While reg putters off on a series of fetch quests, per the grand RPG tradition, let’s take the opportunity to talk about Nanachi. It’s something we should definitely use some time for sooner or later, and it may as well be sooner, and indeed this week’s episode is titled simple, Nanachi. Here we have a genuinely interesting character, and that’s beyond being a snarky humanoid lagomorph. Nanachi’s role in the story is equally curious.
For an anime like Made in Abyss, I consider the setting as much a character as any other individual in the show, and deserves development. And indeed, after 11 episodes, we really can say that the titular Abyss has a character, even a personality, of its very own. Everything we know about the Abyss tells us that, despite its beauty, it is a cruel, unwelcoming, and openly hostile place. At every step we are warned about its dangers, and every emphasis is put on how unforgiving exploring it is. Even when it seems our protagonists have a brief respite, like at the Seeker Camp, it is only an opportunity to drill home these lessons. Yet here we have Nanachi, who is, from what we’ve seen, friendly and helpful (for the most part). The mere presence of these qualities in the Abyss changes its character entirely. Nanachi shows empathy, when the Abyss has none. Nanachi offers safety, where the Abyss should be fraught with danger. And Nanachi provides knowledge, when for all others the Abyss is other mysterious and uncertain. Juxtapose Nanachi’s home, and its tranquil beauty, with the forbidding awe that is the rest of the fourth stratum. It is a singular oasis in this alien world.
Of course, we know that Nanachi used to be human, but while that may explain why Riko and Reg receive aid, it also calls into question the relationship between humans and the Abyss. Again, the Abyss is supposed to be a terrible and dangerous place. Yet, Nanachi stays. Sure, there’s an excuse about how a rare specimen like a sentient Hollow will be dragged off to be dissected and studied, probably like how Reg would have been, but I wonder if there’s more to it than that. If the White Whistles who explore the depths of the Abyss are lauded as heroes, shouldn’t Nanachi, who presumably has been to the sixth stratum, be a hero, too? Or maybe this exile is because White Whistles are heroes, and must symbolise human progress, so the monster-fication is unacceptable. Hollows are allegedly usually put down on the spot. A heroic death is celebrated in Orth, and rather that than to have succumbed to the Curse. Yet, Nanachi keeps a Hollow around, rather than put it out of its misery. Maybe it says something about the humans, and perhaps we’ll know more once we hear more stories of the past.
Back when Ozen first told Riko of Lyza’s grave, we pondered that there were fates worse than death in the Abyss. Yes, Lyza is alive—but that may not be a good thing. All the foreshadowing makes me fear for the worst. I hope it isn’t so, but either way it looks like Riko has much to suffer yet.