Fantasy Anime Film ‘Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul’ is a Beautiful Nightmare

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer

Plot: Riko, Reg and a new friend encounter the mysterious Bondrewd while venturing to the Sea of Corpses.

Synopsis: An orphaned girl named Riko lives in the Belchero Orphanage in the town of Orth. The town surrounds a strange, giant hole going deep into the earth, which is commonly called the Abyss. The Abyss harbours artifacts and remnants of a civilization long gone, and is therefore the popular hunting spot for so-called Cave Raiders, who undertake dangerous descents into the mist-filled pit to recover whatever relics they can find. Returning from the Abyss can be dangerous as “the Curse of the Abyss,” a mysterious and potentially fatal malady, manifests upon ascension.

Hey? Hey you? Wanna travel down in the depths of the hellish Abyss? It’ll be fun!

The deeper one goes, the more acute the effects of the curse; few who have descended into the lower regions have returned to tell of their experiences. Some legendary Cave Raiders earn the title of White Whistle, one of them being Riko’s mother, Lyza, who is presumed dead after taking a “last descent” into the Abyss. Riko’s longing in life is to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a White Whistle.

One day she discovers a robot resembling a human boy in the Abyss and names him Reg. Riko and her friends sneak Reg into Belchero and quickly welcome him into their close-knit group. Some time later, a balloon reaches the surface from the depths of the Abyss containing pages of discoveries made by Lyza, as well as a message for Riko stating she is waiting at the bottom of the Abyss. Riko, determined to find her mother, bids farewell to her friends and departs to the Abyss with Reg as her companion. (Wikipedia excerpt).

What the hell?!

Review: Unlike the recent anime movie, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, I knew absolutely nothing about the series Made in Abyss when I sat down to watch this 2020 movie, which wasn’t the smartest move on my part. I didn’t even know what I was clicking on when I chose to queue it up. I just saw a poster with beautiful artwork and curiosity got the better of me. Turns out the poster wasn’t the only beautiful thing here, as Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul is visually on par with the top-notch animation usually found in Studio Ghibli movies, while its story makes Dante’s journey to the depths of hell look like a stroll in the park.

If you’re like me and you came across Made in Abyss by accident, you’ll probably be lured into a false sense of security by the cute design and kid-friendly animation of our lead protagonists. With their cherub-like faces that make them all look like six-year-olds, you would think their adventures would be just as G-Rated as that demographic, but in the wise words of Admiral Akbar, IT’S A TRAP! The horror is real people as the gore, mutilations and body horror here would fit perfectly in any live action horror movie. A wickedly smart choice by the creators and animators of this series (and movie) as your brain keeps trying to equate the cute designs and absolutely breathtaking artwork found here with the brutality of the world it’s set in, making the horror hit home even harder.

These guys are so cute, I’m sure nothing bad will happen to them, right? RIGHT?!

The voice cast does a wonderful job of adding depth and emotion to these characters as I found myself totally engaged. And the score by Kevin Penkin, who was also the composer of a couple of my favourite recent anime series, Tower of God and The Rising of the Shield Hero, was nothing short of epic.

As I mentioned before, I stumbled on to Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul, so a lot of the nuance and backstory of these characters were simply lost on me. When it comes to movies based off of a series I would never recommend “putting the cart before the horse”, in other words, you should DEFINITELY watch the series first, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to watch and enjoy this movie on its own. It just means you have to pay really close attention to what’s happening or things can get very confusing very fast.

No one told me Daft Punk was in this movie! That’s awesome!

That said, this movie was a beautiful nightmare. Anime creates worlds like few other media do and Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul completely enraptured me to the point where I immediately went looking for the series after watching it. I’m sure fans of the show must be thrilled and like myself, a newly minted fan, are excited to see what the world of Abyss has in store for us in the future.

Sommer’s Score: 8 out of 10

Are you a fan of the Made in Abyss franchise? What did you think of the film? And you can check out more great anime content below:

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train (Whew!) Lives Up to the Hype Train

Sci Fi Horror Anime ‘Parasyte’ is Worth Bonding With

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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.