Manga / Made In Abyss

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/made_in_abyss.jpg
Seems like a happy story, right?... right?!

Made In Abyss is a Seinen adventure manga by Akihito Tsukushi, serialized via Takeshobo's digital publication Web Comic Gamma. So despite the cutesy looks of the main characters, don't be fooled for even a second.

The story follows Rico, an orphan who dreams of becoming a great cave raider, much like her mother, and solve the mystery of the Abyss. The Abyss is an unexplored enormous cave system inhabited by strange and wonderful creatures, along with mysterious artifacts. Generations of bold adventurers have been drawn by the cryptic depths of the Abyss, and over time came to be known as "Cave Raiders." One day exploring the murky depths she stumbles upon a little boy, who turns out to be a robot...

An anime adaptation by Kinema Citrus started airing in Summer 2017.

The manga has very frequent graphic content and body horror that's realistic, therefore it is not recommended for the faint of heart or stomach and not for all audiences. That said there's a huge payoff in action, mystery and a unique fantasy for viewers to commit too.


Tropes for the series include:

  • The Ace: Bearers of a White Whistle are considered Living Legends, the absolute best of all the cave raiders, and the most capable of exploring the Abyss' mysteries. With access to the Sixth Layer, they must be able to easily traverse hostile landscapes and confront the most dangerous monsters, spending months if not years at a time in the pit's lower layers. Furthermore, they must possess incredible tolerance to the harshest symptoms of the Curse. Many aspire to rise the ranks and earn a White Whistle of their own, one of them being Riko. Lyza the Annhilator in particular was described to be a standout even among the elites. Indeed, her prowess is hinted at by stories of her feats with Blaze Reap, the Everlasting Pick, and a flashback by fellow White Whistle Ozen.
  • Action Duo: Reg and Riko. Riko is a strategist with encyclopedic knowledge about the Abyss and its threats, Reg is a heavy hitter packed with enough firepower to destroy any obstacles blocking their path.
  • Adult Fear: The entire town of Orth is bordered by a pit that goes down for literal miles. Kids become orphans on a regular basis because of this pit, and yet they're expected to scale and mine it for resources before even reaching adolescence, typically without adult supervision. In Episode 1 alone, Nat, a child, is knocked unconscious and nearly gets eaten by a giant snake monster, only for it to be distracted by the sound of Riko's whistle... upon which the monster chases after her instead.
  • Amputation Stops Spread: After Riko get's stung by a poisonous barb in her hand she attempts to have Reg amputate her arm to prevent the poison from spreading to the rest of her body. The only reason she kept the arm was due to Nanashi's intervention.
  • Archaeological Arms Race: A lot of the rarest, most powerful artifacts retrieved from the Abyss are seized or bought by the government and used in warfare against enemy nations. Other countries also have their own delvers, and things can get very ugly if two teams from opposing factions bump into each other in the Abyss.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: The art style for the characters is very Puni Plush in stark contrast to the lush backgrounds and visceral horrors.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: There is a colorful market in the Capital of the Unreturned. There, the city's equally bizarre inhabitants exchange goods and services based on their assigned "value", which can be tangible or sentimental.
  • Beneath the Earth: The Abyss is not just a hole in the ground: its insides are home to lush forests, upside-down waterfalls, oceans, golden cities, and the remains of long-lost civilizations.
  • Bizarrchitecture:
    • The layout for the orphanage's classroom is... unique. Seats are arranged vertically, with desks and chairs literally built into the wall opposite to the chalkboard. Children have to navigate the classroom by using rope stepladders to get to their spots and back down.
    • The Sixth Layer, the Capital of the Unreturned, is just plain weird; buildings twist and turn, mashing together like gnarled tree roots. Clock-towers stand virtually upside-down without crumbling. Many stairs turn sideways and lead into open air, and pathways stand on stilts that appear too flimsy to be supporting anything.
  • Body Horror:
    • The dangerous aspects of the Abyss have a plethora of ways to play merry hell on the human body. Evisceration, hemorrhaging, swelling, parasitism and much more. For example, when Riko and Reg enter the fourth layer, Riko gets impaled in the arm via a large porcupine monster's quill laced with venom and Reg has to bring her away before they all die from the porcupine's persistent attacks. However the only escape was up, so Riko was forced to go through the Curse while being poisoned by the quill and starts hemorrhaging from every orifice. The combined pain gets so bad that Riko practically begs Reg to amputate her poisoned arm, which Reg botches the bone-breaking and slicing procedures of. Thankfully Nanachi came to help and was able to save the arm and Riko's life.
    • The handiworks of Bondrewd the Novel hold truest to this trope.
    • In general the curse that occurs when ascending from the sixth layer results in this.
