They are living in an area that is surrounded by walls with a goal to, one day, go outside the walls? Check!
Man-eating anomalies outside of the walls? Check!
Ladies and gentlemen welcome to your review of Attack on Titan!
No…. this is your review of The Promised Neverland!
The story centers around three main orphans and two supporting character orphans all growing up in a place called Grace Field House. Isabella, the house mother, makes sure that they get fed properly, get a good education, and allows them to play outside to get their exercise and have some fun. The only big rules are don’t go beyond the fence and don’t go to the front gate. Emma, Norman, and Ray are the oldest of all of the children there but despite their ages and maturity, they still become heartbroken when one of the younger orphans, Conny, ends up getting adopted. On the night of her departure, Conny forgets to bring her favorite stuffed rabbit along with her. Not wanting her to forget such a precious item, Ray and Emma agree to break one of the rules and go to the main gate to give the bunny to Conny. When they get there, Conny is nowhere to be found. Instead, there’s just a simple truck with a canvas covering its bed.
Emma decides to leave the bunny in the back of the truck and that’s where they discover Conny’s dead body with a flower growing out of it. They hear voices so they take refuge under the truck. That’s when they realize that there are giant monster-like humanoid beings talking about harvesting the children at Grace Field House and Isabella is collusion with them! Emma and Norman escape but Isabella finds the bunny which means she knows that someone at the orphanage now knows the secret!
Emma, Norman, and Ray band together in order to come up with a plan that will allow everyone to escape together and thus our journey begins!
This show’s story had me hooked from the very beginning. It quickly became a show that I was dying to watch each and every week. It got to the point where I broke down and bought all seven (at the time) available manga volumes and began to plow through the story. This was a mistake because had I not done that, this show would have gotten an instant 5/5 from me; however, because I decided to break my rule of being an anime-watcher first and a manga-reader second, I ended up doing something I hate doing: Comparing the anime to the manga.
The anime does a pretty faithful job of adapting the manga; however, it does skip over some scenes and leaves out a lot of the inner monologues and discussions between the characters. The anime does hit all of the major “need-to-know” points and the things they do leave out are not crucial but it would have been nice to see this story fully fleshed out on television. Then again, had the first season contained 25 episodes instead of 12, we may have gotten a more fleshed out adaptation.
She’s our main character and is the most optimistic of the three. She’s overly caring about everyone at the orphanage to a major fault. Because of her nature, she initially refuses to escape unless she could bring everyone, including the babies and those barely even old enough to walk, with her. This causes some pretty big tension between herself and Ray. Still, even through the darkest of times, Emma still manages to keep a smile on her face. It’s because of this that Norman is in love with her. Although they don’t really explore the relationship between the two of them (even in the manga thus far), Norman does flat out admit that he loves Emma.
Back to Emma, despite her optimism, she’s also pretty intelligent and among the top scorers at the orphanage. She’s also the most athletic of the three main characters. I wouldn’t call Emma my favorite but I don’t think she’s a bad main character either. Some of her mannerisms are absolutely adorable and whenever she gets caught in an embarrassing situation, her reactions are priceless!
He’s the Light Yagami of the bunch. I drew that comparison because the amount of careful and calculated planning, mostly on Norman’s part, reminded me a lot of the psychological games that were played in Death Note. Norman is mostly calm, cool, and collected but he has shown that he can be gotten to on a psychological level. Most of the time, his failures make him second guess his own calculations. It’s almost as if he’s more fearful that his intelligence was flawed more so than the fact that Isabella outsmarted him. Still, he manages to come up with backup plan after backup plan… all of which is pretty genius. Definitely a pretty solid character and one you can get behind although there really isn’t much there, personality-wise, to really feel a major connection to… at least, not in the beginning. He’s one of those characters that slowly grows on you but because of some of his facial mannerisms, it keeps you guessing of whether or not he’s friend or foe.
Ray is the brash realist of the group. While he’s about as intelligent, if not smarter, than Norman, Ray spends most of his time being very direct. He flat out told Emma that the escape would be impossible if they took everyone which is why they should keep it down to a small number of people. Outside of this, I can’t really say much more about Ray without dipping into spoiler territory. There’s a major event that happens involving him halfway through the show and then there’s an even bigger reveal in the season finale. This causes Ray to have so many dimensional layers to his character. He’s the most diverse one of the three and I really like his no B.S. attitude. This is why Ray is my favorite of the three main characters!
Don is a supporting character and seems to be a bit of a hard head. He’s a “let’s just do it” kind of person that doesn’t really think things through. This is evident when he decides to sneak into Isabelle’s secret room after being told not to. He does eventually come around and follows orders like the obedient lap dog that he should be but it takes him a bit to get there. Outside of this, there’s not really too much to Don. He does get a bit riled up when he finally learns the true truth about the house rather than the story Emma told him.
