To Your Eternity – S2 03 – Everything’s Peachy

Tonari told Fushi to find friends, and Kahaku claims to be one. As the first male of Hayase’s successors, his sole interest in women means Fushi doesn’t have to worry about being seduced. He also brings warning to Fushi that there’s a bounty on his head from a Church that considers both him and the Guardians as heretics.

Kahaku encourages Fushi to join the Guardians on their travels through towns and cities, showing himself to the people. It’s basically a PR junket, and the first of the villages is full of those who regard Fushi as a savior. He acts the part, producing both coin and food out of thin air for his followers.

When some not-so-friendly villagers attack Fushi, the Guardians protect him, though he does get hit by an egg. Kahaku suggests Fushi travel to the next city in a different form. When Fushi settles on Parona, Kahaku develops a crush, but for the journey Fushi shifts to Joan for better mobility.

While in this larger city, as in all previous settlements, the Guardians raise their banner, bearing the symbol of Jananda: three crossed swords representing the three major churches coming together as one. It’s a nice idea, but it’s not currently a reality, and Fushi starts to question if he’s truly “doing what he wants” (as Pyoran urged), and whether Kahaku is really one of the friends Tonari told him to make.

One day while walking in the woods between cities, Parona and Kahaku are suddenly caught in a rope trap, and the other Guardians are captured by strange purple knights. An extremely eccentric and flamboyant man in elaborate finery introduces himself: Prince Bonchien Nikolai La Tastypeach Uralys, their captor.

Bon talks a big game and even has an attendant he uses as a chair, but when Parona!Fushi frees herself and brandishes a sword, Bon goes to pieces. The chair-attendant explains that Bon sometimes talks to someone who’s not there.  Fushi is intrigued by this strange fellow, and allows herself to be captured, as long as Kahaku and the others come to and are not harmed. Bon agrees.

Bon is voiced by Koyasu Takehito, who is always an absolute hoot and often plays these kinds of out-there, over-the-top characters. Bon is no different, and Koyasu’s performance is a big reason why I found myself taking an instant liking to Bon. Another is that he’s quite unlike any other character in To Your Eternity thus far.

The capital of the Kingdom of Uralys is as whimsical as its prince: towers of pink, purples, and other pastels rising out of fissures in the earth. Despite the somewhat barren landscape the city is bustling and prosperous, and the smallfolk love their flashy prissy prince. The use of mimicking birds as microphones is a nice touch, as is the fact Bon’s father the king is tiny and adorable.

Bon orders ninja-like fashionistas to pounce on Fushi and give her a glow-up for dinner, as well as wash the stink of the road off Kahaku. Bon introduces his brother Prince Torta and his sister Princess Pocoa, who are excited and curious about Fushi. While technically captives, Fushi and Kahaku are treated well, and even share the table with the royal family, who pepper Fushi with questions about his orb-y origins and “the black one”.

Fushi’s mood sours when she learns Tonari’s diary was published, meaning one of Kahaku’s ancestors dug up her grave to procure it. She leaves the table, goes outside, and attempts to scurry off in mole form, but Bon follows and catches her. Kahaku joins them, and asks Bon to provide an army to Fushi and the Guardians so they can properly fight the Nokkers.

Bon considers it, but their talk is interrupted when representatives from the Church of Bennett (the ones who issued the bounty) come for Fushi. Bon shoos them away, saying Fushi isn’t going anywhere for the time being. The Bennettans leave, but they’ll surely be back, and possibly in force.

It’s after that encounter that we learn from Bon’s father the king that he’s not actually the crown prince; that’s the far less flashy Torta. Apparently his father believes him unfit to rule, but he’s determined to convince him otherwise, and capturing Fushi is a big part of that. But Fushi has apparently had his fill of all of this, and is considering letting the Nokkers absorb him entirely.

The Beholder appears to tell him even if he does that, he’ll simply return to being an orb and have to start over from nothing. Fushi claims not to care, as long as he’s not sacrificing any more of the living. To the Beholder’s count, over 13,000 people have been killed by the Nokkers, which isn’t much compared to natural disasters but still too many for Fushi’s taste.

The Beholder sees there’s no reasoning with Fushi, so he descends into the ground, but Prince Bon tells Fushi he’ll create “a new world” for him, so he should at least wait until after that to decide whether he wants to surrender to the enemy. While Fushi has value to Bon as a tool (like the Guardians), there’s also a chance, given time, that Bon could become a real friend. I want to see that friendship, and that new world. Then there’s the fact Fushi’s eye briefly changes from yellow to purple.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 02 – Going to Town

With everyone else out cold, Tonari and Hisame have a little chat, but it quickly descends into violence as Hisame’s arm has a mind and will of its own (specifically Hayase’s). Once it gets its Nokker tendrils into Tonari’s hands, I knew it probably wasn’t going to go well for her. Her trusty owl Ligard knocks Hisame out with her poison talons, but the Nokker arm isn’t affected and drags Hisame into the night.

Tonari loses consciousness, and when Fushi comes to as an honored guest of the village elder, he finds her already on her death bed. There’s nothing her companion can do. All Tonari asks is that Fushi stay by her side until she “croaks”, and also show her all of the friends he’s made.

