Episode 6 has finally aired and now I’m taking a look at how the second season has measured up to season 1.
There will be no real surprise for my regular readers when I say I really enjoyed season 1 of The Promised Neverland. I found the tension and pacing nicely done even if there was an over reliance on cliff-hangers, found some of the direction to be interesting and added to the overall atmosphere, and the tight narrative arc of the kids realising the situation they were in and then struggling to overcome the obstacles and escape to just be really satisfying to watch. I finished my season 1 review of The Promised Neverland with the statement that I highly recommended it.
So as we pass the halfway mark of season 2, am I feeling the same way?
Not so much.
Now I want to be clear that my issues with season 2 do not stem from the variation from the source material. Hunting around online it seems like a lot of people are finding the adaptation a little on the lacking side. However, I deliberately did not read past where season 1 ended so for me whether the anime follows the events in the manga isn’t the most important thing.
What I am more concerned about is that visually The Promised Neverland seems to have lost its identity and so far season 2 hasn’t really had much in the way of focus to drive the plot forward and with that overall the series has lost any sense of tension. Throw in a time-skip and multiple setting changes and it is generally hard to say that at this point I’m particularly invested in anything that is happening despite being interested and genuinely wanting to learn more about the demon world and to see how the kids ultimately either save (or don’t save) the other kids on the farm.
And that’s a weird position to be in. To be interested but not invested.
When I started really thinking about it, I realised that almost all of my interest, is left over from the season one finale when the kids took their first steps out of Grace Field and into an unknown world. There was a real sense of mystery and excitement with a little trepidation because if children were being farmed it really didn’t bode well for what would be beyond the wall.
While the first couple of episodes of season 2 seemed to be wanting to fulfil that sense of curiosity as the kids traversed the forest being pursued by demons, we quickly moved on. First by meeting a pair of intelligent demons who didn’t seem to want to eat them, then to the promised shelter left by the plot device ‘Minerva’.
This is before being chased out of the shelter and back to the forest where one of the monsters conveniently attacked the pursuers but not the pursued, before we had several months skipped over and the kids are now living in a run-down temple, before we drop the presumed dead Norman back into the plot for episode 6 – which suffered generally from having almost no animation.
Characters stood or sat around chatting and the camera angles bounced around but it couldn’t disguise the fact that most of the characters barely moved throughout the entire episode.
When we compare this with season ones generally narrow story line of Emma, Ray and Norman observing their surroundings, identifying the obstacles, and training and recruiting the kids to help in their plans, season 2 has so far felt incredibly unfocused. In season one, I found the arrival and subsequent disruption caused by Sister Krone to be largely unnecessary, other than it showed that even the humans who worked for the demons weren’t exactly getting a smooth run.
Outside of that it felt like every line of dialogue, every interaction, every weird close up from the camera seemed to have some kind of purpose and fed into the narrative.
Season 2 of The Promised Neverland has some great scenes. The kids training to hunt, their first night in the shelter, even Emma’s interaction with the blind demon in the temple were nicely put together sequences. However there’s no thread holding it all together other than the kids are trying to survive and may eventually get back to save the other kids.
And perhaps it is deliberate. Where season one used darker colours (when the kids weren’t outside playing) and strange POV’s to create a near claustrophobic setting at times as the kid’s world closed in around them, season two seems to be opening things up creating many choices and possibilities but leaving the kids adrift. They’ve accomplished what was thought to be impossible but now they aren’t sure what their next steps are. Perhaps all this aimless wandering is designed to help the audience feel how lost the characters are.
Does a different tone and feeling, the story moving into a new space and the kids not as certain of their path, make this second season of The Promised Neverland weaker?
Honestly, each viewer is going to decide for themselves. For me, I know that if this wasn’t a second season of an anime I was already attached to, season 2 has been decidedly on the average side. Whether or not it ends up being worth it will depend on what the second half of the season intends to do now that Norman is back in the mix. However, as so much of what I loved about season one seems to be missing in season 2, and even Emma (one of my favourite characters from 2019) seems a little lacklustre in this season, my view is that The Promised Neverland season 2 has so far been a significantly weaker entry than season 1.
It isn’t yet at the point where the story cannot recover and find its feet. I mean, I went through a similar situation with Attack on Titan where the first half of season one was this amazing roller-coaster ride that I just loved and then the second half and most of season 2 really left me feeling pretty meh about the entire franchise before season 3 hooked me back in.
Still, I am curious as to how my readers feel about season 2 of The Promised Neverland. I’d love to hear your thoughts so leave us a comment.
Images used for review from:
- The Promised Neverland Season 2. Dir. M Kanbe. Cloverworks. 2021.
