Update (11/19/2017): Added screencaps for the OP and ED.
I finally got around to the second and third episodes of Made in Abyss and catching up was absolutely worth my time. The first episode was my favorite premiere of Summer 2017 and after seeing the next two episodes, I feel pretty confident that this show will be something special.
All things considered, it’s pretty easy to follow the story of Made in Abyss. The second episode centers on the belongings of Lyza (Riko’s mother) resurfacing and Riko discovering a message saying Lyza is somewhere at the bottom of the Abyss (which no explorer has seen, let alone return from). In the following episode, Riko decides to venture to the Abyss on her own in the hopes of reuniting with her mother (despite knowing that she may or might not be alive). Reg decides to accompany her since he agrees with her that he might be a robot from the Abyss.
While it is fairly easy to follow, there really is something extremely engaging about the experience. Part of that is the art with Kinema Citrus; it’s a fantastic blend of cutesy character designs and gorgeous, near Ghibli-style backgrounds. But for the most part, the show has a really solid tone and a knack for worldbuilding. There are some really funny moments. I particularly lost it when Reg finds out how thorough Riko’s examination of him was (and I do mean thorough). At the same time, there is a genuinely mythical and ominous air to the Abyss. Not only has no one seen the bottom of the place, but you apparently get increasingly sick and insane the farther you go down (it’s classified as a curse). And let’s not forget the fact that the place is crawling with monsters. And lot of this information is presented via dialogue (sometimes narration) and some gorgeous in-universe drawings and props. It’s diegetic and it also builds up our expectations of what Riko and Reg will face on their adventure. It’s easy to buy Nat’s objections to Riko’s plan because the Abyss really does sound dangerous.
Speaking of Nat, he certainly emerged as one of the more interesting characters of the show. It’s unclear if he’ll show up again since, well, our two viewpoint characters did just dive into the Abyss but I really liked how he’s a conscience to Riko. I admit that it was cold of him to remind Riko that her mother could be dead but I understand his intention. In the end, he cares a lot for her (it’s practically implied that he has a crush on her too). With Nat seemingly out of the picture, that leaves Reg to look after Riko. Even Leader, who I swear has probably pieced together what Riko is doing, shares that sentiment when he talks to Reg at the end of the episode. That may be a tall order though. While Reg is immune to the Abyss’s curse, Riko isn’t. How Reg can help her as they get deeper into the Abyss (with increasingly hazardous physical and mental effects) is beyond me.
I have a feeling that this might get darker considering all the build-up to the Abyss, the nature of the curse, and the questions surrounding Lyza and Reg. Regardless, the journey has begun and I think we’re in for a really adventurous ride.
OP: “Deep in Abyss” by Miyu Tomita & Mariya Ise
ED: “Tabi no Hidarite, Saihate no Migite” by Miyu Tomita & Mariya Ise
Note from Future Xeno: The last three episodes plays a version of the ED with Shiori Izawa singing along with Tomita and Ise.