Fushi proceeds to transform into everyone from the original Boy to Tonari’s dead family, noting that his friends Tonari and Sander are still alive (he’d know if they weren’t). But what he doesn’t realize is that the two of them are right beside him, though Tonari soon dies and Sander says goodbye without revealing their identities.

It’s only when Fushi takes Tonari’s form and finds her journal behind her back that he realizes it was her all along, and that it’s always better to have many arrows than one. Now Tonari is part of his shapeshifting quiver. He soon runs into Hisame in the woods.

He wants to remove her Nokker arm, but she refuses, even when he transforms into Tonari. That night after wrapping her arm, she tells him that is her and her predecessor’s dream to have a child with him, which she hopes can happen if they “sleep together”. Both of them take this literally, which is obviously for the best!

The next day Fushi finds Hisame’s minders and returns her to them, and there’s a moment of levity as the Beholder tells Fushi that his reproductive organs work just fine, so he can “go to town” whenever. Again, Fushi takes this literally to go into town to make friends, and the Beholder doesn’t comment further, leaving Fushi to either figure out things in that arena to himself or not.

He travels from city to city, never staying longer than a couple of days lest the Nokkers have time to show up and take root. He has little luck making new friends, largely because whenever they seem friend-worthy he worries about watching them die, and breaks things off.

His only constant companions in the ensuing years are leaders of the Guardians, starting with Hisame’s Daughter (who was born many years after she and Fushi parted ways). Then her granddaughter, great-granddaughter, and so on for a few more generations show up, the latest being Kahaku, the first male successor. One would hope at this point in time that Hayase’s fye has mellowed a bit.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 01 – Building Immunity

My first concern was that this second season of To Your Eternity wouldn’t feel quite right if the OP changed. Fortunately, the creators thought the same thing, and kept “Pink Blood”, just as House of the Dragon wisely kept the Game of Thrones theme for continuity’s sake.

When a village is suddenly attacked by Nokkers, there are those who come to protect the villagers, but Fushi isn’t one of them. He’s isolated himself on an island for forty years (two of them in the sea as various creatures), using his various forms to kill Nokkers as they come … and turning their dead cores into jerky.

Fushi thought the Nokkers were only interested in him, and so would only come to him, leaving the rest of the world safe from them. But one day the Beholder tells him that’s no longer the case. They’re attacking a village on another island, possibly to lure him out.

Fushi thought he was protecting humans by staying put, but now that he knows they’re still threatened, he doesn’t hesitate to make preparations to head there at once. But before he does, strangers arrive on his island, led by a nine-year-old girl with familiar eyes and hair.

She’s Hisame, the granddaughter of Hayase and a leader of the “Guardians”, a group that for the last forty years has been devoted to revering and one day supporting the Immortal One. While Hisame is a perfectly nice little girl, Fushi finds himself repelled from her, no doubt due to her connection to his former tormentor—not to mention the murderer of March and Parona.

Fushi keeps his distance, but one night when Hisame tries to sleep beside him, her grotesquely veiny arm reaches out as if outside her control. Turns out there’s a Nokker core within her arm, which was passed down to from her grandmother to her mother and now her. The Beholder explains that it contains the “fye”, or soul/spirit, of Hayase—and with it her will.

Fushi is weary, but he feels bad about regarding Hisame so suspiciously when it’s only that growth in her arm—a separate entity—that troubles him. He also can’t deny that he could use all the help he can get against the Nokkers. The Beholder suggests he get closer to Hisame little by little, building up an “immunity” to the negative feelings.

That night he builds boats for him, Hisame, and her party to take to the island where the village is being attacked by Nokkers. Hisame and the Guardians head into town first to get the lay of the place. While Fushi sits along from a high vantage point, he encounters two adult doctors who are there for the same reason he is: to help.

They also know Fushi the Immortal One well, as he’s become legendary throughout the land these last forty years. The female doctor closes in and warns him to stay weary of the so-called Guardians, who are only interested in one thing: possessing him, as Hayase did.

Hisame arrives in time to hear that and disputes it, and everyone heads into the village for dinner. There, Hisame insists the Guardians only want to help Fushi escape his “emotional prison” and aid him in defeating the Nokkers. She then asks her servants to serve everyone tea. The female doctor launches into a monologue about building up an immunity to the poisonous “silver bat”.

In the middle of her talking, both Fushi and her fellow doctor pass out, the result of poisoned tea. But she is still conscious, and even identifies the poison as morning glory. She asks for another cup of tea, which contains a different poison, but she’s immune to that too. Hisame calls for her comrades to seize her, but they’re all knocked out … by an owl.

Hisame then realizes who she’s dealing with: Tonari, who is now in her fifties and even tougher and more resourceful than her 14-year-old self when she first met Fushi on Jananda. She won’t let the reincarnation of Hayase and the Guardians have him so easily.

This second season had be excited for many reasons. First, Fushi can finally speak and act like a normal human due to all his past experiences and the benefit of time. He’s also a lot shrewder with his shapeshifting and better at hunting Nokkers.

