There’s a lot to unpack here, however, this is certainly not a goodbye, but a see you later. As made clear by the ending voice-over by Vueko. It’s certainly a bittersweet ending, at least for me, since I couldn’t help but cry almost all the way through this season finale. I was wondering where they were going to let us off, and well Kinema Citrus did an excellent job at adapting this whole arc into one full season. Vueko’s demise into a Neherete and her eventual death, her body no longer being able to hold herself together, I’m assuming her heart finally gave out in the last moments. Was heartwrenching to say the least. How Faputa had to use, and eat, the last remaining villagers in order to gain enough strength to fight the long neck monsters. Made my stomach do a backflip. And of course, Riko uses the whistle whistle one last time in order for Reg to gain the upper hand, finally, the white whistle gains up on her and puts a strain on her body, this time leaving her unconscious for a minute or two.
There were so many emotions mixed in this 45-minute special, at one moment I was cheering Faputa on for her to beat the monsters, and then another moment I was bawling my eyes out because someone was dying or getting killed and or finding their final moments in this cruel world.
It’s almost like I’m left speechless, while at the same wanting to say so many things. Frankly, I knew all of the metiers that were going to happen, but that doesn’t mean that they were less impactful, For example how Vueko suddenly realizes that her sheltered life has left her human, unlike the rest of them. It was almost inevitable, Wazukyan wanted Vueko to live so that’s why he encapsulated her and threw himself down to the bottom of the village. Vueko even asks herself, why is it that she’s going up with Faputa, unfortunately, one of the walls had been blasted open and the force field was leaking in, so her accent was all but her own demise.
And in the process, she turned into half a Neherete. Wazukyan wanted to save her, but her own haste to do something, to help Faputa in one way or another; because she felt responsible, I’m assuming, and didn’t want to leave her alone, was the one thing that killed her. If she had waited for Riko and the gang to come down through a safe path that the forcefield still hadn’t infected, she would have been safe. But I guess it was her motherly instinct that made her act this way.
There was really nothing she could have done, her fate was sealed, and it’s one of the saddest parts of this finale as it could have been easily avoided. Everyone in the village’s fate was indeed to perish, that’s why the villagers that accompanied the cooking Neherete sacrificed themselves for Faputa, they knew that they were going to die, so they’re rather become one with Faputa in some twisted way.
On the other hand, the animation was really so on point this episode, even though we did have one or two flashbacks they were never intrusive enough to take me out of the story, in fact, I would argue they were sort of necessary. Even going as far as explaining Faputa and Gaburoon’s story, or at least how they met, and why Gaburron said Faputa was his Haku.
The whole of Haku and everything that came before is in fact a representation of the human, has the idea of a human become so valuable at the lower levels of the abyss that the resident of those strata enveloped some kind of religious or tribal meaning to the idea of humanity? And that’s why Faputa adopts Haku – the idea of it. Into the village because Gaburoon, oh so lovingly explained.
Also, the idea was that these villagers were finally seeing hope at the end of the tunnel, and then things took a turn for the worse. Most of them were in this village because they were stuck in time, they were stuck in their hopes and dreams and forced to make their own society out of them. But just as soon as they were promised hope of going back down into the abyss and seeing what was beyond the ultimate boundary. It was taken away from them and they had no choice but to avail themselves of the rules. It’s honestly maddening, but that’s the rule of the abyss.
Let’s not forget that the OST, the sound really popped for me this episode, so many melancholy tracks as well as those that made the action stand out! Some of them had that movie-quality feel to them.
Unfortunately, the anime all but caught up to the manga, so it’s going to be a little while before we get some more MiA animated content.
I don’t know how I feel about this finale, in some way I’m sad it’s over because it’s been a wonderful experience to be able to review this show week by week with some fellow writers here at RC. But also happy because it was a wonderful experience, and cinematic all the same. I can’t wait for the eventual movie release of this season in a way so that we can experience this whole story in one go. Or even maybe my own personal rewatch of this show now that it’s all but done. Honestly, I’m at a loss for words – so I’ll leave it at that, and pass the baton to my fellow writers who I’m sure will do a much better job at breaking the nuances that I’m sure I’ve missed.
Once again, it’s not a goodbye, but a see you later, sosu.
