There’s a lot of anime out there that try to be intelligent and careful with the crafting of their worlds. Full Metal Alchemist is one such world, a setting that has an actual past tied to its present. Wars and decisions made up to the series’ beginning result in a landscape that Ed and Al have to make their way through on their adventures. Cowboy Bebop is another world, this time a solar system full of different cultures entirely with humanity spread out across rocky moons and planets. It’s a true Wild West and one of the key issues the crew of the Bebop faces is that their past always come back to haunt them. A solar system, a world, a continent, even an island. As long as the surroundings the story takes place in feel lived in, with politics and history that extend beyond what the protagonists we follow face, there’s a certain sense of connection as the suspension of disbelief kicks in that you’re seeing another real breathing world, not just an excuse for the story to exist. What all of this brings me to is the world of Made in Abyss, small though the anime setting is, being set on an island with a giant hole at its center. History exists here in this tiny segment of the world, visible not just in the exposition of the characters but even the visuals displayed in the animation and backgrounds. As we can see, a society flourishes around this huge pit. But the reason this massive city exists is one we as a species can connect to in the same way that so many did to the mysteries of our world prior to its exploration. The same reason we look to outer space and the deep oceans of our planet: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before. Most of you may recognize my words as belonging to a series set in the outer reaches of the galaxy: Star Trek, a show with an idyllic society bent on finding out what’s beyond the galactic bend. And while the society displayed in Made in Abyss is not quite the utopian culture of Starfleet, the drive to discover and science the shit out of things we don’t yet understand is exactly the same. The only difference is the source of this curiosity. The world of this anime is a dark mirror to that sense of optimism and fellowship that Star Trek seeks to provide. Scientific discovery is the goal in each of these series. But while Starfleet does so with the absence of needs thanks to replicators and other technology they’ve created, Made in Abyss still very much embodies the greedy underbelly of the human psyche. Food, medicine, shelter. All things provided in Star Trek are just a possibility and around this abyss in the center of the island a slim one at that. According to Nat, the people who live in the slums around the Abyss often died due to the pollution and lack of resources with far too many of these deaths comprised of the young. These people resort to picking rags to turn in for some monetary or sustenance gain. The weak and infirm are cast aside by the society that values only the strength of one’s grip and the ability to pull more bounty from the depths below, as Leader demonstrated when speaking with Reg during his attempt to gain entrance to the orphanage. While scientific minds are welcome and even encouraged from a very young age judging by the schooling provided to the orphans, every ounce of this society’s focus is exploring, discovering, and ripping whatever resource they can out of the Abyss. While Star Trek’s universe is motivated simply by pure curiosity, Made in Abyss’ science is motivated by greed and with certain amounts of greed comes less concern for human life. Perhaps at first this was simply corporations and countries vying and jockeying for positions of power with the incredibly dangerous and useful artifacts that come from the Abyss. Sending willing participants, employees and desperate souls alike, down to pillage the Abyss’ mysteries. But with people come need for shelter and when people gather for long periods of time over several generations, comes new life. These new lives might have at one point been allowed to leave the island, to return to the countries of the parents’ origins. But over time, the potential use of these new recruits and the ever burning desire to plumb the secrets within the Abyss apparently became too much to bear, letting them go. Whether encouraged by their parents or the countries and corporations, children of the Abyss divers began to become trainees. With the high rate of death of those who go down into the Abyss, many of these children became orphans. And while orphanages should be given donations to care for these children, I suspect the remote location of the island the Abyss is located within and the need for all resources to be devoted to mining the artifacts combined to allow the use of orphans as first-level cave raiders to pull up the easier and more accessible artifacts that, while seemingly useless to our characters in the show, are still worth a pretty penny to the collectors that fund the current society. Over time, the frequency of death seems to have had the society around the Abyss become inured to such unpleasantries giving rise to a cold logic that death is simply something that happens to all who desire to delve deeply into the earth. It’s simply a fact of life to this culture of abyssal reverence and especially to the kids we follow as Nat calmly explained how he would have most likely died in the slums if he hadn’t been allowed in the orphanage. This cold sense of logic is further beaten into these kids by their education which seems to have become more scientifically bent than anything our own society endeavors to teach with much less focus on puritanical religion as a result. Instead, if there is a religion at all, it is based in the accomplishments of the White Whistles who travel the furthest, explore the most, and eventually give their lives to the Abyss in pursuit of this insatiable curiosity and greed. There is a suicidal hero worship drilled into every aspect of the culture. From the praising and hailing of the White Whistles as heroes and even messianic figures to the point that parades and parties are thrown in their honor discovering a White Whistle’s death or White Whistle itself, which is assumed