By HALO KWOK
“If we mess up, we die. The outside world is, at worst, a world filled with demons.”
On Jan. 8, the first episode of the hit psychological thriller anime Promised Neverland’s second season was released. Produced by CloverWorks, the anime adaptation is based on a manga series of the same name that was written by Kaiu Shirai and illustrated by Posuka Demizu. The story follows Emma, Ray and Norman, a group of children that lead an escape from an orphanage upon discovering the disturbing secret behind their existence.
With chilling plot twists, an action-packed storyline and a strong female lead, Promised Neverland gives a fresh take on the horror anime genre.
Notably, one of the series most prominent features is the plotted perspective of the children. At the beginning of season one, the children at the orphanage uncover a terrifying secret that they were being slaughtered and traded off as a source of food to otherworldly monsters. Upon the discovery of their lifeless friend, they make the logical choice to escape; however, the anime takes a strategic shift to emphasize the helplessness of their situation. Essentially, having the only adult figure in their life collaborating with their killers puts them in a unique position to challenge their authority. Yet, they do not know anything about the outside world and their caretaker's motivation. With the sudden change in atmosphere, viewers are glued to their seats, left anxiously anticipating the next moves of the ill-fated orphans. What was once a carefree and peaceful environment is no longer, and the resulting apprehensions of what is to come sets this anime apart from others of the same genre.
Additionally, the anime takes a more abstract approach towards showcasing horror. For instance, as the caretaker, Isabella, sets out to find the children who saw her, the audience is engaged with several psychological battles between her and the main characters. For instance, to prevent the children from carrying out their first escape attempt, Isabella breaks one of Emma’s legs to render her immobile. In addition, there are even horrific scenes happening off-screen, where marks shown on the children’s bodies are the hints for the viewers to discover.
As a result, suspense is continuously being built up after each passing episode, and the viewers are given no time to rest before another twist in the plot puts their hairs on end. The children are forced to act, knowing that one wrong move might cause them to be exposed, and therefore, die. Heavy tension is evident in the anime throughout the entire show, serving as a demonstration of the anime’s high production value and exemplary execution.
After most of the children escape the farm, they seek refuge in a forest just beyond the walls that they were previously confined to. The forest is foreign to the escapees, so they struggle to familiarize themselves with the new environment. Although the children successfully prevailed against the caretaker, there are more questions than answers left in the story. Who are the monsters? Why do they eat humans? What exactly is out there?
In light of the first episode of season two, the anime immediately cuts back to the chase with the group once again running away from demons that are trying to capture them. From the tremendous success of season one, everyone can infer that season two is going to be another unforgettable adventure.
Furthermore, the unique deviation of the shounen anime cliches in Promised Neverland is commendable. Typically, in shounen anime, the protagonists are usually boys since the genre itself is targeted towards a male audience. Thus, it is extremely remarkable that Emma is a part of Promised Neverland’s main cast. Even in the shounen anime with female side characters, the females are usually portrayed as being inferior in both strength and intellect to their male counterparts. This makes Emma such a powerful symbol in the world of anime itself, as her very existence contradicts the stereotypes associated with other female characters. Not only is she brave and fearless but her kind heart and sheer determination also allow her to bring most of her friends to safety. This makes Promised Neverland a must-watch, as the anime demonstrates that anyone can be a leader, regardless of their background or gender.
In summary, Promised Neverland is an anime that is worth binging. The shounen anime brings an unconventional twist to the fiction world, and no part of the plot is predictable or lacking in excitement. The act of including a female main character in the story is just a bonus to the already memorable and entertaining show. If you are ever in need of a source of entertainment, then you will never regret watching Promised Neverland. Season one is available on Netflix, ready for you to indulge yourself in your thrill-seeking desires.