This Week in Anime
Why You Should Be Watching The Promised Neverland

by Michelle Liu & Steve Jones,

The Promised Neverland is the latest hit Shonen Jump manga to get the anime treatment. This week, Micchy and Steve break down what makes this mystery-horror adventure so engrossing.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet

You can read our weekly coverage of The Promised Neverland here!

Well Micchy, I've had a wonderful time here at This Week In Anime, but I just got word that it's time for me to graduate and move on to what I can only expect to be wonderful things.
Yyyyyyyeah, about that.
...actually maybe i'll stay
We're stuck here for the time being, like it or not.
Truly, writing about anime professionally is the real promised neverland. But the other real Promised Neverland is the fantastic Shonen Jump manga, and now that it's finally an anime, we get to experience the first arc all over again! Yay!
Our good pal Nick got me into the manga a while ago when he literally paid someone to make me read the first volume, so yeah, you could say I've been looking forward to this anime adaptation.
Yeah, that sounds like a Nick move.
It's a whole lot of suffering! But at long last, I can share that feeling with all non-manga-readers out there, especially since Noitamina titles are apparently no longer in Amazon jail. :3
And for that we are forever grateful! I also had the manga recommended to me a while ago by another good friend, and it had been in the back of my mind since then, but my first real experience with the story was the first episode of the anime.
Which was. A Trip.
And then there was no way I was waiting a week for the next episode, so I binged the manga over a single weekend and now I'm up to date in Promised Neverland hell with the rest of you.
You're actually ahead of me now! I only read through six volumes of the collected release, since I don't have space on my phone for the Shonen Jump app and refuse to delete any of my mobile games.
Honestly, with the new Shonen Jump app, the anime couldn't have dropped at a more perfect time for me. It was dangerously easy to just sign up and plow through the whole thing.
Well, my poor gaming habits aside, the point is that Promised Neverland is one of the few things that both of us have read the source material for.
Yep! Of course, we won't be spoiling anything past what the anime has covered, because it's too good to ruin it. Also because there's already SO MUCH to talk about.
This show starts off with a hell of a hook, one of the strongest first episodes I've seen lately. We get this picturesque orphanage filled with lovable sweet kids, but there's something a little off about it.
There's a real art to the way it gives you just enough to feel unsettled (like the neck tattoos), but still withholds the big reveal until the final minutes.
The kids' serial numbers are a huge red flag from the first moments, but the thing that stuck out to me when I first read the manga was that they suddenly started taking rigorous exams. Surely orphans wouldn't be adopted based on their academic achievements, right? But nope, they're literally appraised based on their smarts because they're just merchandise, and that's a hell of an implication to make about the role of education in kids' lives.
The way the anime presents that scene is really great too. The dark room lit up only by the glow of their screens creeped me out big time.

You think you know what kind of show this is until suddenly the testing turns into a scene straight out of a horror movie.
It definitely still functions as commentary on how society appraises children by their perceived fitness as eventual cogs in the machine, but in this case it's done to literally fatten up their big delicious brains.
I mean, if Golden Kamuy taught us anything last season, it's that brains always taste the best.
Somehow I'm much more okay with Asirpa enjoying squirrel brains than these guys munching on kid brains. I guess Asirpa is just cute enough to get away with it.
What, you don't think huge teeth and drooling maws are cute? And you call yourself a monster girl liker.
Context is Everything
I mean, I'm okay with getting eaten, but clearly these adorable orphans are not!
On that note, Emma is simply a wonderful protagonist in every way.
Emma is a delight! She's spunky, brave, endlessly caring, and a total cutie patootie—the absolute pinnacle of I Want To Protect This Smile.
She's one of the three oldest kids at the orphanage and also one of the three smartest, but these early episodes make a point of highlighting her supposed weaknesses of stubbornness and naivete. But what I really love about The Promised Neverland is how it makes these aspects of her personality a strength instead. It's her dogged determination to not leave any of her friends and family behind, against all supposed logic, that makes her so great.
It's such pure can-do shonen spirit, and I live for that stuff. Plus, having a female protagonist like her in a Shonen Jump series is super cool in and of itself.
On the other hand, we have Ray, the ruthless pragmatist of the three. While Emma insists on leaving no child behind in their escape, risks be damned, Ray's convinced that only the three of them can make it out alive.
However, Norman isn't having any of that; Emma's stubbornness wins him over, so her bleeding heart prevails at the end of the day.
At the same time, we all know Ray is right too. There's no argument that it wouldn't be easier for the three of them to run off. But the way they butt heads and force each other to be both smarter and more compassionate is a small triumph over the demons on its own.
Ultimately, they're just three adorable dorks who love each other.
And they'll need to support each other if they want to outsmart the World's Greatest Mom.
I guess that depends on how you define "great".
Just look how attentive she is!
Seriously though, the sheer tension she brings to the series is enough to make my palms sweat. She's smart and she's scary.
The way Isabella flips between sweet and sinister is the coolest goddamn thing in the show.
Before we find out her real role in this child-farming operation, she seems like the picture-perfect caretaker, but after the reveal, every smile seems more dangerous than the last. What an awesome villain.
As the story progresses, we see more of her secret side and how much she does behind the children's backs. I love this shot of her on the radio talking to the demons, because it feels like we're seeing something that we shouldn't be seeing. A foster mother shouldn't be shipping her children out to get eaten, and yet here we are. All the questions this raises help propel the story forward and make it so irresistible.
The shot composition in episode three is so dang unnerving. We're both privy to Isabella's covert movements and spying on the kids from behind bushes too. Everyone's being watched, and everyone's doing the watching.
The manga's art (by the ridiculously talented Posuka Demizu) is often too intricate for an animated TV production to replicate, but I really like how the anime establishes its own style to tell the story in a slightly different but still effective way. This scene doesn't originally take place on a staircase in the manga, but the anime uses this shot to emphasize Isabella's position of power over the kids. It's good shit.
The clock in the background of the tag scenes is a nice touch too, quietly ticking away the time the kids have left to live.
Overall, the anime's visual choices are an interesting departure from the manga, so it's a shame that those changes didn't extend to Krone's design. "Scarily exaggerated black woman" is not the best angle they could have taken.
Yeah, I absolutely love Krone as a character, so it's super unfortunate that her visual design is rooted in racist caricature. (There's a great article on this that you can read here.) To the anime's credit, it is toned down from the manga's design, which gets ridiculously bad in some panels, but it never fully extricates itself from those influences. It's a shame, because Krone is a great character who complicates the "kids vs mom" dynamic in a lot of interesting ways.
The kids are never sure if she's the kind of sister who would be 100% on a kid's side in resisting Mom, or the kind of sister who would tattle without a second thought, or the kind of sister who's just in this for herself. Krone occupies this interesting intermediate role between the kids and their "mom", which makes her a total wild card in their plans.
It is definitely gonna get wild.

Now can we take a moment to appreciate the most powerful character in the show? Of course I mean Phil.
Phil's :3 face is a thing of legend.
Precious lad.
He'll be relevant eventually, we promise.
Even though I know what's coming, I still can't wait for the next episode. This is the season's must-watch show. It only gets better. And more painful, obviously.
tfw when u think "this can't hurt any worse, can it?"
Promised Neverland is definitely the show to be watching in a pretty sparse season, and I can't recommend it enough. It's never quite the story you expect it to be, which is pretty dang remarkable for a Jump series.
Just please don't spoil it for your friends. It's only fair we all suffer equally.

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