The Promised Neverland Series Review

The Promised Neverland Episode 4 Ray, Emma and Norman

The Slow Burn With The Satisfying Conclusion

Where do you even start with The Promised Neverland?

As a viewing experience it is an extraordinary roller coster of emotional highs and lows, of fearing for the safety of characters, of being annoyed at times by the distractions of minor characters or plot points, but ultimately it is a viewing experience that makes you glad that you gave this anime the time. While it isn’t flawless by any means and some scenes are obviously contrived simply to evoke particular emotions and aren’t as nuanced as they could be in doing so, there’s so much to genuinely like and enjoy about The Promised Neverland that it almost feels like you are being petty to point these out.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Emma and Norman

The Promised Neverland had a phenomenal first episode. It was tightly paced, beautifully directed, introduced the three main characters and their situation in a way that really hit all the right buttons, and opened up a lot of potential for the ongoing plot. In short, it did everything it needed to do as a first episode. When you combine all of that with a great opening song, Touch Off, as well as the likeable cast and you have something that is going to grab viewers.

And grab them it did.

For readers of the manga the viewing experience was a little different, but I went into this series cold. The genres listed for it included mystery and horror and while there is certainly a mystery and some elements are horrific, I think if you go in looking for this type of story you are more likely to be disappointed. The other genre tags of psychological and shounen fit the story much better and it does succeed admirably in these areas.

Still, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that a lot of the hook of that first episode was the horror movie feeling in seemed to emulate in the final moments. That definitely grabbed my undivided attention and made me really excited for what was going to come next. While few scenes afterward reach the same levels in that regard, it doesn’t really matter. The story builds to a satisfying conclusion and there is a suitable level of darkness permeating the content to justify that first impression even if it isn’t the main goal.

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Part of what helped develop the atmosphere of this anime was the direction. From early in the series we had some interesting angles and shots of characters constructing a slightly disconcerting and distorted view of the characters and world. While it isn’t every scene and many sequences are unremarkable, there were certainly enough sequences where we’d switch to point of view, or have various symbols such  as clocks or bars prominent within the scene, or use of light and shadow, to really make the viewing itself an experience.

That isn’t to say everything worked beautifully. One effect where the entire image swayed as if attached to the pendulum of the clock just kind of made me queasy and seemed all too much and other scenes felt a little on the nose or too blunt. However, when The Promised Neverland got it right, it was truly remarkable and memorable. The scene where Norman walked down the hall by himself to get some water was a wonderful display of direction to create atmosphere and to frame a character in a particular way. It gave the scene everything it needed to have it hit exactly the right emotional chord.

The Promised Neverland Episode 9 Norman

However, the real standout of this anime are the main characters. Emma, Ray and Norman are a fantastic trio who complement one another in a seemingly effortless manner. The interactions between them are always delightful and even if the characters seem older than their years in terms of their reasoning, they play their assigned role within the story well.

I’ve written a whole post about Emma as the beating heart of the story and she certainly deserved it. While the story is very much about the characters responding to circumstance, these characters, led by Emma, really elevate what essentially becomes a prison break story into something that is completing engrossing.

The Promised Neverland Episode 9

Each of these characters get their own development and story throughout this series and while there are some heavy question marks over the fate of one of them, it is an incredibly satisfying journey. There is a reveal for Ray that again, isn’t quite as well thought out as some of the other revelations, and potentially can lead to immersion breaking for the viewer, however it isn’t enough to take away from all of his excellent character moments prior to that so for me it wasn’t that big of a problem. Still, stepping back I might wish they’d just not included that (and I won’t say what it is because I’m trying to write this post as spoiler free as possible).

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	NENDOROID NO. 1092 THE PROMISED NEVERLAND: EMMA

Like the main trio, Isabella is an amazing character as the visual representation of the enemy in this story. She is the Mother of the house and she is smart and ruthless. While for the majority of the story she seems to be a passive observer, it is actually scarier how easily she seems to thwart the plans of the kids without even exerting much in the way of effort. I truly enjoyed her character during the Winter anime season and I wish we had more characters like her.

