Made in Abyss

Content warnings: This series, despite appearances, can get quite intense in terms of gore and psychological horror, and most of the time the gore befalls children. In addition, there are a lot of uncomfortable overtones in certain situations the underage protagonists find themselves in. While I find a lot of the series to be fascinating and engaging, there are just as many aspects that turn me away from it, so this is meant to be a primer of sorts for anybody thinking about watching it. Also, I have not read the manga; thus, this page will only cover season one of the anime and the interim movie (season two is currently ongoing). This page is a current WIP.

Our main protagonists, Riko (left) and Reg (right).


As with so many pieces of media that end up affecting me in significant ways, the decision to watch Made in Abyss came on a whim several weeks ago. I had vaguely heard the name before; if you'd asked me if I'd heard of it, I would have said yes, but I wouldn't have been able to tell you even one single thing about the series itself. I was having a very hard time convincing myself to finish any of the anime I was partway through with, so I figured, why not toss on another one just to try it out?

After doing a lot of surface-level research to see if I would be able to handle the show, I ended up finishing the series in under 24 hours. It's not unheard of for me to go super hard when I binge a show that hits the vibe I'm looking for, but I think the last time I finished a whole anime that fast was... five or six years ago. So that was a real shock to me. I would have watched the entire thing in one sitting had it not been for my nervousness about having somebody else in the room during the last few episodes.

The plot of Made in Abyss is startlingly simple at first. Somewhere in the world exists an enormous, deep, deep hole, called the Abyss. The Abyss is home to creatures and treasures untold and unimagined, and has never been fully explored by humans. On the upper rim of the Abyss is a city called Orth, where children and adults alike train to become cave raiders, eager to archive the mysteries of the Abyss and satify the innate curiosity of humankind.

Our protagonist, Riko, is a plucky 13-year-old girl who is an apprentice cave raider. She wants to be a famous explorer just like her lost mother, Lyza, who went on her last raid not long after Riko was born. She discovers a strange, robotic boy named Reg. Reg has no memories, but he and Riko believe that he came from somewhere deep inside the Abyss itself. Riko and Reg plot to run away from Riko's orphanage and brave the dangers of the Abyss by themselves in search of Riko's mother and Reg's identity.

However, the journey will not be so straighfoward for the two young adventurers. The Abyss is sectioned off into seven distinct Layers, each growing more and more dangerous the further you descend... and yet the true danger comes when you try to leave the Abyss. Colloquially known as the 'Curse of the Abyss,' human bodies are wracked with horrible symptoms upon ascension inside the Abyss. Ascending in the First Layer will leave you dizzy and perhaps cause a bout of vomiting. Ascending in the Fourth Layer, however, will leave you spurting blood from every orifice in your body. By the time you reach the Sixth Layer, it is physically impossible to ascend without dying or having your body ripped apart and melted back into something inhuman. No human has ever returned from the Sixth Layer.


The Abyss is a siren's call for treasure hunters, botanists, biologists, and adventurers of all kinds. While many areas and creatures have been documented, just as many have never been reported back to the surface. Although the sheer scope of the Abyss means that the audience will never get more than a small taste of what exists in the depths, what we do see is quite striking and unique.

The locations are quite interesting as well, with each Layer being completely different from its neighbors. Beginning with grassy, verdant platforms and descending down steep, rocky hillsides, Riko and Reg pass by trees that grow upside down and enormous mushrooms that spill steaming water down into the depths of the Abyss. There's even a frozen ocean with a hole in the middle of its gravify-defying waves. However, for every beautiful and majestic thing in the Abyss, there is something equally grotesque waiting just around the corner.

As they descend, Riko and Reg meet another important character, Nanachi. I don't want to spoil too much about Nanachi, because the introduction episode comes quite late in the first season, but you'll recognize this character from the opening and ending, so just know you'll get there eventually.

The Horror

Mirroring the slow descent into the Abyss itself, Made in Abyss eases the viewer lightly into the setting and the dangers before gradually adding onto them with each episode. While it doesn't hold any pretenses of being a cute and wholesome show - we're treating to nonchalant depictions of graves, dangerous monsters, and Curse-related vomit within the first episode or two - it isn't until a few episodes in that more and more uncomfortable and disturbing elements begin appearing. Even then, it's mostly in line with what other action series or shonen anime might deal with - an Abyssal creature eating someone, or Riko and Reg forced to battle against a force that stands in their way. Truthfully, while some of it had more disturbing aspects than a more mainstream anime might and I was surprised by what topics the show dealt with, I didn't find any of the 'scary' parts that hard to handle in the beginning or middle of the show.

Amongst 'those who know' (cue Mr. Incredible face), the two problem episodes are episode 10 and 13. These are the episodes that tend to show the audience what they're really dealing with. I noted the episode numbers so that I could be prepared, and indeed, these were a lot worse than the other episodes. Both of these episodes deal more closely with the Curse and the dangers of the Abyss as a force that cannot be stopped or conquered by simple humans. If you want a more detailed description of each episode without highly specific spoilers, click below.

