「毒と呪い」 (Doku to Majinai)
“Poison and the Curse”
For each episode of anime we blog here on RandomC, we have to choose six screenshots for the front-page excerpt. I usually want shots that make the episode look good, but also try to avoid any great spoilers, since there are those that browse the site and may not have watched the episode yet. Sometimes this selection process is rather difficult, like it was for this week of Made in Abyss; everything that happened was intense.
Intense, but not necessarily surprising. In every journey there is a point where everything goes wrong, and I think Made in Abyss had been working up towards its own nadir for its protagonists for a while, now. There wouldn’t be such such regular emphasis on the horrible effects of the Curse unless it was going to be relevant to the story and indeed, like clockwork, with every new stratum Riko is made to suffer their increasing ordeals. We’ve also been repeated told how deadly the Abyss is, with it being one of those central concepts that’s repeated drilled into our heads, but so far Riko and Reg have always managed to dodge the consequences, either via robot superpowers or otherwise. Here, the fourth stratum, the start of what can truly be considered the ‘depths’ of the Abyss, is a good place for a wakeup call. I mean, look at this thing. It’s a predator, and large, and fast, and smart, and spiny, and venomous. That’s just overdoing it. You’ll find nothing like that in our world, because nothing needs to be that dangerous. In defiance of evolution, it’s optimised not for survival, but for maximum lethality for unfortunate explorers.
Still, that’s par for the course for the Abyss, and we really should be more surprised that Riko hasn’t met a bloody end by the hand of some biology defying monstrosity earlier. Actually, the real surprise is that she’s somehow managed to dodge the bullet again, this time thanks to the timely arrival of some talking frog-rabbit thing. Or rather, I would have been surprised if her appearance had not been so telegraphed, not least of all by the OP. Nanachi (Izawa Shiori) calls herself a ‘Hollow’, and I’m not sure what that exactly entails right now besides reminding me that I once read Bleach. Normally, I won’t be so quick to trust a convenient character like her (is it ‘her’? Marulk has made me paranoid). All fairy tales teach stranger danger, and this one has a collection of cave raider memorabilia, which depending on context could be ominous. Still, she did offer her help freely, and we see her traipsing with our protagonists in the ED every week, so for now I guess we can consider the cast complete. And notably, we’re at episode 10.
With the introduction of a new character, though, we needed to round out our old ones, and this episode does give us a better look at Reg as the last one did for Riko. He’s always been established as an inverse of Riko, her foil, and now we see his flaws in full effect. Riko always fixated her gaze forward, for good or ill, while Reg has a tendency to look backwards. Last week Riko stumbled from crisis to crisis, while this week there is really one, but it wears away at Reg. We see him doubt and hesitate, obsessing over what he could have done better while lacking confidence in what he should do after the fact. He’s much more comfortable when there’s someone who can give him direction. When Riko faltered, so did he; while this entire episode was incredibly raw, more gripping for me than the blood and gore is that the fear of death finally gets to Riko. She’s managed to shrug it off before, but when it’s so close and so tortuous, it cuts her deep. And without her confidence, Reg mentally crumbles. Nanachi’s appearance was salvation not just because she offered aid, but because she took control. With direction again, Reg can spring into action.
The arm’s should be rightfully lost regardless, though. Not a big deal; I refuse to believe that a setting with time-stopping bells and reanimation cubes doesn’t have automail.