Why you need to watch Made in Abyss
I don't watch a lot of anime. It's not because I don't like anime, its a great form of media. It can truly convey what most other forms can't and it is one of the most beautiful forms there is. The reason I don't watch a lot of anime is simple: I simply haven't sat down and put in the hours. Being able to say you truly watch anime means you have had to put in a considerable amount of time watching many different anime.
This is just something I simply haven't done mostly because I've been studying, I have a wife and apartment to look after and there are just so many other media to get enthralled in such as video games, comic books, movies and series. Some anime I have watched are Bleach, Sword Art Online, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 and One Piece, but one that almost takes the top spot is an anime called Made in Abyss.
Sorry, One Piece
Made in Abyss is a manga that started in 2012 and has steadily been growing from there. It has been adapted into an anime and upon release was met with roaring reviews. Upon reading these reviews and the concept for Made in Abyss I thought to myself that this is an anime that I just had to watch. I was very intrigued.
The main plot centres around an orphan, Riko, that lives in a mining city surrounding a vast, stupidly large hole referred to only as the Abyss. Miners travel into the Abyss in search of knowledge and priceless artefacts, though the deeper they travel the more dangerous it gets. Riko, as a junior miner, is only around the upper-most layers of the Abyss as travel further would be too harmful for her to bear as the Abyss has a mysterious curse that prevents any beings from ascending.
Ascending in the Abyss will result in massive consequences ranging from headaches and nausea to disfigurement and death. This doesn't stop Riko and her new-found cyborg friend, Reg, from venturing straight down into this hell-hole. What commences is a stunningly beautiful, highly entertaining and grimly dark anime that'll rip out your heart the moment you think you're comfortable.
Nice feelings you got there, it'd be a shame if something happened to them...
Don't let the style of Made in Abyss fool you, it's quite unnerving. It gets dark real sudden. It'll make you cringe with discomfort at certain moments, but it's exactly these moments that turn Made in Abyss from a good anime into a fantastic anime in my opinion. You genuinely feel for the characters you've been watching all this time. When they get hit by a falling rock, you want to shield them from more. That's because we start to care for them. We empathise with them. Very few anime, or media for that matter, can pull this off.
All stories centred around a young being on a quest is a metaphor for their journey into adulthood. It is usually the story of how they became the person they're meant to be. In Made in Abyss this becomes a horrible impossibility as their chances of returning from the depths of the Abyss are slightly more than 0%. The ominous sense of peril is a constant threat they have to constantly run from. However, the point of the show isn't to see them die. Quite the contrary. It's to see them live. Riko stretches the arms of her survival skills to the max and Reg can do cyborg things all over the place. We get attached to them because we want to see them succeed, even though we know the chances are extremely slim.
Reaching the Bottom
The feeling one gets when watching Made in Abyss is parallel to those one gets when reading the novels of the genius H.P. Lovecraft. The vastly disturbing mystery that surrounds the Abyss is very much Lovecraftian in nature. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered, all the while creating even more. Some may find this irritating, I find this very entertaining as it keeps me thinking about the show long after it's finished. Stories that explain too much end up with no mystery at all. That tends to be boring. The entire reason Lovecraft's work has stood the test of time is that of his ability to create a horrifying mystery and leaving the reader in the air as to the explanation thereof.
Just as Lordran from the Dark Souls series is out to get everyone, so seems the Abyss. Although the adventure and discovery that takes place during this anime is one I would highly recommend it is very dark at moments. Made in Abyss is a fantastically thought out concept and world. It seamlessly conveys information as if it was part of our history from the very beginning. That is why Made in Abyss is such a glorious anime, because it creates a fantastic, macabre and ominously massive setting without breaking a sweat.