A balloon is a fragile thing. When Riko releases her balloon into the sky at the end of Made in Abyss, we see it lift its tiny payload.
How can something so fragile and small make it all the way to the top, past all the dangerous creatures and sharp rocks?
A message in a bottle cast into a bottomless ocean.
Along the way, it’s snagged on a branch, but is somehow found, repaired by friends and sent back on its way. Still rising, still carrying its message. Step by step, progress. Through the clouds and giant bugs, it finally comes to a rest; at the top. Against the odds, the balloon made it, tattered and ripped, but made it nonetheless, conveying its message to Riko’s friends. It’s like a dream, something that should never be possible, only the faintest of hopes.
I am a dreamer, I think. There’s a lot I really like about Made in Abyss but when I was thinking about it last week, the first scene that I wanted to rewatch was the balloon scene. I can still feel my heart beating watching it. Going down into the abyss is a one-way deal, there’s no going back. In life, there’s no turning back either, things cannot be undone.
The passing of time is like entering the abyss, it changes us, for the bad and the good, it’s sometimes hard and painful, but for all that sense of insignificant struggle, we can make things, even great things, standing on the shoulders of our family, friends and colleagues. Those things can rise, too.