Interview: The Staff of The Promised Neverlandby Kyle Cardine,
While The Promised Neverland has wrapped its run in Shonen Jump, the manga continues to stand up to other big name Jump titles such as One Piece and My Hero Academia. When the first anime season premiered, expectations were high as to how Posuka Demizu's art and Kaiu Shirai's story would translate to animation. CloverWorks producer Yūichi Fukushima told Anime News Network in 2018 that one of their focuses for the series was the create quality character animation. Seeing how the studio was able to create thrilling and unnerving scenes of children panting from exhaustion or shaking due to the stress after learning they were food for demons, one could say it was mission accomplished.
With a second season underway, anticipation for how the team will adapt the story is high, now with the characters heading into an even more dangerous environment. Anime News Network had a chance to sit down with director Mamoru Kanbe, animation producer Yūichi Fukushima, and producer Kenta Suzuki to talk about the first season's adaptation, the depiction of Krone, and what the change in scenery means for the second season.
[Note: This interview contains spoilers for the first season of The Promised Neverland]
ANN: First, please introduce yourself and describe your role on The Promised Neverland.
FUKUSHIMA: I'm an animation producer at CloverWorks, Yūichi Fukushima.
KANBE: I'm the director, Mamoru Kanbe.
SUZUKI: I'm a producer at Aniplex, Kenta Suzuki.
What did you want to accomplish with this adaptation of The Promised Neverland?
KANBE: Because it's 12 episodes, and roughly 240 minutes, we wanted to go for a film-like adaptation.
FUKUSHIMA: When I received the concept art and settings from the director, my goal personally was to create art, backgrounds and characters that would best fit into animation. My first and foremost goal was to make the manga come alive in an animated version.
SUZUKI: My goal was to spread this anime to everyone so that lots of people could see it. Not just in Japan, but overseas too. I thought about that ever since reading the manga. Last night, when I was at the panel and saw so many people excited about the show, one of those goals of mine came true.
For Kanbe-san, there are some interesting changes from the manga, for example eliminating the internal monologues and not illustrating some of Ray's backstory. Why did you make those changes?
KANBE: The reason why I chose not to use as many monologues was to increase the suspense. In the manga, there are a lot of monologues from Emma and Krone. If we know or hear the monologues we know what each of those characters are thinking and what their intentions are, but instead of finding flat outright as an audience, we only focused on Emma's standpoint and what she knows. We don't know exactly what Isabella or Krone is thinking or their intentions so that increases the tension and suspense because we only know Emma's perspective. How you overcome that suspense is what we wanted to do.
It's not often that we have Black characters portrayed in anime, and Krone plays a big part in the first season. What has the response been to Krone in the anime? Have you received any feedback?
SUZUKI: Like good responses?
Either. What have you heard?
SUZUKI: For the overseas audience especially, we feel that Krone is very popular. She's popular in Japan too. I've been to many overseas panels and I've noticed that she's very popular. Even though she's the enemy, we can't really hate her. She plays the role of comedic relief. She's kind of scary too, but then she meets a sad end. She passes on something to the children that helps them obviously when she dies. From that kind of good, she saved herself and because of that her actions have made her popular.
FUKUSHIMA: From a studio's perspective, we never really heard any negativity.
KANBE: We were mindful of the color of her doll's skin because she does beat it up.
For Fukushima-san, there was a lot of detail added when the characters were exhausted or in shock. Can you talk about how you produced those scenes?
FUKUSHIMA: A lot of those were the director's decisions. It was already written that way. We knew that we wanted to express it beautifully and enhance what the director told us. So any important scenes we had animators who would take extra care to take those on. The animators would put so much effort into it and that's what made it special.
For Suzuki-san, there were some episodes of The Promised Neverland which only covered one or two chapters where others covered upwards of four. What do you think is most important when pacing manga chapters to anime episodes?
SUZUKI: We already knew where we were going to end each episode during and towards the end of the season. We knew we had so much content we needed to cover. So we compartmentalized and decided what would fit in each episode. What I kept in mind was that the final scene is a shocking one, so we wanted to make the audience feel compelled to watch more. So we were conscious and mindful of putting the cliffhangers at the ending.
Lastly, the first season is very contained as it just takes place around the house, but the scope becomes much larger after the children escape. How do you plan to approach Season 2 with this change?
KANBE: To be honest, it's probably not that different.
FUKUSHIMA: In season one, there was the house, the yard, and the forest, so we had different backgrounds and everything. For Season 2, when they're escaping, you're going to see a different world and setting. Hopefully, we can make this new scenery appealing like the backgrounds or what the children are going to wear. Hopefully, that's what we're going to draw out is something more appealing because it's different than where they were before.
Our thanks to Mamoru Kanbe, Yūichi Fukushima, and Kenta Suzuki for the opportunity.
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