Ayup … an official “welcome to the Abyss” in this episode. Things got very, very … grim and “real”, and quite fast. It only took the tiniest of missteps. Let’s face it – thus far Reg and Riko have been really lucky and fortunate in their encounters with the monsters of the Abyss. Either using the Incinerator, or being able to escape easily, or having very powerful weapons on hand, etc., etc. But their luck finally ran out and they found themselves in an extremely difficult situation while trying to make their way around the fourth layer when they encountered the “orbed piercer” – so much happened so quickly and the result? Well, you all saw what happened.

Before I get a little more into this episode I feel I have to give an aside – once again, I have already read the manga chapters out there, and knew what was coming; in absolutely no way did this one disappoint. Even with the knowledge of what was in store for Reg and Riko I was wincing, cringing and agonizing over the aftermath when seeing how it only took a very brief time to render Rikoto her near death state. Being poisoned by the orbed piercer was bad enough, but the effect of the curse of the fourth layer was positively heartbreaking and agonizing to see. (By the way – kudos to both the VA’s of Reg and Riko: incredible work there!)

Riko definitely should be dead. Very dead. And Reg should have given way to despair and … can robots fall into insanity in this world’s setting? But once again their luck holds out (although the price Riko paid this time was horrifically visceral) and Reg’s agonizing cries and wailings attract the attention of yet another dweller of the Abyss- one that seems (at the moment) definitely to be “friendlier” than that orbed piercer, to be sure. She seems to be very wilderness-savvy and experienced with living in the Abyss, and she introduces herself as a “Hollow” (I wonder if this anime season will cover that?) and says that her name is “Nanachi”.

For the manga readers Nanachi’s arrival and introduction is a cause of great joy – many readers are incredibly fond of her and all she is about (in some ways interest wise she takes the general place of Ozen – though she is less … err … well, you all will see). But aside from her personality there are other things about Nanachi that are equally and perhaps even more interesting; and there was a split-second hint at it in this episode when she realized that Reg “could not see it” and then reassured him that “the curse of this layer of the Abyss does not reach over here”. Also, next week we may be able to meet another important character – but a character who ties in to later narratives as well, and which again raises the curiosity of how far they are going to be able to adapt the manga? With the final episode being an hour long this season will effectively have 14 episodes content wise, which means four more to go….

This episode, however, does finally bring home the horror of the Abyss. What Reg and Riko encountered in so short a time is the standard, the norm for all but the very best delvers into the Abyss. And what Riko experienced here is the sort of thing many an explorer has suffered, both at the hands of the denizens of the Abyss and the various levels’ curse effects. Most die, and die horribly, in pain, being eaten or torn to shreds, as Ozen described it. And yet for all that still delvers, the adventurous, the seekers of knowledge and those pursuing riches continue to be drawn into the Abyss. It is … a horrible but beautiful place, terrifying, alien and yet weirdly “unspoiled” in an odd sort of way.

The episode finally takes off the kid gloves and lets us know exactly where we are journeying and what was always there, but that, despite all the warnings we were not quite aware of. The same thing comes across in the source manga as well, though the mediums focus on different things; regarding Riko’s broken arm, for example, the manga shows some things visually while the anime includes sounds involved in the break. And yes – boy did I wince and cringe at that moment, even knowing what was coming. This adaptation thus far has really been brilliant overall!

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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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  • FlareKnight

    Remind me to never watch this show before or during dinner.

    Honestly this just kind of lined up with my thoughts in the previous few episodes. This is a suicide mission and Riko isn’t making it to the bottom. Not without plot armor that is a hell of a lot tougher than that umbrella was. An effective episode in making a point though for those that hadn’t quite grasped how deadly this whole journey is.

    Just a nightmarish hell that people are not equipped to handle. Particularly the main duo that is trying to do it. The very best have struggled to get where they are going. Reg doesn’t have the basic knowledge for this journey. In all reality they should have spent a long time having him study and learn about where they are going. There isn’t time for RIko to tell him what is going on at every moment. And Riko herself isn’t really capable of handling what she’s gotten herself into.

    Of course they do have some luck on their side. A timely bit of support at least will keep Riko alive and even let her keep her arm. This isn’t the first anime I’ve seen to play it up like they are going to make a character lose an arm and then magically come up with a way for it to not happen. Not really complaining on that front of course. But if they are going to creep us out with an arm being smashed, pierced, and cut up….you might as well just go with it to the logical conclusion.

    • Flower

      All of your reactions to what has gone on and went ion in this episode is exactly as it should be, I think. This IS a death march to the bottom of the Abyss, and one with only a sliver of success possible. This episode drives that home, yes, but it also set the bar for what the default perceptions and expectations of the viewers should be towards the entire Abyss in general.

      Hereon out it gets … darker. A lot darker at times, believe it or no. But … well … it also becomes more fascinating and intriguing. The Abyss is “alien” and “other” to the extreme to begin with, and it gets more densely packed and undiluted the further one descends.

      Even so – Nanachi is here. The narrative around the time Reg and Riko stay at her dwelling is … compelling. But you will see that next week, no doubt.

      Though not before or during dinner. :p

    • Its funny you mention dinner, because I was watching this episode JUST as I was eating, and really did lose my appetite… XD

  • So after a rough week, I finally caught and bulk watched my way to the current episode (5 episodes at a time!). I have to agree, this episode was where the Abyss became a real threatening and scary place, and where the show threw in a real harsh dose of reality.

    We had only heard up till this point that the Abyss was a terrible place, yet Riko and Reg’s journey has been pretty nice. I didn’t feel like Riko and Reg were super lucky (although as you said, this week’s episode shows just how true that is), and I actually just throught that the two were super capable.

    This week showed us just how much of a lucky cakewalk the first three layers have been, and now that we’ve reached the fourth layer, I felt like we almost jumped into a much darker grittier show.

    Yes, it felt tonally consistent with what we’ve seen, but I was taken a back by the gore and pain that we saw this week. I cringed and gasped a few times as Reg rushed to deal with Riko’s arm and poison, and by golly was it all so unsettling.

    It really drove the point home though; The Abyss is a place where death is one second away.

    • Flower

      Actually, I heard from several people that they had to look away a few times, some almost turned the episode off repeatedly, some had to pause the video, and so on. Several viewers (especially those for whom this medium was their first exposure to the series) periodically had to stop the episode and “breathe”, while others were incredibly stirred up and “flushed” inside trying to sort out what they had been exposed to. Their descriptions reminded me of my reaction to my first viewing of Grave of the Fireflies.

      You hit the nail on the head though – one of the main things that makes this work is that it is tonally consistent with the series as a whole. It never felt like it was being “gore for gore’s sake” at any time (for me at least). It’s also one of the things that lends the episode it’s power and almost “redefines” the series in some ways up to this point while setting the course and the standard for where things are going to be sailing from hereon out.

  • Jo Oh

    Aaah! I’ve been dying for Nanachi to show up! Each episode she didn’t would just stab me because we’re getting closer and closer to the end of the season – As it is, to only pop up now, how cruel!!
    But what an episode! I was wondering if they’d stick to the manga and wow, they so did!
    Bet folk used to it being a sweet adventure story, no to too gory, got rather a kick in the behind watching this episode!
    Oh please, please, please, let there be a season 2!!

    • Flower

      Well, technically we have four more single episode lengths content wise, so it’s a little better than expected … but yeah, while I have absolutely no complaints with the pace or the many of storytelling overall so far the end of the cour is approaching quickly. If there is not a split cour or an extended cour announcement incoming I have a hard time seeing where this cour will end. :

      Well, nothing to do but wait and see. -_-