This episode made me reflect: What is a hero? Is it someone who saves the day with grand exploits, is it the MC, is it someone guided by purely good intentions? Even though Riko is one of the MCs, I wouldn’t call her a hero because she is guided by her passion of adventuring more than the good of others. She doesn’t go out of her way to harm people, but exploration matters more than morals, as is evident from her reaction to Wazukyan.
Depending on how you view it, Riko is either very open-minded or morally skewed, refraining from passing judgement on Wazukyan, commenting on her affection for the village born out of Irumyuui’s despair. I would consider neither Wazukyan nor the village praiseworthy after how they exploited Irumyuui, yet that doesn’t faze Riko. Wazukyan and Riko truly are similar. Like Riko, he isn’t much of a “good guy”. He saved the villagers, but I don’t know that it would make him a hero because of how he went about doing so.
Riko spins a different view on the village and its grisly origins, framing it as a safe-haven. A home for those who have no home- for those who have gone so far (but as we learn, not too far since apparently the Golden City is only the beginning of the depths of the Abyss).
In that sense, it frames Faputa as the villain for destroying the village’s peace. From another angle, Faputa is totally justified in wrecking vengeance on the village after how they exploited her family. Unfortunately for Faputa, she is destroying a village of Hollows of whom many have lost reasoning capacities. They worship Faputa rather than running away screaming when she starts her rampage. I would imagine that might deflate some of the satisfaction in revenge if the target doesn’t understand the meaning of it.
But this is more than just simple slaughtering out of anger. It is also to free her mother from the village’s grasp. Will destroying everything solve anything or bring her mother and siblings back? No. Sure, it will release their spirits from the cruelty of caring for the village, but then where does that leave Faputa after that?
By breaking the barrier, she is freeing the villagers to pursue their lust for adventure once again, repeating the pattern of using the daughter like they used the mother as a key to wish-fulfillment. It certainly isn’t fair that the villagers get their dream back with Faputa’s anger and Irumyuui’s sacrifice as their doormat.
That was a beautiful juxtaposition between the shine of gold and the bleak darkness in Wazukyan’s statement that “those pursuing gold find value in the darkness”. It is called the Golden City, not because it is some El Dorado made of literal gold, but rather made of the inhabitants’ personal darknesses, their desires, that have been turned into figurative gold, treasures they embrace at all costs.
In this hellish haven, even the “guardian” is cursed. Irumyuui searched Vueko’s memories, saw the guy who “took Vueko in” and created Juroimoh as the village’s protector. I suppose that would make the Juroimoh creature the village’s father or grandfather. Perhaps without any context or any understanding of the horrible meaning of the things he did to Vueko, a young child like Irumyuui might see Juroimoh in Vueko’s memories and assume he was significant. On the other hand, it is fucked up that someone who abused Vueko would be resurrected as her counterpart of sorts, a creature protecting the village who, like her, is linked to Irumyuui and the village’s fate, unable to be judged even by the balancing.
Going forwards, I hope Faputa isn’t defeated while the villagers go on their merry way with Riko, Reg, and Nanachi. I would be bothered if Faputa was another sacrificial lamb for the prophecy the Sages hold, yet given the childlike or even animal-like innocence of the villagers, I don’t know that they should be blasted to smitheerens. That is also a form of giving into baser instincts, committing oneself wholly to one’s desires, just like the Hollows had done and would make her no better than Wazukyan or Belaf. I have a feeling that some unimaginably horrific course is likely, with Bondrewd (or Mr. Dawn, in Wazukyan’s words) hovering in the background. His amicable relationship with the Hollows is certainly suspect-it’s probably only a matter of time before he resurfaces again in the flesh.
To give credit where it’s due, Tsukushi Akihito has set up a fascinating moral dilemma here. I kind of sensed we were supposed to feel sort of half-conflicted about Bondrewd but to be honest I never did. To me that guy was straight up evil, a pure villain whose motives never mitigated the nature of the hideous offenses against decency he committed. This current situation is far more shrouded in grey as far as I’m concerned, and I’m still not totally sure I feel about it. But I know I’ve been seeing a lot of pretty bad takes these past couple of weeks.