Faputa was adorable in cat-like mode. The glimpses of her in the finale show her in such a gentle light. She was kind-humbling herself to ask a villager to free Prushka and then creating a protective barrier for Nanachi and Riko. After all that she’s been through, I hope Faputa can find her happiness exploring the darkness of the Abyss. Her vague answer to Reg suggests she isn’t too keen on joining them-but who knows. I certainly would welcome her return, as would Reg. The scene with Reg inviting Faputa on their journey was heartrendingly beautiful, highlighting what I love about MIA and why I kept watching it.
Right after that stirring scene where Wazukyan makes it seem as if the children are unstoppable, Vueko is hit with the curse. Almost as if the mangaka is throwing it in our faces that we can’t get our hopes up too high- despair is always around the corner. (Which, of course, is MIA’s specialty). It was painful, seeing her transform like that, struggling even to speak, especially after she had made it so far.
I think I regret her transformation more than Vueko does. Vueko feels she can’t forgive herself because that is how she can relate to Irumyuui. I suppose in this sense, guilt or self-hatred could be considered a bond that connects one to their value. How high a value something has relates to the degree of guilt. Hence probably why Belaf’s Hollow form was so large and beautiful and why Vueko remained so connected to Irumyuui and the village. It was nice to see Vueko was valued in return as Irumyuui’s HAKU.
In my opinion, one excellent way to end out a season is with a reflection-it shows maturity if done rightly, like the ending paragraph in an A+ paper (except that such papers don’t leave you hanging with a “To Be Continued”). Up until this point, I was trying to make sense of all the tragedies that had happened with Irumyuui and the village, how they related to the larger picture other than to indulge the mangaka’s weird fantasies. The episode’s recurring anthem of “accumulation” reflected on all the suffering, making sense of it. The despair needed to accumulate for others to explore the Abyss-the activation energy, so to speak, for accessing the Abyss’s inner depths.
That had to have been a tough position for Wazukyan-knowing from the foresight what awful things he would have to do to turn the wheels of fate. It seems incredibly unfair that so many people would have to suffer so much for the sake of allowing the MCs to go forward. The villagers on their part didn’t appear to share my sentiments. All of the Hollows with human reasoning faculties shed no tears over their demise. It shows a maturity in the characters that they can face their destiny, accepting their responsibility without raging into the dying of the light.
Does that make me think “Whew, I’m sure glad now I saw all of that horror?” No. Surely less graphic incidents could have been used or at least not fixated upon as much. On the one hand, at least the graphic suffering was woven in to be essential to the story so they weren’t just thrown in there merely for the mangaka’s delights in taking the story places where it shouldn’t. On the other hand, I am frustrated that it turns out it was necessary for all those horrors to be experienced, because it would make my disgust more justified if it were not. When all is said and done, I still feel conflicted about the brilliant merits vs. disturbing demerits of MIA.
The disturbing horror aside, MIA was simply stunning-the art, music, voice-acting, and story-weaving were simply marvelous. For better or worse (depending on the scene), I felt totally immersed in the mangaka’s world, felt the agony, the sense of wonder that the characters experienced. The story provided an interesting perspective on the meaning of value, weighing emotional attachment against the brutality of consumerism and greed. Overall, I’d have to say this was one of my favorite series of the summer, made even more memorable by co-covering it with my colleagues and of course, hearing from our readers.
In the final analysis, a series like Made in Abyss (well, there really aren’t any – which is the whole point) is really only competing against itself. It’s not so much that it’s better than other series – though to be sure, it is better than almost everything. It’s more that it’s singular, in the way only the very best manga and anime are. That makes Retsujitsu no Ougonkyou both difficult and easy to assess, because it’s really only the first season – and the movies – that one can use as a point of reference.
I can only marvel at the fevered imagination of Tsukushi Akihito, because it seems almost limitless. The marvel of the first season was that it could create a mythology so breathtaking and so complete and so expansive. The marvel of the second season is the story itself, which more or less exists as a stand-alone within the larger mythology. In that way I suppose I can compare it once again to “Chimera Ant”, in that to a certain extent the “main” characters were servants to an original story only tangentially connected to them. The Golden City of the Scorching Sun could not exist without Reg, Riko, and Nanachi. But make no mistake – this was Faputa and Vueko and Irumyuui’s story. The arc of their lives is the arc of it.
