Anime Hajime Review: The Promised Neverland

Original Run: January 10, 2019 - March 29, 2019
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Based on the Series Created By: Posuka Demizu and Kaiu Shirai

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for The Promised Neverland. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Emma, Norman, and Rey (voiced respectively by Sumire Morohoshi, Maaya Uchida, and Mariya Ise) are the oldest children at the Grace Field House orphanage. The three have lived their entire lives at the facility, and things could not be more peaceful. They are always well-fed, they can play all day, and they even get a first-rate education. There are just two rules the trio and the rest of the kids can never break:

  1. Never go past the gate.
  2. Never go over the fence.

As with any orphanage, occasionally, someone is scheduled to go to a new home. However, once a person leaves, they are never heard from again. Then one day, Emma, Norman, and Rey discover the truth.

Their lives have always been a lie. The fate waiting for them is nothing but a nightmare.

Instead of accepting that horror, the three decide to act. Emma, Norman, and Rey need to be quick because their “adoption” day might come at any time.

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Series Positives

From fan to fan, this review could be six words long:

The Promised Neverland was f@#$ing awesome!

However, since it’s what I do, let’s delve a bit deeper. Still, if you are satisfied by that statement alone, it would not bother me in the least if you were to stop reading here to go check out this show. For those of you who are not yet convinced, let me warn you now – I intend to be as vague as I can be.

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I strongly encourage everyone to go into The Promised Neverland with as little information as possible.

There was a lot this series did well. So much so, it’s difficult to decide where to start. Therefore, what better place than with the plot?

The Promised Neverland’s story arose from a familiar Allegory of the Cave-esque origin. Soon afterward, it quickly became something far more unique. By the end of episode one, the hooks of intrigue, suspense, and mystery were firmly entrenched, and they only sunk deeper as the show progressed.

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Crucially, The Promised Neverland made it a habit to cover its bases. There was rarely a scene, detail, comment, or whatever which failed to have a point. Moreover, while this may have been quite the heavy narrative, it wasn’t a jumbled mess that went every which way. The show was relatively straightforward, and it didn’t rely on blunt confusion to hide its intentions. In fact – with hindsight being 20/20 – most of the twists and turns can be guessed in advanced if you seriously sit down to put the pieces together.

A predictable story might sound like a negative but keep this in mind: The Promised Neverland was as predictable as a chess match. When playing, I suppose you could logic your way to be five, ten – or to be overly generous – twenty moves ahead. But seeing the final endgame from the outset will require some effort. Nevertheless, that was precisely the sort of effort this series thrived on.

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Perhaps The Promised Neverland’s most effective tools were its three main characters – Emma, Norman, and Ray. This trio was outstanding because you could believe they stood a chance against the obstacles they faced. They each had a keen sense for strategy and a sharp mind. But the most fascinating thing was how vastly different their thinking brains operated.

Emma was the idealist, Norman was the planner, and Ray was the realist. As a single entity, these three made for a formidable force. If they had to tackle the circumstances they faced together alone, none of them would have made it far. As a team, though, Emma, Norman, and Ray could counterbalance their friends’ weaknesses.

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On top of that, it can’t be understated how close the three were to one another. They had been a unit all their lives, and some of The Promised Neverland’s most powerful moments came when the show laid out how much they loved each other. I lost track of how many times this series got me choked up.

Likewise, there was another emotion The Promised Neverland was extremely good at evoking – terror.

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Holy hell, this show got downright frightening at parts, and one of the most nail-biting scenes occurred in the very first episode. The Promised Neverland was phenomenal at building tension. Never did anything need to be explained. Characters action’s, the camerawork, the music, the lack of music, everything created this persistent atmosphere of danger.

Now, if you measure a story’s danger level only by the amount of blood spilled, then by that definition, The Promised Neverland was as mild-mannered as they come. That’s not the sort of danger I am referring to, though. Emma, Norman, Ray, and the rest of the children at Grace Field House (even if some of them didn’t realize it) were always one mistake away from disappearing. Their demise wouldn’t have been flashy, it would have just happened. This show never felt the need to be over-the-top with anything it did.

It’s fairly simple if you ask me. Why use a megaphone when a quiet whisper can cut ten-times deeper?

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The Promised Neverland knew what to show, what to conceal, and what to reveal to create the biggest impact. This was psychological horror at its best.

And on top of everything else, The Promised Neverland was one of those series that only got more enthralling the longer it went on. Take it from my own experience, don’t be surprised if you lose yourself in this story and the clock jumps ahead six-hours without you ever realizing it.

That’s not a bad problem to have. But maybe – just maybe – don’t watch this series late at night when you have somewhere to be the next morning.

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Series Negatives

This section is going to be a combination of splitting hairs, needless nitpicking, and virtually insignificant “concerns.”

A.K.A.: This won’t take long.

Should The Promised Neverland get a second season – a prospect I think is exceptionally possible despite the more than satisfying ending – I suspect most of this show’s minor problems will be addressed. For instance, while not often, some details felt like the beginnings of something much bigger. However, nothing came of them.

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The unfortunate part of me using that as an example, as well as any other example I could give, these tiny-but-still-probably-huge details could be spoilers, and I have already mentioned how I don’t want to give anything away concerning this story.

That notwithstanding, there was one specific moment that I wish wasn’t in this series. It was over and done within less than five minutes, but it gave a significant glimpse behind the scenes. Trust me, there is still a ton of The Promised Neverland’s world shrouded in shadow, and at this moment, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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In spite of that, even getting the tiniest look at the thought process of the organization pulling the strings didn’t add anything of note. This will sound weird without context, but the scene in question threw in some humanization that was out of place.

Again, as a reminder, these sorts of issues were not common. I just believe it is vital for me to point them out as a reviewer.

But in the end, let me put it this way:

The Promised Neverland was like a pile of gold bricks. If you are disinterested in these bricks because one or two of them have a small scuff mark, I will gladly take them off your hands; no questions asked.

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Final Thoughts

At the time of this post going live (April 2019), there is still so much of 2019 left to go. And now, the bar has firmly been set; and it has been set high.

The story was amazing. The characters were outstanding. The tension, the atmosphere, the terror, it was all thick with the sort of stuff that grabs on quick and doesn’t let go. This was such a good watch.

If the day comes when this series ever gets a continuation, you would not see a more excited me. The Promised Neverland gets an absolute recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning The Promised Neverland? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

And if you’ve liked what you have read, be sure to follow me here at LofZOdyssey Anime Reviews and on my social media sites so that you never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.

I’m LofZOdyssey, and I will see you next time.

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