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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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


Where To Without The Promise of Tomorrow?

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The Promised Neverland Episode 10 Review

Wow, The Promised Neverland is determine to wring every inch of drama out of the current scenario and in less deft hands I would find this kind of irritating as the episode ends with so many question marks. However as this anime continues to present beautiful visual and sound direction to support a compelling story with characters I’ve come to love, instead of feeling frustrated I’m mostly just on the edge of my seat waiting for more, exactly as they intended.

Norman saying farewell to Emma and Ray - The Promised Neverland Episode 10

Going straight into spoiler territory if you haven’t seen the episode.

Norman’s last night at the orphanage is heart breaking. His teary farewells with Emma and Ray as they staunchly deny what is about to happen and then his goodbye to the other kids is perfectly delivered. Emma’s last ditch attempt to cause a scene and to keep Norman from leaving is perfect as is Isabella’s cold and crushing death threat to keep her from going any further.

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The quiet walk to the gate, the third we’ve seen as Norman follows Connie’s and Sister Krone’s footsteps, is just long enough to have impact but not feel drawn out and Norman and Isabella’s casual conversation is revealing, though of what I’m not entirely sure of just yet. However, we then get the moment that has left me desperate to know more and that is the brief moment we see of Norman beyond the gate and entering a lit room. Is Norman dead or not? We have no way of knowing and with the tone of the show it could go either way plunging us into a tragic reveal later or a triumphant return and both would fit the current narrative beautifully.

The Promised Neverland Episode 10 - Ray "Let's Die Here"

As for Emma and Ray, despondent would be a tepid descriptor of their personalities as the days, weeks and then months roll on and finally Ray’s last day approaches. Though, if you think The Promised Neverland is done yet, think again as Emma seems determined to see something through which just makes me wonder what scheme they’ve hatched in the background that we don’t yet know about.

With so few options available I’m scratching my head to figure out what they have planned, but ultimately I’m going to have to sit back and wait and to be honest the anticipation is horrendous. I desperately want to know.

The Promised Neverland Episode 10 Emma
Cute young Emma and Ray to lighten the mood.

Clearly I’m a little caught up in this story and so clearly it has met its goals. I’m loving The Promised Neverland and I’m waiting with bated breath for the next episode.


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Karandi James


The Promised Neverland Promises Yet More Pain

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The Promised Neverland Episode 9 Review

Well, Norman is all but giving up and accepting that he isn’t going to survive through the next day, though he goes through quite the array of emotions to get there. The Promised Neverland hasn’t hit our characters this hard emotionally since episode 1 when Emma and Norman had the very foundation of their world shaken up and now Emma’s injured and Norman has very much realised how outmatched they really are. Or has he? He’s still hopeful that he can help Emma and Ray escape even though he won’t be there.

The Promised Neverland Episode 9 Norman

Emma and Ray, for their part, outright deny his decision. They demand that he escape, even if that means just hiding until Emma’s leg is healed and they can all escape together, and somehow they convince him.

The Promised Neverland Episode 9 Ray and Emma
Good friends don’t let you calmly walk to your death.

This wasn’t an ideal solution in the first place but it gives the characters, and the audience, the tiniest slither of hope that they aren’t about to take out a main character. That tiny slither of hope is just enough to devastate us when they get to the revealing conclusion of this episode.

The Promised Neverland Episode 9
You can tell things are bad when bone breaking is considered a potential solution.

Now the more cynical might wonder what the point of anything has been given the kids clearly were never escaping in the first place but realistically this is just another obstacle. Perhaps an insurmountable one and perhaps one that will finally do them in, but the whole way along the kids have been given obstacles to try to work around or overcome and while it seemed like they might get there, we’ve just had larger and more threatening obstacles revealed until finally we’ve reached this one.

The Promised Neverland Episode 9
Pole vault?

Really, there was nothing for it but for Norman to return. Now the question is what did Krone leave them and does Norman have any chance of not making a pretty red flower as he dies.

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NENDOROID NO. 1092 THE PROMISED NEVERLAND: EMMA
NENDOROID NO. 1092 THE PROMISED NEVERLAND: EMMA

After Making Us Wait, The Promised Neverland Is Going To Deliver

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The Promised Neverland Episode 8 Review

I think it will be more or less impossible to review this episode without spoilers so count that as fair warning. This week we finally see the end of the Krone/Isabella power struggle and while the result of that is inevitable, Krone’s presence hasn’t been wasted. While I never felt she fit with the general tone of the story, her character role has been invaluable in understanding more about the world and Isabella and though we are left with more questions than answers, I really feel her presence has been fairly important to understanding the context for how this story is going to play out.

