Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn (Review)

Anime movies are not as rare as one might think nowadays! The only ones that I remember releasing when I was younger were the Pokemon movies and Digimon. There wasn’t really much else to chose from, but thanks to the company Fathom Events, I find there’s at least one a month now. Sometimes they aren’t really “movies” as we might think, but an edited version of several episodes played back to back. In this review, for example, its the episode 1-6 of the first season Made in Abyss.

If you’ve never heard of this one, you are certainly missing out! I felt it went under the radar as I didn’t hear much about it myself. While browsing through Amazon Prime Video I found it and checked it out, with no prior knowledge. It became one of my favorite anime overall and was excited to go to this movie. The showing was nearby and the theater was empty! In fact, I had to ask the cashier to scan my ticket since there was not a soul in sight. Only two or three guys were watching, and it started the moment I sat down which was nice.

Before I jump into the plot, I have to mention the animation and music of this series. The music is so good, that it makes you feel that you are really there with Riko while they are wandering throughout various jungles, caves, and other bizarre landscapes. You can find the soundtrack on Spotify and other digital platforms, I highly recommend it. Some tracks are nice to relax and daydream to.

The animation is nothing short of excellent, with so much detail around whatever environment is shown. Whether it’s the trees, sky, buildings or creatures, there was meticulous effort put into them and it shows. If the story is too much for you to fully understand, just listen to the tunes and take in the color of each scene.

The opening gives a little detail to how the town of Orth was created. 1,900 years ago, adventurers discovered this giant hole in the middle of an island. Slowly it became popular to dive and find relics of value as they went deeper inside. The population grew around the abyss, and a livelihood built around selling the ancient items found began. This attracted many cave raiders, which started a ranking system based on whistles. Red, blue, black and white. Red is the first and most common, while white whistles were the best of the best and the ones that have dived the deepest. Nobody has ever reached the bottom, or at least no one has returned to tell the tale.

Riko and Reg

Riko is the main protagonist who is the daughter of a white whistle, Lyza “the annihilator”. She wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps to the treacherous abyss. When she finally does her first dive, she discovers a cyborg boy who she names Reg. He saved her life before she was devoured by a giant monster, using a powerful blast from his arm. Together they return to town and Reg joins the orphanage that Riko is part of. The other children are curious about Reg, who has no recollection of who he is or why he was in the abyss.

Tragedy arrives at Orth though, when Lyza did not return from her last dive. All that was left was her white whistle, which was given to Riko. A note was also left, beckoning her to find her mother at the bottom of the abyss though it did not state it was from Lyza. Riko doesn’t care and wants to find out anyways, which begins her journey with Reg into the gaping hole full of mystery and danger. The abyss has levels called layers, which become more difficult to survive the deeper you go. Each one has a different environment, creatures, and perils that can end your adventure quickly and painfully. What’s more, a curse exists that goes into effect when you try to return to the surface. It causes the person to get sick, bleed, and even die depending on how deep you are.

Map of the abyss

No one knows why this occurs, but Reg and Riko continue and endure until they reach the Seeker Camp. There, lies Ozen the Immovable who is a white whistle and friend of Lyza. She helps Reg and Riko prepare for the lower levels by fighting them and leaving them to fend for themselves alone for 10 days. Ozen is not the friendliest but is kind enough to share valuable information as they continue to the lower layers.

This movie for me was a nice reminder to why I love this anime. Though I discovered it almost accidentally, I’m glad I did and I am excited to watch the sequel that continues episodes 7-12. For those that won’t be able to catch it in theaters, it’s available on Amazon Prime as well. The manga is also still ongoing and is just as detailed, it’s one of my favorites!

Made in Abyss is available on Blu-Ray / DVD. Volume one of the manga can also be purchased through Amazon.

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