One more show to go this summer, and for me was by far the best. That said, I had to get psyched up to watch the long finale of Made in Abyss; what were they going to put the kids through this time?
The arduous parts pretty much come in the first half, as we watch the still human Nanachi, a smelly street urchin who joins up with white whistle Bondrewd’s young volunteers to go down to the 5th level, and then the sixth. And she meets an adorable, excited redhead girl named Mitty, and I had to close my eyes for a minute. The scenes after that, preparations and more bonding, are weighed down with dread until we get the inevitable experiment scene, and yes, we see the transformation, and it is as grotesque as I feared.
That heaviness over with, we switch to another one. Mitty can’t die, and it’s not for want of trying by both Bondrewd and Nanachi, the former for science, I suppose, and the latter out of compassion, but Reg’s death-ray can do it. But Reg is not sure he wants to, not only because Mitty is a living creature, if you call that living, and also because Nanachi is devoted to her. We see them discuss it (Mitty’s soul is trapped in that body, they just can’t abandon her–she is immortal but feels pain), think about it, but finally, they are ready. For all the soul-searching the two have to do, these scenes don’t feel wither rushed or slow, just enough time to for both of them to demonstrate the doubt and grief they’re feeling.
After that it lightens up a bit. Riko finally waking up feels like a fresh chapter in the story, and her instant affection for the embarrassed but obviously pleased Nanachi gives the story the happy lift we all needed at this point. At this point, along with cute domestic scenes, we get mystery, namely Riko’s “bad dream,” a connection with Mitty that was hinted at last week. Both Riko and Mitty were suffering but somehow reassured each other in that closed space. I can’t help but probably wrongly speculate that Mitty had to vanish from that peephole before Riko could wake up, or Mitty somehow helped Riko mentally recover from her ordeal. Probably we’ll never get the whole story, and maybe we shouldn’t.
But overall the tone remains light for the rest of the episode. In the closing credits we watch the three make preparations to go farther down, while a message balloon they sent up retraces each level we’ve seen, and allows us meet all the characters again. A beautiful way to top off the season. Actually, the final episode as a whole couldn’t have gone any better. It gave us everything that the show is famous for, the cute characters, strange concepts of life and death, cruel behavior and horrible suffering, beautiful and grotesque things, more glimpses of an amazing fictional world, and gorgeous art and animation. Even if we couldn’t have predicted the events this time (and it pretty much went the way I expected, plot-wise), it was told so well, each part taking as long as it needed and nothing more, that it was never dull the way hour-long episodes can be. This is the best anime series I have seen in years. Now all we can do is wait for a second season. Don’t tell me there won’t be one.