I also like the big time jump. It makes sense that a forty years would hardly feel like anything to an immortal being, and I look forward to seeing how the world has changed since his absence, and who else besides Tonari may still be alive and well. And while the end theme did change, it’s very similar to, and just as trippy and weird as the previous one. I’ve missed you, TYE.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Made in Abyss – S2 12 (Fin) – The Cradle Falls

As tends to be the case with momentous episodes of Abyss, I’m still a bit overwhelmed with emotion, but I’ll do my best here. As a resurrected, better-than-ever Faputa and a game Juroimoh prepare to battle the invading beasts, we’re taken back to simpler, more innocent times, when Faputa first found Gaburoon.

Buried and covered in flowers, Faputa brought bits of scrap to him to enable to repair himself, while he tought her language, specifically that of her mother Irumyuui. What looked like an upside-down person turns out to be the symbol for haku, or that which matters most to someone. We watch, this time from Faputa’s perspective, as she encounters Riko, Reg, and Nanachi.

Gabu teases Faputa for resorting to subtler, more indirect methods that only served to confuse our lead kids—call it a measure of the shyness she inherited from her mother. Back in the present, while Faputa presses the battle, a transformed Majikaja serves as an escape vehicle for Riko, Reg, and Nanachi, as well as Moogie, Pakkoyan, Maaa, and other Hollows.

Maji takes them to Wazukyan, from which Vueko has already escaped and who is near death. In his usual friendly way he warns Riko that there is nothing ahead for her but despair, but she tells him as he crumbles to dust that things won’t necessarily go the way he’s foreseen.

As Riko is reunited with another page from her mother’s journal, the freed Vueko ascends a staircase while thinking about the one solid decision she made in her life: the choice to become Irumyuui’s mother. Unfortunately, she forgets the Sixth Layer’s curse is loss of humanity.

A quick-thinking Pakkoyan sacrifices herself to keep Vueko from being killed, but she is still transformed into a non-verbal hollow. Nanachi takes Vueko and brings her aboard Majikaja with the others.

Reg shocks Faputa by joining him in battle—this time on the same side—and apologizing for challenging her. Riko blows Prushka once more (causing her to pass out with a bloody nose), and Riko goes into Overdrive, allowing him to dispatch one of the two turbinid dragons who pose the greatest threat to Riko and the others.

This also gives Faputa time to go to Moogie and the other surviving hollows with the goal of consuming them and their value so she can do what she came here to do: put her long-suffering mother to rest. Just as they had no problem giving parts of themselves to resurrect Faputa, they have no problem becoming the nourishment Faputa needs.

After sending the black-turned-white goo throughout the structure of IruBuru, causing it to crack and shatter, Faputa is drained of energy an no longer able to fight. A piece of falling rubble wallops her and she begins to fall. She thinks of Vueko, the one person she has no memory of. She also thinks that the end is near; that she’ll die when she reaches the bottom. But she doesn’t; Reg snatches her with his extend-o-arm.

The rubble does a number on Majikaja’s body, and when he can no longer move, his true, semi-gaseous form emerges and briefly possesses Faputa. When he too passes, Faputa is able to come face to face with Vueko, her spiritual grandmother, and while Vueko can no longer talk, Faputa can hear her lucid thoughts.

Vueko tells her the kind of girl Irumyuui was, how Faputa is similar and how she’s different, before passing away peacefully, full of nothing but love and gratitude for the little girl that changed her forever. Faputa sheds tears for Vueko, despite her not “belonging” to her, and Riko, Reg, and Nanachi gather around to offer comfort.

The village borne from Irumyuui is now a pile of rubble, and Faputa’s mother is finally free. Following the customs she learned from Gabu, Faputa gives Vueko a proper burial, then sets up some companions with some smooth rocks so she won’t be lonely. After this, Faputa seems unsure what to do next, freed from “value” and now having been given the choice to live her life as she sees fit.

Reg suggests she join them. While he still can’t remember her or the details of their promise, he still wants to know her now, and go on an adventure with her. Faputa isn’t at all opposed to this, but does not agree right then and there. That’s to be expected of someone who has only very recently discovered such a thing as free will beyond an now-fulfilled genetic duty.

What I’ve described so far are the myriad events that unfolded in this double-length season two finale, but there’s no substitute for experiencing this episode and all of its nuances for yourself. It was one of the finest episodes of anime I’ve had the privilege to watch, and like Vueko with Irumyuui, I’ll never forget it.

There is sure to be another film or a third season that will continue Riko, Reg, and Nanachi’s journey still deeper into the Abyss, into darkness warm and cold, cursed by love and longing. This sequel had large shoes to fill and filled them ably. So too will the next sequel.

RABUJOI WORLD HERITAGE LIST

 

Made in Abyss – S2 11 – Royal Awakening

Due to Reg’s “foolishness”—i.e. not wanting to kill a dear friend he’s only now coming to remember—Faputa ends up knocking him out, and asks Juroimoh to hold him down while she deals with her next target: Riko, the one who “made Reg this way”.

All White Whistled out, Riko is in no shape to stand, and Faputa could go right through her Hollow defenders. But even her best punch can’t go entirely through Gaburoon, who stops her from killing Riko in order to “protect her future”.

Gabu collapses, and Faputa reaches deeper into the darkness: if she simply destroys everything, then everything will end. Returning her attention to Riko once more, she is once more stopped by an outside force: this time Belaf, accompanied by a Nanachi resplendent in their new Mitty Armor.

