「大断層」 (Dai Dansou)
“The Great Fault”

Ah, the third stratum. Mostly just a gaping hole in the ground ringed by sheer cliffs, and if one only cared to reach the bottom I can see an obvious, if unwise, shortcut. Regardless, Riko and Reg manage to breeze through the level quite quickly in a single episode. The minutiae of the journey, though, does not seem to be this week’s main point. The highlight is that this is the episode where Riko is forced to fly solo.

So far, Riko’s quest for the bottom of the Abyss has gone uncommonly well. This is a place where seemingly everything can kill you, even the fluffy ones if they’re determined enough. When we first began, Riko was just a common Red Whistle, and 12 years old to boot. She owes a large part of her success, no doubt, to the aid of her humanoid superweapon. It’s strong, virtually indestructible, and has a get-out-of-gaol-free card that only requires a two-hour recharge. As far as team dynamics go, he sure does seem to pack a lot more oomph. One has to wonder, sometimes, whether he will actually do better if he didn’t have to play bodyguard for the impulsive Riko. So an episode like this is a good chance for Riko to demonstrate what she brings to the team.

Riko obviously has some knowledge of the Abyss and its fauna and flora, at least more than the amnesiac Reg. And while she has an uncanny ability to find trouble, at least we know that she’s not incapable of getting out of it herself. While she does show that she’s not completely physically inept, though, she still can’t really vie for an equal role to Reg in the partnership, and for the most part, doesn’t. Their relationship is framed more as a harmonious balance, with Reg being a ball of doubt despite his immense power, and Riko being the confident will that drives their expedition despite being completely lacking in power. And thus her main obstacle of the episode, the Curse, while physically debilitating is largely a mental challenge.

Many stories have a chapter like this, in which our protagonist is confronted with with some temptation or deception that threatens to lead them astray. It is an essential part of the archetypal Hero’s Journey, where our hero (well, heroine, to be gender specific in this case) is confronted with an internal struggle between their quest and baser desires. The Curse is handy for this purpose, since it’s largely some magical thing that can inflict whatever supernatural affliction upon our protagonist as necessary. It is no simple hallucination. You’d think that whatever brain fever that would have cooked up this illusory happy ending for Riko would have included Reg just as easily, and if this was all a figment of Riko’s mind I would expect him to be there. But he isn’t. So more than simple delirium, this is a trial, where Riko is tempted with friends, comfort, and success. And she almost succumbs. Perhaps this is the kind of mental strain that makes the White Whistles so broken, having the Curse constantly offer them their greatest desires and always having to throw them away.

But with some empathy and the power of friendship (or the power of furious shipping), she passes and is, in a way, ‘allowed’ to enter the fourth stratum. It’s a great achievement, but we’re still not even half-way there. And the Curse only gets nastier as we go. This is not the last we’ve seen of its antics, I’m sure.


  1. While I am still loving this show (still my second favorite for the season)…Riko keeps making the same mistakes over and over again…Total wide-eyed awe with no caution at all. Reg said to stay put…she could have stayed put. The hunger wasn’t going to kill her in 2hrs…I would have waited. And then following the smells to places unknown which led to more problems. Didn’t they learn their lesson during the 10 day training? I know she is 12 but other characters her age should know the dangers of the abyss by now to show ‘some’ caution or question your choices like Reg does. Anyways…rant over :-)…How many episodes left?

    1. At this point, I fully accept that it’s part of her character and it doesn’t bother me too much. It’s not like there was any guarantee that staying put was safe. It’s more part of Riko and Reg’s dynamic, as I see it. Reg hesitates a lot, because he’s full of doubt, but Riko always pushes forward, dangers be damned (which is what cave raiders do in general, as well). They balance out each other.

      1. It’s okay for her to be because that’s just who she is.

        Reg: “Promise me to stay here”
        Riko: “OK”
        Reg falls asleep
        Riko: “Hmm, I’m hungry. Let’s go look for food and drag Reg with me.”

        That’s just how Riko rolls.

    2. Hunger is supposed to be conductive to good reasoning and not a distraction at all I guess. But yeah, I guess they could just wait in one spot for 2 hours. It totally won’t make it easier for other possible monsters to either eat them and toss them around. The phrase “sitting ducks” doesn’t apply in this setting I guess.

    1. What with that news and yet this episode actually expanding on the manga (though apparently the mangaka wished he could have had more pages for this layer), all bets are still off as to how far the anime will get.
      Show Spoiler ▼

  2. While a lot of people’s knee-jerk reaction to Riko going about is to STOP, I think that’s wrong. I ask you: Are they really safer just being sitting ducks? Have we not seen that the Abyss is dangerous regardless of what happens? Honestly in that regard, I think she made the right choice, but definitely for less than stellar reasons.

    Now, falling into that stomach creature due to carelessness? That right there is the real mistake.

    1. Do we know how much Riko’s seen of her mother, in-person or otherwise? Regardless, she only sees her in eyes-obscured mode here, whereas we have seen her fully before. And as I talked about in the post, I don’t believe the Curse here is just a simple hallucination.

    2. She’s just shown someone who represents her “mother”. For us, the viewers, we’ve already seen Lyza’s face so the studio made it easier for us to understand what is happening. For us it is the face of Lyza but for Riko it could be something else. Though she might have an idea what her mother looks like, it’s not as if she is entirely clueless.

  3. Oh boy, probably being slow here but I’ve just noticed that Seven Seas has licensed the manga. Let’s just hope they’ve done their due diligence this time and we don’t get another re-run of what happened with Kodomo no Jikan.

    For those not familiar with that affair, ten or so years ago Seven Seas announced they had licensed the Kodomo no Jikan manga. They got as far as a limited print run of the first volume and were ready to ship to selected bookstores when all of a sudden they realised that later volumes contained material that they felt they couldn’t publish in the US and so they cancelled the whole thing.

    I don’t want to restart the debate about the subject matter and whether it should or shouldn’t ever be published, the point is that Seven Seas had signed it up on the basis of looking at a few volumes and hadn’t checked out all the chapters available in Japan or had discussions with the mangaka as to where it was likely heading. Well, as I said, let’s hope they’ve done that this time!

    1. Seven Seas has come a long way since that incident. I can’t claim to keep track of all their releases, but there have only been a handful of cancellations in recent years that I’m aware of–most of which were due to license changes or extremely poor sales. Based off their current catalogue, there are some titles that are probably doing a lot worse than Made in Abyss will do (based on how well-known they are), and they’re still in publication. Have hope!

      And the liklihood of this manga being cancelled for content isn’t exactly comparable to KnJ. Despite some of the more distateful gags in this series, there are other series on the market right now that are straight up incest fanservice, so MiA certainly won’t be the worst of the bunch.


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