The Promised Neverland Episode 8 Isabella and Krone

However, how sad is it that her final thoughts are wishing the children escape as even in death she can only think of bringing Isabella and the world down? Amazingly when Krone believed she might be able to get ahead, while she wasn’t fine with the system she was working with it. But once it was clear that she was simply fodder and not going to achieve her dreams, she immediately just wanted to watch everything burn.

Though I do have a few questions about how that scene was composed as Krone was backed up against the bars one minute and the next was backing up toward the wall and the distance between Krone and the bars was never consistent. It was great to watch mind you, but just kind of made no sense unless Krone was suddenly capable of teleportation.

The Promised Neverland Episode 8 Krone's Death

And you know what, despite Krone finally coming to an end, that wasn’t the real OMG moment of the episode.

Was it Isabella turning on Ray and locking him in a room while she went to confront Emma and Norman? Was it Don coming to the rescue and barrelling through a wooden door to get Ray out? Or even the confrontation with Emma, Norman and Isabella?

The Promised Neverland Episode 8 Isabella and Ray

Nope. All of these moments were brilliant and building on all that careful groundwork this story has been laying down, but the real moment comes after the confrontation where Emma and Norman make a decision and Isabella just immediately shuts them down (by breaking Emma’s leg). Oh, I hated that sound-effect and yet it was perfect and yeet they still weren’t done as Isabella had one more bombshell for Norman.

The Promised Neverland Episode 8 Emma, Isabella and Norman

I feel that the Promised Neverland is going to join my collection of stories like Another and Shiki that feel like very slow burns and then things start happening. But the thing is, that’s what makes them great. They don’t rush the set up and give you just enough to keep you interested. The pay off may or may not end up reaching great heights but I really do enjoy this style of storytelling and I’m looking forward to the next couple of episodes of Neverland to see what they do next.

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NENDOROID NO. 1092 THE PROMISED NEVERLAND: EMMA
NENDOROID NO. 1092 THE PROMISED NEVERLAND: EMMA

Playing With Fire (Or Trying to Deal With Sister Krone)

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The Promised Neverland Episode 7 Review

This episode felt like we were back to the tense cat and mouse of episode 2 only with Sister Krone in the cat position rather than Isabella. This impression was aided by some fairly impressive direction assisting in building a sense of claustrophobia as danger closed in on the kids. The sound direction however went for the super dramatic and at times it was a little over the top, but it did get the tone across even if it felt a little heavy handed.

The Promised Neverland Episode 7 Norman

What worked a little less well, as has become the norm, was Krone’s characterisation. There were times this episode where she was chilling and it seemed she would be quite the adversary to overcome, and then the next moment she’d be cackling maniacally and any ability to take her seriously, even as a lesser challenge would get shot. Also, her ongoing movement, circling the kids in the forest, leering into their faces in the bedroom, all just kind of make her character feel jarring compared to everything else in this anime. Still, this was her best showing in Neverland yet.

The Promised Neverland Episode 7 Sister Krone

Which might be a shame because it seems Isabella has been at work in the background and has her own plans afoot, but as usual it will be next episode before anything is confirmed.

I do however like that Krone proved to Norman and Emma that sometimes they aren’t as smart as they think they are. It was nice to see an adult see through them and call them on it. As smart as they are supposed to be, they are 11 and it makes sense that whatever schemes and plans they come up with, that an adult who also lived to be 12 in a house (so theoretically must have scored high on the tests) would be able to see through their actions. And it is a definite warning that Isabella is probably equally able to do so.

The Promised Neverland Episode 7 Emma and Norman

Once again, the episode moves Phil into a position where he is noted but doesn’t do anything of note. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop to tell us what is going on with Phil and whether he’s a red-herring, a spy, or something else entirely but I am enjoying the build up and hope the pay off is worth it.

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The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1
The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1

The Promise of a Traitor Times 2

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The Promised Neverland Episode 6 Review

We already established that Ray is a traitor in The Promised Neverland but betrayal seems to be an ongoing theme. While we know Ray and Norman are in a contest to see who will blink first, with both seemingly willing to betray the other at the earliest convenience to them, we have so many other betrayals bubbling away.