Their weapon of choice? A purple goo that resides within Belaf and contains memories of Faputa’s mother. These “smelly” memories represent Belaf’s ultimate treasure, but instead of perishing with him, they seem to unlock something in Faputa.

Overwhelmed by the intense visceral power of the memories of people and things completely unknown to her, Faputa pauses her carnage. Wazukyan takes this opportunity to flee with Vueko, while Nanachi wonders if this was all part of Wazukyan’s plan to use Faputa’s wish-granting power to make a village of out Riko like he did with Irumyuui.

But then the consequences of Faputa’s more recent actions take center stage: with the barrier down, the layer’s beasts waltz right in and help themselves to a Hollow buffet. Left and right, Hollows are stalked, torn apart and gobbled up by the beasts.

Faputa attacks the beasts, justifying her protection of the surviving Hollows as merely not letting anyone else have her prey. Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to, I say. But soon it’s clear her fight, while valiant (and bloody as hell), is as hopeless as the Hollows’ fight against her had been.

There are simply too many beasts, and they’re very big and strong. It takes one last blast from Gabu before he dies to deter a Turbinid Dragon from curb-stomping her, but she still gets flung over halfway across the village.

Her scuffles with the beasts have left her all chewed up, missing limbs, coughing up blood, and immobile. She passes out believing she has no value because she failed to do “what she was born to do.” But she wakes up surrounded by Hollows, each of whom chops off a a small piece of themselves for her to eat, until their unlikely savior is not only fully healed, but…I’ll go ahead and use the crude but apt term “souped up.”

Faputa also suddenly finds herself surrounded by things she didn’t know, from her mother to Gabu, to Reg, and this leads her to ponder just what else she might not know. What is beyond her duty, which she believed to be her only value? Well, as Belaf said as she absorbed the memories he willingly offered her as she destroyed him, the time would come when she’d decide her own value.

That time has now come, and it once again unlocks something in her as a weird green glyph glows in her golden eyes. The Scorching Sun, once a volatile may have just evolved into a more mature star, poised to defend her sundry satellites from the incursions from outer space with her golden light.

Made in Abyss – S2 10 – The Scorpion and the Frog

Belaf can sense it: the storm that is Faputa has come to finally punish him and the others for what they did to her mother. In preparation for this, he entrusts all of his memories and value to Nanachi, and then releases them. However, he warns Nanachi that once they take Mitty past the barrier of the village, she will disappear, like all things born within it.

While Nanachi loves Mitty and wants to be with her forever, they still aren’t prepared to sit by and do nothing for the rest of their life, especially if it means abandoning Riko and Reg. So Nanachi decides to say goodbye (or at least “see you later” to Mitty on their own terms, in hope that one day Mitty’s soul will return to them.

The little Hollows who had taken a liking to Nanachi and Mitty follow them outside to their doom, but not before presenting Nanachi with a new headpiece that resembles Mitty, so in a way, Nanachi can always carry her with them. This entire harrowing, heartrending, tearjerking scene takes the place of the OP, so I knew right away this episode was going to be special.

Reg wakes up to find that he, Riko, Maaa, and Moogie are being protected by the giant Interference Unit from the carnage going on inside the village proper. We aren’t spared the visuals of said carnage, as Faputa darts around like a lethal fluffy spear, making bloody mincemeat out of every hollow in sight. They try to protect one another from her wrath, but it’s abundantly clear they haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell against her.

Reg knows that he is the only person strong enough to stop the mayhem. He also understands that he might be the only person Faputa cares enough to listen to, especially in her hopped-up state. Their clash in the present is intercut with the day they met centuries ago, when Faputa was grieving the then-damaged Gaburoon (the big robot).

Eventually, Faputa came to trust Reg because he wore a helmet similar to the Gabu’s design, and protected her until Gabu self-repaired. In the present, she thrashes whales on him, trying everything to get him to remember. When she thrust her extremely malleable limbs into his mouth and began to inflate him, I feared for the worst.

All hail Kuno Misaki, who turns in a tour-de-force of a vocal performance as the two Faputas, making her a wide-eyed, bubbly, joyful figure in the past and a bitter hateful one in the present.

What she’s never not is sympathetic, both due to the circumstances that led to her birth and the life she led up to that point. So when Riko blew into Prushka, Reg transformed, and it looked like this would be over soon, I was fully prepared to weep for Faputa’s imminent demise.

That demise never comes, but the tears did. That’s because Reg never stopped being kind to the point of foolishness. It isn’t in his nature to kill anyone or anything, most especially someone who he is only still starting to learn played such a crucial role in his earlier days.

As their increasingly violent (and beautifully animated) duel continues, we witness the day Reg began the ascent from the Abyss find his “HAKU”, or “number one precious thing”, when he promises to return to her. But then, as now, Faputa wasn’t just a lonely girl who took a liking to Reg. She was rage and vengeance incarnate.

Just like the scorpion couldn’t help but sting the frog before they crossed the river, Faputa cannot help but carry out the mission she was created for: to be the feet and arms and claws and teeth her mother had lost ages ago, all of them to be turned onto those who hurt her again and again to save themselves.

Reg and Faputa both being unable to fight what they are means that at episode’s end, she has the upper hand against him, and seems poised to put him down for good. The questions that abound: Can Riko blow the whistle again to give Reg a boost? Is there any reasoning with Faputa? Will Nanachi and their new headpiece and inherited memories and value save the day? Is saving the day even an option?

