The enormous cave system, known as the Abyss, is the only unexplored place in the world. Nobody knows how far down this titanic pit goes, inhabited by strange and wondrous creatures and full of mysterious ancient relics whose purpose is unknown to modern man. Generations of bold adventurers have been drawn by the cryptic depths of the Abyss. Over the course of time those bold enough to explore the dangerous pit came to be known as "Cave Raiders."
In Orth, the town at the edge of the Abyss, there lives a little orphan named Riko, who dreams of becoming as great a cave raider as her mother was and solving the great mystery of the pit. One day exploring the murky depths she stumbles upon a little boy, who turns out to be a robot...
Made in Abyss is a tale of a journey to the land of no return.
It's a dark fantasy featuring obsessed little girls, shy robots and sarcastic bunny critters. Also giant mind-reading porcupines, don't forget those.
It's bizarre, beautiful, inventive, painfully emotional and bizarre (did I mention carnivorous porcupines? Pretty bizarre).
It's one of my all-time favorites, so let me tell you why.
So, what does make Made in Abyss so special? Just about everything.
For one thing, it's the Abyss itself. It's a weird and fascinating place with its very own laws of physics, mythology and ecosystem.
Mesmerizing scenery, lethal monsters, priceless treasures - the Abyss has it all,
has it everywhere, has it in any combination.
Beautiful flower meadow, eager to kill you dead (or worse)? Coming right up!
Toothy monster of shocking visage that wouldn't hurt a fly? Got one right here!
Legendary weapon that misfires regularly and gets lost all the time? Not even a problem!
You might've seen many a dungeon before but rest assured you've never seen the like of the Abyss.
For another, it's the art. It is amazing. Precise drawing, outstanding design and composition, exquisite shadows and lighting - this manga has it all and then some. It's a visual feast putting to shame at least 95% of all the other manga out there.
Also, the characters. Some of them are extremely likable, some are instantly hateful, some are totally incomprehensible but every one of them (including minor parts making appearance in a couple of panels) is distinctly and beautifully drawn and feels as real and alive as anything ever committed to paper.
All that being said, if I had to single out one element that contributes most prominently to the greatness of Made in Abyss that would have to be the story.
It's exciting, dreadful, weird, breathtaking and totally unpredictable. I mean, you get the general idea and know where it's supposed to take you eventually (although I strongly suspect it's going to be more of a way-point than the finish line) but have you the foggiest what's going to jump in your face when you turn the next page? Not a chance.
Anything can happen to anyone, all bets are off, no happy endings are guaranteed (neither are bad ones, for that matter). Have you ever been too afraid to turn a page but unable not to? You will have this pleasure.
That is something you should be aware of before entering the Abyss - this is not a lighthearted story. I've seen this manga being described as a cross between Ichigo Mashimaro and Berserk and this analogy might just have grasped the gist of it. As the story progresses it grows darker, more disturbing and ominous. It is the main reason I only give it 9 points - sometimes reading Made in Abyss is frustrating and pretty painful. Still, if that is something you can stomach you're in for an experience well worth your while.
Made in Abyss is an outstanding work of art by any standard. Cute and gritty, vivid and gloomy, delicate and overwhelming, heart-warming and spine-chilling - it'll sweep you off your feet and drag you down into the world of sinister beauty you'll never forget.
*This review might contain some spoilers for those that aren't caught up to the manga and/or are watching the anime*
*TL;DR at the bottom alongside an author's note*
I remember seeing the announcement for the anime of this... I would never have thought that this would become one of my favorite manga of all time, rivaling my love for Jojo, Berserk, and Oyasumi Punpun on their own. Also inspiring me to change my profile picture to that of Riko eating an onigiri.
It's a story filled with just raw emotion which pops out thanks to the incredible art, especially in the most recent chapters that have been released
in English and/or Spanish (since I also speak that language).
In those chapters, one of the most incredible villains that I've ever seen appears. The things he does are so utterly despicable, it made me hate a fictional character to the point I wanted to just shout insults to him and his motives... It might just be me though.
Another thing this manga does really well is the feeling of dread the abyss creates just with its presence. The reasons why? The "curse of the abyss", the creatures, the people residing in it (like the one mentioned before), and just the abyss itself with its layers of mystery, making you guess what might be at the bottom, what other creatures inhabit it, and just who could be the next person our protagonists might encounter.
And then there are the characters: I've never rooted for a bunch of kids to succeed to this level in a long while. Every time they are in peril or in a tough situation I just find myself sweating and my heart beating fast.
The villains and the not-so villains are also really great.
There are only a few characters I found myself not really hooked with as much, and they are the other kids at the orphanage (except for the toddler whose name I forgot). They aren't as developed, but I still like them.
I really couldn't stop reading this manga as soon as I started, too. That feeling of just "one more chapter" is fantastic, making me really look forward to the anime and how it might pace itself.
One last thing though: I really can't recommend it to everyone, due to all the dark and gory moments. Also the fact it has nudity. Read it with caution.
TL;DR: Made in Abyss is a manga filled with emotion, great characters, a mysterious world, and you might just won't stop reading it. Only read it if you aren't so bothered by gore, kids suffering, and child nudity, to the point where you might just drop it.
Author's note: This was my first review. Been almost three years on this site, and finally decided to make a review. That should probably tell you how much I love this manga.
Made in Abyss...oh this manga is so precious. A gem you don't find easily. This manga is a dark manga with some strong gore, shouts nudity and uncomfortable situations. Uncomfortable because this is the journey of two kids that goes deep down in a obscure, dangerous and unexplored (for some parts) abyss, with terrifying creatures living in it.
