Manga Review: MADE IN ABYSS Vol. 1-3 (2018) by Akihito Tsukushi

Genre: Dark Fantasy Seinen
Year Release in English: 2018
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Body horror, illness, vomiting

A journey begins when a plucky cave-raider-in-training, Riko, finds a robot named Reg, during one of her training expeditions into the first layer of a giant cavern called the Abyss. It goes down seven levels, with the consequences of ascension getting more and more severe the further down you go. In this world, only White Whistle cave raiders can go far below. Riko’s mother is such. Her Whistle returns and Riko sets off to find out what happened to Lysa the Annihilator.

The tone of this manga is interesting. There is so much that lures you in with the promise of something wholesome with a positive, adventurous spirit. But there are so many details strewn throughout that might suggest that this series will be darker than initially thought. This first volume of introduction is so well done in that it lays the ground rules of the Abyss for the reader. And much like Riko, there is much wonder around the secrets to be found. But at what cost, and what horrors await?

Well, we’re about to find out as this first volume ends with Riko and Reg making their descent to the depths of the known world.


Content warnings: Child abuse (traditional punishment), bed-wetting, corpses, body horror, vomiting

The wonder and majesty of the first two layers of the Abyss can only be matched with the fresh hell found within as Riko and Reg make their way. Riko’s uncle tries to stop them, but it ultimately convinced by their determination. Reg’s mission is to keep Riko safe, but that gets called into question when they meet Ozen the Unmovable, another White Whistle.

The lore of this world blows my mind. There are so many details that Tsukushi weaves in the background, with both intricate art and the pause-pages which explain a relic or a new beast.

Most fascinating, to me, are the White Whistles. Each new one we meet has been more unhinged than the one before it. Are they like that before going into the Abyss or have the various ascents through treacherous layers damaged them? Guess we’ll find out next volume when they arrive at Ozen’s Shelter.


Content warnings: Child torture, attempted amputation, poisoning, bleeding from every orifice, execution, disfigurement, body horror

Volume 3 concludes the anime. And, oh boy, is it a doozy. Riko and Reg complete a messed up training regiment with Ozen before setting off again. Between the third and fourth layers, they’re attacked by a creature. The suddenness of the ascent and a poisoned puncture wound almost spells the end for Riko, but the two are saved by an adorable fluffy named Nanachi’s whose entire backstory is one of the most fucked up things I’ve ever read. Complex and emotional charged, Volume 3 covers so much ground that I need to recover after a bit.

With regards to the depravity of the White Whistles, we start with Ozen dealing out corporal punishment to see how powerful of an Artifact Reg is. She also puts the kids out to wander without any assistance for 10 days as part of training. And then we meet Bondrewd through Nanachi’s flashbacks and just…

As I mentioned before with Volume 1, it lays out all the rules of the world. You’d think that one would be prepared for the tragedy, pain, and suffering. And yet, seeing it unfold in real time with the attention to detail in the gorgeous artwork. My eyes wouldn’t stop leaking during the last scenes with Nanachi before the volume’s end.

Bondrewd can take a hike, but I need a bit of distance before diving into this story again, because wow does my heart ache.