RABUJOI WORLD HERITAGE LIST

Made in Abyss – S2 09 – Edge Part is NOT Fine

Reg heads back to the Hollow Village we now know to be Irumyuui, while her daughter rides atop his head and asks for pats. Riko is there to greet him at the boundary Faputa cannot go past, but she sits just outside that entrance, glaring and quietly growling at the sight of Riko and the White Whistle she bears. Shortly after Reg enters with Faputa’s severed arm, the Balancing goo starts going nuts.

When Riko asks what’s up with the arm, he says Faputa gave it to him and promised to five him all of her if he kept his promise. Reg wants to try to use the arm to bargain for Nanachi and Mitty, but Vueko warns him that showing Belaf that arm might “break” him, only making things worse.

Wazukyan shows up, and despite having heard the things he did, Riko admits she likes the village and how she feels like she’s with her brethren: those who descended beyond the point of no return are a rare breed. Wazukyan also isn’t fooled by Vueko’s disguise, but is happy to see her.

However, Wazukyan only seems to be stalling, for Juroimoh eventually bursts out of the ground (named, we learned, after the “piece of trash” who took Vueko in long ago). As the guardian and will of the village, he lashes out at Reg and Faputa’s arm, which he sees as direct threats (he’s not wrong).

When Juroimoh melds with the Balancing goo and envelops Reg, Riko, and all the Hollows in the vicinity, he has no choice but to try to cut through it with his Incinerator, which can “change the laws of the Abyss”. He unleashes an attack that neutralizes Juroimoh, but also blasts a hole through the village walls.

And waiting just outside that wall that now has a gaping hole is Princess Faputa. Reg, who is minutes from passing out, won’t be conscious for what’s to come, but it’s clear Faputa is happy that he “made the choice” to grant her access to the village, even if she doesn’t know it was (mostly) unintentional.

It’s here where Kuno Misaki breaks out her creepiest, most eveil “REDRUM” voice as Faputa gives a little speech about how she won’t forgive one single iota of what the Hollows were, are, or have done, remarks how long she’s been waiting for this moment, and promises that there will be nothing left but dust of the lot of them. I assume that doesn’t mean Reg, but what’s worrying is that he’s not awake to make the case to save, say, Riko.

Juroimoh’s Balancing attach surrounds Faputa, but she changes the black goo to white and ends up completely healed from her previous self-mutilation. She then launches herself at the mass of Hollows, likely to cut through them like a hot knife through butter. Even Nanachi wakes up from their bliss to observe the roof of Belaf’s cave has been blown off.

Belaf tells Nanachi that it’s time to awaken, for starting now, it’s no longer a dream, and the episode ends with a new haunting Kevin Penkin piece, seamlessly blending modern synths with orchestral bombast and a lot of neat dissonance and syncopation. Trust me, I’m no musical expert, so suffice it to say it sounded awesome. But I fear for what’s to come.

Made in Abyss – S2 08 – The Child

Reg wants to know what he promised Faputa long ago, and in response, she rips off one of her arms and ears and tells him she’ll “offer up her all” if it’s for the promise…which doesn’t really help Reg understand what it was, only how important it is.

From there we return to Vueko’s torrid tale. Wazukyan shows her what Irumyuui has become: a sedentary pink juggernaut that gives birth every day to larger and larger doomed young. Wazukyan now slaughters them live and they cure everyone of the effects of the living water.

While Vueko has more or less recovered fully, Belaf fares much worse, racked with guilt over eating Irumyuui’s young (and finding them tasty), and he always looks like he’s about to pull his face off. Wazukyan offers to show her how to prepare and cook the young, but she can’t bear it.

What follows is Vueko’s first attempt to kill herself, but Irumyuui is still in that hulking mass of flesh somewhere, and she convinces Vueko not to do it with her warm embrace. Eventually Irumyuui grows too large for the caves where they dwell. Vueko and the others follow her as she finds a spot out in the open, sheds her skin, and starts to devour the flying monsters they find there.

While at least one Ganja member gets carried off by one of the flying monsters, the end result is Irumyuui creates a green portal not unlike the lift that bore them all there from the higher Layer. Belaf, truly at the end of his physical and emotional tether, steps through the membrane and is instantly transformed into the snakelike creature of the present.

The others follow, one by one, shedding their human bodies and being transformed into the hollows that define their innermost desires. The only holdout is Vueko, who would rather jump off a cliff, but Wazukyan still has plans for her, and grabs her with an arm reinforced by one of the many Cradles of Desire he’s instructed the Interference Units to find.

When Vueko next wakes up, she’s naked, restrained, and kneeling in the mass of dark mud-like goo where Riko would discover her centuries later. Wazukyan tells her she’s now within Irumyuui’s brain, where she can commune directly with her. She accepts her new task of naming, singing to, and caring for the countless “children” of Irumyuui, deep in the warm darkness.

But gradually, quietly, Irumyuui was growing a different kind of child, a creature who we learn to be Faputa. When Faputa hatches, she goes on a rampage, for which Vueko is glad, since Faputa embodies all of the pent-up resentment and despair of her mother, who can no longer speak or move.