  • Bottomless Pits: Non-video game example. The Abyss is deep. It is very deep. According to the latest available map, the Abyss reaches beyond 20,000 meters below sea level. As a frame of reference, take the deepest known point on Earth (Mariana Trench's Challenger Deep, ~11,000 meters below sea level), double that length, and keep going.
  • Break the Cutie: The main adventurers are cute children. The Abyss is a merciless Death World. Do the math. Yet, this is in the end astonishingly Subverted, as whatever adversities and suffering endured by the main characters only serve to strengthen their resolve to push on ahead in their adventure, without losing their optimism, sanity, morality or sense of wonder, while barely or not even indulging themselves in self-pity or defeatism.
  • Butt-Monkey: Both Reg and Riko suffer their fair share of jokes and embarrassment, and situations almost always seem to take a turn for the worse, but the two are resilient enough to press on forward to their goals.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The town of Orth is a lively place; cave delvers are treated like celebrities and heroes, there is almost nowhere you can go without witnessing a splendid view worth a thousand words, artifacts are worth good money and have varied effects that are, if not convenient, at least a good source of entertainment, and people seem generally content with their lot in life. Even the Belchero Orphanage isn't exactly what one would consider an Orphanage of Fear - orphans are given education and job training, and the heads running them are well-meaning and reasonable, if stern. Of course, the rosy and idyllic image of the town is made unsettling considering the rampant child labor, with children being fully expected to work and/or explore the Abyss before they hit puberty, and even dreaming of going down to more dangerous depths. Delvers are treated as martyrs, and their offspring are inspired to follow in their parents' dangerous footsteps. These circumstances however have helped the protagonists become Conditioned to Accept Horror for when they do go down into the Abyss and made them mentally resilient enough to weather horrors and predicaments that would completely debilitate a child from a culture with standards more closely aligned with the developed world of reality.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Orth is a town with an economy dependent on exploring the dangerous Abyss. Its inhabitants, down to every last child, is fully aware death while cave-raiding is just part of the job, and have since accepted that as a regular part of life, to the point where they can be seen as remarkably blasé about tragic or frightening circumstances.
  • Curse: "The Curse of the Abyss". No one on the surface is sure exactly what it is, but there's something within the Abyss that induces increasingly harsh symptoms on raiders attempting to climb back to the surface, making ascension potentially riskier than even exploring. It's explained by Nanachi that the "curse" acts as a sort of weave, filling the Abyss with a sort of energy. It's easy to navigate through going down, but when you try to climb upwards it stabs into you and causes the symptoms. The effects are as follows:
    • Layer One - Light dizziness akin to Decompression Sickness.
    • Layer Two - Heavy nausea, numbness of limbs, headaches.
    • Layer Three - Loss of balance, visual and auditory hallucinations in addition to the above effects.
    • Layer Four - Whole-body pain, bleeding from every orifice.
    • Layer Five - Loss of all sensation, increased likelihood of self-harm.
    • Layer Six - Loss of Humanity, very possibly death.
    • Layer Seven - Certain death.
  • Daylight Horror: The Abyss, contrary to the implications of its name, is a brightly-lit place, with sunlight slipping past the Curse's barrier and washing the scenery in gorgeous lighting. That means little to the dangers lurking within.
  • The Dead Have Names: Despite sacrificing countless children in his inhumane experiments, Bondrew remembers each and every one of their names and dreams by heart.
  • Death World: The Abyss is home to contained ecosystems as diverse as they are numerous. However, this means that many of the fauna and flora have evolved to become incredibly dangerous to cave delvers. Prospective raiders run the risk of suffering a downright gruesome fate with every dive, and that's not even touching the subject of the Curse enveloping the entire place.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The opening of the anime is sung by Miyu Tomita and Mariya Ise, who voice Riko and Reg. Nanachi's voice actor, Shiori Izawa, joins them for the ending tune.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The further one goes down into the Abyss, the more monstrous creatures one will encounter. In fact, the deeper layers, the Curse can morph humans into these as well.
  • Eldritch Location: The Abyss. It is littered with treasures unique to the rest of the world, some with miraculous and physics-defying properties, and is home to entire worlds divided between the layers, each carrying their own host of monsters and mysteries. Not to mention what happens if one were to try climbing back out...
  • Fantastic Flora: Orth's national flower is the Eternal Fortune, or the Flower of Persistence. It's a five-petal white flower that grows nearly everywhere in the Abyss, not picky at all about what altitude, nutrients, or living space is available so long as it can set its roots in something. It's multipurpose too, as people use it for ornamental gardening, making incense, drying into a cooking spice, and scattering for celebrations ranging from birthdays to funerals.
