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Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul

Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: Film.

Japanese animated film (2020); original title Made in Abyss: Fukaki Tamashii no Reimei. Kinema Citrus. Based on the Manga by Akihito Tsukushi. Director: Masayuki Kojima. Writers: Hideyuki Kurata. Voice cast includes Shiori Izawa, Mariya Ise, Minase, Toshiyuki Morikawa and Miyu Tomita. 105 minutes. Colour.

A continuation of the television series Made in Abyss (2017), following the adventures of Riko (Tomita), a human girl; Robot boy Reg (Ise); and former human, Nanachi (Izawa), the latter mutated (see Mutants) into a rabbit-like creature. The abyss of the title is an immense pit with several levels: descent, save for various Monsters, is straightforward, but ascent imposes a sickness. Returning from the sixth level incurs a disturbing mutation, the causes of which are investigated by the Scientist Bondrewd (Morikawa) by experimenting on children (Nanachi being one, their transformation being uniquely unhorrific). Riko seeks her mother, who may be on the sixth level; amnesiac Reg hopes to discover his origins there.

Arriving on the fifth level Riko, Reg and Nanachi are invited to Bondrewd's research station, meeting his charming adopted daughter Prushka (Inori Minase). Bondrewd begins studying Reg, including cutting off his arm; as he feels pain like any human, this is Torture. Reg is rescued and the trio concentrate on killing Bondrewd; this proves difficult as he is able to transfer his consciousness between different bodies (see Identity Transfer). Eventually, after several attempts, they succeed. The film ends with their descent to the sixth level. Bondrewd is an appalling person, Prushka's fate only underlining this, but his character – without compassion or malice, interested in the trio's attempts to kill him, and when they succeed his dying words being encouragement – made him a memorable Villain.

This is a very good film: exciting, visually appealing and sometimes unpleasant (see Horror in SF). More action orientated than the television series, which had been a fascinating exploration of the first four levels, the film centres on the research station; whilst Riko, Reg and Nanachi's knuckling down and quickly coming up with several murderous plans is a little atypical in terms of character. With at least one more film to be expected, it is surprising that the main antagonist has already been defeated, but intriguing in terms of story: what does the sixth level hold that requires his early dismissal? Doubtless of relevance is Reg's fierce but temporary transformation during one fight scene. [SP]


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