Blu-Ray Review: Made in Abyss – Season 1

We dive deep into the abyss to explore what MVM Entertainment’s Blu-Ray release of the critically acclaimed anime series Made in Abyss has to offer. What did we find? Well let’s take a look.

Synopsis:

No one knows what’s at the bottom of the Abyss. No one who’s ventured that far has ever returned. What is known is that the Abyss is filled with strange creatures and priceless relics that have lured generations of fortune hunters into a diabolical trap. Because while anyone can descend into the Abyss safely, coming back up triggers a nightmarish series of transformations and madness. And the deeper you go, the less chance you have of coming back unchanged.

But when 12-year-old Riko receives a message that her missing mother might still be alive deep in the Abyss, she knows she has to go to her. She must go even if it’s a one-way trip for her and her robot friend Reg as they brave the ultimate darkness in Made In Abyss.

Our View:

Based on Akihito Tsukushi‘s manga of the same name Made in Abyss is a series that follows the journey of Riko and Reg as they venture down to the bottom of the abyss in search of Riko’s mother. It’s a spectacular story of self-discovery, development and survival; but despite its cute animation style Made in Abyss has a dark-toned story to tell in a world filled with survival and death. Made in Abyss has often been called the anime of 2017 and after experiencing the story first-hand I would have to agree; but it’s not for the weak of heart due to the bloody violence and descriptive content during the later stages of the series.

Taking place in the fictional town of Orth, which is located on an island in the sea of Beoluska, Made in Abyss follows the adventure of Riko who finds herself living, studying and working in the Belchero Orphanage. This orphanage raises children and teaches them how to be cave raiders in the abyss and during a routine excavation Riko, who finds herself being chased after by a monster of the abyss, is saved by a mysterious light that is revealed to be a boy with metal arms.

This boy, whose origin remains unknown and has no memory of his past, is later nicknamed Reg by Riko and soon becomes friends of those living within the orphanage; shortly after which Reg becomes a permanent resident and learns to become a cave raider for himself – all the while trying to uncover his own memories of his past life. Riko on the other hands dreams to be a cave raider like her mother – and in turn a white whistle which is the highest tier cave raider – but when her mother’s white whistle arrives on the surface, along with a note saying “i’ll be waiting at the bottom of the abyss” Riko makes it her mission to travel to the bottom of the abyss and her friend Reg agrees to go along with her.

From here Riko and Reg escape from the orphanage and begin their voyage down to the bottom of the abyss; but sadly this is anything but easy. The abyss, which appeared thousands of years ago, feature multiple layers (or tiers) with each being more difficult than the other – additionally humans who try to return to the surface will be hit with the curse of the abyss which sees humans die from the inside. Disregarding the threats from monsters and the journey of Riko to the bottom of the abyss the episodic structure of Made in Abyss is presented in a three episode (or so) format with each focusing on a specific talking point.

The first three episodes introduce viewers to the world of Made in Abyss, the orphanage, the characters and the overall objective of which segue ways into the next talking point of venturing down the abyss and encountering the Ozen; another white whistle who was once the mentor of Riko’s mother. This portion of the story further refines both Riko and Reg characters with Ozen teaching them new skills for survival; additionally Ozen also provides some important information relating to Riko’s past – all of which is both surprising and interesting and completely unexpected.

Upon leaving Ozen’s Seeker Camp Riko and Reg’s journey continues and in turn moves on to the third (and then fourth) talking point of this story. Once again these help develop Riko and Reg as characters as well as demonstrate the bond between the two characters; but more than that it demonstrates the pain and challenges that they must overcome to achieve their goal. In this case an Orbed Piercer attacks Riko and Reg with disastrous consequences which neatly moves us onto the fourth (and final) talking point of this story; the hollow nanachi.

