「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.


    1. This is the bit i don’t get. Reg is strong…and I rewatched that scene with him and he was cutting through her hand…I am surprised he didn’t finish it by the stranger arrived. All in all tendons and such would have been cut and hence the flies coming for the blood. Will be interesting to see how they deal with that next episode. All in all an intense episode. Can we have another 20 episodes before its over! 🙁

    2. He didn’t cut her arm off, disappointing.

      If amputation is your thing then, depending on the pacing of course, Show Spoiler ▼

      I am surprised he didn’t finish it by the stranger arrived.

      Easy to say, but although Reg is allegedly a robot, he’s evidently finding it difficult to maim someone he is attached to.

  1. I knew this was coming since I spoiled myself and read the manga this week, and take a few breaks. I don’t mind gore or torture in Anime; my gateway anime was Vampire Hunter D. Heck, Berserk is my favorite Manga (do the frequent hiatuses count as torture for the reader?).

    Passerby nailed it when he described it as Intense. The music, the sound effects, the lingering shots on the characters’ faces all combine to make the scene far more gut-wrenching than the original material ever could do.

  2. 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.

    The questions you should be asking are: why evolution favored a killing machine like that? Where is its place on the food chain? Does it has predators too? Are things more dangerous than it running around there that forced its ancestors to specialize in killing as soon and efficiently as possible? Evolution does favor killing with abandon every now and then like the perfect killing machine known as the Golden Eagle or the lots of unnecessarily letal fauna over Australia.

    1. An important note is that Passerby is mistaken about one thing: this critter is not a predator. It’s a herbivore that lives on algea growing in those giant plants. It is simply ridiculously territorial.

      1. Well, that’s why I asked “where is its place on the food chain”. The fist thing I noticed during the episode was that it attacked but never actually tried to eat the kids. Thanks for confirming my doubts, though.

    2. Even here in Australia, our killers are all specialised. Sure, our crocs are huge, but they have no need to be venomous. Sure, our snakes (and our spiders, and our jellyfish, and our octopus) are highly venomous, but they’re not particularly large. And echidnas are just echidnas. In the Abyss, though, they’ve all been mashed together. Lethal mechanisms take work, and I don’t know what can justify this much work.

      1. Natural evolution gets pushed increasingly on the back-burner the deeper one goes into the Abyss. This is an eldritch location, and the creatures that inhabit it have been shaped in profoundly unnatural ways.

    3. Interesting thought. Imho this kind of over evolution can be explained, if the most dangerous thread this animal face is another one of its kind. Gorillas are ridiculous strong in order to compete with each other. Maybe this animals fight with each other for territory. The smatter it becomes the smarter it has to be in order to not be out-smarted. The thicker its carapace become the stronger its spikes penetrate. The bigger it grow the lager the territory it needs to defend gets and such it became increasingly aggressive. And it has to be venomous to end its fights quickly because becoming injured in a fight means certain death in this environment.

  3. Actually that monster doesn’t need to be in defiance of biology, it could very well be a product of evolution, he have no idea what other horrors lurk in that level of the Abyss, there could be other creatures that a more dangerous or the food the creature needs requires it to hunt something pretty elusive, further more much more lethal and vicious creatures from the lower levels could visit the higher levels to feed or hunt (the creatures don’t seem affected by the curse), so it’s not really overkill or in defiance of biology/evolution for that beast to be armed with all these powerful traits.

    1. One interesting theory I’ve seen is that the tamagauchi, being herbivorous, relies on the plants that form the goblets of giants for food. The twist is that these plants are carnivorous, but have no means themselves for killing their prey. The liquid that fills the goblets is slightly acidic so they can eventually dissolve prey, but they rely on the tamagauchi to kill prey for them. So effectively it’s a symbiotic relationship.

  4. Atelier Emily had a real good post on the cinematography of this episode but it was the little details like Riko hanging on to mom’s whistle through Reg’s attempts at treatment that made me saddest.

