“The sadness never disappears, it just becomes a part of us, deep inside.”
Descending farther into the abyss through fog and wind, the movie picks up where season 1 had left off. Our heroes make their way to the field of flowers of fortitude, in an atmosphere full of beauty, and unrealized dread. The violin notes pick up when suspense rises, indicating impending danger. Later soon the electric guitar rages and the flowers of fortitude are set on fire, symbolizing the loss coming shortly. Then the track “The Return of Made in Abyss” plays, welcoming us back after a break, as if we are back home, just as all things will eventually return to the abyss. Why don’t we dive into 2020’s “Dawn of the Deep Soul” by Kinema Citrus adapted from the manga by Akihito Tsukushi, as the narrator has said,
“For unless they pass through the darkest of the dark, the dawn shall not come.”
(Spoilers ahead by the way. Make sure you watch the movie, then comeback here.)
A Meaningful Title
Title or name is one of the most overlooked aspects nowadays. A great title can often summarize an entire story or symbolize the theme. It can even attract an audience differently and provoke their thoughts. Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul excels in that. The overall theme of the movie can be found in the title and becomes apparent when we look at certain things regarding names. The antagonist, Bondrewd is titled “Sovereign of Dawn“, and Prusha asks Riko about her name’s meaning and tells the meaning of Prushka, “Flower of Dawn“. These characterize them in a meaningful way. Bondrewd is called the Sovereign of Dawn because of his biological and scientific achievements. Prushka, who is born in the abyss (just like Riko), longs to see the dawn. The keyword “Dawn” is present throughout the movie as it is occasionally mentioned.
The title, “Dawn of the Deep Soul” could mean finding resolve, sorting out inner feelings, and settling the conflict. This can be seen in all the characters, Riko, Reg, Nanachi, Prushka, and even Bondrewd. They came with an insane mindset in the beginning. In the end, they all resolve their issues, find new hope, and move forward. The keyword “Deep Soul” can also be seen, in a ghostly way. The mysterious figure within Reg and Prushka’s resolve even in death indicates the soul aspect of it. This is truly an astounding way of utilizing the title.
Character design is another important aspect when it comes to any animated media. One can tell everything about a character without needing to say anything. On the other hand, looks can be deceiving. Such an aspect comes to play when telling a great story. When watching the movie, I didn’t notice how brilliant the designs of the characters are! Especially Prushka, just her design alone can tell an entire story. She wears a clothing of green and white, with a little bit of red on it. Her hair color is white, and her eyes are crimson red. The white symbolizes the “Flowers of Fortitude“, the green symbolizes the leaf, and the red symbolizes the color of the sun during dawn. And what shocked me the most, just like the Flowers of Dawn wilt by noon, her life also wilted in a short time. And her crimson eyes symbolize how much she wants to see the dawn, ascend from the abyss, and explore the outer world. Which is the total opposite of what every Cave Raider wants, descend into the abyss.
The character designs of the others are the same as the previous season, which I touched on in my previous post. The other new character in this movie, Bondrewd has another story going on. His design is neat, showing his collective demeanor and yet mysterious because of his mask. The others and we as the audience can’t get a read on him or his next move. He always manages to surprise us with every move he makes. The masks of the Umbra Hands have hieroglyphic-like patterns, putting the emphasis more on the mystery aspect. Each time he transforms, more and more of his emotions come out. He starts getting high when affected by the curse and his hideous nature is shown through the helmet Reg has bitten off. In the end, he obtains a normal human form, showing he finally accepted his humanity and stopped his obsessions, which is also shown through the broken helmet. That’s how you use character design for character development masterfully. Because of this, the movie almost feels like it’s Bondrewd’s story, emphasized more by the titles, Dawn of the Deep Soul, and Sovereign of Dawn.
Symbolism & Foreshadowing
These 2 aspects are frightening in Made in Abyss. Almost everything shown could have a hidden meaning and massage. Just like there are mysteries spread out throughout the abyss itself, there are mysteries within the anime as well. We can see that in certain scenes, dialogue, and sub-context. From season 1, things that seemed comedic and insignificant came true. One example is when Riko falls and thinks she broke her arm. Later we see that happen in a horrific and gruesome sight. Another amazing thing is Nanachi’s name, which can be interpreted as Nanashi or “Nameless”. This could be because she is hollow. By which I’m also getting ahead of myself. We have yet to discover Riko’s meaning & Reg’s real name.
The movie, as it progresses, builds up upcoming events. In the beginning, I mentioned the Flowers of Fortitude being set on fire symbolizing incoming loss shortly. That was just one of the major foreshadowing. The movie doesn’t just build up from its start but uses some of the buildups from its prequel, season 1. We’ll get to that soon. Subtle moments such as Reg thinking he shouldn’t lose sight of what’s important, the narrator’s speech, Riko’s wondering where the toilet leads down to, and even various conversations, all come to light in due time. The conversation with the Umbra Hand, in the beginning, leads to the reveal of Zoaholic, Reg later sneaks in through the underwater vents where the toilets lead, and the ritual site in Ido Front turns out to be a place where people sacrificed themselves to create the life-reverberating stone & we even see that happen, Reg loses sight in one point & rampages around after he charged himself in electricity and many more that I have missed and couldn’t figure them out. And it also has built up lore for the sequel that’s airing now.
