Finales of the two summer series that mattered: Lycoris Recoil and Made in Abyss 2

She’s okay.

Lycoris Recoil, my second-favorite show of the season, had set up everything it needed to do last episode, and now all they had to do was finish with running around and gunplay, and, surprisingly, fireworks. It’s that last bit I can’t get my head around. Majima started a bomb countdown which would, so we would believe, destroy the new Enkuboku tower, and so he and Chisato hit and shoot at each other to get to Majima’s cell phone, the only way to stop it. Maybe I should have guessed by the fact that, while we get quick shots of the remaining time getting lower and lower, they didn’t really play it up, so when it hit zero, I went “Huh. Already?” And instead of the tower blowing up we get … fireworks? Maybe Walnut hacked something, but I doubt it. Majima, who wanted to “restore balance” or something through violence, instead gave us a pretty light show. It’s not that he’s reformed or anything. What was he up to?

Okay, that aside, the episode was, as usual, great fun. Chisato and Majima fight, take a break when her overworked heart gives her trouble (Majima being a courteous villain) and reiterate their basic lines, murderer Majima claiming he’s actually the good guy and Chisato talking about the nice people she wants to protect, then load up and fire again. A great moment when Chisato fires and hits several times with a serious stare, reminding Majima of the cold-blooded look Chisato gave her in the last battle. Chisato doesn’t want to hurt anyone, would rather be friends, but don’t fuck with her when it’s serious. Naturally, Takina is right there for the rescue when Chisato goes over the edge of the tower. Good for Takina, but I feel she got pushed aside a little later in the series, her only big conflict being getting back into Lycoris and, once there, repeatedly disobeying orders to rescue Chisato. The only other plot point to cover has Mika killing Yoshi and getting that heart. I was a little surprised by this. I had figured Mika would die, you know, to atone for his sins, but there he is at the end, still hobbling on that cane … heh.

So that’s done, but Chisato goes missing after her transplant, but they find her in … Hawaii. The show shifts into a permanent happy mode. A cute action scene between Takina and Chisato, some info given, and suddenly they’re ALL in Hawaii, running a drinks van. So if there’s a season two, expect sun and palm trees. Be there. Aloha.

Hop, hop, hop

If this had been a good season Lycoris Recoil would be in the running for the best, one of a pack, but in dismal Summer 2022, apart from that other, otherworldly show, there was nothing better. No disrespect to LR; it was always great fun to watch. The basic story was a little routine, but that doesn’t matter when the show is executed so well. The action scenes were well-done, fast and fluid, and made compelling because the characters were people we rooted for, and by that I mean Chisato. She was in turns funny, playful, teasing, and drop-dead serious, and we believed it all. Maybe her mortality made her her humanity come out, the reason doesn’t matter. Her reactions to combat or any surprise, usually just a light comment, lit the show up. The other characters, including Takina, did their jobs, but it was Chisato that carried the load, and if the show gets another season, she’s the main reason why I’ll be watching.

One more of Chisato, caught and pouting cutely.
Faputa meets Gabu.

The Made in Abyss: Retsujitsu no Ougonkyou finale felt busier and messier than season one’s masterpiece, but there was a lot more to do and it went in several directions. After a cute Faputa flashback to how she met Gabu, we turn to the present. The village is falling apart, monsters are coming in. Faputa tries to fight them with the new life the villagers gave her, but it’s still a standoff. It takes Reg to handle it, destroying the bridge linking the tower to … wherever, and taking most of the monsters with it. Meanwhile Faputa calls the remaining villagers to her, and eats them (with their consent), giving her more life and memories, those of everyone in the village, save one, the meeting I’d been waiting for since she broke in.

Here the show slows down. Vueko, alone and not sure what to do, blunders upward, and so the show decides to be cruel to its kindest character. It would have been worse but adorable, one-eyed Pakkoyan runs over and tosses her back down, at the loss of her own life. Sorry, Pakky. But the damage has been done and now Vueko has become half-hollow, an interesting choice of words as, earlier, Wazukyan had literally hollowed himself to make that bridge. … Yeah, there are a lot of death scenes this episode. Anyway, we finally get the meeting between Faputa and Vueko, the daughter who wreaked revenge on the village for what it did to her mother, and the woman who loved that mother more than anything else. It’s a touching, dignified death scene. Vueko gets forgiveness for what she blamed herself for, and Faputa recognizes her love and devotion to Faputa’s mother. I’d say that painfully distorting poor Vueko before her death was a cruel thing, but that’s MiA for you, and hopefully she can rest in peace now.

Reg’s excellent speech.

Now that village and its inhabitants are gone, even Maaa, though the show doesn’t show it, what to do now with Faputa? Reg, in a splendid move, invites her to join the team and have adventures together, the exact thing he had once promised her. Even though he doesn’t remember it, he fulfills his promise. Faputa, who is now free of this “yoke of value” as the show puts it, and of her duty to Irumyuui, says she’ll think about it, so we’ll have to wait for next season, which could be years.

With this show, that’s a given. It will probably be worse.

I could talk about a lot more, but I’ll leave it at that. LR is a great series, but MiA is so good that I have a hard time comparing it to other anime. It feels like it’s on a different plane. Of course much of that has to do with the beautiful artwork, animation, and soundtrack that made it feel more cinematic than other shows. But there’s also the horrifying, violent, disgusting things we see, together with sympathy and kindness, and above that, the idea that when we set out to find what we long for, we will change, and not always for the better. But we keep reaching out anyway, knowing that we will probably never grasp what we truly want. And along the way we will meet people, good and bad, and see things we would never had seen if we hadn’t started on our journey. Again, there’s nothing in anime like it.

One more of the first group, sailing …
… and of the second group, with some hangers-on, riding.
And one more of Faputa, contemplating the, well, you know …

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