” The Edge of the Abyss” and “Incinerator”
Reg and Riko begin their journey by heading towards the bottom of the Second Layer, where an old outpost awaits them
After a pair of episodes which crammed a lot of plot and exposition into a short amount of time, this duo finds made In Abyss taking a more relaxed, leisurely approach to telling its story. Which is another way of saying, nothing much happens across this 45 minute span that has much major impact on the plot, at least at first glance. Nevertheless, it’s a far from boring ride, as the show takes this opportunity to reinforce a few themes and lets us soak in its magnificent ambience.
One thing that’s worth noting is the pretty profound genre shift that we undergo here compared to our opening trio of episodes. Whereas those were busy, bustling episodes packed full of characters, conversations, and locations, these two are much more sparse and sparing, narrowing our focus only to Riko and Reg, and relying much more on atmosphere and visuals to keep our attention than actual story development. This isn’t really an issue however, since the show is so good at building atmosphere. It’s helped of course by the magnificent vistas that the backgrounds team is creating, which really bring home the gargantuan scale and wonder of the abyss, and the size of the task facing our heroes. Far from being a one-trick pony though, the animation also shines in smaller moments, be it the tics and twitches of our duo or the terrifically bizarre monsters they’ve started to go up against. A special mention must go to the inverted forest, which oozes the kind of storybook creepiness that’s so difficult to achieve in moving images.
There’s definitely more development of the world than of the characters in this pair of episodes, but we do get some nice insights into the two of them, and how they operate together. Something that’s unexpected and kind of refreshing is how competent they both are – I especially thought Riko would rapidly be reduced to the butt of a joke pretty rapidly. Instead, while she occasionally needs rescuing by Reg, she’s proving herself a very capable adventurer. The show is pretty good at interspersing relaxed character scenes (the cooking scenes, the encounter with Habo) with fun, exciting action sequences that don’t dominate the quieter moments. The overall effect is that while the pacing is somewhat languid compared to the opening episodes, it still feels like we’re moving along at a decent clip, and things keep happening at a regular enough pace to maintain our interest. That might seem like damning with faint praise but keeping such a balance is tough and anime rarely does it as well as seen here.
As it is, we get a trickle of plot details that may have future repercussions, such as Reg remembering he has obscenely powerful iron man hand cannons, and some tantalising hints at what may be to come (they seem to pay an awful lot of attention to Riko losing both her compass and the notebook). What with the introduction of the magnificently named Ozen the Immovable next week it seems like the plot will get back in top gear, but that’s no shade on this pair of very enjoyable episodes.
- Though they appear only briefly, the killer monkeys are superbly creepy.
- Where does Reg keep all that cable that somehow comes out of his body?
- Please, for the love of god, no more dick jokes ok?