  • Food Porn: Even on the crux of madness and injury one cannot deny a damn good meal. Riko is incredibly proficient in making savory dishes with whatever is at hand and ingredients scrounged from the Abyss itself, turning otherwise disquieting ingredients into delicious dishes, lovingly described by the author. The practice keeps our protagonists sane and motivated in the Abyss, alluded to by the extended cooking segment in the anime's ED. They're even one of the reasons why Nanachi decides to stick around with the team rather than going off on their own and/or committing suicide.
  • Forbidden Zone: Due to how hostile they are to human life, deeper layers of the Abyss are forbidden for lower-ranked explorers. Only White Whistles are allowed to freely roam all layers. And even among White Whistles, going beyond the fifth layer is considered a one way trip. Of course, our heroes' intention is to cross all of them and reach the bottom of the Abyss.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": White Whistles who are finally confirmed "dead" or "missing in action" are not given a funeral to mourn them. Instead, the people of Orth host a grand festival celebrating their accomplishments like a wake, complete with shows, music, souvenirs, and flower petals scattered about like confetti.
  • Gender Is No Object: Orth's society is meritocratic, and female delvers are seen as often as male delvers. Two of the introduced White Whistles are also female. The Abyss itself also doesn't care what gender its victims are.
  • Harmful to Minors: The Abyss is breathtakingly beautiful, but also horribly dangerous place, where even the seasoned explorers venture with a full knowledge that their chance of return is about one in two. Putting a couple of kids there is definitely not an easiest of adventures. And let's not even start about what Bondrewd does with his adopted children.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Because the Sixth Layer is considered the point of no return for delvers, White Whistles who venture past this threshold have given up the thought of ever returning back to the surface for the sake of discovering the Abyss' deepest enigmas. They can send up records of their discoveries below, but in effect no longer exist to the rest of the world outside of that.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Abyss' lower Layers have inviting and cute names such as "the Sea of Corpses" or "the Final Maelstrom".
  • Justified Title: "Made in Abyss" applies to multiple things within this work:
    • The Abyss is home to many artifacts that are valued on the surface world.
    • Reg is a robot who's more than likely to have originated from the Abyss' very bottom.
    • Riko, who was born in the lower layers of the Abyss before being taken up to the surface for safety.
    • Nanachi became what they are due to the Abyss' influence.
  • Just Before the End: It's revealed that the "praying skeletons" have been found in batches in various layers of the Abyss coinciding with 2000 year cycles. The implication is that every civilization that lives near the Abyss suffers some sort of catastrophe every 2000 years. It's no coincidence that the next 2000 year cycle is about to hit and many people in Orth are starting to die of mysterious causes right before their birthdays.
  • Lost Technology: The best way to describe the Abyss' artifacts. The surface world has little idea on how to reproduce them, hence why the town of Orth can make a living off auctioning the fruits of their excavations. Reg himself is a walking example, and his goal is to discover his origins.
  • Lured into a Trap: One species of monster bird in the Second Layer are Voice Changelings that mimic the cries of their most recent prey to attract other members of said prey to be killed by the rest of the flock. Humans are one of their prey species.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Cave Raiders are traditionally responsible for training up people (oftentimes children) into future delvers, who would follow in their masters' footsteps and raise the next generation of delvers, and so on. A necessary process, given that the Abyss has ways of cutting people's careers (and their lives) short.
  • Mercy Kill: As a rule, Cave Raiders kill people who have gone to the Sixth Layer and tried to come back since they are warped by the effects and lose their humanity. Reg does this for Mitty, after Riko confirms that she's suffering in her current form.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Downplayed. The Belchero Orphanage exploits child labor, but the kids are no more afraid of their instructors then they do a strict parent. In fact, some even enlist into the orphanage to undergo training as cave raiders, hoping to gain a better standing in life.
  • Point of No Return: The frontier between the fifth and sixth layers is considered this, as the ascension curse of the sixth layer is pretty much fatal to human beings. The sixth layer is called "City of the Unreturned" for this reason.
