Last week’s episode of Made in Abyss ended off with Riko and Reg’s bittersweet goodbyes with Maruruk and the others at Seeker’s Camp. The group’s separation was inevitable and expected as the story wouldn’t be able to continue if the two stayed, but I came out of that episode surprised at how strongly I felt about Maruruk’s response to the pair’s departure. The weight of this scene can be and should be attributed how well the scene was composed and but something about Maruruk, their permanent place in Seeker’s Camp, and their resulting reaction to these goodbyes that was resonant for me in an unexpected way.
To explain all this though, we’ll need to start with Seeker’s Camp and its significance to the story, the abyss-divers, and Maruruk.
Seeker’s Camp is a stopover point for the weary explorers seeking to dive to the deepest depths of the abyss. Situated within the forest of temptation, it acts as a place for pause and consideration for our protagonists. Here, Riko and Reg came to understand their situation and the extent of their weakness in the face of their seemingly impossible goal. For them, it served its purpose as a temporary safe point to gather themselves and prepare for the long journey ahead. The pair’s expectation and our expectations for this haven is that people will come and then leave whenever they’re ready.
But as we learn throughout Riko and Reg’s stay at the camp, contained within its walls are things that will neither return to the surface nor go further into the abyss. Ozen’s priceless relics, her personal belongings, and memories of Lyza are kept here as immovable as she is. The grade-4 relics, leftover after the initial sorting will stay here as useless bobbles collecting dust. And of course, timid Maruruk – sensitive to the sun and terrified of the dark, will also remain.
This place is a brief stop on the journeys of many abyss-divers so a permanent stay in this point of neither here nor there is an oddity. The aspirations and expectations of the society at large are to go further and explore deeper into this object of their curiosity and obsession, and then for those that can, return. So Maruruk’s permanent residence in Seeker’s Camp, acted in direct opposition to this greater goal. Why would you stay when you can return? Why remain here when you can move forward?
Maruruk’s answer might have been for necessity but their choice to stay in spite of this societal ideal reflected a greater position on the subject of ambition.
Growing up, I always felt a kind of implicit pressure to do something amazing and impactful with my life. I was lucky enough to not have to deal with too much external pressure to change the world in some way or anything like that, but many of my friends did. As a result, my expectations on myself and my future were pretty low compared to them. My goal was stability with some time for myself while others wanted success, either monetarily or through meaningful influence on the lives of many. This position of mine kept me grounded for university but mentally limited what I was willing to do to go further, dig deeper, or otherwise “reach my potential”.
In a lot of ways, I resigned myself to Seeker’s Camp much like Maruruk. I’ll reside in a place that’s neither here nor there but a place that’s safe and limited. For the abyss divers and my ambitious friends, the road to the bottom of the abyss is a long and treacherous one. Reality isn’t so cruel as to physically threaten the lives of those who try to brave the abyss (at least for most), but the mental and emotional perils easily have real life equivalents. As much as I admire those ready and willing to go forward, I can’t imagine myself doing the same.
And therein lies the reason why I felt so strongly for Maruruk. They may have initially been content with the life they lived; it was safe and they found meaning in it through assisting Ozen and the many divers that passed through Seeker’s Camp, but there were some things that they simply couldn’t experience in a place like that. After meeting new friends of their age and spending time together, Maruruk found something worth treasuring in Riko and Reg. Once the realization hit that these two will move forward beyond Maruruk’s own set limitations it overwhelmed them. These were the emotions that underlined that scene and these were the very things I found so resonant.
For all we know, last week’s episode may have been the last time we’ll see Maruruk in the flesh. Through the eyes of our protagonists, there’s nowhere else to go but down – further into the abyss and closer to their goals, and the same can be said for the ambitious many braving the world right now. For Maruruk and myself however, all we can do is pray for their safety.
Thanks for reading,