One trend that has taken hold in the Japanese animation market in recent years is what it sees more and more adaptations continue in cinematic form rather than television, for various reasons ranging from the most permissive timing to the length of the source material. Let’s think for example of Demon Slayer: The Mugen Train it’s at Jujutsu Kaisen 0, films that broke the Japanese box office and enjoyed considerable success in the rest of the world. It is no exception either Made in Abyssfranchise that exploded in 2017 thanks to the beautiful anime of the studio Kinema Citrus, which in 2020 saw a sequel in the feature film Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul.
Available among the anime releases of July on Amazon Prime Video, also with dubbing in Italian, Dawn of the Deep Soul continues in the wake of its predecessor by giving to the public the best animated transposition that Akihito Tsukushi’s manga could ever receive. Here is our final opinion on the film, but before continuing we warn you that there will be spoilers on the finale of the first season.
Things get serious
Announced in January 2019 as final chapter of a film trilogywhere the first two films are a re-adaptation of the events of the television series, Dawn of the Deep Soul makes its debut in Japanese cinemas on January 17, 2020, enjoying good success despite limited distribution. In Italy the film was announced in April 2021 by the publisher Dynitwhich published it in home video (blu-ray and DVD) starting from 1 September 2021, while at present it is possible to recover it in free streaming on Prime Video and for rent on VVVVID.
The film is made again at the studio Kinema Citrus (The Rising of the Shield Hero) and sees the return of the staff who brought the magic of the first season to life: Masayuki Kojima (Monster, Master Keaton) to direct, Hideyuki Kurata to screenplay, Kazuchika Kise and Kou Yoshinari to character design, Osamu Masuyama (Your Name, Ponyo on the Cliff) as art director. But above all we find the Australian on the soundtrack Kevin Penkinauthor of the unforgettable music of the animated series and a name inextricably linked to this franchise.
The story of Dawn of the Deep Soul adapts, once again in a very faithful way, the content of volumes 4 and 5 of the manga by Akihito Tsukushi, centered on the narrative arc of the Ido Front. After saying the heartbreaking farewell to Mitty at the end of the first season, Nanachi joins Riko and Reg to continue the descent in the successive layers of the Abyss. After a brief interlude in a flowery field that is anything but hospitable, the trio arrives at the fifth layer, the Sea of Corpsesthe last to which the explorers can return without completely losing their humanity due to the effects of the curse.
In order to move forward, the group of protagonists must overcome the obstacle represented by Bondrewd (Bondold, in the Italian adaptation), the white whistle responsible for the experiments that gave Nanachi its current appearance and that transformed Mitty into a deformed being, about which Riko and Reg had been warned by Ozen the Immovable, who had called him a “rogue”. Initially, Bondrewd is welcoming and friendly towards the three protagonists, who also make the acquaintance of his adorable and curious daughter Prushka. But, as everyone now knows, nothing in the Abyss is what it seems.
The charm of evil
If you think that the more grotesque, violent and repulsive side of Made in Abyss has already reached its peak in the first season, you will change your mind very soon.
As the depth increases, the dangers of the Abyss become more and more unpredictable and deadly, but this time Riko, Reg and Nanachi do not have to face gruesome monsters, dizzying precipices or other similar obstacles, but an opponent who on paper should be their own. ally. The powerful white whistle Bondrewd Il Rinnovato, now corrupted by his stay in the Abyss and his obsession with experiments and scientific progress, is the real strength of this feature film (together with the technical sector) and is confirmed a devious, insane, threatening and disturbing villain thanks to its particular design, immediately recognizable by the purple beam that crosses its helmet. To make his charisma even more magnetic, almost bewitching, there is the extraordinary performance of his Japanese voice actor Toshiyuki Morikawaa veteran in the industry specializing in playing villains: in his curriculum we find roles such as Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII) and Yoshikage Kira (JoJo: Diamond is Unbreakable). The Italian test was also very good Patrizio Prataa prominent name in Italian dubbing and known to fans for being the voice of Roronoa Zoro in one piece: his performance, albeit lower than that of his Japanese colleague, is convincing and conveys the lucid madness of the character very well.
And it is precisely to Bondrewd that all the bloodiest and most disgusting aspects of the story are linked, one of the characteristics that make Made in Abyss a unique product of its kind – especially for the contrast with the tender and puccioso design of most of the characters – and that in this film reaches a level that makes what is seen in the thirteen episodes of the animated series a peaceful walk in the park.
Mind you, this is not a component that permeates all the (almost) two hours of duration of the film, but rather a small number of sequences destined to remain imprinted in the viewer’s memory. due to the high shock factorand for this reason we give you some advice: think twice before looking Dawn of the Deep Soul if you have a weak stomach, or during a meal.
The plot certainly does not shine for originality but still reserves a couple of remarkable twists and always keeps the attention high thanks to theabsence of dead spots and to the characterization of characters like Nanachi and Prushka. The latter, voiced in the original by Inori Minase, is a new entry that we really appreciated and that will play a key role in the events narrated. In contrast, the two protagonists Riko and Reg remain essentially the same already seen in previous episodes without any distortion of their dynamics: for the moment that’s okay, but we wouldn’t mind seeing in the future an evolution, even minimal, of their personality.
An incredible wonder
In our special we said that Made in Abyss is better as an anime rather than a manga, and Dawn of the Deep Soul is the perfect demonstration of this statement.
Thanks to factors such as the less stringent working times of film productions and the experience gained by the staff with the first season, the film is an authentic triumph of animation that surpasses the source material, allowing him to bring out his true potential. And it does not matter if in the passage from paper to screen the very personal but confusing drawings of Akihito Tsukushi are lost, when in their place we find a remarkable graphic cleanliness and an artistic direction of the highest level, which is not spared despite the film is basically set in a unique location. The entire second half is also comparable to a long and adrenaline-pumping action sequence that reaches unthinkable visual heights for the typical budget and tight times of the television medium, which unfortunately increases the regret for the non-distribution of Dawn of the Deep Soul in Italian cinemas.
Even the soundtrack signed by Kevin Penkin is confirmed once again of excellent workmanship, offering not so much unreleased songs as rearranged and remixed versions of the splendid melodies of the first season. You can accuse it as much as you like of laziness, but when the final result is so incisive and exciting, it is difficult to remain dissatisfied.
Finally, as far as the dubbing is concerned, if there is very little to say about the quality of the Japanese voices, about that of the homegrown voices we must express our disappointment. Excluding the aforementioned Patrizio Prata, the rest of the cast – which sees the participation of Giulia Maniglio (Riko), Tamara Fagnocchi (Reg) and Martina Tamburello (Nanachi) – seemed quite subdued and the performances fail to convey the right intensity in the most important moments. Made in Abyss it is a small hiccup for a company, Dynit, which over the last few years has accustomed us to excellent voiceovers.