This Week in Anime
The Promised Neverland is Only Getting More Intense

by Nicholas Dupree & Andy Pfeiffer,

The Promised Neverland piles on the twists as Grace Field House becomes less safe every day for its wily orphans. This week, Nick and Andy discuss their favorite twists and some of the more questionable ones so far.

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. [Not Safe For Work warning for content and language.]

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet


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

Andy
Hey Nick, I've been catching up on TPN, and I wanted to ask you a quick question.
Nick
Oh boy, is it already time to talk about Ray "Baby Memories" Neverland? Cool trick, twerp, I too can remember things from five minutes ago.
Sweet Baby Ray had some explaining to do, but I don't think I was ready for it.
So much has gone down in The Promised Neverland since we last covered it, and most of it was pretty dark. Like the other twist Ray dropped several episodes ago.
Ray, please. No more secrets. You are tearing this family apart, and more importantly, your stink faces are getting out of control.
The boy would be born to be an actor, if he wasn't actually born to be demon food.
Somehow, all hell has not broken loose since we last checked in on Lady Isabella's Municipal Orphanage.
And neither have the kids!
I do want to commend Promised Neverland for its ability to keep doling out twists. It's been introducing potential antagonists and problems and then quickly resolving them, but in a way that doesn't feel cheap or forced.
Yeah, the series has been good about unfolding new information in ways that are not only surprising, but more importantly creating a genuine shift in the stakes of the story. If I'm being honest, I feel like the anime put its finger on the scale a little too much with foreshadowing Ray's status as the traitor, but that's not too big a deal because the actual twist lies in the why and how of his betrayal.
He's been playing a long game for years to save Norman and Emma from being eaten, and he even orchestrated them discovering the secret to begin with, but more importantly he wants only them to escape, and tasks Norman with tricking Emma into abandoning the kids he sees as dead weight.
Whether it's his own guilt over what he's done to get this far or a more practical view of how to best save his friends, Ray not only intends to ditch everyone else in the escape, but even sacrifice himself. Norman has shown hints of catching on to this, and it'll be real interesting to see how Emma reacts if she finds out.
Her empathy may be basically infinite, but that also leads to some unexpectedly chilling reactions.
Emma is a sweet child, but she definitely
holds a grudge.
Ray seems okay with that.
Granted, she's not the first person to throw hands in this show. Don is also a sweet child but he
should maybe chill.
I am so happy with Don's development though! He's a ball of frustration who's so tired of being kept in the dark for his own sake. It was bad enough that Mom did it to send them packing as monster food, but realizing that even the people trying to help save him were doing this too just wounded his pride a little too much. It's not the betrayal that really hurts. It's that he fully understands why they did it. He's not as smart as the our main trio, he's emotionally impulsive, and he just finished almost jeopardizing everyone's safety with no idea how much danger he was putting them in.
All he wants to do is be trusted not to be a burden.
I also appreciate how the show treats all these feelings as valid and sympathetic. A lot of thriller stories tend to treat emotion-driven characters like Don as pawns or idiots throwing wrenches in the Smart People's plans. But Neverland recognizes that making mistakes and being afraid is the most human reaction to all the shit these kids are caught up in.
Speaking of unexpectedly sympathetic, do you want to talk about this abomination?
Hoo boy is there a lot to say about Krone.
It's fitting that Don's realization is what leads Krone to the conspirators, and her lower position relative to Isabella on the food chain is hammered home in some truly painful ways.
Krone is by far the most controversial character of the series, especially with how the anime's portrayed her compared to the manga. Like the character herself, it's a big ball of sharp contrasts. Krone is by far the most aggressive and volatile character in a cast that's largely quiet schemers holding their cards to their chests, and the anime's dedication to animating every wild gesture of hers intensifies that difference.
Her range of motion is both unsettling and refreshing. She seems to wear her feelings on her sleeve, but that's as much a facade as everyone else's, which makes her moments of picking the children apart that much more effective. She also gets some of the best direction in the show. While others are mostly framed to emphasize their facial expressions, Krone is more framed by different angles and distances, because her facial expressions are always exaggerated anyway.
The changeups in framing really help nail down her position as the wild card throwing all parties off-balance.
Well, almost all parties. She still hasn't shaken
Phil the Unknowable.
Keep an eye on that kid. He holds a power I don't think any of us are prepared for.
Yeah, who's the real mastermind around here?
More like Phil-iam Minerva! There you go, I've cracked the case.
But yeah, Krone's been a major wild card the whole show, and she's especially effective once she starts teasing an alliance with the kids, proving to them that there's a lot more going on in the world outside than they realize.

