reg

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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[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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[Eleven] Marulk’s Melancholy (Made in Abyss)

Kevin Penkin’s score swells as Riko and Reg’s message balloon breaks through the clouds of the first layer. The balloon is battered, broken, has been mended once, and yet somehow managed to survive the four-layer journey that Riko cannot. It reaches the surface because Riko cannot.

Landing conveniently in the exact same location where Riko discovered Reg, Nat and Shiggy easily find it. They carry it back through the town of Orth as the sun sets, and the petals of eternal fortune flowers line their path home.

Through this scene, Made in Abyss visually bookends its first anime season. The petals, present during Lyza the Annihilator’s Resurrection Day in the second episode, now welcome Lyza’s daughter home in a similar fashion. Shiggy and Nat discover Riko’s message where she found Reg, effectively recalling a time when she was physically present in their lives. Made in Abyss is a series that weaves a tapestry with myriad threads, knowing precisely when to return to a specific visual frame or memory.

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Made in Abyss on “The Return”

“You know, that girl simply left without ever turning to look back, but I could see her profile. And she was just like all of the cave raiders I’ve seen. That eye I saw was full of longing. And then, I remembered what it was I wanted to be one day.”

-Riko on meeting Mitty, Made in Abyss, Episode 13

When we first meet her, Riko is bored.

Cave raiding still excites her, but she’s already looking into her own future to a time when she won’t be stuck on the first layer, combing through graves that have already been dug up by countless red whistle trainees for run-of-the-mill artifacts. Initially presented as part of a larger vertical society where the delvers give back to the community in the form of artifacts or new Abyss discoveries, cave raiding first appears to be a societal contribution first.

Yet, from the moment she appears in the series’ first episode, Riko’s desire is far more selfish. She admits to hoarding the Star Compass because its value as an artifact that guides its user towards the truth of the Abyss is more important to her personal goals. She is rarely in the present, talking instead of a far-off time when she’s a white whistle like her mother, Lyza.

Riko looks into the Abyss and sees her mother. Riko looks into the Abyss and sees endless opportunity and possibility. Riko looks into the Abyss and sees her own insatiable curiosity, the inevitable pull that every human has towards something.

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