- The Promised Neverland Season 1. Dir. M. Kanbe. Cloverworks. 2019
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18 thoughts on “Is Season 2 Of The Promised Neverland Weaker Than Its Predecessor?”
Just read the manga. The pacing is much better, Norman’s return actually has a proper buildup, and even the artwork is better than the anime.
I’m sure anime only folks are sick of hearing about Goldy Pond by this pond, but cutting that entire arc instantly made me lose faith in this adaptation. It would be like if Star Wars skipped Empire Strikes Back and went straight to Return of the Jedi. 🙃
I am not the biggest f a n o f manga reading so as long as an anime is watchable and ultimately finishes I am not really going to rush to read it (would be more likely to read the source in novel form). That said, if the anime does not pick up in the end I may just read the manga to find out where the story goes.
Season 2 is a definite step down for me. Season 1 was so laser-focussed on what the characters had to do and who they were up against that without that the series just feels like it’s floundering. I have no idea what the series is trying to do or where it’s going anymore.
It doesn’t help that it’s spent so little time in each location before moving on to something else. The whole of season 1 was set in the farm, why can’t season 2 be about the forest and bunker? It would give us more time to explore, maybe set up some short-term obstacles that the kids have to overcome. So far this season has felt way too easy, before it took everything to escape the farm, not the kids can just outrun demons and gun-wielding humans with very little effort.
There have been some good moments, like when Emma was learning to hunt for the first time, and I think we’d get more scenes like that if the series just slowed down a bit.
I’m going to finish the season, but it’s making me doubt if I’ll stick around for a third.
You raise a good point in that the kids are no longer putting all gheir thought and skill into overcoming an obstacle with a definite reliance on running away this season. That has absolutely weakened the appeal of spending time with these characters.
It’s one of those cases of the thrill of the chase being greater than the outcome. The first season was built on the kids having to outsmart mother and the suspense in whenever they were caught and had to go back to the drawing board.
Once they escaped, they may have a new set of antagonists to out manoeuvre but they are less compelling as they are not confined to the one location, which may offer a wider scope in terms of spatial adventure but psychologically, it becomes a “villain of the week” type scenario.
But, in playing Devil’s Advocate, the story had to develop this way or it would have been simply repeating itself, so the writers are damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
I won’t write the show off yet or declare it a disappointment in comparison to the first season as it had to be different and progressive, but I will concur it is not as nerve shredding as before for the reasons outlined above.
I think you are right in that the story needed to move on and open things up a bit after they escaped or it really would have just been the same thing but different. I still don’t think they’ve done much to create a particularly compelling tone in season 2 so far but like you I haven’t yet written it off even if I am feeling a bit disappointed so far.
I’m glad I am not the only person who feels this way. I put it on hold for now because I don’t know if I want to finish it.
I’m still committed to finishing it and I really want to be invested in this series again. Fingers crossed.
I was thinking I was too, but after the week off and just not missing anything, I think that was a big sign for me.
I had a similar reaction with Cells at Work. Because Neverland wasn’t on last week I didn’t watch Cells either and this week I just didn’t feel inclined to catch up.
“Interested but not invested.” Pretty much described my own feelings.
I wonder if they are having production problems? The recap episode felt so unnecessary. I would rather have seen a demon-centric episode where the kids never appeared. And the decline in the animation…
I actually ended up checking if season 2 had a different director, given how different it feels. Apparently not but there’s a distinct difference in tge quality of the 2 seasons.
I’ve been loving the expansion of the world – a lot, but I maybe want more time in each setting/with each new group of characters to better delve into that, yeah.
(The surprise recap episode actually broke my watching-rhythm and so I haven’t seen the latest one yet, as I’ve sort of drifted to other shows the last two weeks).
I was keen to see more of the demon world but I think, like you, I’d really love them to spend longer in each place and for us to get a really good feel for it rather than just dashing off to the next location.
I’m also with you on the broken rhythm. I’m watching this with someone and we nearly missed this most recent episode because of the week break.
Yes! Based on the time spent in each moment, I think after this season is over, I might hunt down the manga to see the story at a different pace.
Completely agree. I’ve not read beyond season one of the manga either and this season has been flat by comparison. It almost doesn’t feel like the same show.
Other than character designs, visually it is vastly different, particularly in how it is directed. We’ve lost a lot of the camera work in season two is very flat. I’m still hopeful for a come-back in the second half of the season, but objectively it hasn’t been amazing so far.
Yeah, the first season had us on the edge of seats unable to look away. I hope it does finish well, although I haven’t been pulled in like before yet.