Made in Abyss Book 2 includes issues 9 to 16 of Akihito Tsukushi’s archaeology adventure manga Meido in Abisu.
Riko is determined to find her long-lost mother Lyza, who disappeared into the kilometres-deep Abyss. Riko and her robot boyfriend Reg have sneaked out of the orphanage and headed into the Abyss. Foolish kids. There are many dangers in the depths; if they do manage to reach the bottom of the Abyss, they cannot return. Or so it is said.
Their journey has hardly begun when they realize that someone is pursuing them.
Habolg has no intention of dragging Riko and Reg back up to the surface. He simply believes that if the pair are determined to head off on an unauthorized foray deep into the chasm, they should have an experienced Cave Raider with them at least as far as Seeker Camp (the first significant waystation).
Riko declines his offer of help. This is not quite as foolhardy as it seems: Riko has a wide ranging theoretical knowledge of the Abyss. Reg has many useful accessories, including extendable arms, extreme durability, enhanced senses, and a built-in energy cannon. Riko can identify whatever is trying to kill them; Reg can disintegrate it (along with everything near his target).
Before Habolg lets the pair head off without him, he gives some words of advice (sadly, couched in unnecessarily oblique and vague terms). Chief among them is a warning to Riko that many of the discoveries that wait her are unpleasant. Nevertheless, Riko persists.
Despite the best efforts of the local lifeforms to consume the two kids, they make their way to Seeker Camp. More than two and a half kilometers beneath the surface, Seeker Camp is a convenient place for Cave Raiders to rest before heading deeper into the mysterious labyrinth. It is also a possible source of information; Seeker Camp’s leader Ozen is a so-called white whistle, one of the few to survive and return from the lowest levels of the Abyss. Ozen knew Riko’s mother Lyza.
Aloof and of questionable humanity, Ozen gives no comfort to Riko and Reg. Ozen believes Lyza is dead. She shares disquieting revelations about Riko’s origins. Having disrupted the children’s equanimity, Ozen then proceeds to test their combat prowess.
The text insists that Reg is a robot. Based on the info given, I would call him an android with mechanical aids, or perhaps an enhanced human with superior prosthetics. If Ozen were to break him, it isn’t clear whether he could be reassembled or if he would just die.
Riko’s culture allows casual nudity. OK, different mores and all that. But I was distressed by the sadism directed at children and young teens. Apparently it’s OK to beat children to get them to behave, to threaten them with beatings, or just to beat them to satisfy adult curiosity re their talents.
Indeed, most of the adults in this manga (on-stage or off) are unlikable. Habolg is the only exception so far. I can see why this society might be cruel. The kids in the orphanage are being raised to explore the Abyss, where most of them will die. Where their parents died. Perhaps it takes a certain degree of hardheartedness to send kids off to their deaths.
That may make sense in this setting, but (as I discovered while watching Battle Royale) I really really do not like watching terrible things happen to young people. The mysteries introduced in the first two volumes are compelling enough that I will give the third volume a go, but after that … I don’t know if I will have the yen to read more.