At the center of all this is of course Faputa, who describes herself as “immortal” to Reg after he expressed worry about her having ripped a large piece of herself off. She’s a creature born out of a desire for revenge that consumes her, but clearly she does have a soft spot for Reg. It goes even beyond her desire to have him enable her wish – the annihilation of Iruburu and everyone in it. But that is important, make no mistake. It really is the Mitty situation all over again – Reg being asked to use his incinerator for a purpose he would never consider of his own volition. For a being as kind as Reg, this power has been largely a curse.
There’s no sign that Reg has decided to keep his promise, though he does bring the Faputa steak inside the village, which sets things all ass over teakettle. A part of Faputa isn’t supposed to be in there, even if it is detached from the mothership. Meanwhile Wazukyan immediately recognizes Vueko and acts as if they’d just spoken a few moments ago, rather than the 150 years that we’re told have passed since the village was created. He asks Riko if she hates him now that she’s heard the story – from Vueko’s POV – which is interesting in that it implies he cares about the answer.
The truth is if anyone would understand him, it’s Riko. She’s a single-minded zealot like him, and pretty much unburdened by squeamishness or conventional morality. She’s have done the same thing Wazukyan did in his shoes, in other words. And she likes this village his actions made, and its villagers. But she also understands that for Wazukan staying here for eternity is also a defeat, because it means he stopped short of his goal to reach the Golden City, and suspects that his long game is to use her to make that possible. And it’s clear that Moogie – and probably Majikaja, and maybe a good chunk of the rest – were cave raiders who came to Iruburu and could never leave.
The sage that matters for the moment, though, is Juroimoh. He’s not dead after all, and – given that his function is to emerge whenever the village is threatened – he’s none too pleased about the Faputa part being inside the barrier. Juroimoh goes on a rampage and appears quite willing to destroy much of the village in order to save it, so Reg takes it on himself to lead him away. As for Vueko she asks Wazukyan why it has the same name as her abusive guardian, and he tells her that Irumyuui created Juroimoh from her memories.
Reg is in a tough position here, as usual. He can’t rely on the balancing to cut Juroimoh down to size, as he’s cut from Vueko’s cloth. The village is in danger and so is Reg himself, and the giant beast manages to wrest the Faputa shank away from him. Reg doesn’t use the incinerator to pay off his dent to Faputa – he does it because he has no other attacks that will work. But the effect is the same – he cuts a hole in the barrier just as she intended, and with that there’s nothing standing in-between her and her dream of obliterating Iruburu and everyone in it.
We still have three episodes left, but it seems to me as if the season really boils down to the question of what we think should happen here. The matter of what Wazukyan did is admittedly a difficult one. His sunny demeanor doesn’t help the cause of anyone arguing in his defense, but as I said, I think Riko would have done exactly what he did. So would many. And then we have the villagers, none of whom made that choice – it was made for them. They’ve been living peacefully (as far as we know) for 150 years, in their own peculiar purgatory. Do they deserve to be obliterated in the name of Faputa’s anger? I’ve seen an awful lot of expressed opinion that they deserve just that, but that doesn’t make sense to me.
This is a devil of a conundrum Tsukushi has foisted on us here. I understand why Wazukyan did what he did. If I were in the villagers’ shoes, I wouldn’t want to be wiped out. And if I were Faputa, I would be convinced that the purpose of my birth was to exact revenge for my dead siblings and my mother being turned into an apartment complex. Of course, all of these perspectives can’t win the day – something has to give here. I’m not sure exactly how that will break down, but I do know that strictly in narrative terms, it’s nice to have the main trio back to being involved – Made in Abyss is more compelling when they are, and they’ve been sidelined a fair bit this season.
