Made in Abyss Episode 10: The Piercing Spine and a Cutting Decision

Quick Summary of Made in Abyss Episode 10

In Made in Abyss episode 10, “Poison and the Curse,” Riko’s enthusiasm to explore the fourth level makes Regu apprehensive; that feeling proves prophetic. After reaching the fourth layer, called the Goblet of Giants and part of “the depths,” an encounter leaves Regu with a heart-wrenching choice. Is he up to it? And the rabbit-earned Nanachi — is she there to help or complete the grim job that the orbed-piercer started?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

What’s In This Post

Quick Episode Summary
3 Favorite Moments
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3 Favorite Moments in Made in Abyss Episode 10

Moment 1: Riko Encounters the Orbed-Piercer

Riko’s encounter with the orbed-piercer is likely to be life altering — assuming she survives the poison. Capture from the Amazon Prime stream.

Seeing Riko’s hand impaled with one of the orbed-piercer’s spines was one of those terrifying moments when time seems to slow down (8:23). Obviously terrified, she still maintained enough poise to begin explaining what to expect so Regu would know what to do. At the same time, the orbed-piercer was still on the move, so they couldn’t just begin treatment. In this scene, the foreshadowing at the beginning of this episode (where Regu was reminding himself of the Curse’s effects if someone tries to ascend from the fourth layer) paid off: we experienced the horror along with Regu as he realized the only way to save Riko was to ascend — and trigger the Curse.

Moment 2: Regu Faces a Horrible Decision

Regu’s faced with a terrible, terrible decision. How will he resolve it? Capture from the Amazon Prime stream.

“First… you need to break the bone,” (14:00) Riko tells Regu, trying to convince him that he needs to cut off her left hand. Regu’s already drawn his knife, but he’s not ready at all. The necessity of breaking the bone first just makes it worse. To save Riko, he had to inflict terrible pain on her. And he’s not certain that she’ll survive! I’ve only rarely seen moments in fiction where I was so drawn into the character’s moment: I felt Regu’s panic and indecision. I felt his mounting panic. He saw no clear path forward. His world was imploding. The point of good fiction is to drive its characters into that moment, and then to share that moment with the audience. Talk about effective!

Moment 3: Regu’s Blind Panic

Regu despairs when he finds that Riko is no longer breathing. The camera’s intimacy makes the moment all the more powerful. Capture from the Amazon Prime stream.

The scene before has us all in an emotionally vulnerable state. Then Regu discovers that Riko’s not breathing (16:56). His blind panic and emotional collapse as he cried, “Don’t leave me behind, Riko!” reminded me strongly of another powerful scene in one of my favorite works of literature. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers, Samwise Gamgee finds an apparently dead Frodo Baggins, and Regu’s plea echo’s Samwise’s: “Don’t go where I can’t follow!” I first read that over 35 years ago, and I still tear up remembering it, if I’m not careful. Does that give you an idea of how I felt about this scene?

Thoughts about Made in Abyss Episode 10

Riko and Regu’s Splendid Voice Actors

I hope the voice actors got paid well for this episode, because they certainly earned it! Miyu Tomita, Riko’s voice actor, conveyed such pain and terror that I couldn’t help but wince in sympathy. Regu’s voice actor Mariya Ise did such an amazing job that I channeled Tolkien, as I discussed above.  That’s rare and delightful, if I can use that adjective in the context of this episode.

The contrast between Riko’s joy of exploration to her terror of dying later in the episode was heart-breaking. Capture from the Amazon Prime stream.

This week, the awe of exploration, with an occasional hint of danger, gave way to the brutally dangerous reality of the Abyss. The contrast between Riko in the beginning, where’s she practically dancing in delight at seeing the fourth level, and Riko at the end of the episode, where she’s reduced to being Regu’s bloody and broken cargo, is shattering. Only a few works of fiction have left me feeling this emotionally exhausted. It’s a testament to the creative team’s skill that I reacted this way.

Was Riko Prepared?

The second half of this episode almost makes me sympathize with the post on Anime Amino that said Riko has no business going into the Abyss. Even though I don’t agree with that sentiment, this episode hammered home just how unprepared Riko was. She had decent theoretical knowledge, but her tiny frame just wasn’t up to it. Though to be fair, a lot of very experienced adult cave raiders perished even more quickly in the Abyss. Regu’s generally resourceful and not given to panic, but he, too was pushed past his limits this week. If Nanachi hasn’t showed up, their journey would have ended then and there — and Riko would have ended up a tiny seedbed, as Ouzen feared in a previous episode.

What did you think of the episode? Were you pulled into the narrative as much as I was? Let me know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Made in Abyss Episode 10: The Piercing Spine and a Cutting Decision

  1. Overall a very insightful review, and those three moments are things that definitely will haunt may who have already invested themselves into this tale. It certainly haunted people while they were trying to eat while watching this for some reason!

    Regarding Riko’s journey, I feel that a quote from this:

    is appropriate:

    “Reg and Riko do not belong in this place. No one does, really – though mankind’s compulsion to understand the unknown (and to chase riches) will always win the day in cases like this.”

    Child or adult, death is waiting in every corner. Everything that failed to eat these children is something that could and has killed someone with the “appropriate” whistle rank. And we know about that 3rd-layer-qualified moon whistle who died to something in the 2nd layer. The one he was supposed to be good at!

    It’s honestly just a little bit of that impulsive parental hypocrisy that they say:

    “Don’t do something this dangerous, we’re the only ones who should do that!”

    “But you and I both know that you would die from this, just as I will die from this. And I am already on the path to do so. You let me be set on this path!”

    And certainly, nearly everything set her on this path. Anyone this far in the story should recognize the circumstances given: Riko is very curious and driven, so that would drive her to take the dive. And if not that, then it would be her rearing in Orth, a culture as obsessed with this hellhole. And if not that, then the very circumstance of her current life. All of these separately could drive one to dive. All together would create an existential need to do so. All of that together and I can say with almost no irony, “Maybe she, more than anyone else, has a right to be there.”

    In narrative terms, this episode specifically and the events in it were foreshadowed for quite some time: This is the layer where Lyza’s team died. This is the layer where Torka died. This is the layer where Riko was born. And then died. And became alive again. She is from this layer, and thus from the Abyss. And what the Abyss gives, it will take back, be it a thing of a life.

    And from now on, we will see whether or not she will push farther into the hell from which she originates.

    1. Thanks for such a thoughtful post!

      “All together would create an existential need to do so…” Beautifully said. I’m reminded, too, that the first thing Riko did when she resuscitated (resurrected?) was to crawl toward the center of the Abyss. So as you said, “nearly everything set her on this path.”

      Glad you stopped by!

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