Episode 10

In episode 10, we see firsthand the effects of the Curse of the Fourth Layer of the Abyss - namely, the vomiting of blood and bleeding from ears, nose, and eyes. While this isn't necessarily a completely new concept in anime, the bloodcurdling sounds of pain and the grotesquely realistic and chunky consistency of the blood makes this scene really hard to watch. It's accompanied by another harsh bodily injury at the same time, although the show gives you plenty of time to see what's going to happen before it actually does.

Episode 13

Episode 13 shows us what happens when a human ascends from the Sixth Layer of the Abyss. We've heard before that it causes death or a 'loss of humanity,' but we see it happen for the first time right in front of our very eyes. The ascent happens not by accident, but is forced upon one character by another that knew exactly what was going to happen. The scene is grotesque, highly detailed, and is framed by very upsetting emotional buildup.


The Uncomfortable Parts With the Kids

I really wish that this was not a section I had to add to this review, but unfortunately, it is. While looking up a bit about Made in Abyss and trying to get a baseline for how 'disturbing' it would be (since that word is quite subjective), I ended up coming across a worrying comment that mentioned the 'weird sexualization of the main characters'. Having not heard anything about that before, I ended up reading a whole bunch of different forums, comments, threads, etc., trying to figure out exactly how much of that sort of thing was in the show. And, well, it was very inconclusive.

Some people said it was constant and they were unable to finish the show because of it. Some people said that it only happened in one or two scenes and that it's easy to ignore. Others said there was no sexualization at all and that if you thought there was sexualization then it was your fault for being weird. Still others said that while there was nudity and a few sex jokes, it felt in line for how actual children would talk to each other about the topics at hand. In the end, I had no idea what the truth was before going into the show, and I decided I would just have to see what my own thoughts were.

Ultimately, I don't have a straight answer. If we classify any of these aforementioned levels of weirdness - ranging from one-line jokes, to short scenes of nudity, to genuinely uncomfortable and creepy scenes - as a 'weird scene,' there's probably one or two 'weird scenes' in every episode. It's not like I could just specify one or two things and be done with it. This is very, very frustrating for me. Usually, you can talk about a show, and just say something like 'there's a bath scene in one episode and a bad joke in episode ten' and move on, but with Made in Abyss, it's so constant and yet varied that it makes it hard to determine how many of these scenes are actually harmful and how many are inoffensive/unimportant.

I hesitate to say 'just watch it and quit if you're uncomfortable' because there ARE scenes in the show that are genuinely gross on every level. I feel like maybe the best thing to do is to just list what I remember and have people make their own decisions. I wish I could be more concrete than that, but unfortunately, the source material makes me question a lot about the intentions of these scenes. Also, apparently the manga has a lot more scenes with uncomfortable undertones, from how I've seen people discuss it.

List of Uncomfortable Scenes I Recall (May Not Be Complete)

- In the first episode, Riko talks about Reg's human anatomy after she observes him and takes notes on his body. Seemingly played for laughs and seems like something an overly curious kid would do.

- A common 'punishment' for kids in the orphanage is to tie them up naked. It's mentioned a few times, and seen once for 2-3 seconds in the second episode, IIRC.

- This was the worst and most gratuitous part in the series for me. In episode 4 (I believe), an adult who's looking at Reg mentions that he looks very human, and pulls down his pants and makes a comment that he has human anatomy. It's extremely creepy and nobody seems to have a problem with it besides Reg himself, who is obviously uncomfortable.

- A character that is introduced later is implied to be a young boy who is forced to dress up as a girl by an adult. The adult later makes a comment about punishing him by tying him up like they do at the orphanage.

- There's a long stretch of episodes without any uncomfortable scenes, or at least they weren't as glaring as these ones. The rest of the season is way less gratuitous aside from maybe the last episode.

- There's a long-ish scene of Riko shirtless because her clothes were dirty and unwearable. It didn't seem uncomfortable in anyway, although Reg might have been embarrassed by it. I don't remember for sure.

- Reg seems to have some sort of crush/fixation on Nanachi. He gets very excited by petting Nanachi's fur and Nanachi takes it as something sexual. This comes up a few times.

- In the last episode of season 1, Riko and Reg take a bath and are both naked. Riko comments on Reg's anatomy and they talk about it for a minute or so.

Season Two is currently ongoing, and I'm watching it weekly. I will probably update this page later with some warnings, as it's supposed to be much darker in every way than season one. So far, the most obvious is literally the opening scene of the first episode of the second season, where a girl talks about the fact that she was sexually abused and we see her on a bed with a man on top of her. This was too glaring not to talk about so I wanted to mention it right away.

Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul

After the events of Season One comes the movie Dawn of the Deep Soul. There are actually three Made in Abyss movies, but the first two (Journey's Dawn and Wandering Twilight) are just recap movies. However, Dawn of the Deep Soul is REQUIRED viewing. Season One covers the events in Layers 1-4, Dawn of the Deep Soul covers Layer 5, and Season Two starts immediately in Layer 6; if you skip Deep Soul, you will miss an integral part of the story. However, this movie is much darker and harder to watch in nearly every way compared to the first season. It was genuinely really upsetting and I had to stop watching multiple times to get through it.

Because it's such a brutal film, I want to write adequate warnings (both with and without spoilers) for people who are going into it.


back to home