Although the two words are often used interchangeably, surviving is different than living.
“I had believed that not taking care of myself was the act of loving others. The days of kind deception, filled with thin, weak euphoria have now come to an end.”
-Koyomi Araragi, Owarimonogatari Season 2, Episode 7
The Monogatari franchise is often incorrectly labeled as another harem where the male lead (Koyomi Araragi) saves a bevy of cute girls. Bakemonogatari starts this way, Nisemonogatari meanders, and it’s not until Monogatari Second Season that the series really begins unravel preconceived notions of the audience and in-universe characters. At the end of the long, emotionally-exhausting, and verbose journey, the series lays everything bare. Monogatari is not about saving others. It’s about saving yourself.
And only you can save yourself.
“If the world can’t be the way I want
Then I have no use for it anymore
There’s only one thing I desire
Everything, everything, everything, everything.”
-Nadeko Sengoku, “Delusion Express,” Monogatari Series Season 2
Girls’ Last Tour sews together two-to-three short vignettes in a single episode. There’s “Laundry” where they discover a fish and eat it, “The Sound of Rain” where they make music out of rain and varying surfaces (tin cans, their soldiers’ helmets), and “House” where they imagine their ideal home. It’s both relaxing and melancholy.
As the series wears on, it simultaneously widens the scope of what Chito (Chii) and Yuuri (Yuu) experience together while also remaining focused on the two young women and their experiences. The backdrop is a desolate, post-apocalyptic wasteland, but Chii and Yuu are alive, and trying to figure out just exactly what living means to them.
From the moment that Made in Abyss introduces Riko, it shows her as a headstrong, ebullient, and curious young girl. Her initial conversation with fellow red whistle, Nat, establishes their dynamic — Riko, the curious one who hordes valuable relics and thinks too far ahead of where she’s at, Nat, the one who cares about her but hides it under a layer of bluster.
The problem Riko runs into while excavating isn’t that she’s incapable of finding things but that she finds so many relics, it’s difficult for her to carry them all in her backpack. She acts instantly when Nat is in trouble, getting herself in trouble in the process.
No sooner has she been rescued by a strange light than Riko stumbles upon a prone body. When she prepares to resuscitate him, Riko discovers that not only is he not breathing, he’s also not human. Rather than reacting surprised, scared, or shocked, she’s enchanted. Riko immediately begins poking and prodding him, taking in a more detailed snapshot of his appearance, once she realizes that he’s not dead. Then, naturally, she hauls him behind her as well, another relic for her collection.