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

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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