I always found it ironic that “Rock A Bye Baby” is supposed to be a soothing lullaby when a broken cradle and baby are anything but. Likewise, the cradle that is the Golden City is anything but safe (and I certainly wouldn’t want to sleep there).
One of the first things we hear Hollow Belaf say is “The village is a closed cradle.” We hear it again in Riko’s lesson with the bartender. We learn that IRUburu means mostly village, but also carries the connotations of cradle and mother.
Vueko later refers to the villagers as children (and from the flashback, it looks like the majority of the suicide squad were indeed kids). The inhabitants are treated like children, coddled in a safety net from the outside world, getting whatever they want- so long as they pay up. Yet, when the villagers act like impulsive children, they are punished as a severe offender, not a child who doesn’t know any better, which to me, is wholly unfair. But, that’s MIA in a nutshell, a reflection of the series’ broader attitude that childhood innocence is simultaneously treasured for cuteness and the extent to which it can be defiled, which is problematic.
If the city is the cradle, then the mother is Vueko. Sequestered in the village depths, Vueko uses the Signals of the Soul to keep watch over everyone, presumably using the Balancing goo. While Vueko says she did something bad and is locked up like a criminal, I doubt that’s the whole story. Those villagers chose their inhuman bodies according to their individual desires. If Vueko didn’t turn into a creature, does that mean she had no desire? I doubt that, given how much she wanted to journey to the Abyss. Or is it that her desire is more sinister, lurking beneath the surface? Vueko seems the opposite of dangerous. I can’t trust that though, with this series’ tendency to relish in false securities.
With Vueko being the sole dissenter to starting the city, it would make sense for the other Sages to silence her by locking her up and feeding lies about being bad. Putting up a sickness barrier to keep her out of prying eyes is also suspect. For being a small, wonderstruck child, Riko is surprisingly harsh, outright saying she doesn’t care if she’s releasing a criminal, so long as she finds her friends.
This city’s marketplace certainly takes paying an arm and a leg literally. Riko is presented with a hard choice-in addition to hair, nails, and gear, she must also choose between her legs, half her guts, or her eyes to pay for Nanachi, who is eaten by Belaf in exchange for Mitty. It’s not hard to guess which she’ll choose-only one option will still allow her to continue her journey.
Belaf drives a hard bargain because he’s had to pay a hard bargain. That Mitty was there immediately tipped me off that Bondrewd paid a visit. Bondrewd’s visits weren’t for socializing by any means-he was practically waving a hamburger (Mitty) under Belaf’s nose. Meaning that Bondrewd wanted a piece of Belaf’s body. But why? Whatever it is, it’s bad news.
What will Reg do when he discovers Riko’s bargain? I can’t imagine he’ll be happy. Right now, though, Reg has enough to deal with on his own. From Faputa’s companion, Reg learns he is an Interference Unit that collects data from a layer of the Abyss which he is not supposed to leave. Except that Reg has left his layer and furthermore, his presence throws things into chaos. For Reg who spends so much time worrying about Riko, I’m sure it’s troubling to have the spotlight on himself. I am looking forward to seeing how they develop Reg in his own right apart from being Riko’s loyal dog.
It’s pretty much a given that if Made in Abyss isn’t doing something to roil your guts, it will be soon enough. There are pretty much two modes with MiA, “horrifying” and “about to be horrifying”. While the main trio were still uncharacteristically split onto three separate tracks as we begin this week, it’s Riko’s that seems likely to generate the next big shock moment. And that’s not even factoring in whatever “the luring” is (the soul quakes at the pondering of it).
First, however, we check in with Reg, who’s managed to get himself lost. He’s still being chased by the “lanky dragon”, and in general the local fauna doesn’t seem to care for him much. After the dragon has caused him to plummet into a giant pit – and chipped his arm – it’s only Faputa’s robot that saves the day. As it turns out he can speak human language, using the voice of Takeuchi Ryota, and he doesn’t like Reg much either. He notes that things seem to go to pieces when Reg is around (clearly he too has know Reg for longer than a day) and urges him to leave the village as soon as possible.
Reg again seems tantalizing close to finding out what he is, but is left with only teasing hints. There are references to the “Shourou Layer”, and the robot refers to itself as an “interference unit” – and Reg too, though that seems to be its generic term for anything robotic. Unlike Reg it cannot leave the layer where it was placed, so if there’s to be any hunting for further truth it’s Reg who’s going to have to do it. He’s inching closer to his origin story, but each agonizing step feels like a journey of thousand miles.
Most of the meat of this episode is with Riko, who takes a few moments to learn the local language from the restaurant lady. As for Wazukyan he likewise (still) speaks her language, and seems still to be a pleasant enough sort but offers very little in the way of conversation. When Riko asks for the shopkeeper’s help in finding her friends, she’s directed to try the Doguupu – “within the eye”. The villagers don’t go there, she explains, as a sickness overcomes them when they do – but as outsiders, it’s a logical place for Riko’s friends to have gone in search of answers about Iruburu village.