Now, it starts out quite lighthearted (more or less), and the more you read the more it gets darker. It has some funny moments, and tragic flashbacks/scenes as well. This manga is a rollercoaster of emotions keeping the interest up all the time.
The plot is quite straight-forward,
one of the two kids wants to go the bottom of the Abyss for a certain reason. The Abyss is divided in 7 layers. At the beginning it seems like everything will be ok: no problems, no monsters, etc...but as they go on, troubles start coming. The curse of the Abyss is one of them, a very interesting adjunction to the story. This curse causes you a lot of bad things you would never like to have, I assure you.
There's a lot of mystery going on as well, so you will always want to find an answer for everything 'cause the mystery is so intriguing. Like what exactly is the curse, where Reg came from, and who is him, how does the Abyss works, etc...
No need to say the deeper they go, the more anxious you are. You don't want little kids to get hurt, right?
The art is...one of the best you will ever see (not ad good as Inio Asano's art). The art style is perfect but it can be confusing at times (that's why I didn't give it a 10) but it's candy for your eyes. The characters are perfectly designed, the backgrounds are stunning, like seriously, the Abyss is so complex yet so beautiful in its own way. It's quite unique, with various places you will fell in love with.
The creatures are original, some of them are real cute, and others are scary. Well, for someone who loves fantasy elements (especially weird creatures) this is like heaven.
Some of the characters are drawn in a way that you fell an ominous feeling. They are mysterious and terrifying as well when they want to be.
There's shouts nudity, so be aware of that.
Each character has unique aspects, the designs are well-drawn and they feel like are drawn with watercolor, it's weird but once you will read it you know what I mean. All characters are likable in their own characteristics and aspects, and everyone has its strong points and weak points.
Even though almost half of the characters are kids, they are quite smart and not as stupid as some adults in other mangas. Funny thing, all the adults are always terrifying, that's probably because how the kids see them.
Well I like them all.
Overall this manga is SO GOOD, I think everyone should give it a try. You will never lose interest in it, so just start reading it.
I was wrong. This manga is infinitely more disturbing than Madoka Magicka. Hhem. Anyway. Saw the first two episodes and then slid right into this manga like I've done nothing else in months. There was this quality that just hooked me.
After a while I lost steam but didn't grow disillusioned. The Abyss itself is like an echo chamber...more specifically, its layers--there aren't many things going on overall besides the mysteries and the adventure (spoiler: there's no big bad most of the time). I think this is natural as per the narrative/world structure of this manga which I'll give it brownie points for--structuring arcs of
interest and certain characters is only natural. I just wish there was more linking them (in maybe a more One Piece like way). Like, an additional faction or a recurring dark horse character. I would have also liked another character perspective on the surface or something. Human society+the government itself seems so dead and irrelevant. I thought we were gonna get something more on Leader, a hint or a perspective shift, and then there's nothing.
But I gotta say that this is forgivable. The vacuum nature does add to the general sense of being isolated and trapped and packs on interest/power/urgency to the journey which is cool. The revelations happen at a nice pace as well and they at least have wider consequences. Well, retrospectively. Still waiting on whether or not the last "boss" defeat changes anything. Also, the White Whistles waiting below is so freakin' hype--the two ones that have shown up were absolutely wonderful. All the characters being left behind also adds to the belivability of the descent...if we were cast to someone on the surface, our sense of being lost in the abyss would weaken. More brownie points to this freakin manga for turning what should be its weaknesses into strengths. Hhem. Tangent over.
Characters: adorable mostly. Though, yeah, a few of them seem like moe fuel - you can tell when most of the important side characters look like female moeblobs - not gonna lie. This doesn't mean their character development is any less nice or tragic when it does happen.
The first (and only??) real villain was a freakin' badass. Shame about the being temporary part. Boo. Maybe the real villain is just the abyss? Conflict: kids v. setting
Controversy: Let it be know that while Made in Abyss is one of those manga you wouldn't really recommend unless the person has disturbed tastes or is into adventure, or just likes cute things being thrown at horrific things (I think it's an actual taste you can have? I kinda like it for non fetish reasons). It definitely doesn't shy away from any sort of body stuff. Yeah, I can't ignore it. You can portray weird stuff like this manga does in a totally harmless and innocent way. But, sometimes, it just doesn't. Be warned if you're easily disgusted.
Art: will melt your heart (n-not that this happens in this manga). The looseness of some of the designs is amazing--especially in the case of Oven's personality shifts being portrayed by the wild inkiness. Cool stuff.
There's a lot of visual thought put into the ecosystems and "science" of the abyss, which is cool. The only downside, like I mentioned before, is that we don't know much about the f'ed up government which enables this delving, or of society itself outside of Lysa's auntie--"But is it really a good idea?" We get that the Abyss is sorta like a religion, the delvers heroes, with an underlying dark doubt in some, like auntie. We don't really see anything much, visually, of the other delvers. It's kinda weird.
But why the hell do I still rate it a 10 with all my complaints? Well, for one thing, I'm an expert complainer. Let me now try to be an expert praiser.
Its loving attention to detail, amazing art won me over. Moreover, the fact that there's BARELY ANY manga like this--call it perverted or not, but you don't get much with this sort of creativity. The emotional peaks are legendary and there's a lot of cute character moments. You as the reader are compelled to go to the bottom of the abyss, too, and that sense of sublime unknowing and curiosity is a rarity in manga. (Let me also say that the abyss is crazy! It's almost like this gigantic being that wants to suck people in and keep them in it) I think we get a lot of that type of thing, but rarely so consistently powerful and alluring. So...do I recommend Made in Abyss? Er. Maybe? I don't know. One hell of an experience is what it is.
10/10 because I want more manga to make the reader feel full of velocity and adventurous spirit. Also, to be darker without losing its sparkling hopeful highs.