    Nanachi’s gender has never been stated in the source material, just like Marulk, so something like “s/he” or “they” would probably work if you’re not sure what to call them!

    Show Spoiler ▼

    1. Nanachi’s gender has never been stated in the source material, just like Marulk

      I think there enough evidence from the manga to say that Show Spoiler ▼

      1. To add to what Angelus said, Show Spoiler ▼

      1. All evidence is that Nanachi is female. There has simply never been a case where it’s been outright stated (and honestly, if you expect any sort of reasonable conversation to lead to someone outright stating their gender, you should probably think twice, because nobody is going to bring that up normally), and the gender neutrality of Japanese pronouns has allowed those who insist on trying to find traps everywhere to dig their heels in and yell that there’s no proof.

  5. Majinai is not curse. Because it means magical stuff for something good, while curse is for something bad. You can translate it into spell or charm I guess.
    Interestingly, there is another word written as 呪い in Japanese, which is “noroi.” This word is actually for something bad and should be translated into curse.

    1. Talking about the subs, I’m not at all convinced by narehate being translated as “hollow” if only because of the Bleach resonances, as Passerby has already mentioned. I must see if I can find some manga raws to see how narehate is written, but assuming it’s 成れ果て then it’s a contraction of 成れの果て, nare no hate, which according to Jisho means “a mere shadow of one’s former self” or even more poetically, “the ruin of what once was”. So yes, it’s a bit of a problem finding a single word to express that. Maybe “shadow” would be better than “hollow”, though, because it avoids the Bleachiness.

      1. To be fair, ‘Hollow’ has been used elsewhere outside of Bleach, as starburst98blog notes. In particular, I’ve always considered Made in Abyss to be and Etrian Odyssey adaptation and indeed, there’s Hollows there too.

  6. Riko’s constantly getting hurt. Any more of this I will have a heart attack…I feel that Riko is conflict that which these god forsaken holes try to oppress and Riko try to expand the limit of the oppression.

  7. Porcupines have many natural predators. It lives with leopards and wild dogs. Which is why natural selection favored spikes all over the body.

    But this tamagauchi thingy has no natural predators. It lives amongst hot springs. How the fuck did it become like this?

  8. This is going to sound bad but here it goes, this needed to happen! Riko is way too reckless and optimistic to survive in the Abyss, sure, she has the knowledge that not even half the battle in place that´s pretty much design to kill outsiders: the flora wants to kill you, the fauna wants to kill you, other cave ridrs want to kill you and the place itself has a curse in order to kill you faster! Riko is only 12 with ZERO experience on real cave riding, Ozen tried to tell her on her own twisted way but she wouldn´t listen, she need to be smarter, sharper than everything around her to survive ans she depends way too much on Reg, without him she would be dead a millon times already!.

  9. Wow, the traumatic curse+poison suffering scene.
    The gore…

    I hope this series will have a closure and explain what this Abyss is.
    What Reg is, perhaps the mother made him?

  10. just picked up the series and already marathoned it to ep10
    good Lord, Abyss reminds me of both the Harry Harrison’s Deathworld Pyrrus AND Pandora from the Avatar
    alien place full of deadly critters, yet at same time miraculously beautiful and enchanting
    there is almost like in Pyrrus case there is some indomitable will pushing critters to atatck explorers and drive them away

  11. And REGarding Reg I think he might be someone sent from the other side of Abyss as sort of.. recon probe? to make contact with humanity?
    That would speculate some tech-advanced civilization down there

  12. This particular episode was pretty hyped when I was browsing reddit, and I can see why.
    This is the first time they portrayed them being in a really dangerous situation, where Reg could not overcome. Kind of unfortunate that it’s pretty late in the series and that it’s one cour though.

    I really loved the voice acting they performed in this episode. It makes you appreciate anime over the light novel/etc for the things they are able to express. It was really painful to watch as well. Felt like I was dying a little inside throughout the whole scene.


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