  • Power Trio: Nanachi joins the team in chapter 26 after Reg does them a favour, making the protagonist's team effectively a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits composed of a high-functioning Attractive Zombie girl with barely any combat prowess holding another girl's Soul Jar after chapter 38, a Hollywood Cyborg with a Superpowered Evil Side who will likely never grow up and a jaded formerly human Abyss mutant bunny person who can see the Curse and is highly experienced with the Abyss' tribulations.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Most of Bondrew's weapons and technology is powered by orphans that he has literally reduced to a liquid medium. In addition, the special whistles White Whistles carry around are made from humans, and Prushka is turned into such a whistle. Riko's one, to be precise.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Just because the Abyss is a dangerous place doesn't mean there aren't plenty of small animals living within. Many of them are absolutely fuzzy and adorable. More importantly, they are a good source of food.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: Wild nature dominates the Abyss landscape, but there are traces of civilization left standing to be explored, be it a lonely tomb from past millenia, a pirate ship embedded in a cliff-side wall, or the grand remains of an ancient city.
  • Rule of Seven: The Abyss is divided in seven layers: The Edge of the Abyss, the Inverted Forest, the Great Fault, the Goblets of Giants, the Sea of Corpses, the Capital of the Unreturned, and the Final Maelstrom.
  • Secret Test of Character: Ozen initially acts hostile to Riko and Reg in order to test whether they really have the determination to reach the bottom of the Abyss.
  • Scenery Porn: The art in both the Manga and the Anime Adaption is breathtaking. The town of Orth itself is sheer eye-candy, and the natural glory of the Abyss is lovingly and richly detailed.
  • Shout-Out: One of the small animals in the OP for the anime is white with a pink circle in the middle of it's body with a white bushy tail. It's basically a smaller Kyubey in terms of design. Fitting considering that both shows look kid friendly at first due to Art-Style Dissonance but are actually very dark anime filled with abominations.
  • Stepford Smiler: Discussed. Shiggy comments that Riko's overly-chipper behaviour might be her way of coping with her mom's apparent death, but Nat says there's no way she has such a complex personality, she is just that cheerful. Reg thinks they should just ask her how she feels.
  • The Strength of Ten Men: The Thousand Human Pins are said to grant whoever wears them the strength of a thousand men.
  • They Would Cut You Up: The kids have Reg pose as a human boy and join the Belchero Orphanage, because they fear the authorities will take him away and dismantle him if they discover he is a Treasure of the Abyss.
  • Time Stands Still: The Unheard Bell has the power to stop time.
  • Too Much Information: Riko is certainly thorough in her examination of Reg's features while he was inactive, if nothing else. Aside from testing his durability with fire and drilling, she goes on to explain how she tried to look inside Reg's rectum with a ruler, only for it to break off halfway inside him, and how realistic his penis is. The other orphans had to cut her off before she could traumatize the poor boy further.
  • Underground City: The Capital of the Unreturned in the sixth layer. Nobody knows how an entire city ended up down there, but the few reports that have made it to the surface describe it as a City of Gold.
  • Waterfall into the Abyss: Naturally. Starting from the encircling cliffs of Orth.
  • Wham Line:
    • Episode 12: "Please, kill Mitty for me."
    • Episode 13 contains a colossal one regarding the true nature of Bondrewd's experiments and what happened to Mitty:
      Soldier: It'd be different if [the orphan children] were cave raiders, but taking children, who'll never be able to return given the strain of doing so, is simply... From a humane perspective...
      Bondrewd: Oh, no need to worry. For I am not making use of them as humans, you see...
    • For the manga, Chapter 36 has Bondrewd mentioning the names of the cartridges dropped out from him. One of them is Prushka. It turns out he experimented on his adoptive daughter and turned her into a cartridge.
      Bondrewd: Ahh... It has truly been a wonderful adventure, hasn't it? Prushka...
    • And in Chapter 43:
      Bodyguard: The village is a closed cradle. If you get trapped, your value is shifted.
  • Wham Shot: In Chapter 19 of the manga/Episode 10 of the anime, the reveal of Riko's hand pierced by one of Orby's poisonous spikes. There is no dialogue, no movement, no music, almost no sound, just the protagonists' looks of shock and terror as they realize what has just happened and its horrible consequences.
  • The World Is Just Awesome:
    • The manga is rife with double-page spreads showcasing the amazing scenery of Orth and the Abyss.
    • The first episode of the anime ends with one, when Riko shows Reg the dawn in Orth: as the sun rises over the mountains, both the city and the Abyss are slowly bathed in light. Reg watches in awe from the top of the hill.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: Time seems to run slower the deeper you are in the Abyss, and it's easy to lose the track of time. Ozen claims that one time she made what she thought was a two-week-long trip to the fifth layer, but when she returned to the surface, she discovered she had been gone for months.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Even before the start of her adventure, Riko is very aware of the fact that she isn't going to return from the Abyss.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Manga/MadeInAbyss