The Promised Neverland is finally back.
I was already excited enough with Attack on Titan‘s final season airing but, with the second season of the adaptation of Kaiu Shiari’s great manga airing at the same time, and possibly being about to adapt my favorite arc in the manga, I might just collapse from overexcitement.
I started watching The Promised Neverland about four episodes into its first season and was immediately hooked to the point that, when I learned that the Covid-19 Pandemic had delayed season two, I read the manga.
Well, after the wait we finally have the first episode of that second season, which puts the follow up off to a promising start.
Directed by Takahiro Harada, the episode picks up after Emma (Sumire Morohoshi), Ray (Mariya Ise), Don (Shinei Ueki), Gilda (Lynn), and many other children escaped from the Grace Field House, where they had been unknowingly raised as demon food by their “mother”, Isabella.
Now free, but without their good friend Norman, who was shipped out, and the young Phil, who stayed to look out for the other younger children, Emma and the others are free to explore the outside world.
However, as Emma points out in the opening scene with her inner monologue, “freedom is so beautiful… Yet so cruel.”
This line, while sounding very similar to something Eren Jaeger would say in Attack on Titan, is a great way to kick off the episode, as it is revealed that the children are being chased by a giant demonic lizard.
The outside world is clearly just as dangerous for the children as it was at the Grace Field House, with another kind of predator pursuing them.
However, there is also the kind from season one hunting them down as well because the demons are back, angered by the children’s escape.
Before we get to these pursuits though, the episode cuts to before all this, when the children had time to get their bearings.
We have a cool discussion between Emma and Ray where it is shown just how much Ray has grown from his suicide attempt in season one, now being dedicated to protecting his family and survive with them.
Emma and the gang also come up with a plan, using the equipment gifted to them by William Minerva to locate him.
This equipment includes a pen given by Sister Krone to Norman, who then gave it to them, and a book that shows them how to survive in the outside world.
The book is an interesting thing about the episode because it is here where a lot of content from the manga was cut.
In the original story, there was quite a long scene where Emma and the others got trapped in a giant man-eating plant, which they escaped with help from William Minerva’s book, proving its usefulness in escaping danger.
This is changed in the episode to them learning this through just finding out where to get water with help from the book.
Now, usually I’d be against such a large scene being cut from an adaptation.
You only need to look at my review for episode three of Attack on Titan‘s final season to know that I mostly disapprove of large deviations from the source material.
However, surprisingly, I actually don’t have an issue with the cuts in this episode because the scenes that were left out do not contribute that much to the overall story.
The big scene that is cut is basically just a long side quest that proves one piece of information that was simplified quite well in the episode.
Some fans are concerned that these cuts mean that the season will be rushed, with many important scenes removed but I really don’t think that, at least not yet.
Sure, there were a lot of cuts but, as I said, these cuts were made to simplify scenes that were really not that important to the story or character arcs in the manga, so I can see the important scenes being left mostly intact.
This includes the scenes with the two demon characters who rescue the children from their demon pursuers at the end of the episode, after Emma collapses and Ray is almost captured.
I really like these demon characters in the manga and I can’t wait to see how the adaptation will handle their role.
In any case, the ED seems to suggest they will have a bigger role at this point in the story than they did in the manga, with some great symbolism, like the female demon’s shadow looking eerily familiar to a cross.
The OP, “Identity” by Kiiro Akiyama, is also really good with a lot of great visuals to get you excited for what’s to come.
And, with the cliffhanger of the demons having saved the children, raising questions about why demons are helping their supposed food in the first place, a question Ray asks, there is certainly a lot to be excited about.