Recently, I wrote about some anime you can watch on Netflix, one of which was the ongoing series, The Promised Neverland. With the next season officially airing early January next year, I decided it would be fair to do a minimum spoiler review on the anime we know so far to give you more insight on why it is on that list. So, here it is.
Adapted from the manga by Kaiu Shirai, the story begins in an isolated foster home in 2045 called the Grace Field House. It’s here where 38 orphans live a happy luxurious life with their “Mom” Isabella.
In the first episode, we get a glimpse of their daily lives. They eat, play, and also take an exam. Emma, Ray, and Norman, the main protagonists, always get the highest scores. This fact is important for the story. We also get to know each of their distinct personalities which becomes very functional in further episodes of The Promised Neverland.
That same day, when young Conny is getting adopted, she forgets her favorite stuffed animal. Emma and Norman, who are also two of the older children in the house, decide to follow her and Isabella to the gate. What they meet is a horrific sight of Conny laying dead at the back of a truck with a flower stabbed at her chest. At that moment, they realize that their happy home has been nothing but a ruse.
So much happened in the first 24 minutes, yet it was just a small insight to what was to come from The Promised Neverland.
In the first season, we watch these children plot their escape, and how they meticulously tiptoe their way around the many obstacles they have to face to leave the nightmare they were born into. These orphans are faced with enemies far beyond their physical capabilities of defeating and that just made me even more curious to know how the story would go and I was greeted with one shock after another.
To start off, I will say that this show is a perfect psychological thriller. It definitely did a good job of portraying the minds and behaviours of characters. In a situation like theirs, it would make sense to understand how they all think and see what drives them to make certain decisions. In the end, it is a battle of wits and we watch as they try to outsmart each other with a literal deadline closing in. Getting adopted.
It has a great deal of suspense and the sound design just adds to it. The way the show hyper focuses on sounds like footsteps or ticking clocks or dripping water made moments more intense than they already were. There are some scenes where I even jumped a bit because of the noises they used. I did not expect that for this anime, but it fit flawlessly.
The changing perspective was very interesting. Usually, the audience has the story told from the point of view of a certain character, but that constantly changes in every episode. We get to see our main characters from the eyes of someone else and we even get to see how Isabella thinks. At times, we don’t even know what Emma and the others have planned which makes every reveal just as jaw dropping as that last. It kept me guessing. I could never tell if I was more anxious or excited. I just had no idea what would happen next.
Throughout the series, they use a certain tune from the original soundtrack called Isabella’s lullaby in different forms, and at first I just thought it was a regular theme to make it more appealing, but of course, even a song has significance in a well written story like this.
In the final episode, we learn the meaning behind the song and suddenly everything feels deeper. The audience is then ambushed with a final eye opening reveal just as the episode is about to end.
To finish, let it be known that Isabella was an amazing antagonist in this story. She was intelligent and a master at switching personalities to put herself at an advantage. She was like a paradox. Genuinely cared for and loved every child, yet at the end of the day, she would still walk them to a grueling fate. Isabella knew the children, she raised them, which is why she always seemed to be one step ahead of them. Even if she wasn’t, they would not know as it never showed on her face.
You will find yourself asking why she does it, why she lies and tries so hard to not let them break out of the Grace Field House.
At the end of the final episode, I fully understood that she was just a victim. A victim trying to survive the hell hole of a system they were all unfortunate to be born into.
“I did it to survive,” she said when she encountered Ray at the wall of the home grounds.
The Promised Neverland ends with a rendition of Isabella’s lullaby playing and a satisfying ending. Not only is it satisfying, but it’s also an excellent segway toward the next season. They ended it with just enough questions for the viewers to want to know more and in over a month, we will.