to be the same, though I do have my doubts that’s the case for Riko’s mother personally, to the fanatical wish to eventually become a White Whistle by almost every character we’ve met so far in the series. All the cave raiders we’ve met aspire to become the next Lyza the Annihilator, Riko most of all. And with this wish comes the embracing of certain death. This isn’t just the acknowledgement that we will one day all die due to old age as our bodies and organs begin to give out, but to a relatively young death as the Abyss claims a White Whistle that goes too far forever. After all, upon reaching a certain point in the Abyss returning to the surface is impossible and only White Whistles who have mapped the lowest reaches this society knows of have gone to those depths. Reaching the bottom is tantamount to suicide because of the extremely high amounts of dangerous beasts and the overwhelmingly unwelcoming environments. With such a horrible place to live in, reaching old age at the bottom of the Abyss is incredibly improbable at least from what we’ve been told. In addition to this hero worship, there is a sense from Habolg that the society around this Abyss might revere the Abyss itself in a way, as the strange logic Habolg and Riko both mentioned about this mysterious netherworld always selfishly taking back what was once within it demonstrates. To everyone who enters this foreign world, it is their grave and they revere its almost ominous will as if it were an actual entity similarly to how elves view forests as having wills of their own in fantasy. But to return to a previous point, I want to talk about the seeming lack of puritanical religion in the world as well. In my opinion in our world, science and religion are at odds with one another with facts and measurements being the antithesis to faith blind or otherwise. And while there are some minds that can fathom that facts and measurements in this reality can somewhat coexist with faith in higher power, the fact is this is a rare circumstance for most people, let alone entire societies. In Made in Abyss however, science seems to be more important than the puritanical teachings we are familiar with in Christianity or Islam, for example. And I cite the lack of embarrassment with the naked body in the core of my belief in this theory. Riko specifically measured, poked, prodded, and sketched Reg’s body in its entirety. And while it could be argued that she felt no shame in doing so because she views Reg as a robot rather than a person, I believe there’s less focus on the concept of the naked body being a horrible thing to avoid like it is in the church culture of the United States, for example. This is further reinforced by the society in Made in Abyss handing down the punishment of being strung up naked for the entire orphanage to see as one that is not only not worthy of having CPS called on the orphanage but just a normal punishment in this society. In addition, Riko uses the word “penis” without a sense of embarrassment, using the word “chinchin” specifically. And while this is considered baby talk from my scant research in the world through the internet, I suspect it works clinically among these children given their young age. But its vulgarity to clinical ratio is ultimately unknown to me because my knowledge of Japanese is extremely limited. Either way, it didn’t seem to be intended as a vulgar way of saying it rather than just the vocabulary the creators chose to go with for the young children in the anime. I’m not sure how the manga handles it, but regardless of what it is, it’s interesting to think about at least. In addition, while the series isn’t necessarily set on Earth, it does seem to follow Earthly principles in everything but this strange abyss. So it’s logical to assume religion exists in the wider world, as it does in almost every other story in existence. However, there is no mention of religion beyond what I’ve covered previously with the reverence of the White Whistles and the Abyss itself. So either my assumption that religion exists is wrong, which I find unlikely, or it’s simply not important to anyone we follow in the story so far. Finally, the maturity and logical thought processes of Riko and the rest of the cast, aside from ironically the robot Reg, seem to focus on working through problems rather than letting them fester or worrying about what can’t be fixed. There’s an almost Vulcan way of looking at the world, to borrow from Star Trek once more, with emphasis on the scientific method in doing what needs to be done. More important than the emotional responses most of humanity would have in the types of situations cave raiders and Riko and Reg specifically are being exposed to. Regardless, this show juggles a lot of concepts in its extremely well-crafted world. I’m certain there’s more to be said about this society and much more to the concepts the show tries to introduce that I didn’t mention here. And I hope others and you viewers decide to take those thoughts and make videos or essays out of them, but for now this is the extent of my thoughts on the society. Science and greed lies at its core and unlike the utopian Star Trek, Made in Abyss is a much grittier realistic turn on the nature of humanity. If you found this sort of concept interesting, let me know in the comments below and I’ll trend more toward these types of videos. But if you prefer the more comedic videos that I make, tell me that instead. Either way, I’ll probably do whatever I want to do, but I may trend toward one or the other depending on what people want to see me do. Should you wish to speak with me directly, you can contact me on Twitter whenever you like. I’m also often on Reddit’s r/anime so you can find me in the episode discussions there as well. And if you like my content, remember to subscribe and hit that notification bell to know exactly when another video of mine goes up. You can also find a link to what I use to record and links to my other social media in the description. Whatever you decide to do or whatever you believe, remember to always enjoy the way you watch anime. Because as long as you’re having fun, that’s all that really matters. I’ll see you next time.