Lots of things were confirmed for me in this episode, lots of things that were previously mentioned in the manga, or made clear because of differences in storytelling, and because of spoiler reasons, couldn’t really be talked about for fear of ruining the experience for anime-only watchers. Nevertheless, it’s time to spill all of the tea.
Faputa speaks of mother and resents the fact the villagers made her fall so much into despair that she lost her voice and was unable to speak. Even if she speaks of this situation much like a child would, Faputa knows the extent of the reason and holds grudges against the villagers. It’s fascinating to watch so much information being presented in so little time. Of course, Faputa speaks about Irumyuui, whose wish was all but to become a mother, and the abyss in a way granted her that wish, however, nightmare-fueled it might have become. The abyss certainly has its own little way of granting things to people, I do wonder what kind of things lies at the center of it all, and what other horrors await us once Riko and Reg imminently decide to keep on going back down. But that is neither here nor there.
Riko also explains that she knows Wazukyan wants her to somehow use the three cradles of desires to release them from the village and allow them to continue exploring the abyss, but how exactly is not yet known, because of this Juroimoh shows up and is ready for a fight. Majikaja and Wazukyan explain that Juroimoh was created from Vueko’s ruminating when she was trapped in the belly of the beast, with the little balancing spirits. And because Faputa calls herself her little sister to the balancing goo, we can safely assume they are the spirits of all of those creatures Irumyuui birthed and consequently the villagers ate. As Faputa also says she will not forgive those mouths and those forms.
In an almost religious offering, the villagers embrace the princess like some sort of sacrificial cult, ready to be devoured by their god, after all, they did offer their bodies and souls to the village itself. And it’s funny to think about since both Mitty and Juroimoh were created from desires or memories. Nanachi’s desire to be with Mitty, incorporates into her value, as well as Vueko’s hatred towards her capture, incorporated into her value as well, and the village in turn took that value and made it real.
Vueko must have had a lot of time to think, and whether she forgives Juroimoh for doing the atrocities he did to her or not, must have had a lot of time to think about her situation and come to a conclusion that it might have not been her fault, she might have forgiven herself and realized that the excuses Juroimoh had given to her as a child were but just that, excuses. That she might have realized were nothing but empty promises. Delusions of grandeur and primitive ideals that justify the abuse of a minor. Is of course only a theory of mine.
However on that note, Nanachi’s desired to be with Mitty, and Vueko desired to make her capture pay one way or another, and thus the village responded in turn. After all, the magic of wishes is strong, and every desire can be fulfilled if only one might ruminate on it long enough. Mitty must have always been in the back of Nanachi’s mind, thinking about her and longing for her, Putting up a strong front for Reg and Riko. Vueko must have hated so much what her captor had done to her, that she couldn’t stop thinking about ways to make him pay. But yeah – I might be running in circles here.
Whatever the case might be, this episode made clear that the village doesn’t play favorites, and only plays by the morality imparted to Irumyuui, and much of that was shaped by Vueko, by how Vueko showed Irumyuui a gentle side of empathy. When Irumyuui had her first baby Vueko didn’t show disgust or squirred away at the terror the abyss had made. She didn’t run out of the room and vomit her guts out, or let the insanity of the situation sweep into her mind. Instead, she accepted it and showed Irumyuui how to properly care for this newborn creature. Even if Irumyuui might have known she was turning into a monster. Vueko never acknowledge it, and accepted her new form. She wasn’t going to kill Irumyuui with the knife, but instead herself. It just shows how much of a soft persona she has, she’s a good person, even if that personality is submissive due to her trauma, she chooses suicide first over hurting other people second.
Even if this episode wasn’t emotionally heavy, the resonating echoes of emotions, sound like a bell ringing for those that seek its guidance. I can’t help but write these words and feel the emotion resonating through. But with that I believe is enough and should give you a clear picture of the puzzle that has slowly been building through S2 of MiA. After all, the dream is finally becoming a reality.