She’s our second supporting character and is the shy, timid one of the group. She seems like she’s afraid of confrontation and is always second-guessing every situation. She does have a few redeeming moments where she apparently grows a spine but those moments are few and far between. After learning the truth, you can’t blame her for being overly cautious but she’s a bit TOO cautious for my liking. She does seem pretty handy at analyzing stuff and being a bit of a gopher when things need to get done so she’s not really completely useless!
Ah, my second favorite character. We learn so much about the world that this story lives in through her. Plus, she’s batshit crazy! Reading her character in the manga is one thing but to see it come to life on television is a completely amazing experience! I could see that her seiyuu had an incredible amount of fun portraying her and while I think the show may have gone a little TOO far over the top with the character in some regards, I think they did a phenomenal job nailing it. Krone had her own goals in the show and it was interesting to see her try and throw a monkey wrench into everyone’s plans. Sadly, Isabella is just a bit too smart for Krone so nothing really works out for her in the end. Still, she was an amazing character that I wish we got to see a lot more of.
Finally, we get to the main antagonist for this arc. Isabella is the house mother and while I can’t go into too much detail, I will say that you started off this show hating her guts only to end this show feeling your heart being ripped to shreds with emotion after seeing everything she had to go through. Suddenly, you understood why she was the way she was and you came to appreciate her as a character. You realize that she wasn’t doing all of this because she had a choice in the matter… her hand was forced into her current position. Anyone would have taken the deal that she did if they knew what would happen if they didn’t. Still, Isabella is a tragic character that you can’t help but feel for but you don’t really get that vibe until the final episode. Until then, you’re free to hate her as much as you want. Amazing character!
Art, Animation, and Sound
Despite A-1 Pictures being attached to this show, the show was actually done by CloverWorks. A-1 simply played the role of producer on this one. It shows because the animation quality is actually pretty damn good! Compare this to something like Fairy Tail and you can see the obvious differences when A-1 and CloverWorks take turns on different episodes.
Let’s talk character designs, though because that is the one thing that really takes some getting used to. As soon as I saw the first episode I was like “HOLY CHIN, BATMAN.” Yeah… their mouths are drawn way higher than they should be but that’s the style of the artwork of this show. Older characters have more normal faces but all of the children have some serious Jay Leno syndrome going on there. It could be a bit jarring at first but you eventually get used to it and it becomes a non-issue. I will say, though, that it does make for a pretty unique artistic style.
As for the soundtrack….
Okay, who here has listened to “Touch Off” by UVERworld on repeat from episode one until this very day? I know I have. This is one of UVERworld’s best songs period ever period. As much as I loved “Gekidou,” as much as I loved “Core Pride,” “Boku no Kotoba,” “Odd Future,” and many others by them. “Touch Off” beats them all in my book, hands down. There has not been a day in the past three months that I have not played this song at least one. Usually, I get tired of a song after hearing it too many times. This song seems to be completely immune to that side effect. It’s just that good (imo).
As for the actual OST… this is absolutely stellar as well. All of the music draws you in and when the orchestrated parts hit, some with that hauntingly beautiful chorus, it drives home the emotion and drama of the show in ways that go beyond my expectations. Takahiro Obata and Katsumori Shimizu go above and beyond for this soundtrack and it shows. My only regret is that the soundtrack isn’t out to buy yet and I can’t find a release date for it! I want to throw my wallet at you! Can’t you understand that!? JUST RELEASE IT, ALREADY!
As I said, because I ended up reading the manga and I began to draw comparisons between the two, I couldn’t hand out a perfect 5/5 for this show. Even though the show doesn’t really do things badly, it could have done things better had it been given more time. I really would have loved to see more of the dialogue and scenes explored in a more detailed way but when you only have 12 episodes, that’s just not possible. They did the best with what they had to work with and that is pretty commendable.
The story, the characters, the soundtrack… everything comes together in a way that really pulls you in. This is one of those shows that’s just too good to ignore and if you haven’t seen it yet, this has to be something requires your attention.
The only fault this show has is that it’s very, very shallow on character development. Sure, there is some but it is few and far between. The majority of the show focuses on their escape and the drama that ensues with it. Very rarely do we get any backstory to Ray, Norman, and Emma. Heck, I think Ray was the only one who eventually did get some backstory. Emma and Norman are kind of just there but on the flipside, this is the kind of show that doesn’t really need to have deep character development. The plot in and of itself is enough to keep you hooked and boy does it ever.
If you want to talk about shows that began AND ended in the winter season, then The Promised Neverland is the best show of the season, hands down. If you want to talk about shows that just began in winter, it loses to one other show which I will review in May when it ends… that show being Dororo.
Still, despite that, we’re getting a second season of The Promised Neverland which is set to air in 2020. Can’t wait to see how they adapt the next arc where things will get flipped on their head like you wouldn’t believe!
If you enjoyed this review, please consider following me on Twitter @TheAnimePulse
The Promised Neverland
The Promised Neverland combines a thrilling story with psychological drama, amazing music, a banger of an opening, and an urge to make you want to watch more. One of the best shows of the Winter Anime Season.