Made in Abyss (メイドインアビス) is a 13-episode adventure series from writer Hideyuki Kurata and based on a manga by Akihito Tsukushi.
A mysterious and massive pit known as the Abyss sits at the center of a city which has made a market out of people exploring its various depths for ancient treasures. When young apprentice cave raider Riko finds an amnesiac cyborg boy named Reg who may have connections to her missing mother she decides to set off with him toward the unexplored bottom layers of the Abyss. With how twisted and strange the Abyss is, this is Annihilation the anime in more ways than one- complete with its own version of the bear.
For an adventure series Made in Abyss thrives on its emotions. Due to the nature of the Abyss Riko and Reg know when they set out they are on a one-way journey they can’t come back from, so there are multiple times they have to say good bye to friends theyre leaving and the series really sells the tragedy of these people knowing they’ll never see each other again. Helping this is some really strong music work, in a rarity for me I even think the anime does this better than the manga as it uses every aspect of its medium to get its messages across.
When its not trying (read: succeeding) to make you cry, there’s some good contemplative nature about well, nature. Most notably they find corpses of other cave raiders and Riko has a fairly fatalistic attitude when staring at death off-handily remarking that they can’t complain about the creatures in the Abyss eating them since thats what creatures need to do to survive.
Mostly though its about the adventure, following Riko and Reg as they encounter the various dangers in the Abyss and try to find ways to get by. The closest thing to an antagonist in the series is a guy who doesn’t even interact with Reg and Riko at all, you only hear about him from other people he’s messed with (and thats enough to make you hate him).
The biggest controversy deals with the art style. Reg and especially Riko have a very overly-cutesy design which can be off-putting to some people, especially in a couple ways it portrays Riko early on. Now personally I think it needs this design, it serves as a good contrast to the grimness of the adventure keeping it all from becoming too bleak, but it also highlights the second downside- the first two episodes. There’s a bit of a slow start until the journey gets going and the first few episodes do not do a good job setting up what most of the series will be like so you kinda need to power through them to get to the good stuff.
Depending on your stomach for violence, there are some brutal scenes. In particular a scene late involving an attempted amputation with a rock which can really test you even as it doesn’t show anything keeping it all off-screen. While not exactly a downside it is only fair to warn you the last episode will wreck your emotions; you do not want to go into that one blind or you’ll really end up a blubbering mess.
Weeb Level: 4/10- Really that aren’t any overly Japanese tropes in it, that animation style though…
Fanservice: 3/10- You do get some shots of both Riko and Reg in some states of undress at brief points, and while neither is exactly sexualized considering the art style it will be something to get through.
Quality: 8/10- Honestly get by the first few episodes and this would be even higher.
Where to watch: The series actually debuted on Amazon Strike during its short-lived time, it was overlooked until that switched over to Amazon Prime and more than 5 people could see it. It is now also available on HiDive for streaming.