Whenever I am familiar with the source material of a series receiving an anime adaptation I find myself quite interested to see the choices and decisions made by the studio’s staff in how they present the story. At present there are almost 40 chapters of the manga that have been released in Japan (and based on some of the snippets shown in the OP and ED it seems this adaptation will touch on much of the material) but the studio here is presenting bits and pieces of the material early in the story that are revealed in a more complete context later on. The effect works quite well, and in a few spots here and there even felt … “better” as an intro to the world for someone learning of it “cold turkey”. Not that I would trade the process I was immersed in the world for anything, of course. XD

Much of this episode devotes its time and focus to Riko’s mother. For those who remember the orphanage Riko is on specializes in children whose parents were Abyss delvers and who were either killed or gone missing. Riko’s mother (a legendary delver of the highest rank nicknamed “Lyza the Annihilator”) seems to fall into the latter category, and when a mission returns with both her whistle (a “white whistle”) and a small booklet she penned we begin to learn more about Lyza through the perspective of Riko as she learns of her from other’s accounts, not the least surprising of which comes from the mouth of “leader”, the young man of the orphanage who met and knew Lyza when he was a young boy and when Lyza brought Riko to the orphanage when she was but a baby.

The story does not focus on Lyza only (a woman who seems to have been a bit of a hell raiser and not to have possessed the most … balanced of personalities – something that was of great help as groups of delvers from other countries would apparently attack the delvers from Orth), but also unexpectedly we learn a bit about Riko herself and the Abyss itself. We discover that Lyza gave birth to Riko while on one of her delving missions (it was for a bell artifact reputed to have the ability to stop time!) and had a terrible time bringing her back up to the surface (the father seems to have already been dead by the time Riko was born).

It seems the various “levels” of the Abyss have ill effects on humans (they name them “curses”), going from anywhere between dizziness at the uppermost levels to bleeding out of every orifice at the middle levels, to loss of humanity (whatever that means) at the lowest levels recorded – I think it was around level six. Lyza abandoned her search for the bell (though she went back and retrieved it later) and brought Riko up through the multiple levels of the curses with the help of others through the use of a large, box-like artifact, but even with all that Riko’s eyesight was effected, necessitating her wearing glasses.

Riko at one point is presented with Lyza’s white whistle by the delver who returned with it (Habo, who is the husband of a woman who runs a store and is very kind to Riko and other children at the orphanage); apparently there is a law of some sort in the city and/or among the delvers decreeing that belongings get passed on in the family. But it is the booklet her mother compiled that proves to be the more interesting in moving the story along. Not only is there information of creatures that do not appear in any of the known publications documenting the Abyss up to that time (as Riko knows, having a dash of the mad scientist strain to her and being incredibly knowledgeable about the Abyss despite her young age), but there is also record of something that looks surrealy like Reg himself.

Curiously, the images of the thing that looks very like Reg is not what effects Riko the most – it is rather a short handwritten note that says something like “I will be waiting for you at the bottom of the Abyss”. Riko takes that message as addressed directly to her, and it stirs something on a very visceral, deep level in Riko – to the degree that her friends see a noticeable change in her and begin to be concerned. No doubt this will contribute to Riko and Reg journeying down through the Abyss in coming episodes, and no doubt the journey will be … fascinating, terrifying and deadly all at the same time!

Still not sure which series I am going to blog this summer, but at the moment Made in Abyss is leading by a nose hair ahead of Centaur no Nayami and Princess Principal … seems this season could involve some tough decisions! XD

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Currently the “oji-san” of the staff members age wise (in his mid 40’s) yet the most recent addition, he is also a Japanophile from his teen years while not quite an “otaku” who lives in the United States. Came to actively following anime late in life (in 2008), but in general loves the traditional arts, history and culture of Japan as a whole, both ancient and modern.

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