I had very high expectations for Made in Abyss‘s finale. Generally, some skepticism is a little warranted when it comes to anime based on ongoing source materials. You know that the people making these shows have to put the story to a halt but you never know if the arc can still end on a reasonable and satisfying note until you actually see the final product. But considering how darn good this show has been from the beginning, I felt pretty confident that the finale would deliver. And now that I have seen it, I can indeed say that this was truly a great finale to a great anime.
Thank goodness Masayuki Kojima and his staff were graced with double the runtime this episode. There was simply far too much ground to cover: Nanachi and Mitty’s origins, Reg and Nanachi coming to some very important decisions, and Riko finally waking up so that their journey can continue. If this finale was normal length it would’ve felt seriously rushed or something vital had to be cut out. Maybe you could save Riko’s recovery for later (she does wake up by sheer coincidence) but I would argue that it would’ve been odd to not have her back in the picture for the last episode. In the end, I just think the decision to make this finale double-length was a smart one and the staff clearly took advantage of that freedom.
It’s amazing how despite knowing how dark this show is, I am still never prepared to sit through anything it throws at me. I knew going in, Nanachi and Mitty’s past would not be a pleasant one but it was still tough to sit through. The atmosphere is very much like that of a horror film; the nightmare fuel is saved for last but it’s the build-up that keeps you tense and makes the fuel all the more effective. Even when I expected Mitty’s transformation to be grotesque, the reality really does surpass the imagination. I just couldn’t contain myself seeing a little anime child mutate into a horrible blob of flesh. And I think what makes the scene even crueler is the fact that the transformation was the act of one really messed up White Whistle. It’s admittedly the only way you could justify having little kids emerge from the final layer of the Abyss but the confirmation that it was a man who subjected them to such an ordeal is still messed up.
Even if we didn’t hear Mitty beg her friend to kill her or Riko explain her telepathic encounter with Mitty to her friends, it seemed pretty obvious that killing Mitty would be considered a mercy. Being a Hollow just seems like a fate worse than death; especially since Hollows can’t seem to die unless they are completely vaporized. That said, Reg and Nanachi’s hesitation in doing the deed is warranted. This was an extremely tall order to ask of Reg. He may be a robot but he very much is a human child at heart and a gentle one at that. He’s just not the kind of person to murder a human, even a former one. But at the same time, it isn’t like Nanachi has it any much easier. Mitty is the sole remaining tether to Nanachi’s former life and the first friend she ever truly made. While you do see these characters recover a bit from the ordeal (thanks to Riko’s cheerfulness), you can tell that Mitty’s death is something they’ll carry for the rest of their lives.
Things take a more optimistic tone once Riko wakes up. I will admit that I’m a little bit disappointed that you don’t get to see Riko’s first encounter with Nanachi. It would’ve been pretty funny given Riko’s excitement and fascination to anything Abyss-related. Still, it’s nice to finally see these three characters onscreen together (with Riko conscious I mean). The team chemistry really does feel a lot more complete with Nanachi onboard. I like how Nanachi lets Riko touch her fur and not Reg and is partially tempted to join the team simply because Riko’s cooking results in the first good food she’s tasted in eons.
It is, of course, a no-brainer that Nanachi accepts the offer to accompany Riko and Reg on the remainder of their journey. I suppose she could just stay cooped up in her house (and it is admittedly a really nice house) but with Mitty gone, there isn’t really any reason for Nanachi to do so. And with Riko and Reg journeying to the remaining layers of the Abyss, they’re bound to encounter the White Whistle who’s been experimenting on orphaned children. Like that alone is enough to compel Nanachi to join Riko and Reg.
And that’s where Made in Abyss concludes: with Riko, Reg, and Nanachi making some preparations before braving the Abyss once again. It’s a really a wonderful montage; the music is effectively emotional and it gives us a nice excuse to see the supportive cast one last time. It kind of stuns me just how complete this feel. All of the loose ends are resolved and what lies in store for these three adventurers is more of a sequel hook than a cliffhanger in dire need of a sequel.
That said, I really do hope that Made in Abyss gets greenlit for another season. It’s certainly possible given the acclaim and popularity the manga has received. What’s perhaps preventing a second season from becoming a reality is perhaps the fact that it isn’t tracking to be a huge hit on disc. It’d be a huge shame if more of this anime doesn’t get produced because anime this strong in art and story really don’t come by very often (and I say this having enjoyed three very exceptional anime this summer). Regardless, the door’s definitely left open and I really do hope we get to see more of this wonderful anime.
Update (11/29/2017): Made in Abyss Season 2 has been officially confirmed! There’s no release date planned and if I had to guess, it’ll probably a be a long time until it airs. From my understanding, Season 1 got super far into the manga so either Kinema Citrus has some sort of clever plan or they’re playing the waiting game. Still, this is some very exciting news and I plan on covering Season 2 when it does come out.