Isabella betrayed all of their trust and we really see the impact of that again through Don and Gilda’s eyes in this episode. Now, some people might cynically say that this betrayal happened back in episode one and we saw it through Emma’s eyes in episode 2. But it is important that we realise that as more kids find out the truth and are brought in on the plan, each one has to come to terms with the most important person in their world actually being an enemy. Don and Gilda’s reactions are a snap-shot of what all the kids are going to go through, though I assume they won’t tell the younger ones until they are already over the wall (it would make more sense).

The Promised Neverland Episode 6 Don and Gilda

Don and Gilda though have also betrayed the group’s trust by going off and doing their own thing, though in Don’s view they weren’t trusted in the first place so he doesn’t view his actions as betrayal. It’s an interesting dynamic and one that they kind of sort out, but at the expense of a fairly public argument even if it did occur at night.

The Promised Neverland Episode 6 Don Calls Them On Their Lie

Meanwhile, Krone remained remarkably out of sight for a second episode, but that just made her final appearance this week even more dramatic. She’s determined to betray Isabella but is in check mate. However, Don and Gilda’s inclusion in the plan gives her a new opportunity after witnessing the group outside at night and so Krone plays a fairly bold, if slightly, insane move.

However, as with all of these characters, the question is whether or not the kids can trust Krone long enough to use her to escape (the idea of an actual alliance being completely ludicrous).

The Promised Neverland Episode 6 Ray

I really enjoyed this episode and I like the dynamic being constructed here. Ray had some interesting expressions again and I get they are contrasting his usual dead pan with the few moments he emotes but it really is the weakest part of the characterisation for me. Meanwhile, Emma’s just a bundle of gorgeous, and I’m waiting to find out Phil is a traitor given he’s the one who entered the room scaring Don and Gilda and is also the one who alerted Emma to the secret in the books. Seriously, what’s up with Phil.

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The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1
The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1

The Friend Of My Enemy Is… Maybe A Useful Information Source

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The Promised Neverland Episode 5 Review

These kids are going to have a serious problem ever trusting anything anyone says if they actually live long enough to grow up. Ray admits he’s been lying and spying for many a year but it was in order to ensure Emma and Norman’s survival. Whether that’s true or just a great line he came up with on the spot is hard to figure out. Then again Norman has proven already he is well and capable of lying when the occasion calls for it.

The Promised Neverland Episode 5 Ray Laughing

With Ray laying down an ultimatum in exchange for helping with the escape if might seem like Norman is just going to have to give in. However, where would the fun be if we believed it would be that easy. More importantly, Emma isn’t likely to allow things to go as either Ray or Norman are planning.

The Promised Neverland Episode 5 Norman

I do have to mention that Ray’s facial expressions were a little over the top, almost Sister Krone level silly during some of this exchange. For an anime that usually does a superb job on atmosphere I found this a little off putting as it made it harder to take the conversation seriously.

The Promised Neverland Episode 5 Ray
Not sure what this facial expression is supposed to convey but it made me laugh.

Still, with that reveal and conversation out of the way it is now time for Don and Gilda to show off why bringing more kids into the fold was a bad idea. While Emma, Ray and Norman are all relatively restrained in their actions as they all fully understand the stakes, Gilda is quite obviously timid by nature though managed to pull through last week. The bigger issue is Don who the whole way through the series has been portrayed as impulsive and not a deep thinker. It sets the scene for some disastrous decision making though whether things will end badly of whether we are getting another false alarm I guess we’ll find out next week.

The Promised Neverland Episode 5 Emma

A little of the shine of this series is wearing off as it progresses but I’m still really enjoying it. Given the progress I finally read the first volume of the manga and absolutely loved it. It filled in a few details that were skipped over by the anime and I’ll have to write a review of it soon. Regardless of how the anime goes I’ll probably end up reading the manga because it was great fun.

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The Promised Neverland, Vol. 2
The Promised Neverland, Vol. 2

The Best Way To Catch A Liar…

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The Promised Neverland Episode 4 Review

There’s a definite sense of menace in some of the scenes from The Promised Neverland this week. Isabella confronting Krone is an icy exchange made even more chilling by the incredibly calm way Isabella speaks. Ray and Norman’s exchanges get increasingly more volatile as the episode progresses and nearly come to a head after Norman lies to Gilda and Don about the fate of poor Conny. However, they save the real bombshell for the final moments of the episode and in case you’ve managed to avoid being spoiled already I’ll leave that right there.

