「生存訓練」 (Seizon Kunren)
As many of you may be aware, the most dangerous of the wildlife in Africa is, without question, the hippopotamus. While on your safari, you may be lucky enough to encounter all manner of wondrous fauna, including big, carnivorous cats like lions and cheetahs. If you stay in your car, those are no threat. The guide will, however, take extra time to warn you about the hippopotamus. They are herbivores. But they are also territorial, easily angered, and will chase. ‘Docile’, as Ozen may put it, they are not. A general rule of thumb to live by (literally): stay away from the water. Maybe I’m just speaking as a land-based mammal myself, but oftentimes it seems that nothing in this world hides as many deathtraps as the water. Here where I am, in Australia, from time to time there will be a story in the paper about some tourist going out to take an evening dip in some creek in the bush. You don’t even need to read the rest of the article to know, yep, they’re dead. We have some of the biggest and meanest crocodiles in the world around here, and they lie wait in the water for prey looking for a drink, and there’s no chance of survival if they drag you underwater. Going to them is suicide. They’re even pretty fast on land when they chase after you (the trick is to run in zigzags). The point is, it’s sensible to look for a water source first when out camping, because we all sustain on water, but predators know that too, and they are waiting. Just another case of Riko needing to curb her enthusiasm so she isn’t killed immediately. Again.
Aside from that episode with the hippo, though, Made in Abyss doesn’t actually dwell very long on Riko and Reg’s little outdoors excursion, despite the title. I suppose we were talking about whether Made in Abyss will have enough to do what it wants just last week, and almost on cue the pacing has drastically accelerated. I don’t know how deeply the manga goes into anything, but here we’ve skipped almost all of the 10 days of training, and narrated past all of Ozen’s story time. That’s a shame, because that stuff could have been fascinating in a show like this. In a world mystery, the secret oral tradition, the myth that is passed down, is foundational to the development of the setting. And in a darker sort of adventure, we could have had some poignant survival horror. Instead, the ordeal is implied, but not shown. We don’t get to experience the constant danger, the thinning supplies, and the paranoia. We are told in passing that Riko and Reg were separated at some point, and that should have been a lonely, nerve-wracking experience, but it has no consequence when we’re just skipping to the end where everybody is safe and back together. No time for any of that, apparently. Got to speed off.
And zoom away we do, past the second stratum and onto the third. For the first time, we get to see Lyza’s face in full (and it’s all eyelashes). Oh, and Riko’s dad too, but we don’t know anything about him yet other than his height. Point is, Lyza is Riko’s goal, and the goal is becoming clearer. So too, though, are the dangers. There are nastier things than Ozen in the Abyss and it’s, of course, humans. We know that the depths of the Abyss drives people mad (is the time dilation effect doing it?), but Ozen seems sane enough. Bitter and cynical, yes, but sane, or at least sane enough to honour her promise to Lyza. Other White Whistles are, apparently, much more broken, and bound by no oath to help Riko. If Ozen’s calling somebody else a scumbag, then they must be truly depraved indeed. The White Whistles may be heroes, but evidently not for their moral fibre.
Just a word about spoilers: as Made in Abyss dashes off towards the end of its run, I’d like to remind to all commenters to use spoiler tag. I have not read the manga and cannot tell what is a spoiler and what is not, so it would help me immensely if you could put everything in spoilers. Even just speculation or name-dropping can go in spoiler tags, and say something about what the contents of the tags are. Thanks.