The season has already jumped around in time quite a bit, but to do so in the finale was an interesting choice. It gave us a fuller picture of who Faputa was before she became the fearsome creature she is now, and of how essential Gaburoon was to her development. It was he who named her in fact – though I’m sorry Tsukushi-sensei, despite that elegant explanation I know you know exactly what you were doing. Her journey to this point has been a lonely one but without Gaburoon, I rather doubt she would have retained any of her sanity – or humanity.
None of the hollows were ever going to get out of this alive, that was a given. It was really only a question of how it would play out, and what fate would befall Faputa. Wazukyan falls pretty early in the proceedings, having depleted himself utterly in his actions in the previous episode. He and Riko are oddly kindred spirits, it seems to me (and always has), and that was reflected in that conversation in his final moments. Prophets are always trouble, that’s a given, but I think it was a little too easy for viewers accustomed to black and white morality in anime to judge him. In his shoes he did what he thought was right, and he never ran away from that decision.
As for Vueko, her end is rather the most tragic of this finale it seems to me, inevitable though it was. It came because she, among all the party, remained human right to the end – a gift from Irumyuui, albeit one that sealed her fate. With the protection of the village gone the curse overcame her quickly, but at least she held on long enough for Nanachi to reach her and bring her back to the others. Those others – the villagers anyway (apart from Maaa and Majikaja) – would become food for Irumyuui, to give her one last surge of power to end her mother’s suffering at last. They did so willingly, recognizing that their time was clearly over along with that of Iruburu.
Majikaja and Maaa’s reprieve was brief, only long enough to fulfil their promise to Faputa and get the outsiders to safety. We’ll never know who they were in life, but I refuse to accept the argument that being like those two and Moogie had surrendered their inner humanity. As for Reg, with Prushka’s help he takes on the beast parade so that Faputa can focus on the business of freeing her mother. This also allows Faputa to meet Vueko at last, and to finally understand that her mother was never alone – there was someone who was always faithful to her, whose memory Irumyuui cherished so much it was the one she refused to share with Faputa.
There’s a part of me that feels as if Retsujitsu no Ougonkyou would have ended more poetically if Faputa had ended with it. But I respect Tsukushi’s choice here, and I get where he’s going with it. This notion that love is the true curse – that allowing yourself to emotionally depend on others is the path to the greatest suffering – is certainly not original to Made in Abyss. Even within anime it’s been explored by some masterpieces, but MiA certainly puts an elegant spin on it here. And unlike the rest of this season’s cast, she is connected to the main story – through Reg, who seems to be the common thread that ties everything together.
All in all this ended up being a surprisingly upbeat finale – though with Made in Abyss you certainly have to grade on a curve. There was some meaning to all that suffering, and Faputa was finally able (poetical or not) to break her chains to the past. As to that original point of comparing this series to itself, well… I don’t feel as if I can really call one season better than the other. This one had a cohesive elegance to it that the first one couldn’t match, but I didn’t connect emotionally with it quite as much. Which you prefer may come down to your palate – the main point is that both are anime masterpieces of the highest order.
Sadly, they’re likely to be the last masterpieces we see in the Made in Abyss universe for a very long time, apart from perhaps an OVA or two. The anime has now basically caught up to the manga, which is only one volume ahead. And Tsukushi has typically produced one volume per year – he writes at his own pace, and it’s not what you’d call brisk. As fans, though, I think you have to be grateful for everything you get. As I’ve said about Togashi, if it takes him a decade to write what no other mangaka could do in a hundred, how can you possibly complain? Series like Made in Abyss, Vagabond, Hunter X Hunter, Otoyomegatari – it’s no coincidence that they keep us waiting. They’re so intensive, both visually and narratively – even absent the severe physical problems Togashi suffers, they surely take a lot out of their authors.
I think we can say with some confidence that whenever Tsukushi does give them the chance, Kinema Citrus will return to Made in Abyss. It’s financially successful to a degree that’s surprised me very much, and clearly a work the anime production team loves unreservedly. This project has reflected that in every turn – no detail is too small, and no element is less than exceptional. It’s the sort of anime that only comes along a few times in a generation, and I feel fortunate to have been able to follow it every step of the way.
Full-length images: 72.