Composite Rating 7.5/10
A sweet, innocent girl who aspires to be the best cave-raider she can possibly be, ventures forth in the chasm known as the Abyss along with her humanoid robot friend. Together, they face a close equivalent of Hell.
I mainly gave the plot a 9 for its originality and realism. I haven't seen anything with a plot similar to this, outside of the general idea of young people going on an adventure.
The overall plot is that Riko, the main character, gets a note from her presumed-to-be dead mother that she needs to meet her in the bottom of the Abyss. This is interesting, as the Abyss is basically Hell. Strange creatures dwell within, and any attempts to return from the Abyss are met with a curse. The curse gets worse the further down you go. This even can get as bad as intense pain and bleeding, all the way up to death.
The idea that a young girl and her young robot friend are able to even survive in the Abyss is ludicrous. Once you watch the series, you'll see just how messed up of a place the Abyss actually is. But somehow, they do survive. And there isn't a ton of plot armor in this series. While short at only 13 episodes. the duo face their fair share of hardships. These hardships provide a bit of realism to the plot, as most of them come from a lack of knowledge, preparation, or strength that a child would normally have going into the unknown.
The biggest reason I gave this series a 9 for is that it doesn't shy away from the gore in the series. While not bountiful as in a standard seinen horror manga, there is a few times when gore is used for shock factor. One of my favorite parts is when Riko starts bleeding through her eyes. Now, I'm not a sadistic psychopath. My liking comes from the fact that normally things like this in anime are shied away from. Many times, gore is implied by the camera panning away from someone getting stabbed, suddenly turning black and white for dramatic effect, or just being straight up censored and being blacked out. But this series isn't afraid to get gritty and show the nasty stuff. Another good example is Riko's arm being broken. Watch the series, and I'm sure you'll see what I mean and will be able to appreciate things just as much as I did.
Also noteworthy is the character and monster designs. I did find them to be fairly original, and cute. Perhaps my favorite design was Nanachi. No, I'm not a furry, but she was a well-drawn anthropomorphic bunny-thing child. Just google her, and you'll probably be as enamored with her as I was. Everything about her design just clicked with me.
The characters in this series didn't particularly impress me. On a positive note, the characters did have a surprising amount of depth to them, despite the series only being 13 episodes long. There were a good number of flashbacks that gave background and context to many of the characters, deepening my bond with them as a viewer. However, the characters themselves weren't incredibly original as far as personality goes. Most of the main characters are children, and there probably just wasn't a whole lot that could be done with their personalities. That's fair, as a child in real life is still developing and figuring out their personality.
The one character that DID have a complex personality turned out to be my favorite. That was Ozen. The giantess had a nonchalant and slightly dark outlook on things. Her brief interaction with Riko had its own twist, and she went from villain to lovable auntie.
I'm not a musical expert by any means, but the soundtrack didn't necessarily impress me either. I can't tell you how any of the background music went, and the opening and ending songs are pretty forgetable. I did, however, notice and appreciate the contrast between how upbeat the opening and ending songs were compared to the series itself. For the first few episodes, it seemed to fit, as a vibe of "happy and cute adventure series" was given off initially. However, that quickly changed around episode 3 or 4.
If nothing else, I would like to point out that this series leaned more towards being a seinen than a shounen series. It had a twinge of darkness and seems like it would be more for fans of series such as Parasyte. Not that there's a similarity between the two series, but they lie in the same realm of fucked-up.
I had been told this was a good series to watch. I had it on my to-watch list for EVER. And I finally got around to it. I was initially unimpressed. Not necessarily turned away, but I did have my doubts on what made this such a must-watch for so many people. Along the way, I found the reasoning, and I must say that this is a very solid series overall. I'm also told that Madoka Magicka has a similar "initially cute but actually fucked up" flow to it as well, and that's likely going to be something that I watch in the near future.