「呪いの正体」 (Noroi to Shoutai)
“The True Nature of the Curse”
Oh hey, it’s these guys again. Even though they don’t really have much relevance for Riko and Reg down in the Abyss, they do make a point of popping up at regular intervals to remind us they exist, don’t they? I would like to think that these Orth segments are something like postcards from the surface, to give us assurances that those we’ve left behind are doing fine, but unfortunately it’s this kind of show. It’s what they get for living next to the malevolent hellhole that is the Abyss, I guess. It’s curious that the people of the Abyss have such reverence for the Abyss despite the implicit malice behind everything in there. When the Orthians die, they are ‘returned to the Abyss’—and from what we’ve seen of the Curse, the Abyss doesn’t want them to leave, either. It’s an abusive relationship, is what I’m saying. I want to respect the culture, but it seems unhealthy.
I do think that we’re supposed to have some doubts about the entire arrangement, or at least question the nature of whether the gifts of the Abyss is worth its Curse, because Made in Abyss is always inviting us to think about the relationship between the humans and the titular hole in the ground. That’s why, I’m guessing, we still get shown what’s happening to the orphanage, even though they have no impact on what happens to our protagonists. Riko and Reg are still connected to the surface, and still bridge humans and the Abyss. They send messages back to the surface. Contrast this with Nanachi who, while fundamentally human and will go out of her way to aid others out of sympathy, considers herself a creature of the Abyss and wants nothing to do with Orth. In fact, she would rather they remain ignorant of her existence. Perhaps her example is one that advocates a respectable distance between humans and the Abyss. And maybe there is no safe distance from the Abyss? With this mysterious illness that seems to lose potency once the afflicted leaves the island, maybe it’s a time to bail? Is the Curse leaking? How ominous.
Speaking of the Curse, the episode is actually titled The True Nature of the Curse. I was expecting some manner of huge reveal, an anagnorisis that puts the lie to everything we know about anything and plunges our protagonists into tragedy once again, but it turned out that it was only a mechanics lecture. With only a single (though double-length) episode left this season, I was hoping for less of, ‘How does it work?’ and more of, ‘Why is it so?’. I suspect that most of us already understood the nature of the curse as Nanachi explains it: it is pervasive in the Abyss, is a fundamental part of its environment, and allows entry but no exit. The things we don’t know, though, have the potential to be even more sinister. Is its nature by accident, or design? Have the special fauna adapted to the Curse over time, or did they come with the place? And, of course, why does this accursed place that lure so many to fates worse than death exist in the first place?
I get the feeling we’re not going to like any of the answer, and Made in Abyss continues to foreshadow terrible things. I doubt all these loose ends will actually be resolved next week, nor that Made in Abyss intends to, but it’s bound to be dramatic nonetheless. Nanachi finally steels her heart to put down Mitty, and the poor creature is sure to have its share of dark secrets, too.