What’s this about? A little girl named Memempu works with her father mining for mineral resources in an underground colony called “Pinyin.” Memempu wants to become a Marker and map out the rest of the mysterious Labyrinth but her father, Gagumber, feels she’s too young to start traveling on her own. After their friends die trying to protect the colony from Kaiju attacks, Gagumber realizes he cannot stop his daughter’s adventurous spirit and is resolved to travel with her across the vast uncharted areas of the Labyrinth.
This is a refreshing series. There are so many shows about young boys going on grand adventures alone or in search of their long lost fathers that it’s sort of become a tiresome narrative. It’s only in recent years that shows like Made in Abyss challenged that trope by centering a mother-daughter relationship instead. Riko and Lyza’s relationship and the show itself were messy, but it was interesting to watch because we so rarely get to see mothers and daughters in adventure stories.
In this case, it’s nice to see that Memempu and Gagumber are going to be a traveling father-daughter duo, but most importantly I love that Gagumber (and the show) acknowledges his daughter’s actual age. She’s not an adorable accessory for her dad, but she’s still vulnerable. Gagumber is 100% right to worry about his 9-year old genius daughter wandering into unknown dangers alone and even though they both constantly argue about it, it’s clear that Gagumber has her best interest at heart.
However, it’s a bit strange that none of their friends seem to agree with him. I mean sure, children are supposed to leave the nest one day, but not when she’s still a literal child. Regardless of the fact that his friends offer reassurances that she’ll be safe with other Markers, it still doesn’t stop him from protecting his daughter and reminding everyone that she should be treated like a child. FINALLY, A CONCERNED PARENT WITH VALID WORRIES!!!
Gagumber doesn’t deny that his daughter is smart and capable (she graduated from college, WTF?!), but he also just wants her to enjoy her childhood while it lasts. That’s not to say he’s a perfect dad either, since Memempu’s mentions he can act like a big man child and mostly spends the money he earns to go partying with friends.
They both have intensely Gurren Lagann-ish comedic energy, but thankfully the show knows when to tone it down so that they can absorb the tragic deaths of their friends. It’s in those moments that Memempu acts her age and even her strongest supporters acknowledge that she needs to be protected by the adults around her.
This chaotic father-daughter duo are the heart and soul of the series and I’m so glad it did a good job establishing their relationship. This premiere also set up intrigue about the world they live in and asked questions in subtle ways. Why are humans living underground? What other strange creatures live in the Labyrinth? I’m actually curious to see where the story goes from here.
Ultimately, what really won me over was Gagumber asking himself rhetorical questions: why should he place his trust in his daughter? Why should he stay at home and see her off with nothing but his faith that she’ll be okay? Memempu is still a child and if she has to start her journey now, then he’ll just have to tag along for the ride.
Check it out folks, I think you’ll like this one.