I went to watch this in theaters with 2 friends - 2 of us had seen the anime and the third had not. The question we asked ourselves when leaving was "who was this made for?"
This movie is a recap of season 1 from the beginning to the end of episode 8 or beginning of episode 9. Condensing about 3 hours of anime down into 2 hours means that a lot needs to be cut out. The original 8 episodes don't have an hour worth of fluff to cut, so a ton of minor scenes that gave important background end up getting cut. This ends
up messing with the pacing of the story, and everything felt way to rushed. My friend who watched the anime and I kept reminding each other of our favorite scenes that were skipped, and there were a lot. Our friend who hadn't seen it kept making comments like "I didn't understand _____ until an offhand comment later on". He had a lot of trouble following the story, and needed to make a lot of assumptions just to keep up. We filled him in the best we could after, but he said he needs to read the manga to answer all of his confusion.
Even though I had watched the anime fairly recently, there were a number of moments that caught my eye as being jarring due to the bad pacing. Near the end of the orphanage arc, Riko runs off crying, then shows up at the beginning of the next scene maybe 20 seconds later perfectly okay as if nothing ever happened, because several scenes in between were cut. Habo just bursts out of nowhere because any appearance of him in the chase scenes were cut (as was all but 1 other scene with him in it), making that whole part just about Riko and Reg relaxing, then rushing, then relaxing again, and ended by an unintentional borderline jumpscare. I hope you didn't care about Kiwi, because almost every appearance of his was cut, and any background for when he does speak was cut. I feel the movie needed to be at least 20-30 min longer, as too much was cut.
So going back to my original question, who was this made for? It definitely wasn't made for anyone who hasn't seen the anime before, so I highly discourage anyone from recommending this to get someone new up to speed if/when season 2 rolls around. My friend likened it to watching an anime or movie on Youtube that was cut up and jumbled to avoid copyright infringement. As for my friend and I who had seen the anime, we either would've preferred to have just rewatched the anime or wish they had made an OVA instead (which we had never thought of before, but suddenly really hope they make one). I guess it does do what it's supposed to do - it was just a recap. My friend has much harsher words for this than I do and felt it was somewhat a waste of time. I personally did find some enjoyment in it, just not nearly as much as watching the original. Ultimately, I feel this movie is only for the die-hard fan of season 1 who doesn't have enough time to just rewatch it, which is a pretty limited audience.
I have slightly better hopes for the second movie when it reaches the US, as it should be a bit easier to fit only 5 episodes (one of which was double length) into 2 hours, but it will suffer the same problems. If you can afford only an extra ~90 min to just rewatch season 1 instead of watching both movies, you will likely have less regrets.
Journey’s Dawn is a great recap for Made in abyss season one, this is sure to please anyone that loves Made in abyss. But don’t get too excited because other than the intro the movie is just episodes 1 to 8 cut and pasted in similar to the Madoka Magica movies are. The only major differences that I found I was that they switched the music around, but it didn’t ruin any of the scenes, the music is still great! The added intro was a nice surprise so I’m not going to go into much detail about it. To wrap it all even though its
just a recap and I basically remember everything, I still loved it and I would recommend any fans of Made in Abyss to see it.
So I'm just fresh out of the theater that showed this in my hometown. Thank you, Fathom Events.(please lower your prices and extend viewing days lol)
What do you get when you take Hayao Miyazaki, , mix in an equal amount of H.P.Lovecraft, a little bit of Ichigo Marshmallow, and a dash of J.R.R. Tolkein?
You get this masterpiece of fantasy genre, 'Made in Abyss'! This movie is a compilation of the first eight episodes and if you haven't watched the TV series, it is a damn good edit. This is really a perfect way to check it out if you have limited time and I highly
Story: Without giving too much away, a friend of mine compared this series to One Piece...which had me going "Huh" but once I read some of the OP manga, I totally get what he means now. This story is a grand scale adventure of the most exciting kind. Because it's such a big story, pretty much anything is possible.
"Hey, there's a giant hole in the middle of town that stretches thousands and thousands of meters; let's go jump in it and see what we can find!"
That's the plot. It's so simple yet so brilliant, right?
Art: Breath-takingly gorgeous animation. Especially the backgrounds. There's a ton of creativity here. Tsukushi is a big fan of critters and there are lots and lots of imaginative critters in the abyss. That's where the 'Hiyao Miyazaki' aspect comes in. But Tsukushi isn't copying Miyazaki's style; this is very much his own. Some are adorable and some are terrifyingly hideous and ugly just like the real animal kingdom we come in contact with every day. Which makes it feel all the more real.
