthy of the white whistle?
That’s likely a way in the future, though. The OP has another piece of interesting information for us: a cross-section. That… is a lot of Abyss. I don’t know if that’s supposed to be a reference or just an artist’s impression, but for comparison the deepest any human has ever gone on our earth is about 4,000 metres. And that’s just barely scratching the surface.
Full-length images: OP 08.
ED: 「旅の左手、最果ての右手」 (Tabi no Hidarite, Saihate no Migite) by 富田美憂, 伊瀬茉莉也 (Tomita Miyu as Riko and Ise Mariya as Regu)