「出発」 (Shuppatsu)

You may, from time to time, hear us talking about ‘The Three Episode Rule’ around here, which refers to the amount of time we should generally give an anime to convince us to watch it all the way through. My personal take on this is that any given show has one episode to hook and three to impress, but the general gist is that by three episodes we should be able to predict whether a show is any good and whether it’s for us. Curiously, many anime are paced in such a way that their Act I fits neatly into three episodes—I don’t know if this is why the ‘Three Episode Rule’ was devised in the first place, or whether directors acknowledge that three weeks is about as much patience as the average viewer will give them. You can see the structure in Made in Abyss as well. The first episode is the hook. The second pulls back a bit and develops some core concepts or characters that will be important for following the story later. With the third, the journey can begin in earnest, the true nature of the plot is established, and it starts rolling with increasing momentum.

It’s a testament to the strength of Made in Abyss, I think, that while I am quite familiar with this structure, I also dreaded it in a small corner of my heart. Sure, the children are leaving the nest and that’s great, because we’re not going to get any adventure until they do, but it’s also a decisive moment of separation and presumably the hardship starts now. This was a powerful episode tinged with the grief of parting, not just because it made sure to include of plenty of human moments where we can empathise with the characters, but also because of how well Made in Abyss has developed its world up ’til now. We can feel how serious Riko’s decision is, and perhaps nervous about the wisdom of it. Part of me, certainly, was hoping that somebody would stop Riko at the last moment, even as another part was encouraged by the support she received from her mentor. Everything we know about the Abyss tells us that, when considered rationally, running off to the depths of the Abyss alone must be a bad idea. Countless explorers have made the attempt to no avail, and even current progress is built upon generations of sacrifice. What can a child and her robot friend hope to achieve? Even the heroes of this society, the White Whistles, do not live to tell the tale. For a Red Whistle to go so far down is considered literally suicide. And I’m sure Riko knows it. Even if she succeeds, she will never see her friends again.

…Unless they go in after her, but I can’t imagine that ending well either.

Well, such is the reckless haste of children that drives many a story. The journey truly begins now. I presume we’ll be tackling this one stratum at a time, but will we have enough time in a single cour for all of them? Even the first is quite large (roughly 4000 feet in depth, for the Americans following along at home), and considering how much Abyss there is, this is not going to over in a hurry. Well, I want them taking their time, because Made in Abyss has been great all around so far and I’m eagre to watch however much they want to show me. If you’re still wondering whether you should be following Made in Abyss this season, you can stop. This one’s a keeper, for sure.


    1. Even discussing this could be a spoiler in itself, so: Show Spoiler ▼

  1. running off to the depths of the Abyss alone must be a bad idea.

    The story so far, has made an excellent premise that our two protagonists
    will be fine. The first part of that is that Riko was born at a very deep level,
    and thus is immune to the (physical) challenges to going back to that depth;
    and Reg seems to have been made / born at as deep a level himself. I don’t
    see their friends trying to follow because of those reasons, and we’ll probably
    see little of them throughout the remainder of the story (until everybody’s
    reunited at the end – I guess).

    Couple of things right off. She’s going to find her mother alive (dead is definitely
    out given the tone of the series), and we’re going to understand Reg’s significance
    to the story. My instincts tell me that Riko’s mom set Reg, but somehow he
    “lost” his memory along the way to the surface. Hopefully, all of those reasons
    (or whatever the real story turns out to be) will be as well explained as the writing
    has been for these initial episodes.

    As far as the story turning dark, I think the darkness (we’ve seen so far) is more
    of a prop for tension rather than actually affecting the story line.

    Lovin’ it so far…

    1. and thus is immune to the (physical) challenges to going back to that depth;

      It’s not the going down, it’s the coming back up that’s a challenge to your body, as we saw in this episode. Some people have likened the effect to “the bends” that divers get if they return too quickly from too great a depth, but we see in the manga that (not really a spoiler as such, but contains some details that haven’t been revealed yet in the anime) Show Spoiler ▼

    2. As Angelus says, the problem with the Curse is coming back up, and even then we’ve been told that Riko has suffered from it before. While down there, there’s supposedly plenty of nasty critters and strange geography, and recall that Riko’s mother’s team suffered massive casualties, and they were presumably seasoned explorers. I’m not saying Riko and Reg are doomed for failure (because, y’know, protagonists) but I won’t go so far as saying they’ll be fine. It’s going to be tough down there.

    3. You know the meme of “The rape train has no brakes.”
      Well you could say that this anime will have “The feels train has no brakes.”

      It has been mentioned before what kind of tone this story takes.

      Show Spoiler ▼

    4. Show Spoiler ▼

  2. Well I see that I was way too optimistic last week. No matter your whistle color, going into the Abyss is the same as giving someone permission to punch you in the head for hours on the way up, which really confuses me on Black and White Whistles. You don’t just get over bleeding from your entire body, but that’s still not considered the point of no return? How in love with courting suicide are these people?

    At least that makes it easier to believe how easily Riko gave up on life, I guess…

    1. Judging from the characters and settings appearing in the OP, my guess is that they will adapt the first 38 chapters of the manga in this cour of 13 episodes. Riko and Reg’s departure takes place at the end of chapter 8, so with 30 more chapters to go they couldn’t really have that happening later than the end of episode 3.

  3. Riko’s character intrigues me the least while annoying me the most and I really can’t care any less what happens to her or her mom. I am staying for the side chars and Reg and the premise and the BG art and music, all of which are wonderful.

    1. I really felt sorry for Nat:

      “Hey, Nat. I, your best friend and probable crush, am going in a trip of no return in this whole to hell to search for my mom who is probably ashes and dust by now. Isn’t that awesome?!”

      Man, I would have snitched so hard that the robots head would spin.

  4. This has gotta be the most wonderful world building I’ve seen at least this entire year in anime. I personally find Riko adorable (or more like adorkable), while Reg is most likely gonna be the more level headed of the 2. They remind me of Gon and Killua in that regard (appropriate, since this Abyss is more the dark continent in HxH, and Ise Mariya voiced Killua and now Reg). Oh and, I’ve gotta remind myself to rewatch the episodes with headphones on since the music is so enchanting.

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