This introduction further expands the world of abyss and reveals some dark secrets about the cave raiders and the experiences that Nanachi has had to go through to survive; but her survival isn’t the only one at risk as Riko is also fighting for her own survival. Spoilers aside ‘a lot’ of backstory surrounding the mysteriousness of the abyss and the people that inhabit are explained; additionally we see the horrors that lie within and those that dig down to discover its secrets.

What seems like an approachable story of searching for a lost parent is surprisingly complex with the story expanding in each passing encounter and as a result it provides an immersive that provides depth to both the characters and the world they inhabit. A word of caution is advised as while the story is as invigorating as the best of them it does have some ‘questionable’ scenes of suggestive content and bloody violence with intensive descriptions. As mentioned it’s not for the weak hearted but it can all depend on your attachment to the characters on screen. Visually it’s not that violent; but emotionally it can be.

Extras:

The bonus features included with this Blu-Ray release of Made in Abyss allows fans to ‘dig deeper’ into the world of its production and promotion; as viewers will find Interviews, Marketing Events, Japanese Promotional Trailers and Textless Songs as part of the bonus features.

For a Sentai Filmworks licensed release this is ‘a lot’ of supplementary content and it makes a nice change of pace; especially with the inclusion of Behind the Scenes and Marketing Events. In this case the Kevin Penkin (Composer) interview explores more about the music of Made in Abyss while the Jouei Event sees the Japanese premiere of the first episode on stage with the Japanese voice actors.

The making of features meanwhile focus on the individual episodes  of which are narrated and explained by the two main characters of the series while ‘Music of Abyss’ explores different soundtracks used within Made in Abyss.

In addition to these in-depth presentations we also have the usual inclusions of promotional materials, such as Japanese Trailers and original Promo video, as well as textless opening and closing songs – of which differ slightly per episode. Overall it is an impressive collection of bonus features and further expands the world of this series through its production and promotion.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 3:36:27 (Disc 1), 2:00:41 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Made in Abyss is the journey of self-discovery and self-growth through exploration in a world unknown to those without skills. Fortunately Riko has the skills and Reg has the power; so together they overcome obstacles in the abyss while heading towards their goals. Riko’s goal is to see her mother and understand more about her while Reg’s goal is to understand who and what he is. As characters Riko and Reg work well together and they further support each other throughout; a plot device which is used to further expand these characters and stories through the progression of this series.

As much praise we can give to Made in Abyss it isn’t without a few minor flaws, most likely due to the lack of manga source material being in existence, and as such the story being portrayed is inconclusive and ends on the potential of a continuation. Riko and Reg’s journey brilliantly begins and is expanded upon throughout the episodes; but during the final 5 episodes the story drags on to introduce new threats and possibilities within the abyss. Naturally these are interesting – as they further expand the wolrd – but at the same fills time for what (in my mind at least) should have been continuing the story. Regardless it’s still a good story with great presentation but those looking for the ending will have to view the source material or wait for its continuation.

Regardless of this incomplete story Made in Abyss is presented to the best standard possible in this Blu-Ray release. Firstly the series is beautifully animated scenes that mix wonderful landscapes with moe styled character designs and music that is time perfectly with the events that are unfolding on screen. Secondly we have both English and Japanese audio tracks that are presented to the best of their abilities (which is a nice surprise for a Sentai Filmworks English Dub) and subtitle presentation that remains consistent with previous Sentai Filmwork related releases.

Overall this Blu-ray release of Made in Abyss provides everything you could want from the series except a definitive conclusion. It’s a story that sees two developing character overcome obstacles in order to achieve their own dreams but at the same time this Blu-Ray set has the supplementary content that further expands the world and how it was made in this anime adaptation of the manga. Made in Abyss is a exploration world that gets better the further you stay and despite some questionable scenes it has a compelling story to tell and it is beautifully presented in this Blu-ray release.

Score: review-stars-5

Made in Abyss – Season 1 will be available on Blu-Ray from the 1st April 2019 via MVM Entertainment UK.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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