Innocence Lost: “Made in Abyss” from Childlike Wonder to Existential Turmoil

“Made in Abyss” may appear to be a children’s story at first glance, but it carries an unexpected FSK 18 rating. Despite its initial guise as a cute and suspenseful adventure for children aged 6 to 12, presented in the child-friendly Puni Plush drawing style, it gradually guides viewers into the haunting depths of existential turmoil.

How does “Made in Abyss” balance innocence and existential exploration?

At the center of the narrative are Riko, a 12-year-old undead girl, and Reg, a boy composed of both flesh and robotics, forming a typical action duo. Together, they embark on a quest to uncover the secrets of their existence, seeking truth within the mystical and immense abyss that looms before their deep-diving village, ‘Orth’. The abyss, an existential source of tension, plunges to depths surpassing twice the measure of the Mariana Trench, Earth’s known deepest point. Within its immense depths lie stunning and diverse yet perilous flora and fauna, where the allure of beauty inevitably veils the abyss’s inherent cruelty. Once an individual delves into this abyss, the protagonists understand that resurfacing is a precarious endeavor, transforming them irrevocably, leaving them traumatized (Tropos: You Can’t Go Home Again). Lyza, Riko’s mother, had previously emerged as a living legend from the abyss’s deepest layers, an arduous feat imbued with a magnetic allure akin to a deadly enchantment. The abyss acts as a magnetic field, psychologically and physically altering those who ascend, forbidding easy escape. Despite the abyss’s seemingly magical and destructive powers, Lyza triumphed, giving birth to Riko, a child born with a double connection to the abyss. While Lyza ascended, Riko, in a sense, descended into addiction, forever drawn to the abyss’s alluring depths.

Made in Abyss: A girl and her robot companion search for her mother, who’s lost within a vast chasm. ✓ Sequel movie in 2020 Shinsekai Yori : millennium from now, in Japan, exists a utopia. Saki Watanabe, lives in an idyllic village barred from the outside world. — Saki Watanabe (@WatanabeSaki4) September 16, 2019

Riko’s relentless yearning intertwines with intellectual ingenuity as she embarks on a profound odyssey, driven by the singular aspiration to rediscover her mythical maternal figure, the fabled Legend of the Deep Divers, concealed within the unfathomable depths of the Abyss. Moreover, Reg, a mysterious enigma who once languished unconscious before Riko amidst the ethereal upper layers of the abyss, ardently craves enlightenment regarding the intricate tapestry of his own origins. United by their shared pursuit of existential truths, both protagonists navigate the treacherous unknown, driven by an innate desire to unravel the intricate enigmas that lie entwined within the depths they dare to explore.

Interpretation of the Action

Perhaps the narrative seeks to illuminate the indelible imprint of profound trauma, underscoring its inevitable capacity to shape and metamorphose our very essence. The “Journey to the Center of the Earth” emerges not as a techno-optimistic parable of miraculous wonders but rather as a testament to the inherent limitations of therapy, a stark acknowledgement that trauma cannot be readily dismissed with facile words of wisdom from meditative instructors. As Riko embarks on her quest to reclaim her mother, she unwittingly delves into the very fabric of her origin, confronting the harrowing depths of her own traumatic past. Meanwhile, Reg, a fusion of man and machine, a cyborg of sorts, grapples with the intricate mechanics that define his existence, probing the boundaries of his humanity and grappling with complex functions such as arousal. It is conceivable that Reg himself emerged from the abyss, prompting the realization that the profound depths of their respective souls must be unearthed from beneath the veneer of surface appearances. Just as our understanding of the characters remains veiled, akin to the obscured comprehension of our own existence, it becomes evident that our perception is merely a fragile façade, a superficial societal construct that conceals the underlying abyss. In the words of Herzog, who eloquently captured this sentiment, the truth lies hidden beneath the layers of civilization, challenging our perceptions and beckoning us to confront the profound depths that lie within.

“Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness.”
–Werner Herzog

Critique of Capitalism?

Deep within the abyss itself, an archaeological arms race ensues among various nations. The affluent are willing to part with substantial sums of money for artifacts from the Abyss. This revelation of a death world sustains itself through a bazaar of the bizarre, a form of capitalist exploitation entrenched within the Abyss. Exploitation is perpetuated through a consumer network, conditioning actors to accept the associated horrors. Orth, a city that has economically and capitalistically evolved around the Abyss’s malevolence, finds its inhabitants desensitized to death and the suffering of others. Similar to a critique of capitalist labor, children toil in orphanages, working for adults to extract treasures and beauty from the Abyss. The strength of these children lies in their ability to grow amidst adversity, rather than succumbing to it through critique. Riko embodies a modern-day ‘David Copperfield’, maintaining a playful, naively humanistic character despite the challenging circumstances. Despite exploitation, she remains a virtuous hero.