The Promised Neverland Episode 4 Mother and Sister Krone

That does though lead on to the character I liked the least, Sister Krone. She’s so over the top and all over the place as a character it is almost impossible to take any scene she is in seriously. Added to that her actions and interferences ultimately contribute to very little in terms of the overall plot and she just feels like a caricature that doesn’t fit within the narrative.

Even an episode devoted to a flash back o her life couldn’t make me all the sympathetic toward her or help me to really understand her overall motives in a way that would justify it. Of all the potential criticisms of The Promised Neverland, Krone would be the one that is most clearly an issue as she just doesn’t have enough anything to offset her ridiculousness at times.

The Promised Neverland Episode 3 Sister Krone

But, that is one character and one issue, and it isn’t enough to take the shine off the rest of this anime. You may have noticed I’m avoiding discussing the plot, and that’s mostly because it really is impossible to discuss without spoilers and it kind of is more fun going in without knowing. The kids need to escape from the house and Isabella is going to try to stop them. That’s the crux of the story developed this season and while there are larger events and world building that will lead on to events that I guess will be explored in the second season, it really isn’t needed in this story.

The Promised Neverland Episode 12 - Emma and Phil

If you want a nicely told story with a clear problem or hurdle to be overcome by the characters and you don’t mind a little bit of a slow burn to get there provided there’s some solid atmosphere, The Promised Neverland will deliver a very solid afternoon of entertainment and I highly recommend it.


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Karandi James


Someone Tell Ray That Self-Immolation Is Not A Plan

The Promised Neverland post title image

The Promised Neverland Episode 11 Review

The contrast in the way Emma and Ray see the world couldn’t have been clearer this week. We’ve seen these two bump before with Emma’s stance on rescuing everyone and Ray’s far more pragmatic view of the world and just in general Emma rushes at everything with energy and enthusiasm where Ray is more cautious and slow to act. However, it is in their final plan that the contrast becomes beautifully clear.

The Promised Neverland Episode 11 - Emma and Ray

Emma still has hope despite playing the defeatist card for months. Partly this is because of the gift that Norman gave her, a potential plan that could overcome even the most recently discovered obstacle as well as insight into what Ray was planning. But partly this is because she is Emma. Actually being defeated and accepting it doesn’t seem like it fits her personality at all. We saw in the beginning of the season that Emma continued to compete against Norman in tag even though he always won. Each time she would try to think of better ways to outmanoeuvre him and while she continued to fail she never surrendered the war. Emma brings that resilience to the fore in this episode.

Meanwhile, Ray has his own plan. And I’ll admit, from Ray’s perspective it is a very good plan. It accomplishes his actual goal which was to save Norman and Emma (though too late for Norman which makes him even more desperate to save Emma), and is a plan that relies only on himself, which given his years planning alone makes perfect sense. It is a very Ray plan and one that doesn’t take his own safety and survival into consideration at all.

The Promised Neverland Episode 11 - Ray

I can’t be the only one who flinched horribly as he poured that flammable liquid over his head. It was a truly horrifying moment, made more-so by the general feeling that this anime might very well go through with it. While outside of Connie’s death the anime hasn’t been gratuitous in death and horror, there’s the ongoing sense that things could go there at any moment and as a direct result scenes such as this one really make you sit up and sweat a little for the characters.

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And even though Emma did have a plan to counter Ray, it isn’t as though they got off scott free. Both Ray and Emma had to part with their ear to leave the trackers in suitable locations. These kids are eleven (or twelve in the case of Ray after midnight) and they actually cut off their own ears, bandaged them up, and kept going.

I don’t know about you but I’d have cried over stubbing my toe at that age.

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The Promised Neverland, Vol. 2

It is a really beautifully executed episode bringing everything together in a suitably dramatic fashion as we lean in to the final episode. While there are so many questions left unanswered, and a lot of these will probably remain unanswered unless we get a second season or unless I read the manga faster, so far only read book 1, I’m hoping that at the very least we find out what the deal with Phil actually is… oh yeah, and whether Norman is still alive.

The Promised Neverland Episode 11
Will these cuties survive or are they just future fodder?

This series is just good and I really want to binge watch it from the start again just to see if it holds up when you know the twists and turns of the narrative, but that will have to wait a few months. Either way, I’m loving where this has gone and this episode was solid viewing. Very much looking forward to the final episode.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James