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The Abysmal ROSSMAN

Did you ever want to see Precious Moments figurines get mauled by mutant bears? How about watching them blast away carnivorous giant flying snakes with arm lasers, or ponder how delicious certain Miyazaki-like, cute, and fluffy animals might be (before tossing said poofy critters off cliffs in order to distract some reptilian, ravenous bird-beasts from eating the PM kids themselves)?  If so, then have I got the next anime series for you!

Made in Abyss may look all "kitten farts and rainbow sundaes" due to the hyper-cute character designs, but this show is pretty terrifyingly dark at times. There is plenty of blood, a lot of puke (brought on by sickness and poisoning), horrifyingly broken bones, lots of death and destruction, and a solid tone of almost utter hopelessness at times. This is not a children's show, despite its outward appearance.

But I like kitten farts! So then, what is it about?

Made in Abyss has a rather complicated setup. Here's the abbreviated plot: The entire world has been thoroughly explored, except for one giant hole in the middle of an island (named Beoluska Island) in the middle of the ocean. This abyss is amazingly deep and wide, and inside it are seven known zones descending deeper and deeper into the Earth, each with more dangerous and terrifying creatures and plagues inhabiting them. Brave/stupid explorers (known as Cave Raiders, because no matter how imaginative the writer is for creating this world, apparently that imagination ends at naming shit) venture forth into the Abyss on the regular, each hoping to dive deeper than the previous.

WTF? Why would anyone want to go anywhere near that dangerous hole?

Hmmm, I ask that about Cersei Lannister all the time… But in the case of the Abyss on Beoluska Island, people raid that cave due to all the priceless and unique relics of an ancient civilization that can be found in it. There are artifacts of protection, destruction, and beauty, and rich folk pay LOTS for them. So everybody from elderly adventurers to young orphans with death wishes go spelunking into the Abyss and collect as many archaic and unbelievable relics as they can in order to sustain their livelihood, and hopefully make a name for themselves. They do this even despite the "Curse of the Abyss."

…….What?

The Curse of the Abyss is a malady that affects most people who go down the gigantic hole, and REALLY fucks with them when they attempt to come back up to the surface. The symptoms are mild near the top (maybe some dizziness or tiredness), to vomiting and vertigo just a little bit deeper, to full-body transmogrification and death near the bottom layers. The Abyss is one tough bitch.

So what does the Abyss have to do with jack shite?

Well, 12 year-old Riko is the daughter of one of the most famous Cave Raiders, a White Whistle (meaning one who has the strength and fortitude to dive deeper into the Abyss than anyone else) named Lyza the Annihilator. Riko was actually birthed by Lyza deep in the gash in the Earth, and wants to be just like her late mother who supposedly died in the hole years before the start of the story… Well, Riko wants to grow up to be just like her mother, outside of "dying savagely deep under the Earth's crust, possibly by getting eaten by a large, fanged, crocobear." So she begins her journey to become a legendary Abyss explorer herself... Despite being somewhat retarded... Well, others would say "she ain't retarded, she's just a child!" But po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

Riko lives in the Belchero Orphanarium on Beoluska Island with a bunch of other children who are training to be fully fledged Cave Raiders (and support their home with their finds). One day, during a trip into the first layer of the Abyss, Riko is saved from being eaten by a fantastical and dreadful beast by a robot boy named Reg who has a giant laser embedded in his hand. This boy (who conveniently has amnesia) becomes fast friends with Riko, and together (after discovering a letter that appears to be from Lyza inviting Riko to meet her at the very bottom of the Abyss) they decide to break off the shackles of the Orphan-watchers and go on a deadly adventure of a lifetime.

…..Jesus fucking Christ! How do the orphanage staff live with themselves?

Of course they're not in favor of Riko and Reg going into the Abyss on their own, but Reg is invulnerable, has extendible arms, and that laser-hand thing, so the two of them are relatively safe, especially compared to other, normal Cave Raiders.

So that's it? This show is about two cute kids walking through dangerous environments trying not to get eaten?

Yes… No… Kind of… I mean, these kids do travel through and explore the Abyss with a little too much gaiety for what they have to deal with, but they also meet new people/beings who lead them down giant life lessons, and sometimes make them ponder if their quest is justified or not. Oh, and we see LOTS of disturbing cave creatures who try to kill our duo, and some cute critters who are willing to help Riko and Reg when they get into a spot o' trouble… And then there's Nanashi and Mitty...

