The Promised Neverland, Season Two, Episode One Review: A Beautiful Yet Cruel Freedom.

4 stars
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 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.

The Promised Neverland Season One Review: I am Hooked.

4 and a half stars
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding The Promised Neverland, both during and since its release.
I heard so much hype surrounding it that I started watching the anime half way through the season and I was not disappointed.
The series instantly hooked me with its gripping concept, characters and direction, resulting in an incredibly intense first season.
Based off the manga of the same name by Kaiu Shirai, and directed by Mamoru Kanbe, The Promised Neverland is set on an orphanage where 38 children live with their “mom” Isabella (Yuko Kaida), until they are eventually adopted.
Our three main characters are the energetic Emma (Sumire Morohoshi), the intuitive Norman (Maaya Uchida), and the sly Ray (Mariya Uchida), who are the smartest of all the children.
However, their happy life is completely shattered when they learn a dark truth about the orphanage and their so called mom.
The three then begin to plan an escape with some of their siblings, all while evading the ever watchful eye of Isabella, who will do anything to stop them getting away.

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Watching Emma, Norman and Ray desperately attempt to outsmart Isabella makes for a very intense viewing.

All twelve episodes are great and full of many intense moments.
Even something as simple as tag is made scary in this series.
What amplifies the tension is how much you grow to care for these children.
Emma, Norman and Ray are all very relatable and well performed by their voice actors.
As for the other children, their adorableness makes you feel instant horror at the thought of them staying at the orphanage with the manipulative Isabella.
Speaking of which, she is a very intimidating character, being able to switch between the personalities of a loving mother to a cruel warden in an instant.
As for the secondary antagonist Sister Krone (Nao Fujita), her nightmare inducing facial expressions will keep you up at night.

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Good luck getting this terrifying image of Sister Krone’s demented face out of your head when you sleep. Sweet dreams!

But what is most interesting about these two antagonists is also how relatable they become.
They are certainly twisted individuals, but are made much more sympathetic by the conclusions of their stories.
Their sympathetic sides do not make you forget the plight of these kids though, as you will be routing for them to escape every cruel step of the way.
Watching the effect the trauma of their experiences has on them is touching and makes you relate to them further.
This is also helped by the expert direction, with well thought out shots that both amplify the horror and make you care for the characters by placing you right in the middle of their plight.

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The cinematography of The Promised Neverland often places you right in the kids’ perspective, making the horror much more personal.

Combine all this with a great amount of twists and turns, it makes for a stellar season with only a few problems.
These problems are minor and, for the most part, do not hinder the experience.
For example, there was a scene in the first episode with a bit of bad editing, but the rest of the direction was so good that it more than made up for it.
Then there are the episode titles, which, while having no impact the story, are not memorable because they are just a representation of the date.
The final issue has to do with the intelligence of some of these kids, which does seem a bit outlandish at times, but I was able to push my suspension of disbelief above this.
The Promised Neverland is a fantastic anime that looks set to be one of the greats.
Season two has already been greenlit and I will be excitedly watching when it comes out in 2020.