Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn Review: A recap for the series I won’t be going back for any more
Anime has always been a tricky medium for me to navigate through. In my personal experience, there is very little middle ground in animes that I enjoy, and I end up pretty much loving or loathing most animes that I see. None of this means that I’m never up for a new story or series and that’s what made me so intrigued to see the new Made in Abyss movie, Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn. Going in, I knew absolutely nothing about the series, but saw that there is some following to it and decided to see if I was missing out on something. Not to mention, the film is set to be sort of a re-introduction to the series, so I felt much more comfortable going in with a clean slate. Well, after now seeing the movie, I can only say that this isn’t an anime for me.
Journey’s Dawn is the first of two films that are set to be recaps of the series and showcase the adventures of Riko and Reg. Riko, the daughter of an explorer who has disappeared into a legendary abyss, has strong desires to explore the same abyss and possibly find her mother. However, she is constantly kept from exploring the abyss due to her young age and inexperience. That is, until she meets a cyborg boy, Reg, who is from the bottom of the abyss. Together the two set off on a journey to the bottom of the abyss to explore a vast new world and find Riko’s mother.
While I understand that Journey’s Dawn sets to recap the series for first-time viewers, like myself, I had an immense struggle connecting with the material on-screen. Partly, this was due to the fact that the film goes over so much exposition that was a little too much to take in all at once. There’s a lot of talking throughout the film and nearly none of it is very intriguing or engaging. I did find certain concepts to be interesting, like how the town life is structured by the abyss, how human explorers are affected differently by the abyss the deeper they go, and even the central mysteries of Riko’s mom disappearing and Reg being from the abyss. However, the film has no energy behind it, thus making the large amounts of dialogue and exposition tiring to sit through.
Honestly, even with so much exposition, I could still barely tell you much about the world, characters, and story because nothing leaves much of a lasting impression. The dialogue can be cringy at times, the environment tries to shoot for a Studio Ghibli sense of wonder but never comes close, and the story has so much going on that it’s hard to keep track of who is who and why they’re important. Outside of Riko and Reg, the rest of the characters are pretty much a blur and their relationship with Riko never leave a lasting impact.
I will say that the animation is nice at times and I did enjoy the character design, especially Reg’s, but the film never had any special moments with the animation to create unique moments. The film isn’t very action heavy so there’s rarely any moments where action is allowed to create a sense of awe or ramp up the dwindling energy levels of the film.
Frankly, the film was just plain boring, and its lifeless nature just made me tired the more it went on. As said before, the film tries to cover a lot of ground and even in its almost two-and-a-half-hour runtime it never manages to feel as epic as it potentially could be. The film’s ending tries to give off this sense of upcoming adventure and sense of awaiting wonder, but this is what I was craving for throughout the film not just to get it at the end.
While I have no problem with those that love the Made in Abyss series, I just don’t feel like it’s one for me. Journey’s Dawn, for me, felt like a bit of a snooze-fest and even in moments where I maybe started to feel invested and connected to what was happening on-screen, it quickly faded into my own personal abyss.