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Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn Review: Great characters and unique story

Journey’s Dawn puts a new exciting spin on a cliched premise.

Moreso than other genres, anime movies and television shows are willing to use similar plots. Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn is no different. An adventurous young girl and her new amnesiac robot friend are the main characters, for example. It immediately sounds like a retread. Thankfully, Journey’s Dawn puts a new exciting spin on a cliched premise.

Based on a manga and television series, Journey’s Dawn is the story of twelve year old Riko and her robot friend Reg. Riko longs to be a Cave Raider like her mother. The two journey into the Abyss, a seemingly bottomless pit filled with relics and monsters.

The animation in Journey’s Dawn stands out. The movie begins with some great looking still shots. Each scene looks like a hand drawn painting. There are also some unique looking title cards. Showing the setting or passing of time, the labels look like something scrawled in an adventurer’s journal. It is a neat and subtle addition. The attention to detail is appreciated and adds to the movie.

Backgrounds and creatures design are consistently well done. The caves of the Abyss are well detailed. As the pair head deeper, the movie does a great job of drawing its audience into a new world. The creatures look dangerous and exotic and add the mystery of the world. However, it is noticeable that many of the settings start to look similar. There is also a surprising lack of the creatures everyone seems to talk about.

Character design will depend on individual tastes. Some characters have a more “mature” design. They look epic and heroic and get across the dangers of the Abyss while also giving an idea as to the type of people who are willing to brave them. Other times, Journey’s Dawn follows the kawaii style. This can be a little too cutesy for some. Still, it is an interesting mix of styles that is used well.

The story is familiar, yet still engaging. Journey’s Dawn focuses mainly on  Riko and Reg. The two are very likable. They retain their childlike innocence without ever being naive. As things become more dangerous, the audience also sees how different their two personalities are. Watching them struggle to survive and their developing friendship is a highlight.

The effects of the Abyss are described well. As people descend, each level leads to worse effects on the human body. Eventually, the person will go mad or even die. The audience learns as the children do in class in a nice touch. This also does a great job of building tension. As the two head deeper into the earth, the audience starts to pay attention to each reaction.

Journey’s Dawn pacing is probably its biggest flaw. It moves way too fast. Characters know each other on sight without ever having met, important moments happen before they have time to leave an impact, and characters come and go. The two hardly spend any time on a level before progressing to the next one. Aside from the physical effects, the movie never gets across just how dangerous the journey can be. It is hard not to feel as if you need to see the whole series to get the full impact.

Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn does not have the most original script, nor does it need it. It’s tale is funny and well told. The animation is good and there are some great characters. it is a entertaining story that will interest its audience. 

Made in Abyss: Journey's Dawn
Is it good?
Great characters and art will engage audiences from the beginning. The story is funny and the creature design is cool.
An engaging and mysterious story
Likable and cool characters
Good creature design
Fast pacing makes it feel like you are missing out

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