Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul came at a trying time for the world. In hindsight, it seemed like the perfect movie as it teaches us the meaning of teamwork, strategy, trust, and cooperation. I went into Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul with almost zero knowledge of the anime series, which is common with most of my reviews. However, this movie did such a mind-blowing good job that I am left anticipating the second season of the anime despite not watching the first season.
Even though Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul is a sequel, I did not need to watch the series to feel invested in the setting and story’s concepts. The movie did a great job of describing the Fifth Layer of the Abyss (The Sea of Corpses) and of dropping enough hints for the audience to piece together the context. The concept of the White Whistle is explained smoothly to the audience via Bondrewd, the guardian of the Fifth Layer and a bearer of the White Whistle. According to him, it involves the sacrifice of a human who possesses deep loyalty and love towards the intended owner of the White Whistle, which earns it the nickname of the “Life Reverberating Stone.” While the movie did not mention Riko and Reg being Delvers (or Cave Raiders), it is easy to guess they were adventurers or explorers of some sort.
The movie does not hide the dangers of the Abyss, as the audience is hit with how the Amaranthine-Receptors work right at the start. These creatures look like leaf insects and hide amongst the beautiful gardens of Eternal Fortunes, disguised as leaves of the white flowers. If a Delver isn’t careful, they will eventually be devoured and kept as live bait to lure in their unsuspecting friends. The haunting calls of the hosts to lure potential Delvers underscore the reality of the Abyss; it may be an exciting place to discover and explore, but at its most cruel it strips you of your humanity and life, even if it promises adventure and repute. This to me was a powerful reminder of what the Abyss really is about.
The characters, even the villains, were well-written and their development and journey was something I was very invested in. Every character had a motivation for either being inside the Abyss or wanting to leave the Abyss. They truly buoyed the plot, which is what made the movie amazing. The three-man party of Riko, Reg, and Nanachi have incredible trust and belief in each other, and it’s evident they are willing to sacrifice themselves just to save the other two because they treasure each other greatly.
While Riko, Reg, and Nanachi are a wonderful team, the one character that left a deep impression on me was Prushka. Prushka is Bondrewd’s young adoptive daughter, and in my opinion, the most cheerful, optimistic and determined girl in the entire movie. Born and raised in the Abyss, her greatest wish is to explore the world above the Abyss, and this desire intensifies after meeting Riko. Since both of them were children of White Whistles, the two girls became fast friends and this friendship soon turns into something stronger. This is apparent when Riko climbs the stairs within Bondrewd’s base and suffers the Fifth Layer’s “Curse of the Abyss,” a unique condition where the senses are wholly nullified and it’s easy for the victim to hurt themselves from simply clenching their teeth. Luckily for Riko, Prushka saves her with a bit of medical knowledge and eventually teaches Riko how to climb the stairs on her own. The two grow so close to the point Prushka becomes highly devoted to Riko.
Of course, Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul is not without its iconic art design and animation. As a newcomer to the series, I was really impressed by how intricate each Layer’s design was, ranging from the beautiful pastures of the Fourth Layer to the dark gloomy water pillars of the Fifth Layer. It almost felt as if I was traveling and documenting the whole journey alongside these larger-than-life characters. However, the beauty of the Layers is not without actual tensions and danger. With beautifully animated fight scenes backed by haunting sound effects, the world of the Abyss brings a sense of peril for the characters. and that their actions in the Abyss bear heavy consequences.
The soundtrack is the last aspect that ties in the rest of the movie. Kevin Penkin did a fantastic job of creating suspense through the opening of the movie, bringing us further into the world of the Abyss. Through the music, you’re constantly kept on your toes while traveling and experiencing their joys and hardships. It’s a thrilling rollercoaster of emotions that ultimately leaves you breathless by the end of the movie.
Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul is a movie that I strongly believe should have a general screening in Singapore, not only for its plot but also for the great cast of characters. While devastating disasters continue to negatively affect the world, this movie has shown that no matter the dangers of the Abyss or the world, we can get through it all with the cooperation and determination of everyone. In the end, it’s really just as Prushka said:
“No matter how dark the Abyss is, you’ll be okay. It cannot beat that light of yours, Riko.”