Editorials/Essays

Here in Monogatari Hell

For high school me, Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit was a revelation. It still has a firm place in my heart — The Little Prince was the first book I learned to read in French, but No Exit marked when I really felt that I could actually read the language with any amount of competency — and every subsequent reading has been an experience. It makes me think, even if it also makes me wonder just how much of my own young pretentiousness I’ve dragged along behind me as I’ve grown older.

I’ve often thought about why I return to No Exit. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly a reflection of my own personal preferences. Then again, Mayoi Hell is specifically about hell, so perhaps this framework fits Owarimonogatari better than most series.

The moment Koyomi Araragi begun wailing to Mayoi Hachikuji about being in hell, I couldn’t help but recall Joseph Garcin’s arrival and introduction to hell in No Exit. There are no torture devices, only a room furnished in the style of the French Second Empire.

Hell is not at all what he expected.

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In defense of Kou Yoshinari’s creatures in Made in Abyss

“I like everything but the monster animation. It’s too weird and jarring with the rest of the show” has been a common criticism of Made in Abyss since its much-lauded debut.

In a world where praying skeletons hint at a cataclysmic end for a past society and the current generation has built their entire infrastructure around exploring a gaping maw in the ground the rough lines and blurred movement of the Abyss’ more fantastic inhabitants is jarring to say the least.

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The Belly of the Whale: Cinematography shifts in Made in Abyss

Riko opens her eyes to an upside down view of Reg’s face.

Even something as familiar to Riko as Reg’s face is inverted the first time she opens her eyes at the beginning of their journey. The fact that the above framing is thanks to Reg’s protectiveness does little to assuage the sense of foreboding that permeates the entirety of Episode 4.

Although the two are surrounded by a safety net of sorts, the visual message is loud and clear: Riko and Reg are well past the first threshold and into the belly of the whale.

Using specific visual framing, Made in Abyss doesn’t let us forget that Riko and Reg are past the point of no return.

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