“Longing sometimes gets the better of instinct” — revisiting the desires of the Made in Abyss trio (and Mitty)

“Unlike us, you’re a hollow from the old ritual site, aren’t you? You have a real life. You must have been protected by a very powerful desire.”

-Majikaja to Nanachi, Made in Abyss: The Golden City of the Scorching Sun, Episode 3

When Majikaja loosely explains the rules of the hollows’ village, Iruburu, he also speaks of individuals’ desires and how their transformed bodies reflect those. He then turns to Nanachi and says the above, reminding Nanachi of Mitty. The more that’s uncovered of Iruburu’s rules, especially its value system and concept of what “value” means to different occupants, the more Made in Abyss‘ second season turns the lens back on its three main characters and shows their own desires and reasons for traveling.

Against the backdrop of Vueko’s words that, “longing sometimes gets the better of instinct,” it’s a good time to revisit those desires of Reg, Nanachi, and Riko. Desires and wants seem to be the deciding factor of value in Iruburu.

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Reg’s mystery and more on animating the monstrous in Made in Abyss

Kou Yoshinari’s monster designs in Made in Abyss were visibly meant to be different than the humans of Orth and the Abyss from the first moment that a crimson splitjaw chased down Riko in the series’ premiere. The splitjaw moves differently and is animated in a way that makes it seem otherworldly and bizarre. This trend continued for all monsters of the Abyss throughout Made in Abyss’ first season. In a series that plays with as many horror tropes as Made in Abyss does — delving deeper and deeper into them the further Riko and Reg travel in the Abyss — the awkwardness of the monsters only added to the unsettling menace of the Abyss itself.

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Visual bookending from Made in Abyss to The Golden City of the Scorching Sun

Made in Abyss’ second season begins with a sort of chronological bookending, placing Riko’s imminent arrival at The Capital of the Unreturned side-by-side with the journey of Vueko arriving at the same location 2,000 years in the past. As viewers, we know that the actions of Vueko’s group were likely instrumental in what eventually became Orth, a busy city that grew up around the edge of the Abyss’ first layer. In case you didn’t get this message through the cinematography of the series itself, Made in Abyss: Golden City of the Scorching Sun‘s opening also places these two stories together, merging them as both groups make their way through the Abyss with 2,000 years between them.

In the second season’s third episode, Village of the Hollows, Made in Abyss also continues framing their journey as if someone is watching them, using several visual callbacks to the first season.

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Dispatches from the Abyss

When Riko sends a mail balloon to the surface in Made in Abyss‘ first season, the framing is that of a cave raider’s ascent. The balloon travels through every layer we have seen Riko delve from week-to-week. Interspersed with scenes of Riko, Nanachi, and Reg planning to go further into the Abyss and making their preparations, the balloon is buffeted by winds and monsters, repaired by Marulk on the second layer, and fortuitously discovered by Riko’s friend Nat during his daily delving on the first layer. As he returns to Orth with the balloon’s package in hand, scattered petals of eternal fortune flowers trail behind him. Riko has made her own ascent, perhaps without the pomp and circumstance of her mother Lyza’s, but no less emotionally-affecting for Nat and the viewing audience.

Riko’s second balloon mail balloon from the Abyss doesn’t go nearly as well.  

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Tanaka’s Camellia Flowers — Odd Taxi Episode 4

“I feel like I’ve always been searching for something. At the same time, my life has always been lacking something. And desperately acquiring that something yields only a moment of pleasure.”

-Tanaka, Odd Taxi, Episode 4

Flower language? In my Odd Taxi? It’s more likely than you think.

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