In the end, when Bondrewd bids our heroes farewell, his speech coincides with what the narrator has said in the beginning. Where the narrator has said that what lies ahead, they still don’t know, Bondrewd said,
“At the end of their journey, what fate will they choose to meet? That can only be decided by the challengers themselves.”
Even a certain framing coincides but in an opposite mindset. They came in for a showdown but left in peace, finding their own dawn. And in the end, when Prushka’s words echoes, it brings up the lyric of the ending song of season 1, which mentions brightening up the world.
“No matter how dark the darkness of the netherworld gets, you’ll be fine. You’ll brighten it up, after all.”
This also makes it intriguing because the title of the next arc is “The Golden City of the Scorching Sun”. Again, about lightening up the darkness of the abyss. Every part of this story is about challenging the abyss, which is said, even the darkness is no match for.
The Fight Sequences
A fight scene or fight sequence consisting of multiple fight scenes can also be used as a storytelling element. We’ve so far explored the symbolism & foreshadowing aspect of this movie. But the fight scenes here are no slouch. Every conflict with the primary antagonist, Bondrewd, is carefully constructed. From the narrative aspect, the choreography, the framing, breath-taking animation, music, everything is implemented masterfully. The attack names are one of the coolest ones I’ve ever heard that surpasses many battle anime and this isn’t even battle-focused anime.
The fight is separated into three sections or rounds.
- The first round, where the heroes have the upper hand.
- The second round, where the heroes are backed into the corner and the antagonist wins.
- The third round, where the heroes make a comeback and defeat the villain.
The first & second round happens in the same place, back-to-back. It gave a false sense of security by making us think that the heroes have the preparation and plan they needed to overthrow Bondrewd. But we should’ve thought otherwise when he easily disposes of the apex predators of the fifth layer, the seven-tailed scorpions (which is also mentioned in season 1). This is where we see the villain goes like, “You fool. It was according to my plan all along.” And in that second round, our heroes suffer defeat and tremendous loss.
The third round happens in 2 parts. One is when Reg loses control but starts making the comeback. But it’s more of a mindless rampage. Later when he gains back control, he fights toe-to-toe against Bondrewd. Ultimately, it was a team effort that led to victory. The fight ends in a cathartic way that brought the best in everyone.
The Concept of Love
What exactly is love in Made in Abyss? Time and again, we’ve seen it rivals the abyss to its core and even manage to defeat it. Because of love, Lyza abandoned her adventure and saved her daughter Riko. Out of love, she paved the way for Riko to venture on her own. Because of love, aunt Laffi can ignore the call of the abyss and stay. Because of love, Riko manages to snap out of a hallucination caused by the curse of the abyss. It’s because of love that one saves the other from the curse and blessings overflow. By manipulating love, Bondrewd tried to achieve that blessing. And because of love, life-reverberating stone’s material, Your Worth, comes into existence. “Trials make love grow stronger”, says Bondrewd. Self-sacrifice is not uncommon in stories but here, it is used as a world-building aspect. How come something so abstract can rewrite the physical rules of the abyss? This is a mystery that will remain a mystery for good.
Anime can bring about many types of feelings and emotions. Some of them cannot be expressed by words. Just seeing something wonderful can bring joy to the heart. Made in Abyss is such a great anime, if not one of the best TV shows ever. Dawn of the Deep Soul movie gave us a unique and original story that made us feel many things. It made us connect with the new characters and told a story in a short amount of time, which many others fail to do in an entire season. This was a canon movie sequel that was handled masterfully. I didn’t explain some other things such as voice acting. Both English & Japanese voice actors did a terrific job that sent shivers down my spine. And the music, Kevin Penkin didn’t hold back when composing. In every scene, every moment, every fight scene, music is implemented so perfectly that just the corresponding tracks can remind you of that moment. All the characters have dedicated tracks made for them. Just listening to some of the tracks is enough to bring tears into my eyes.
Despite having a sad tone, this movie has fun moments that can bring a smile to the face. It has this childlike, playful nature that gives off pure adventurous energy. As a child, we all have wandered around our places, looked at things differently, and imagined so many of our wishes that now as a grown-up don’t feel the same. Back then, everything felt like an adventure. Made in Abyss’s choice of characters and an RPG-like world remind me of that feeling. It’s not just fiction; it’s that childlike imagination that has been realized in the form of anime. Every time I watch Made in Abyss, it doesn’t feel like an anime, it’s like I am in a different world. Maybe the call of the abyss has broken the fourth wall. Maybe, it can inspire us all to embark on our own journey.
Thank you all for reading this. This was my humble attempt at a breakdown/analysis. If you read through all the way down here, you have my thanks from the bottom of my heart. I’m playing the new Made in Abyss game on my YouTube channel, so if you wish to swing by, it would be appreciated.