The Promised Neverland Episode 4 Mother and Sister Krone

Treachery is a real theme with Krone setting out not just to betray Isabella but to thoroughly take her down. The only real problem is that Krone is so transparent that Isabella’s seen straight through her and Krone’s only real piece in the game cuts her free during the episode. It makes you wonder whether Krone will manage to be a wild card that Norman can’t predict given she’s the only one likely to act erratically in this three way stand off.

The Promised Neverland Episode 4 Don

Meanwhile, Emma lies to Gilda and Don, and she does so before Norman does. While I understand that human trafficking is probably an easier story to swallow than demons eating children it still must have hurt her to deceive them. Even more so when asked point blank about Conny and Norman ended up leaving that answer ambiguous rather than clearly stating what the audience has known from the end of episode one.

The Promised Neverland Episode 4 Ray

However, while there are plots bubbling away here and the interactions between the characters become even more driven leading us toward the inevitable escape attempt, I can’t help but feel like some of the tension was gone in this episode and that the atmosphere wasn’t laying as thickly. It took a second viewing to really figure out why and it is the stark absence of interesting shot types this week. Gone are the clocks that dominated episode one (though we do still get the occasional clock sequence as they check a watch or similar), and a lot of the interesting camera angle and other direction choices that have really set a tone of unease were absent this week. There’s some great character blocking to be sure, but while that establishes personalities it isn’t driving the atmosphere of the story.

The Promised Neverland Episode 4 Ray, Emma and Norman

Ultimately it is a mild complaint about an anime that continues to be entertaining and leaves me wanting more, but if this diminished development of atmosphere continues The Promised Neverland is going to have to be carried by just its cast and the events in each episode. While these are good enough, it isn’t going to make this a must watch so I’m hopeful we see this aspect of it stepping back up next week.

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THE PROMISED NEVERLAND PLUSH: LITTLE BERNIE
	THE PROMISED NEVERLAND PLUSH: LITTLE BERNIE

How A Simple Game Can Become Ominous

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The Promised Neverland Episode 3 Review

Last week it became obvious that Emma wasn’t willing to give up on any of the kids and then The Promised Neverland upped the stakes introducing another infant to the mix and a new adult. Sister Krone certainly leaves an impression this week, though from a characterisation point of view she might be the weakest link in what is otherwise a pretty solid series so far. It could just be me but I felt they went way too quickly into explicitly revealing her unhinged nature as well as her ambitions to usurp the position of mother.

The Promised Neverland Episode 3 Sister Krone

Of course, the sister’s introduction to the mix does give mother, Isabella, someone to talk to without all the lies and so more is revealed about this farm/plant. This episode we learn that Isabella was the youngest to ever be given the position of mother and a line she says to Sister Krone kind of made me think maybe they were once on their own farm given she indicated memorising the information on the kids would be easier than getting perfect test scores everyday. We also learn that this is plant 3 and that some of the other farms haven’t been doing so well so it is vitally important that Isabella’s harvest of her special children goes to plan.

The Promised Neverland Episode 3 Sister Krone

This is most explicit information we’ve been given because previously we had seen things only from Norman, Emma and Ray’s point of view which is missing a lot of information. In that sense Sister Krone’s introduction has really opened up more of the world to the audience.

That doesn’t make the scene of her babbling to a doll about taking Isabella down any easier to swallow or any more nuanced and it feels like a real misfire from a series that has otherwise been tense and dramatic but not over-the-top.

However, Sister Krone is also responsible for the second half of the episode that takes a seriously great turn. The trio decide that too many of the kids are weak physically and mentally and they want to train them before attempting an escape (the issue of finding the tracking devices on hold for now as they know where they are but not what to do about them). Rather than spilling the beans to the kids who may not understand or go along with them, they use ‘tag’, the game established in episode 1, to teach these kids a few tricks.

The Promised Neverland Episode 3 The Kids Train

Things seem to be going well until Krone decides she wants in on the game and hunts them down. Here we see Emma’s weakness, her inability to leave anyone behind, fully exploited as she’s caught after attempting to carry two of the little kids. Norman and Ray though manage to outlast the time limit. It all seems like getting all these kids out of there might be more and more impossible and I love how they continue to manage to raise the stakes without any overt violence or threat.

