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

The Promised Neverland post title image

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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Karandi James
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The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1
The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1

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In Case You Missed It 2019 #2

My it was a busy week with lots of first episodes to try and a few I just decided to put on hold for now because there doesn’t really seem to be any point in trying them. That said, some of the stuff I did try ended up being… ‘interesting’. Still, there’s certainly variety this season. However, as the rest of the anime for the season premiere and reviewers choose their watch lists below I have some great posts from the community covering a wide range of anime old and new as well as games, rebuttals against other articles, and characters in general. There are also links to my posts for the week so hopefully you can catch up if you missed anything you were interested in.

As always you are welcome to give a shout out to an anime related post in the comments below if there is one you think deserves some attention and if you think there’s a post I should include, send me a message via my contact or a DM on twitter and I’m always happy to check out great content.

Posts from the Community

L-Zerb has an interesting post discussing why it is Koroko no Basket and not Kagami no Basket. It’s an interesting discussion about Koroko’s character and his change throughout the series. A great read.

Crow’s World of Anime brings us something of an unusual list with six examples of female armour in anime that might actually protect the wearer (I know, who knew there were six). I love reading lists with explanations as to why certain things were included and this was an interesting list with some great characters on it.

Prattler’s Paradise has a post about the long titles that seem to be the trend for light novels and anime series in recent times and why they need to stop (because we’re just going to shorten them anyway). While I don’t necessarily agree or disagree that long titles are a problem, it is a great post to read with some good examples given as well as some points about what makes a title interesting or good.

Amari Sali gives their first impressions of The Rising of the Shield Hero. This is a nice detailed breakdown that looks at what happened, what the positives are and what didn’t work so well and wraps up with an overall impressions. If you were curious about whether Shield Hero was for you, this post will give you a pretty solid idea about what you are about to watch.

JekoJeko from UEM also looks at The Rising of the Shield Hero but they look more at the way it was reviewed by ANN and some of the problems in how views were presented. In a time when so many anime seem to be getting criticised for having views (or simply presenting material) that may not align with some viewers I think this is an important article to read, though it is very critical.

Rising of the Shield Hero Episode 1 Naofumi

C S Radical has a rebuttal piece on an article written about diversity in gaming. I would suggest reading the article they are responding to (which is linked in the post) but this is a great piece for getting gamers thinking about what is important in gaming and what diversity actually means in gaming. Definitely a post (and an article) worth reading and considering for gamers.

Jessi shares a final series review of Skull Face Bookseller Honda-San and looks at how this comedy manages to set itself apart from a lot of others that came out last year. It’s a pleasant read about a fairly pleasant anime and one worth checking out if you have the time.

Skull Face Bookseller honda San Episode 6

Arthifis shares three reasons why the first episode of the Promised Neverland was perfect. It was a strong premiere episode and it certainly got the community talking and this post does a great job of highlighting some of the strengths of the episode as well as a message Arthifis took from it. That said, this post does have a few spoilers for episode 1 so if you haven’t watched it yet, maybe do that first.

Mr Flawfinder has a review of Banana Fish and while he does point out some of the narrative flaws, this was a fairly positive review of a series that I kind of fell in love with at the end of last year. If you’d like to read a non-gushing but fair review of Banana Fish then this one is actually pretty solid and very specific in its examples of why things do and don’t work in the series (though, fair warning it does spoil the ending).

Banana Fish Episode 17 - Ash and Eiji.

Pick of the Week

Kapodaco provides us with an interesting post asking How Dense is Too Dense For An Anime Protagonist? and looks at the motivations behind dense anime protagonists as well as how they impact on the narratives they are in. It’s a great post and one which all anime fans will be able to weight in on because we’ve all come across that far too dense protagonist far too many times. n

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Karandi James
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The Promised Neverland’s First Episode Promises Much, Will It Deliver?

The Promised Neverland post title image

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Review

I kind of wanted to go with a Peter Pan reference for the title. Something along the lines of, “These kids really won’t grow up,” but it seemed a little bit facetious particularly as I’m going in blind to this series. While I did buy the first volume of the manga it is currently sitting in my reading backlog though after this first episode I’m kind of desperate to go devour it because while I know not everything is out yet this season, but this anime is kind of the one I’m most excited about right now.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Emma and friends

There was a lot of hype in the pre-season about The Promised Neverland, but after the snore-fest that Angels of Death turned out to be I have definitely become better at filtering out pre-season chatter. I went in to this episode expecting very little and instead found a well directed, well structured, and beautifully paced premiere that instantly drew me into this story and these characters. Every single scene feels meaningfully thought out and nothing takes up more screen time then it should. The establishment of the happy orphanage with the understanding that things are not what they seem is beautifully portrayed and while you may not know what the actual reveal is going to be, you have a fair idea of Conny’s fate.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Conny

See, this isn’t relying on shock factor. It isn’t relying on a jump scares. It is genuinely building up a world where things are genuinely horrific for the characters and while the audience is let in on the wrongness of the world through a myriad of visual cues, we discover exactly what that wrongness is at the same time as the characters in a sequence that manages to make our protagonists look as small and vulnerable as they actually are in this world.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Emma and Norman

While I won’t deny things might go south for this series, the first episode was a fantastic introduction to this world. It revealed enough to make it feel purposeful while giving us a million questions. At the same time, it has given me the confidence to believe the answers to those questions are going to be explored.

I will definitely be watching this one. For an anime title tagged with horror, this one comes across as fairly smart and so far has been incredibly engaging, and I will admit I am far more intrigued by the sci-fi aspect after the second half of the episode. All and all, this one has hooked me and I am hungry for more.

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Karandi James
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