Made in Abyss and Building a World

Made in Abyss / Episode 1 / The city of Orth which surrounds the Great Pit, otherwise known as the Abyss

What does “world-building” mean and do for a story?

I’ve had the great fortune of visiting Walt Disney World multiple times over.

True to the name, it’s a world all its own. A place where I seriously lose myself and leave my worries behind me. It achieves this effect by meticulously building itself up piece by piece, brick by brick. The mythical kingdoms. The delicious foodstuffs. The silly characters. These aspects and more combine into a park-away-from-home, a special experience unlike any other.

Stories enjoy building their worlds, too. We cannot visit them in person, of course, for they are stuck behind a computer screen or printed onto paper. But they build their worlds just the same, hoping to achieve a similar, captivating outcome.

Last year, during the Summer 2017 season, a “little-known” anime by the title of Made in Abyss arrived with splendor in tow. To put it lightly, this show swept the community off their chairs with its grand adventure and intense direction. However, almost none of the praise it received would have been possible without the story building the world in which it was contained. So, the anime got me thinking two major questions.

What does building a world mean, and how is Made in Abyss so effective at it?

This essay will attempt to convey the idea of world-building. First through a general description, then with its specific functions derived from other mediums, and finally leveraging the anime Made in Abyss to bring everything together. Along the way, the presented research should hopefully address what world-building is, how it is used, and why it is important for a story.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

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