The beauty of the landscape and the remarkable stoic contemplation of trauma form the fundamental contrast within the anime. Notably, the story exhibits a dissonance between style and the profound gravity of its narrative, known as art style dissonance. The anime employs an unconventional Puni Plush art style, characterized by exaggerated features and adorable characters, distinct from the noodle people or the paper-Mario appearance found in Super Mario. This deceptive approach leads the viewer, much like a child guided by the hand, through various instances of scenery porn into the abyss of cruel deformities. The abhorrent aspects are therefore not overtly crude; they occur in broad daylight, portraying daylight horror where children, although fictional, are still subjected to disfigurement.

FThe following Pinterest page collects and curates the ambivalence of anime: Pinterest

However, the series is not a mere critique of capitalism. It transcends the simplistic trope of portraying adults as either useless or exploitative (Adults Are Useless), which echoes themes found in “The Little Prince”. While the children must conceal Reg to safeguard him from being dismantled, the idea does not originate from the adults themselves. Moreover, the alleged exploitation of the children serves as a trope in its own right, a captivating image that readily entices us towards interpretation. Within the children’s home, the archetypal figure of the exploitative and malevolent teacher exists, yet they never personally act upon it. Instead, the entire scenario unfolds within an intricately woven web of an anonymously orchestrated system. Consequently, the concept of absolute evil is as elusive as the existence of the little prince. In this narrative, naivety becomes a complex interplay with itself.

  • finished result of this terms voice over tutorial on how to render fur / tutorial/psd/steps video etc available – :3 ft #Nanachi from Made in abyss <3 — sakimichan@Kimikon2019 (@SakimiChanArt) June 24, 2019    Wie die Oberflächlichkeit nur einfach ist, so gibt es am Ende auch keine Magie. Sie entbirgt sich als brutales Naturgesetz heraus. Ingesamt ist der Anime daher an einem tieferen Punkt des Internets gelagert. Wer hinabsteigt, findet keinen Punkt der Rückkehr mehr. Der Anime wird ein Teil von uns bleiben.


The forces of the abyss conceal the light beneath the surface, casting every action into deliberate clarity. Dark corners are scarce, and the darkness within the anime gradually seeps in. As our eyes slowly adapt to the unsettling, bodies turned inside out become thematically acceptable, crawling and writhing beneath the veneer of beauty. It is a relentless struggle among organisms, akin to a world war raging within every living being. Hence, the allure of surface beauty perpetually clashes with its underlying nature.

The whimsical adventure narrative takes a sharp turn when Riko, for instance, succumbs to a magical form of Ebola, bleeding profusely from every orifice. She implores Reg to save her by severing her own arm. The transformation of a cheerful 12-year-old child into madness, bleeding from every opening, unmistakably signals the departure from a children’s tale. This scene unfolds over several agonizing minutes, leaving an indelible impression.

Each character grapples with their own traumas. One might consist of hundreds of parasites, while another has become a fleshy block within the abyss. All characters embody fractured souls, and their afflictions are creatively devised: members of the suicide squad progressively transmute into a stone-like arboreal substance. However, beneath these imaginative depictions lies a deeper truth—they all reside within infected bodies, gradually assimilated over years.

Through a cruel descent into the self, the anime juxtaposes the realms of humanity and its origins. It transcends the notion of a physical abyss, delving into the psychological depths of the protagonists, the antagonists, the abyss of our world, and ultimately, the abyss within ourselves. Thus, the abyss that gazes back at us is not a consequence of our prolonged staring, but rather an awakening to the possibility that we have always been intertwined with the abyss itself.

Wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein. – Nietzsche – — Josef Ambrosch (@Zielbahnhof) February 8, 2017

The narrative encapsulates the concept that once an individual embarks upon the descent into the abyss, they can never resurface unchanged. What sets the anime apart is its unsettling nature, where no refuge can be found, neither within the village and its superficial allure nor in the profound depths that underpin its very existence.

  • Point of No Return: The frontier between the fifth and sixth layers is considered this, as the ascension curse of the sixth layer is pretty much fatal to human beings. The sixth layer is called “City of the Unreturned” for this reason.
  • he effects are as follows:
    • Layer One – Light dizziness akin to Decompression Sickness.
    • Layer Two – Heavy nausea, numbness of limbs, headaches.
    • Layer Three – Loss of balance, visual and auditory hallucinations in addition to the above effects.
    • Layer Four – Whole-body pain, bleeding from every orifice.
    • Layer Five – Loss of all sensation, increased likelihood of self-harm.
    • Layer Six – Loss of Humanity, very possibly death.
    • Layer Seven – Certain death (alledgedly).

Aus unvollständiger Informationen über ihre Existenz entstammt die Motivation der The heroes embark on their journey driven by a profound lack of understanding about their own existence. This quest takes them on an inward exploration, delving into their fears and grappling with existential questions that resonate on a human level. It is a reminder that our knowledge of ourselves and the world will forever remain incomplete. Yet, the journey towards self-discovery transcends the confines of the physical realm, stretching far beyond the vast expanses of outer space.

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