Made in Abyss – 01 (First Impressions)

Just a minute or two into Made in Abyss and I was already thinking What have I been doing these last five weeks, not watching this? I don’t know how it goes from here, but you can scarcely do a first episode better than this right here. Grandeur. Wonder. And sure, a little cutesiness. Abyss offers it all in spades, plus one of the most surprising, badass anime soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time.

Abyss goes into Tell Mode, but not until the very end, once it’s showed a whole lot. Seriously, it gets the showing down pat in no time, as the ethereal soundtrack plays over an otherwise soundless montage during which the fantastical yet cozy world is unveiled, bit by tantalizing bit. This is after the heroine saved her friend by drawing a monster to her, only to herself need prompt rescuing from a mysterious “robot boy” she takes home.

Home is the Belchero Orphanage—Riko and Nat are orphans—a grand place that has vertical classrooms with desks nailed to the wall accessable by ladder. That right there is some good fantasy, along with the familiar and yet otherworldly scenery, architecture, and clothing.

But just as gorgeous as the scenery, vistas, and lived-in interiors is what’s going on between the characters. As I said, they’re little kids—and I’m most certainly not—and yet they are never for a second annoying. They remind me more of the Goonies or the kids in Stranger Things, because they’re so easy to watch and imagine ourselves at that age having adventures, getting one over on the stodgy adults (and older kids)…and stubbing our toes while running. And the android Regu is just the kind of friend you’d want if you were a little kid: one who shoots powerful beams and has extendable arms.

Having successfully escaped responsibility and punishment for causing a blackout in the orphanage, Riko takes Regu to the best spot to watch the sun rise over her magnificent city of Orth, which surrounds the kilometer-wide-diameter aperture of the titular Abyss, the true depth of which no one knows, and the depth of previously unknown relics and treasures seems to similarly know no bounds.

Riko wants to follow in her late mother’s footsteps by going as deep as a human has ever gone in that Abyss, and bring back something new and amazing. But she may have already stumbled upon that discovery in Regu, without even descending more than 100 meters. It’s a great start for her, and for Made in Abyss. I’m fully onboard.

Midweek Music: Mahouka OST: “Miyuki”

At the end of its first cour, I just couldn’t go on with Mahouka. It’s not that it was a terrible show, just a bad fit. But it did have some elements to it I liked quite a bit: one of them was Shiba Miyuki, who while often subservient to her dear brother, was always portrayed as a total badass with impeccable manners and frightening magical power, who could hold her own against practically anyone, her brother included. Hayami Saori was a great choice to voice her.

Another element I liked a lot was Iwasaki Taku’s soundtrack, which nails the “futuristic/magical high school” aesthetic. My favorite piece is “Miyuki”, which I believe we first hear when Miyuki visits Tatsuya in his room to show him her Mirage Bat uniform, then suddenly notices he’s floating above his seat, and proceeds to test out his new flying magic. It’s certainly not the most important scene from a plot perspective, but I consider it one of the best of that first cour, and the music that accompanies it is a huge reason why.

“Miyuki” is an ideal theme for Miyuki, as the overlapping female vocals represent her innate beauty, grace, elegance, and gentility, while the sick electronic beats symbolize her strong will and formidable magical power. In hindsight, it was probably Iwasaki’s soundtrack that kept me watching the show as long as I did. Like the OP and ED of DRAMAtical Murder, I simply enjoyed listening to the music.

Monday Music – Kill la Kill “Blumenkranz” (Kiryuin Ragyo Theme)

One of the many great things about Kill la Kill is its soundtrack, which is just as over-the-top and bombastic as the visuals. One of our favorite tracks is Ragyo Kiryuin’s theme, which is sung in German.

Monday Music – Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Soundtrack – “Death Game”

We know, there’s still a lot of OPs out there to choose from…but we thought we’d do something a little different to get the week started. Here’s what we consider to be a rippin’ good dungeon track from the Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII soundtrack. It’s called “Death Game”, and it was composed by Suzuki Mitsuto.

We’re of the mind that adamant guitars and power chords are more than appropriate for RPG dungeons, along with the steadfast drumbeats and synth elements. “Death Game” is loud, brash, and highly motivating, indicating that something’s on the horizon and you’d better get to it before it’s too late.

Note that this is an extended version of the track, so it loops at about the five-minute mark.