Back in the present, Vueko tells Riko that she believes Faputa’s ultimate goal is to destroy the village and free her mother, who, as it turns out, physically became the village. If and when I ever rewatch, those earlier episodes when Riko & Co. first find the village will hit different.

Did Reg promise long ago to help Faputa carry out her goal? We’ll obviously find out soon. In the meantime, Riko finds herself in the middle of a very volatile situation. Vueko’s only desire is that she not forget who Irumyuui was, and I don’t believe she’d miss it if it were Faputa’s (and thus Irumyuui’s) will for the village to die.

Made in Abyss – S2 06 – Gooey Tokusatsu

When Riko starts seriously considering giving up her eyes or legs (she reckons she needs more than half of her organs), Majikaja and Maaa stop her from striking any kind of deal with Belaf. Both Maji and a briefly lucid Nanachi warn her “it’s all over” if she does, and Maji and Maaa drag her out screaming.

Once back outside, Vueko turns their attention to the start of a “Luring”, when the Hollows, who cannot leave the village, lure creatures in so they can hunt them. Only in this case the Hollows bit off more than they could chew with this creature in question, and it starts methodically slaughtering them.

When the creature nears the shop where Prushka is being worked on, Riko races there, but to her surprise the shopkeeper freely offers the whistle back to its original owner, as that’s the whistle’s desire. (The shopkeep also mentions having come while polishing the whistle, but that’s neither here nor there…)

The big goopy purple menace is soon confronted by Juroimoh, one of the biggest Hollows in the village and also one of the Three Sages (presumably the one who replaced Vueko). While Juro is as big as his opponent and he fights boldly, his attacks don’t have much effect on the creature.

When the creature threatens to destroy the market district, Riko, armed with more knowledge from Moogie (the restaurant lady), prepares a gambt to save the district and neutralize the threat. It all starts by souping up Majikaja by offering her trademark twin tails.

She rides hot rod Maji as they lure their purple foe away from the market and into an open space, where Riko prepared for Hollows with fire affinity to ignite the creature, then called upon another group to create a restraining web around the stunned creature, and then yet another group to poke and stab it until it’s dead.

The entire village rises in celebration and applause for Riko, who proves she’d make a good strategist in DanMachi. When she describes why she decided upon the course of action she chose, it only further demonstrates just how bright, resourceful, and quick-thinking this girl can be when the shit hits the fan.

When the party is suddenly interrupted by the purple goo monster reviving and then reaching out with tendrils to grab a number of Hollows, Maaa is one of the victims. But before Maaa is destroyed, Riko cries out, and Prushka hears her, and tells her to use her.

The whistle reverberates throughout the village and the Abyss, and in the blink of an eye, Reg is there, his helmet and necklace white instead of their usual black. He tells Riko that the moment he heard the whistle, he knew where he had to go and what to do. He asks her to keep directing him.

The creature is either dead or gone before Reg can attack it again. Wazukyan arrives, and explains that the creature wasn’t a single entity but rather a massive collective organism, a floating nest composed of millions of individual males around a central queen. When Riko asks him how she can trade for Nanachi and Mitty, he says a part of Faputa would do the trick.

Back at their accommodations, Riko tells Reg how Belaf would only trade Nanachi and Mitty for something equal or greater than the value of a human child. Vueko, in her most loquacious state in literal ages, proceeds to tell Riko who she really is, and how due to the time distortion of this layer, she couldn’t tell her how long ago she and Ganja first set out on the journey that brought them here.

While telling her tale and also talking of Faputa, Vueko’s inner voice asks Irumyuui if she brought these children here. She also noted her surprise Wazukyan could still “get that scared”, clearly seeing beyond his static outward appearance.

She tells Irumyuui that the time has come for her to dredge up her “existence, memories, and desires”, as Reg sets out to meet with Faputa again. Whatever the strange item is that the episode closes on, it must be the “embodiment of value” that trumps all else; and it’s most likely somewhere inside Faputa. Is she a time capsule? A time machine? A nuclear bomb? Or all three, or neither? The mind races…

Made in Abyss – S2 05 – Within the Eye

After his encounter with Faputa Reg is not only lost, but being tenaciously pursued by a turbinid-dragon, who is able to read his moves and even chip his metal arm. Reg is rescued by a fellow robot—AKA “Interference Unit”—who gives him a ride home.

The unit doesn’t know why Reg was built, only that it’s unheard of for units to ever cross layers, and that he’d prefer if Reg left as soon as possible, as he worries he could lead to the ruin of this delicate place. He honestly might not be wrong!

After briefly meeting Wazukyan, who seems friendly if a bit spacey, Riko takes the opportunity to learn the basics of the Hollow language from the bilingual proprietor of the canteen. Being a child, Riko picks it up pretty fast. She learns, for instance, that the name of the village, “Iruburu”, means 50% “village”, 40% “cradle”, and 10% “mother”.

Her language teacher also directs her to Doguupu, AKA “within the eye”, a place at the edge of the village where Hollows can’t go, but non-hollows like Reg and Nanachi might. Riko and Maaa head there, descend into a pit of sticky mud…and encounter Vueloeluko, AKA Vueko.