In hindsight it was pretty selfish for Riko to drag Maa along – or allow Maa to drag itself along. When they descend into Doguupu she finds a series of caves, and hears a human voice – one that turns out to belong to none other than Vueko. What is Vueko doing here in this “sticky place”, surrounded by the beings that perform the balancing? She’s s a prisoner, that’s clear even before she tells Riko. This is a very ominous conversation, with talk of the extremely evil origins of Iruburu, and how opposing its creation is what got Vueko imprisoned in that underground cavern in the first place.
Vueko cannot free herself, but Riko can do so – and does. We don’t know how long Vueko has been down there but ironically, it seems to have kept her human when all of her companions have become hollows. She leads Riko to where her senses have told her one of her friends is – Belaf’s lair – and indeed, Nanachi is with the sage and Majikaja. But she’s asleep, and Belaf informs Riko that she sold herself in exchange for Mitty. But how can this be Mitty? It can’t – as it turns out it’s a copy, created by a transaction between Belaf and Bondrewd, and now being used as an unkillable food supply by Belaf.
Considering what Belaf gave up for “Mitty”, and that Nanachi gave up the entirety of herself, it’s not going to be cheap for Riko to buy them back. Hair and nails aren’t going to cut it (no pun intended). The preciousness of human children in Iruburu may make all of Riko a bit too much of an ask, but Belaf informs her that it’s going to take both her eyes, both her legs, or half her innards. In almost any other series you’d say there was no way it would come to that – but Tsukushi? Knowing he might actually go through with it is what makes Made in Abyss the uniquely unnerving experience it is. But does the fact that this is a bogus Mitty mean Nanachi overpaid, and drive down the price? If I were bargaining in Riko’s position, I’d certainly make that argument…
Well, things are starting to take shape for MiA and it’s not looking pretty. The Village holds a deep dark secret, that was sort of teased and explored in this episode. The question remains, why is Vueko stuck in that cold and sticky place, and who placed her there in the first place? She mentioned that this was sort of her imprisonment, that she went against the creation of the village, however, the restaurant Neherete explains to Riko, that the word for the village in Neherete language means something specific, words resemble Kanji and hold different meanings depending on the context. So what was it that the shopkeeper said it meant? I’ll hand it over to you for theories.
On the other hand, Reg seems to be taking the long road to remember what exactly he is and where exactly he comes from, this is a side story that has been built up since day one of Made in Abyss, today we got some answers, although not a lot. The guardians of the village mention that there are others like him, and that Reg is made of the same materials, that the guardian recognizes reg as being one of them. However not the same, as guardians are unable to leave the layer they are assigned to. Other guardians have stopped responding, maybe they’re on the layers above or below, and that is yet to be known.
I can’t help but mention that this episode pulled at my heartstrings, there were moments where I found myself almost crying, maybe it’s because I know the implications of what is to come, or maybe because this arc is showing its true dark undertones.
Nanachi found herself being face to face with Mitty once more. She was brought down here several times, a true immortal according to Belaf. So he used some dark magic, sacrificing himself in order to produce this version of Mitty, this is an exact copy and replica, down to the soul, and for what purpose? To feed himself as Mitty would regenerate and Belaf could feed once more, it’s endless suffering and pain for Mitty. At her core is love, and thus even if she might not get the full context of what is happening, she still feels everything. Same with the other Neheretes, Maa has only body language and facial expressions to go to as well. He cries when scared or angry, and can only communicate with Riko this way. In the end, Maa is the same as Mitty, at his core there is love, and he expresses it in that way. He’s a good soul so to speak, and the village recognizes that. There were never any ill intentions just pure curiosity that ended up being played out as a bad thing. It’s psychological horror at its finest.
Necromancy and cannibalism are not out of the question.
This next part is also a theory of mine, but there is something about the intrinsic value of the village, I’ve been thinking a lot about it. Not only does it resemble our world, but money, for example, can also be an argument for instrumentality. As we place value on nothing but paper. But – It seems to me that is seen through the eyes of a child, morality through the lens of naivete, so to speak. Maybe yes maybe not; I don’t know. Whatever the case, everyone must adhere to these rules. If you do something bad, you deserve to be punished for being bad, you do something good and follow the rules of society (village) and the balancing deems you as pure of heart. It all comes down to love and how children deserve it even though it might not be worth it. Or something like that. Maybe it sounds like mambo jumbo but it will all become clear in an episode or two, as we are inching ever closer to having the full story explained, and mysteries solved.
Whatever the case, I’m waiting for next week with high anticipation! Things are ramping up and it’s only getting darker from here.