................................

................................ Mitty...

Um….. So, are you going to tell us about this Nanashi and Mitty?

Goddammit… I don't think I should. Well, I can at least tell you that Nanashi is a fluffy bunny-like humanoid thing who saves Riko's life by the end of the season, and Mitty. Mitty is just "wacky ol' Mitty." Mitty is a laugh-a-minute riot. Trust me, you will never forget this ka-razy character after you watch this show.

Oh. Well, that doesn't sound bad at all. So why did my friend compare this show to Grave of the Fireflies then?

Nanachi!!!! Yay!!!! But where's Mitty?I don't know. Your friend is weird. Prepare to giggle and guffaw like a madman once Mitty's in da house!

Cool!

Yeah….. Yeeeeeeeah……..

Anyway, I liked Made in Abyss, but I'm just really worried that we'll never get a second season. This 13 episode season was leading up to a lot of big questions and ideas, and then it just ended with Riko and Reg still only halfway through their journey. I only hope that if it is continued they don't gloss over the questions that they raised in this first part. Things like WHY does the Abyss cause such pain in adventurers? And who left all that ancient garbage down in the Abyss in the first place? Here's hoping for more.

So what did I think about Made in Abyss? A strange amalgam of ultra-cute characters in a really intense and adult environment. Great premise, great story, great quest, great characters, and great world. The only thing wrong with it is that the story isn't complete yet. I hope that we see the conclusion to it soon though. Till then, I give Made in Abyss Two Thumbs Up!


CHI-CHI the Explorer

This anime brought back some memories for me when I watched it. I remember when I was a kid, I used to go exploring through these caves deep in the woods outside my town. 

I used to pretend that I was crawling to the center of the earth, or hunting Crab People, or just hiding out from that guy who walked around the woods dressed like a clown.

Anyway, this one time, I was pretty deep in this one cave, when all of a sudden this giant rat/octopus hybrid beast came from out of nowhere and freaked the fuck out when I shined my flashlight in its eyes. The thing was just a little larger than my own 12 year-old self, but it had infinitely more tentacles and razor sharp teeth.

That Cthulu-like thing chased me around those natural tunnels for what seemed like half a day. I finally lost it, and was trying to figure out which way was the path to the surface, when I stepped on something that went "click," and then there was a flash of light, and the next thing I knew I was lying at the mouth of the cave and it was dark out. When I got home I found out that 6 days had passed since I went out to play. My parents didn't even know I was missing though, so nobody believed me or my story. So weird. And so is this show. But the story was enjoyable enough.

I never wanted to go into a cave again after that day… Not even when Cheryl Danvers wanted to let me go to second base in the old coal mine near my college campus. But whatever. I will give this bizarre children's adventure show 3 out of 4 stars. It could have been a lot worse… There could have been a rat-squid in it, and I would have completely lost my shit watching it…


DOCTOR DAVE

This Japanese cartoon brought back some curious memories for me when I watched it. Back in the day, before I constructed my underground bunker-lab, I basically just set up shop in some caves just outside of town. I set up deterrents like "confuse-o force fields" to make wayward explorers get confounded and slowly drift back the way they came, "rodentopusses" to murder and then devour any trespasser who may have made it past the confuse-o fields, and finally claymore landmines that I spiced up with a little extra C4 in order to ensure that nobody told any tales of what they may have found in my subterranean lab.

Then one day, this almost albino-like youth with thick spectacles somehow made his way past all my obstacles (I'd since learned that my rodentopusses actually scared him through my confuse-o fields and almost to my front door)… Until he found my mine field. I considered just leaving him as paste on the cave walls for the rodentopusses to slurp up, but then I thought of all the police reports and possible jail time and all that nonsense, and so I went about cloning the kid and putting in a subconscious thought in the back of his head to NEVER go into my caves again. I should have wiped clean his memories of my rodentopusses, but those stories he told of my babies kept the other kids away… Well, except for that little snot, Ritchie Jenkins. I let my pretties eat his Jell-O-fied remains after he snuck in and stepped on a claymore too. Nobody missed Ritchie.

I liked the weird fauna and flora in the depths of the Abyss in this show. Someday, I hope to either make a fully functioning robo-boy with extendible arms, or a bunny-human hybrid who knows how to do detailed surgery on human beings. But I won't touch Mitty with a ten-foot pole. What am I, an animal? But I give this show a thumb up. It's good for the soul.