The Promised Neverland Episode 3 Emma
Crib, Gate, Wall, Cage… These kids get framed behind bars a lot in this show.

One thing that Promised Neverland is getting into a habit of doing though is leaving us with one more thought right before the end of an episode. It isn’t quite a cliff-hanger but something that isn’t yet established but is interesting enough to mull over for the week. Episode one was whether Mother knew that Emma and Norman had been at the gate. Episode two introduced Sister Krone. Now Episode three leaves us with the question of whether one of the kids is actually working with Mother because that is going to make it even harder to escape with everyone. I’m not the biggest fan of this tactic but given the nature of this story it kind of works and it certainly does leave you thinking about The Promised Neverland even after the episode has ended.

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The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1
The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1

Why Emma’s Lack of Compromise Is Both Foolish and Brilliant

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The Promised Neverland Episode 2 Review

After one of the best premiere episodes I’ve seen in a long time, episode 2 of The Promised Neverland had a lot to live up to, and while I can’t say it 100% did, it was still a very solid episode that has definitely moved the plot and characters along nicely while still managing to ooze atmosphere and tension. The majority of the episode focuses on Norman and Emma considering how they are going to escape as Mother gives a few indications that she’s got her eye on them and messes with their heads a little, before Ray joins the two in their plans. It doesn’t sound all that exciting but much like with episode 1 it is all about the execution. (Some spoilers below.)

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 Mother finds a kid.

However, this is where I did pick a few faults this week. Where episode one had the consistent clock motif throughout the episode, and that is still present in episode 2, a lot of the visual effects this week seem a little disjointed or don’t seem to quite hit the mark. Notably early in the episode where Emma is sitting up in her bed and we seem to be looking at her from the clock’s perspective and the scene sways back and forth like a pendulum. It is kind of clear they are trying to show us how unsettled she is and how unstable things are and yet mostly I just felt queasy and like the scene went on too long. It didn’t pack enough emotional impact for the time it took.

The second effect that I had to look at a couple of times and still didn’t really click with was when Mother and the other children walk past Norman and Emma back into the house and they are trailed by after images. I’m not entirely sure what tone this was supposed to hit but it was another moment where it didn’t draw me into the scene but rather pushed me out of the moment and had me puzzling why they went with that effect rather than following the characters and the scene.

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman and Emma

Though, with the exception of those sequences, I really liked how this episode was put together. Again we have some very interesting angles used on the characters to show their emotions and relative power, there’s a lot of thought put into the music and sound, and mostly the pacing works exceptionally well at making you feel uncomfortable and waiting for the next moment and then lingers just that little bit longer before moving on.

For me, Emma was the real champion of this episode. Not so much because I like her as a character. She’s pretty generic in terms of the big sister character who wants to be cheerful and protect her family. I like her more because of what she has done for the plot.

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman and Emma

Because of Emma and her shock and inability to just act like nothing happened, Mother seems suspicious of Emma and Norman. This is the first factor that escalates tension in this episode and ensures we are very carefully watching Mother all throughout the episode to see if she actually knows or is just suspicious. If Norman alone had been the one to find out about Conny, there’d be nothing happening in a lot of these scenes because he’s beautifully playing the role of someone who has no knowledge.

Also, the escape plan that Emma and Norman are cooking up involves saving everyone. All of the children. As Ray points out when he is included in the conversation, that’s stupid. It is nearly impossible and even if they all escape how will they survive afterwards. And honestly, Emma, Norman and Ray believably could escape in a couple of days after snooping around some. But then, where would the excitement be?

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman, Ray and Emma

No, Emma puts her foot down hard and insists everyone is going to escape. She won’t sacrifice anyone. And Norman sides with Emma because despite being super-logical, he likes Emma and he’s 12. Emma’s decision and her lack of consideration for any compromise, turns what is already a steep task into one that might be insurmountable.

For other shows wanting to raise emotional and narrative stakes, take notes from The Promised Neverland. You don’t have to randomly and gruesomely kill off your cast to make things seem more dangerous. Yes, this anime did kill a character in episode one to establish the overall stakes, but without a single drop of blood being shed, episode 2 managed to build on that drama and craft a compelling path for the story to take. I am very much looking forward to where this story goes from here.

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The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1
The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1