Riko is astonished to find another human, but Vueko is so out of it she’s initially not sure if she even is human. After all, can a human really live the 1,900 years since they found the island where Orth would one day be built? The fact she’s restrained by several tendrils also suggests to Riko she’s a “bad person”, and Vueko can’t really deny that.

She tells Riko a tale of how the origins of Iruburu “aren’t very nice”, and she was blinded by greed wanting to become somethng beyond human. So she leads her quiet dreary existence in this mud pit, naming the hollows who enact the “balancing”, singing, and basically just straight chillin’.

She also says that however awful its beginnings were, the village is now a relatively peaceful place full of children who lost their human bodies but whose souls remain carrying on. But bottom line, Riko wants to find her friends, so she frees Vueko, brings her up to the village, and gets her some clothes.

Vueko leads them to Belaf’s cave, but doesn’t go in there with them; clearly there was a falling-out between them and the present Belaf would probably prefer if Vueko stayed imprisoned in black goo forever. Belaf doesn’t threaten Riko—indeed, he’s in awe of a human child in this place—but he doesn’t spare her the weight of the present situation.

Nanachi is there, but they’re unconscious, put to sleep by “smoke”, as a distraught Majikaja puts it. He had no idea how important Mitty was to Nanachi, you see, so could not have predicted this would be the end of Nanachi’s journey. When Nanachi saw Belaf eating Mitty (who can be eaten infinitely and not die, but simply remains forevermore), they “sold” themself in exchange for Belaf giving him Mitty.

Riko recognizes Mitty and stares her in the eye like the time, and credits Mitty and her haunting eye in particular with saving her life when she was in a very bad way medically. Since this is a place of buying, selling, and negotiation, Riko asks Belaf what she’d have to offer in exchange for Nanachi and Mitty.

At first Belaf says he wants her entire body, but Riko reminds him how tremendously valuable she is in this place. Unfortunately, his final offer is for her to choose which of three things to give him that will satisfy him: both her eyes, both her legs, or half of her innards. Let’s just say I do not envy Riko’s predicament. I can’t help but think force (i.e. Reg) will be needed to free Nanachi…but then, do they even want to be “freed”, or are they free already?

Made in Abyss – S2 04 – Finding Their Treasure

No sooner does Reg come face to face with Princess Faputa than she jumps on top of him, and he sees that she’s not as, shall we say, abstract as most of the other Hollows, but rather is much more like Nanachi. Flashes of memories of Faputa run by in his head, but he can’t remember anything. Not only does Faputa know Reg, she knows him as “Reg”, even though that’s the same name Riko gave him a long way up ago.

More to the point, she considers him her Reg. She pierces his navel and threatens to look down his trousers, but Reg manages to slip away. She asks if he plans to “live in the same time as the ‘human child'”, even though he’ll remain when they die, and Reg doesn’t hesitate: he’ll stay with them till the bitter end.

Meanwhile, as Nanachi is touring the market, Majikaja explains how the village of Iruburu knows everyone’s desires—”signals of the soul”. When Nanachi says they value Mitty, Riko, and Reg most, Majikaja lets on that Mitty is actually here, in the villlage, and also name-drops Vueko’s friend Belaf.

While Faputa came on a bit too strong for Reg’s taste, the fact remains they’re sure to meet again, and soon. After all, she has the answers he’s always dreamed of knowing about where he came from, who created him and why, and who he was back then. That said, seeing how Faputa treated him, he wonders if learning too much would change who he is, and he likes who he is.

When Riko finally gets over the worst of the runs, she calls out for Reg and Nanachi, whom we both know have become engrossed in other things and in their distractedness left her alone and unprotected. It doesn’t take long for Riko to get jumped by a gang of Hollow ne’r-do-wells who once again squeeze Meinya too hard, and threaten to squeeze her too.

Needless to say, my heart fell into my feet once all those slithering appendages ensnared Riko. Thank goodness, then, for the rehabilitated Maaa, who springs to the rescue, saving Meinya and Riko, then escaping the cave when the Balancing envelops the bad actors. Having had her fill of handsy Hollows, she prepares to head into town with Meinya, but then invites Maaa to join her, having proven they’ve got her back.

She squeezes herself into a very hip and popular Hollow restaurant, orders something a Hollow with a mouth is eating, and proceeds to get something she was not expecting. The proprietor tells her it’s spicy roasted testicles, and after a beat or two Riko realizes the Hollow spoke in her language. She’s not the only one there who can, either; sitting near the end of the bar is a towering, venerable-looking Hollow called…Wazukyan.

So, we’ve got Irumyuui becoming Faputa, Wazukyan becoming…that thing, and when Majikaja leads Nanachi to where Belaf is, we learn he’s become a kind of armored serpent-dragon thingy. Of course, Nanachi isn’t there to see Belaf. They’re there to see Mitty, who is stuffed rather ceremoniously in a decorative pot and seems as pleased to see Nanachi as those dead red eyes can relay.

As Nanachi drinks in their reunion, Vueko’s voiceover comes in, saying that once someone finds “their treasure”, their value “transitions” and their journey ends. For Nanachi, that treasure is Mitty. For Reg, it’s recovering his forgotten past. For Riko, it’s finding her mother and/or the ultimate journey’s end—the bottom of the Abyss.