The child characters are round-faced and cute. I was in fact surprised that this WASN'T from the artists behind Ichigo Marshmallow because the resemblance is uncanny. And then there are the adults who are almost as unique as the creatures like Ozen and Habo. I especially love Lyza's Valkryie-esque design. It makes her limited screentime very charming.
Sound: If the art falls under 'Scenery Porn', the music most definitely falls under 'Ear Porn'. The score is fantastic and unlike anything you've really heard before. Which was the staff's goal; "we don't want this to sound like it's from just one country. That's too easy to do." So they met with a man from Australia (yes, that's right) and he composed the score. I would love to own the OST of this. There is a vocal song...that doesn't really say anything but it is so beautiful. You'll have to listen for yourself because I can't even describe it. Like....I dunno 'Enya but so much better'?
I haven't watched the dub yet but the Japanese voice actors are top-notch. The children are really cute. Ozen's seiyuu is silky-smooth which makes her feel even MORE intimidating, oddly. And old-school anime fans will be delighted that the narrator and Lyza, Riko's mother are voiced by Maaya Sakamoto (Hitomi from Escaflowne and many other notable 90s anime roles)
Character: This is probably Abyss's 'weakest' part and when I say 'weakest', I only mean 'slightly less fantastic than everything else that is so amazingly good'. Lol So they are STILL very very good. Riko is plucky and brave; basically a walking guidebook to the Abyss. She knows everything the experienced adults of her world know because she's utterly fascinated with the giant hole. ('Riko' in Japanese does mean "clever" and I have a hunch that's why she is named so).
Though Riko is smart, she still pretty naive and physically weak (because she is a 12-year-old girl). She's mischievous and always getting in trouble so she's also fun to watch. Not a lot of time passes between episodes 1-8 (this movie) so she doesn't really...develop or change but in this case, it's not that necessary.
There's also Reg, the super-adorable (he's my favorite ok) maybe-a-robot-maybe-not mysterious little boy who seems to have come up from the Abyss itself and takes on the role of Riko's bodyguard and protector (possibly future love interest because he blushes around Riko a lot and it's freaking cute lol) Reg is the more intriguing of the two because we know next to NOTHING about him and the cast, like the audience is willing to die for the answers.
The lesser characters are either cutely inoffensive, charming, or plain intriguing. Ozen definitely stands out as the most intriguing among the adults. But I'd also like to know more about Lyza. And though he has only a tiny role, I'm fond of Jirou. But he's just that type of anime guy I go for. *laughs*
Enjoyment/ Overall: .....as if you couldn't tell from everything above, I REALLY enjoy this series a lot. It's vastly entertaining and will fill you with a sense of childlike wonder.
This is NOT for children. Oh I know it looks innocent enough with how cute everyone is but don't be fooled; this show is the POSTER CHILD of the phrase 'Don't judge a book by its cover'. You see, as Riko and Reg venture further down into the Abyss, the plot grows darker with each layer. The Abyss is dangerous and Tsukushi wants everyone to know it and experience it. And experience it, we do. This first movie is just the TIP of the disturbing iceberg. If you're planning on continuing to movie two, BRACE YOURSELF.
One last thing: There are...some odd innuendo jokes going on with the young characters and you WILL probably pick up on lolicon undertones. Some people who have watched this are rather disturbed by it. But I do think it'd be a shame to forfeit this amazing title just because of small scenes like that. There's just so much more to partake in.
TLDR: The movie does a great job of recapping the anime, but have no fear nothing important was left on the cutting room floor.
Though the movie is a recap of the anime that had aired in 2017, the movie does a great job of bringing the entire experience together. With the inclusion of a brand new intro we get to learn a little more about the characters, I won't spoil who. The episodes were also edited together in a way where anything important isn't lost, but the slower scenes are cut away. One that comes to mind is the scene with Habo. Otherwise any other
changes are along the lines of music, one of the songs is unique and I don't remember it being in the original anime, taking the place of Hanezeve Caradhina from episode 1. Speaking of music and sound, it was amazing to hear it in a theater with the surround sound. All in all, it was a pleasant experience, where both people who haven't seen the show, as well as returning viewers can enjoy.
Edit: The first movie also only spans the first 8 episodes with the rest to come in the upcoming movie wandering twilight.