Made in Abyss

[Eight] Animating Reg and the monstrous in Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul

One of the few, yet common, criticisms levied at the 2017 Made in Abyss television series was at animator Kou Yoshinari’s creature designs and animation. When Yoshinari was given creative control of how the creatures of the Abyss would be designed, he purposefully made them visually-jarring and otherworldly. They’re animated as an other, with blurred lines that distinguish them from sharply-detailed backgrounds of the Abyss itself.

Alongside the citizens of Orth and cave raiders of the Abyss, we as viewers know little about this gaping maw other than what the series tells us. The series’ visual direction makes us part-time travelers with Reg and Riko, and part-time voyeurs, watching them from a distance with a calculating eye (like the monsters, the Abyss which is a character all its own, or high-level cave raiders like Bondrewd who have eyes everywhere).

The monsters aren’t animated badly, they’re unnatural by design.

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Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul and Riko’s Last Dive

“My mother is waiting for me, after all!”

-Riko, Made In Abyss, Episode 13

Outside of an affirmative yell and calling Nanachi’s name, this is Riko’s last statement within the scope of Made In Abyss‘ 13-episode run. Her mother is waiting for her. She wants to continue adventuring immediately (despite a near life-ending injury among other things). Riko’s entire journey through the Abyss began with her desire to see her mother Lyza again while living in the massive shadow of her mother’s legacy.

(spoilers for Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul)

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Favorite anime of the decade 2010-2019: Honorable Mentions

The fact that I’ve been blogging about anime for a decade makes me feel old, but also weirdly accomplished. Despite monthly gaps, I’ve been plugging away at this blog since 2013, and at Altair & Vega before that, all in the hopes that it would somehow make me a better writer.

I don’t know if anime blogging has accomplished this goal, but it does mean I’ve watched a ton of anime over the past ten years. Most of it was admittedly mediocre and forgettable, although that became slightly less true as the years went by, due to time constraints with my job.

Every post on this blog is subjective, and I think I’ve made that abundantly clear from the get-go — it’s a personal blog about my relationship with anime, for the most part — but just in case that needs clarification, these are my opinions. The purpose of this list isn’t to be an end-all, be-all decree of the absolute and objectively best anime of the past decade. It’s to list my personal favorites and why I enjoyed them so much.

Without further adieu, here are my honorable mentions for the past decade. Only television series will be included in this project with the criteria that they must have begun on January 1, 2010, or later. These are the series that didn’t quite make the final cut into my top ten for a variety of reasons, but I still loved them enough for a special shout-out, or reasoning behind why they didn’t quite make the cut.

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The Camera of The Promised Neverland

Anime series don’t have a camera in the traditional sense, which means that they can get away with shots that would be impossible, or at least require extraordinary effort, in live-action filmmaking.

The Promised Neverland cleverly stays grounded, choosing shots that would be possible for a film camera. Reminiscent of other suspenseful action-adventure series like Made In Abyss, The Promised Neverland makes full use of this grounded camera, framing, and lighting to play with our expectations as viewers while heightening the tension, fear, and distrust expressed by the series’ three leads in Emma, Norman, and Ray.

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[Five] In defense of Riko (Made in Abyss)

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.

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