Episode 8 really came and went in my mind, mostly because it’s the end of a very transitional arc and because I saw it the day before my two-week vacation. There’re some things of note to mention but the more exciting stuff happens in later episodes so I’ll get to that quickly. This will be a bit of a long one…
This episode features a hurried training arc that shows Riko and Reg’s continuing teamwork and tenacity in survival situations and trapping and killing a boar monster. It demonstrates well that Riko has a weak body but a strong psyche and Reg has a strong body but a weak psyche. Two halves that can help each other out. It didn’t feel like necessarily the level of challenge required for them to get stronger for the dangers ahead but that’s okay. Other interesting details: we see Riko’s father (young looking guy) but it’s just as quickly revealed he’s no longer alive. I find him peculiar, because of how young and seemingly ordinary he is despite that such an extraordinary character decided to choose him, it makes me think there was more to it. How new abyss divers are bred is something their society has touched on yet.
The strange symbol appeared on Reg’s helmet again and also Leader’s real name is Jiruo (he’s named now so he’s got to still be integral to the story. We also learn that time seems to slow down the deeper you go so those 10 years Lyza has been missing may not have been so long for her. She also never did write down “I’ll be waiting” and the paper it was written on is a super strong relic. Speaking of relics, Riko gets Lyza’s – Blaze Reap the everlasting Pickaxe – (found at her grave site as the “grave marker”). It is super worn down and prone to misfire. We also get what seems like really big info drops about other White Whistles, mechanics, and locations; information that is only disclosed with other White Whistles, which seems cool for now but how they will really figure into the story is difficult to tell, especially in the show’s first 13 episode season. Those are the main nuggets. With a tearful goodbye from Marulk, Reg and Riko advance to the next layer: Layer 3 – The Great Fault.
This is mainly a Reg and Riko episode besides the other surface kids that appear for more “wonder what the main characters are up to” scene. We don’t actually get all that much new aside from seeing some of that new post-training arc teamwork in play. More beautiful scenery too. The Great Fault is sheer cliff sides, and narrow, tunneling, interconnected caves. They’re filled with dangerous enemies. Creepy manta ray like Madokajacks make their first appearance and Crimson Splitjaws return (it being the floor they originate from). It’s a harrowing fight and flight situation, now that Reg used his laser on a Madokajack and it’s now a race against time to find a safe haven before he’s out of commission for two hours.
They escape but Riko is on her own for two hours, no more safety net. It’s both fun a frustrating to watch Riko on her own for once. She can’t stay put or away from trouble. Does her curiosity know no bounds? Can she not stay put? Well, she brings an unconscious Reg with her but not before being lured into the trap door mouth of an Amakagame. Its stomach is pretty defenseless against a simple knife so I guess Riko can manage but I’m surprised how little resistance some of these lower floor threats are compared to still hauntingly terrifying Corpse Weepers of layer 1. Well… that will change.
Now trapped Riko is forced to ascend and suffer curse-induced hallucinations. She sees her friends, Habolg, Marulk and even Ouzen but then her mother before appearing in some sort of dream. She’s back at the surface city Orth with Lyza who tells her she is no longer affected by the curse as they ride the elevator back up. Everyone is waiting and cheering for her in a very schmaltzy “this is such an obvious dream, wake up you idiot” kind of way. Luckily she remembers Reg who she doesn’t want to abandon above all else. It’s nice to see that being with Reg and wanting to be with him is keeping her on task and hopefully it keeps her will to live stronger than her suicidal curiosity! Reg wakes up just in time to save Riko from a Crimson Splitjaw who held a grudge from the earlier laser’s collateral damage just before Riko had a chance to test out Blaze Reap, which I was tentatively excited to see in action. She gives it to Reg and uses it to finish it off in a fiery explosion but come on! I wanted to see Riko use it. The two make it to the next layer: Layer 4 – The Goblet of Giants.
Great deal all that training did! To be honest Riko’s continuous unscrupulous, reckless, throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude isn’t helping. Like, shouting in the middle of a dangerous area because you like the way echoes sound? This is what I’ve been waiting for, however. This battle with the Orbed-Piercer is a return to battles with serious stakes. Its behavior isn’t quite as scary as the Corpse Reapers but its next level intelligence is a new kind of threat, the kind Ouzen warned about. Even Riko is showing some rare fear saying it’s best to run and not fight (where was this caution a few minutes ago, RIKO?) Blaze Reap has been knocked away so all they have to defend against is a scaled umbrella artifact that not only does nothing against the barrage of needles but Reg fails to protect Riko as her hand is skewered. The only way to escape is to ascend, which will cause extra harm to Riko piling on curse-sickness damage on top of the poison, and the lower you get the more dangerous ascending becomes. Again, Reg seems pretty much constantly out of options besides the options that puts Riko in danger but manages to escape preferring the unknown danger of the curse to known danger of the Orced-Piercer. It isn’t until we see the effects of its poisonous needles that we understand how cruel the elements of this world’s nature can be. It’s unclear how much is the abyss sickness and how much is the poison but regardless things don’t look great for Riko. The show isn’t afraid to get too graphic here as it achieves making me very uncomfortable
It’s unclear how much is the abyss sickness and how much is the poison but regardless things don’t look great for Riko. The show isn’t afraid to get too graphic here as it achieves making me very uncomfortable by putting poor darling Riko through some nightmarishly gruesome stuff. Her hand bloats up like a beached whale and Reg panics deciding (on Riko’s suggestion) to remove her arm. First, he has to break the bone so he smashes her arm will a large rock to make a break. It elicited many a wince but I never really believed that her life was ever truly in danger, protagonist powers and all that. The show might be quick to be brutal and throw away it’s supporting cast in the future but the main character this early? Well, she’s technically already dead but let’s not get into semantics. Before Reg can take the plunge to remove her arm, Riko turns purple and stops breathing making Reg panic. Then *trumpet noise* mysterious loli animal girl (calling herself a hollow) appears and tells Reg that she’s still alive and has a way to save her. The third main character that has appeared in ALL the promotional material and the ED finally appears (better late than never). The fact that the ED shows all three of them together happily exploring the 4th (and what appears to be that 5th) layers may have spoiled a bit of the drama here but having these characters all together finally was something I’ve been waiting for. I like her so far, she seems very no-nonsense and competent but with a bit of an impish nature. An ideal guide for helping the heroes continue their journey.
I’m sure I’ll have much more to say next episode about all of this. Perhaps as I let episode 10 marinate a bit, going into episode 11 I will have much to say. I hope it doesn’t slow down quite as much as the Seeker Camp arc.
Stray thoughts: (yeah I’m borrowing this idea from AV club)
- Still reeling at how great an adventure game this would make!
- Nanachi’s character design is great, more complex and dense than the others.
- This is the third time I expected Riko to wisen up and “git gud” after going through something appropriately traumatic, I’m going to bench these expectations for the time being.