Riko is cute! CUTE!
There was a lot of world-building this week. I was anticipating another bout of cave-raiding when Riko and the Red Whistles were sent off to the Abyss, but that ended up being a transition scene with a time-skip immediately afterwards. Though from the title of next week’s episode, I don’t think we’ll be waiting much longer for more exploration. There was also some lewdness. Just a little.
Of the information that was thrown at us, some of it sounded really important and other things felt like mere exposition. Leader mentioned foreign cave raiders briefly, and I wasn’t sure whether those fell into the first category or the second. They sound like they matter, right? Not only do you have to deal with monsters and the environment around you, but also other hostile humans (presumably by ‘foreign’ they mean foreign to Orth) who might attack you and steal your resources and Relics. Yet they’ve just been referred to in passing. I’d assumed up until now that the cave raiders were in on this together. What’s definitely important is the Curse of the Abyss, which appears to be some sort of supernatural force that afflicts cave raiders with certain illnesses and conditions as they make their return journey and ascend to the surface. The whole concept reminds me of how deep sea divers similarly can’t ascend too quickly because of how underwater pressure affects their body, but here I don’t think there was any sort of suggestion that the curse can be prevented so long as you head up slowly. It wasn’t also made clear whether it’s just a risk you take from diving, or whether you can alleviate it somehow through experience – Lyza went to the fourth layer and back multiple times after all, and she hasn’t lost her humanity or anything (whatever that means). Makes you wonder whether the reason she can’t return to the surface is because she’s gone down too far, and so all she can send back is a message and some drawings. Either way, its effects are clearly permanent, as Riko’s eyes show.
The other question is whether the circumstances of Riko’s birth will help her in any way. Sort of like a special advantage when diving. Leader thinks not, and I think even Riko herself wasn’t expecting there to be one when she asked, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was something. She just might not be aware of it, and it’d give her a much-needed edge in terms of increasing her chances of survival when exploring in the Abyss. As far as we know, she’s otherwise fully human and thus doesn’t have Reg’s combat capabilities or immunity. The OP doesn’t give too much away, but it does suggest that it’ll just be her, Reg and a strange-looking brown rabbit loli once the series gets underway, and neither of the latter two look especially normal. I’m also really hoping she brings extra pairs of glasses. If she gets headaches without them, it’d be terrible if they somehow break when she’s down in the Abyss and there’s nothing she can use as a replacement.
Speaking of Lyza, she’s not dead! But being missing in action, she’s as good as dead until Riko gets to wherever she is in the Abyss. I was actually rather confused as to why they were so happy about the return of just her whistle. The implication of just the whistle making it back, of course, is that Lyza never survived herself (or can’t ascend) and yet the city threw this massive festival and celebration. It felt a little odd, and if Riko had known Lyza better I could easily see her being more upset with how her mother has now effectively disappeared for good. I doubt Lyza will get any direct screen-time for a while, but maybe we’ll see more of her through flashbacks.
I think Riko will be adventuring next week! What still hasn’t been answered is how exactly she’ll get permission to go as deep as the OP suggests she will. Both her and Reg (whom the orphanage are leniently treating as a human child) are no more than Red Whistles at best, and whilst Riko has Lyza’s whistle there’s no way that’s sufficient to qualify her as a White Whistle for real. We’ll have to see how things go.