Then we see that Vueko has hardly changed at all, other than growing longer hair, ditching clothes, and wading for who knows how many years in the very black mass of goo that goes about doing Balancings. We’re sure to see more of Vueko’s pre-goo experiences, but for now the past and present have officially merged.

P.S. “Those Everyday Feels”, the track that played when the Layers of the Abyss were first introduced and accompanied the first season’s Next Episode cards, makes a comeback this week. It’s one of the simplest but most stirring of Kevin Penkin’s tracks, and also one of my faves.

Made in Abyss – S2 03 – The Ruthlessness of Value

Nestled deep within the Golden City lies an entire village full of hollows like Nanachi, only those who chose to become so in order to endure in the Sixth Layer. Majikaja takes Riko, Reg, and Nanachi on a tour, and show them where Prushka ended up. While initially it looks like a hollow is chipping away harmfully at the whistle, Riko can sense that Prushka “doesn’t mind” and Majikaja confirms that shaving the whistle down to a purer form increases its “value.” And in the hollow village of IRUburu, value is everything.

Majikaja, whose automaton body we learn is actually only a vessel (their real form is sloshing around in the body’s central tank), takes our delvers to the hollow market, where everything is assessed, bought, and sold. Majikaja makes it clear that human children are among the most valuble, but Riko puts her foot down: she’s not here to sell pieces of herself.

That said, when one of the hollows squeezes Meinya too hard and almost kills her, it is punished by a “balancing”, which is the power of the village taking the hollows possessions and finally tearing off bits of it until the damage it did is paid in full. All hollows here, who have taken the form of their desires, know that this is how things go down.

Thankfully, Meinya is tougher than she looks and survives the accidental squishing, and Riko is able to spend the money given to her in reparations to buy lodging and food. Riko is eager and excited to taste food one would never be able to taste anywhere else in the world…but since this is Abyss and there’s no bodily function it won’t explore, she ends up in intestinal distress.

Nanachi and Reg prepare to further explore the village, but there’s a big boom, and suddenly a huge procession of hollows start racing towards it. Majikaja tells them it’s Faputa, “embodiment of value”, who “can go anywhere and will never perish.” Majikaja calls Faputa a lady of high status, which Nanachi translates to “princess”. While doing recon, Reg encounters this princess.

Faputa bears a striking and completely non-coincidental resemblance to Irumyuui, the little native girl Vueko took under her wing during Ganja’s descent into the Abyss in the distant past. Here the present and past once again collide, as we watch Ganja encounter the bizarre, whimsical, and terrifying power of the Golden City and its hollow denizens for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, Kevin Penkin’s score is up to the task of capturing the combination of wonder and danger; the guy is a master of orchestral crescendos that perfectly express the emotional and physical scope and scale of the city as first viewed by Vueko & Co. I must admit I replayed the final few minutes of the episode just to get swept up in the awe.

But as Vueko remarks, as awesome and beautiful as this place is, what is most assuredly is not is safe...at least for humans. It’s both heartening and heartrending to consider that just as Irumyuui evolved into Faputa, all of the members of Ganja are probably still around in hollow form. They may even have already met Riko, Reg, and Nanachi. They may have had to cast off their human form, but the intelligence remains, and at least they are finally at peace after what they endured as people.

The Rising of the Shield Hero S2 – 05 – The Ost With the Most

Berg, Therese, and New-Look Glass are not in the bowels of the Spirit Tortoise to fight the Shield Hero and his party. No, they’re there to deal with one of their own: a fourth Hero from their world who is only causing shit for his own personal gain. Berg proposes a truce and team-up; Naofumi refuses, but says if they don’t want to fight, they can do whatever else they want.

Just like that, they part ways, even though both parties are looking for the Tortoise’s heart. Instead, Naofumi & Co. come upon a dragon hourglass. Ost recalls that it’s used to indicate how many souls the Tortoise has consumed and converted into the power that would create a barrier against the Waves. Berg & Co. seemingly find the real heart first.

Naofumi’s party soon finds what they believe to be the heart, but encounter the fourth Hero from Glass’s world, who clearly matriculated at Generic Anime Bad Guy U. Long, wild gray hair, glasses, a quasi-military uniform, and a devil-may-care attitude…he sucks, and I just want to punch him. But he is the wielder of the Book vassal weapon, and even Ost’s attacks go right through him.

When this guy doesn’t heed Naofumi’s order to release control of the Tortoise and give back the souls he stole, he lets the heart’s defense system kick in, forcing Naofumi to protect everyone with his Meteor Shield. Filo and Raph fan out and attack the heart, but as they do, they cause Ost to cry out in pain, and she eventually passes out.

This whole time inside the body of the Tortoise, Ost has been doing some serious soul-searching. Once her existence was so simple: collect souls with the greater good of protecting the world from Waves. But then why does she empathize and feel with the people whose souls she’s supposedly designed to take?

The answer, it would seem, is that she isn’t really the Tortoise’s familiar. Even with the Tortoise’s head and heart destroyed, she remains, and opens a path to its deepest depths.

The Book Wielder is there, annoyed they’ve made it this far, and reveals that Ost could be more accurately described as the Spirit Tortoise itself. She is its very core, which means if Naofumi & Co. are to succeed, they must kill her…which is exactly what she asked them to do when they first met.

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