Not that she'd know, as she also has never left the farm. Moms themselves are simply an extension of the program, which means everything we learn about Krone holds true for Isabella as well. At the end of the day, she's also trying to escape this hell, but her method is to buy into the system to the point where her survival is guaranteed.
It's a twist on the conflict that serves to make it more thematically complicated. Krone and Isabella are ultimately both victims and perpetrators of the system, and how they process that informs their personalities. Krone internalized the survival of the fittest mentality of her "Mom" training to the point she planned to sabotage her superior to get ahead. In another series, she might just be a villain, but Neverland does a stellar job of painting her as a complex character trying to do what she thinks is necessary.
Unfortunately for her, it turns out that knowing you're in a hell world doesn't make you immune to its cruelty.
Trying to get ahead in an exploitative system is
a fool's game.
And shout out to the editing of Krone's demise. Juxtaposing her struggle with the kids eating was A++.
 
 
It's both stunning and cruel. In her final moments, Krone recognizes that no matter how much she followed the rules of Gracefield, no matter how dutifully she served their purposes, she was expendable because somebody with more power decided they didn't need her.
Her final plea is for the kids she was planning to sacrifice to instead break out and escape this whole toxic system.
In the end, I even felt bad for being creeped out at her patchwork doll, because it was no different than Little Bunny. It's the one thing she always had to hold on to for comfort in this miserable life.
It's also an amazing stealth symbol of Krone's lost innocence. Even though it stays with her, it gets torn and stained and abused alongside her.
Sometimes by her.
It's a perfect way to tie her to Emma and the other kids because it's the one piece of her old life she hasn't forsaken, unlike Isabella. I haven't been a fan of every choice the anime's made for Krone, but adding that doll was a great decision in the end.
I mean, I wouldn't say we haven't seen similar
from Isabella.

Sure, but those take on a much darker context than a childhood woobie toy, considering she took them off their beloved little corpses.
But she did choose to keep them!
One woman's Precious Memories figure are another's hunting trophies, that's all I'm saying.
I guess not all of us can appreciate a well-maintained shrine.
But we do need to talk about Isabella now, so
let's get cracking.
We finally meet the Real Mom. She seems nice.

For as calculating and evil as her interactions with Ray and Krone have been, I kinda still buy this. Because that's what the world's system relies on.
It's hard to tell signal from noise with Isabella, but I'm inclined to believe she's being genuine here. They exist in a fucked up system, and her means of coping is to deliver whatever small kindnesses she can to the kids she ultimately has to send off to be demon chow. She's also scarily dedicated to that end.
Like you wanna talk about chilling, seeing her cradle and coddle Emma seconds after breaking her leg
is gut-churning.
The only time her calm demeanor breaks is immediately after Norman betrays her expectations, and I think part of that comes from the sadness of what she already knew she was about to do.
From her perspective, she simply wanted to spend as many happy days with these kids as possible, and they're denying themselves that by fighting the inevitable. I'm sure managing Fetus Memories Ray has been a challenge for years, but that's why she got him some nice chocolates and a camera to keep his spirits up. I'm sure she plans to add those to her dead child shrine after he's finally shipped off.
It is an absolute tightrope of characterization to make Isabella both understandable and sincere while making sure we know that she's still an absolute threat. And that gets even more intense when it turns out Daylight Savings Time still exists in the demon world and Norman's getting shipped out ahead of schedule. Whoops.
Losing that hour really creeps up on you! Sometimes the obvious details are the easiest to miss. And on that note, maybe they should have checked what was on the other side of the wall? Now I know this was planned for, but having more contingency plans may have been a bit too forward-thinking for these guys.
I blame Gilda. She jinxed this whole thing.
But yeah, when shit goes sideways in Neverland, it goes fast. Between Norman's impending field trip to the Soylent Green factory, Emma's busted leg, and Ray's psychological break, the last thing the kids needed was another setback, but guess what? Too bad!
All things considered, Norman is taking it pretty well. You can't get shipped out if you age 20 years
in a day, right?
Nah. Your early thirties is just the right age to become a gray matter milkshake. And then on top of all of this, he has to hear about Ray and his goddamn Baby Memories.
Hey kids, wanna know what a womb is like?
On many levels, I like this twist. The idea that Ray's been aware for his whole life that he's monster chow informs a lot of why he's so cagey and yet so defensive of Norman and Emma. But also: fucking baby memories.
Was it not enough to have him remember the gates and the monsters? Do we really need to cover everything before that? Whose fetish is this?
The anime wisely keeps the action in the present, so we're not given a full HD look at how baby Ray also had hyperdeveloped leg muscles and motor control as a newborn.
I saw the words "dark tunnel" before anything else and was prepared for much worse.
I love The Promised Neverland. I love Ray's character. But I will never not laugh at his fuckin' baby memories.
I mean, bravo for finding something to completely throw me after managing to sell me on demons creating human children farms since the year uh...checks notes
Okay, I swear I'm done talking about Baby Memories. Because otherwise, I am very much ready to see what Neverland will do with its last three episodes. It's managed to make the kids' already-harrowing escape more treacherous and impossible each week, and shit's only going to get more intense from here.
We're right back to basics with the stakes, but now everyone's cards are on the table. It's Kids vs Mom. Their plan has been torpedoed, and Norman is on the chopping block. It's gonna be interesting to see how they'll claw their way out of this one, but I have a feeling they've still got an ace in the hole.

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