The Promised Neverland Review


It’s time to look at a quick anime that came out a while back. Season 2 shouldn’t be far after though and with the manga being over they can really fast blast now. At 12 episodes this is a pretty quick anime and your classic seasonal type show. It makes for a nice quick watch with a compact cast. The show was pretty unique in its premise so it made some waves. While I wasn’t a big fan of the manga as the concept grew darker and darker in its execution, the beginning always starts off pretty ominous. I think season 1 was a pretty solid adaption with definitely a lot of notable moments within.

The show starts by introducing us to Emma and her friends at school. They live in an orphanage and don’t know anything about their parents. They have numbers tattooed on them but beyond that it’s a very ordinary home where they live perfect lives. The kids all eventually find foster parents before they enter their real teen years which is good too. One day Emma decides to follow one of the kids who is sent out along with Norman and then they find out the truth. They actually live on a human farm where the kids are sent off to be eaten by demons. As the oldest kids with the highest test scores, Emma, Norman, and Ray will be the next ones to be shipped out. Do they tell the rest of the kids, bump off Isabella, or try to escape? There are a lot of ideas but not a lot of time. The heroes will also have to try and keep a straight face in the meantime but will they really be able to do that?

This is definitely a horror anime. The kids know that their odds aren’t particularly good and finding out that you were born to be shipped off isn’t a great feeling either. There’s a lot of things that the kids just don’t know either. What exactly is this planet and how does it work? They can’t trust anything they learned at the school and it seems like escape will be nearly impossible as well. There are a lot of natural defenses to take into account as well and since they are just kids it’s not like they could fight off the demons either. They don’t have any true weapons either and there is a tracker built into each of the kids so the villains know where they are at all times. The deck is stacked against them so the show is mainly about their planning a way out of this.

The season adapts the complete arc and doesn’t really even end with a cliffhanger so it handles all of this rather directly. It feels like a pretty complete story even if there obviously has to be a season 2. The cast will definitely grow in the next season so you can eagerly await that. The main cast we have here is pretty solid though. First you’ve got Emma who is extremely determined and wants to save everyone. Her view is that they can’t escape unless everyone is safe. I feel like they toned down how crazy she can be a bit in the anime as the manga did a terrific job with her close ups. Still, she is still the same character here and does everything she can to make the plans succeed. Emma isn’t afraid of death or pain and will go to drastic measures to make sure things work out. As she is here, Emma’s definitely a solid character.

Then you have Norman who is easily the smartest kid in the class. He has a bit of a rivalry with Ray on this but I think it’s fair to say that Norman is always a step ahead. He finds out quite a lot during the season. He may not always beat Isabella in wits but always comes close so it’s neck and neck. I like Norman’s calm demeanor here even if he’s always got something up his sleeve. He’s also determined to make Emma right so his plans are built with that in mind. By throwing his plans on top of hers he makes them sound even better.

Then you’ve got Ray who is not quite as much of a “Gotta save them all” person as Emma. He looks at things scientifically on what gives him the greatest chance of escape. If he has to sacrifice others to do it then so be it. Naturally this is a very ruthless way of looking at things but you do have to look at the situation from his point of view. Emma wants to bring along kids who are only 2-3 years old with them on a journey through the forest that could last for months and they will be on the run from demons. While anime can help kids be a lot tougher than in the real world, there is only so much you can do with a 2 year old. Can you picture such a kid making this kind of journey? So Ray’s right in that sense that taking everyone would be pretty crazy.

In a way the best thing to do would be to bump off Isabella but at most that would only buy them some time. She has to make regular communications to the demons so if she suddenly stops then that will really raise some red flags on their side. That’s why escape is still the best bet but they’ll need a terrific plan to bring everyone together. As planning is one of the core focuses of the show you can rest assured that the plan is sound. A lot of thought goes into all of this and it ends up being pretty satisfying. If you think about it hard enough of course there are many ways Isabella should have been able to stop the kids. At the end of the day a big part as to why the kids get away with so much is her overconfidence. She thought she had more power than what she really did and also underestimated the kids quite a bit. That can definitely be a fatal mistake.

Isabella is still a good villain though. While she may have made some mistakes here, she’s had a long track record of doing well in the meantime. You can’t say that she didn’t do a great job when she’s maintained the place for so many years. She also has an interesting origin story showing the lack of choices you have in this society. Ultimately you end up being another one of the villains or you die out. There aren’t exactly a lot of rebel fighters out there. She’s still a villain as a true hero would have fought despite all of that though. Sister Krone is in a similar spot as she had to go through the same trials to get this far. After a point the characters just stopped worrying about others and started thinking about themselves. Krone really wants a win here so she can be back in control.

There are two other kids who get a main role in the form of Don and Gilda but they aren’t that great. I feel like they’re just here to get in trouble. There’s one scene where they decide to break into Isabella’s room just to stick it to Emma and friends. It ends up working out but that was such a petty thing to do and it could have literally gotten everyone murdered. Gilda also tends to panic quite a bit. These guys feel a bit out of their league next to the main characters. In some ways it’s not their fault since the main 3 happen to be super geniuses. Don and Gilda are technically still above average in intelligence but in this fight that’s barely even a consolation at the moment.

A lot of the fun in the show is thinking about the various arguments the kids make and who you agree with. There’s also a traitor subplot throughout the show that’s pretty interesting to follow. With all of the dynamics going on in the show there is always a lot of story to follow. Now as for who is right. Emma is naturally right morally since leaving anyone to die is a sacrifice. As it is, kids have been getting sacrificed left and right but you can’t change the past so you may as well change the future. That said, she doesn’t really have a concrete plan to do so. In that case taking Isabella out makes the most sense. In terms of probabilities Ray’s plan makes the most sense. The 3 of them leaving on their own would work pretty well. Then in theory you’ve still got about a year or two before you need to go back and save the rest. Of course sometimes a shipment leaves early so it’s a complete gamble either way. If your test scores are low you get shipped out a lot sooner as it is. If you had someone to protect then that would give some strength to leaving people behind but that isn’t the case so you do need to bring everyone. Better to all die together than 2 surviving instead of most right?

The animation is good. I wouldn’t say it’s anything great, but for a show like this you don’t need anything fancy. As long as the animation is solid you can still get across the horror vibes. The show likes its quick 3D looks as well which are fun enough. The whole thing feels very standard and since this is a pretty modern show that means it still holds up rather well. The real test will be once we get more fight scenes in a future season. Then we’ll see how the animators handle that. As for the soundtrack, I’d say that one’s pretty good. I like the opening song and the tunes during the episodes are suitably ominous. You’re not going to hear a lot of super happy tracks or anything like that of course. The soundtrack fits the tone which is crucial.

Overall, The Promised Neverland is definitely a pretty unique show. As far as the various dystopia futures go, this has got to be one of the darkest. There is really no backup for the heroes and not a lot of hope either. Still, they’ve made progress so in season 2 we’ll see how they use that. If you’re up for a dark thriller then this will be up your alley. It never gets violent or anything like that, it’s just dark because of how the kids are being eaten off screen and all. The show doesn’t beat you over the head with this fortunately so it doesn’t turn gritty. It’s just the premise of the show and Neverland runs with it. If you managed to watch the show without knowing this beforehand then the first episode is especially powerful although odds are that you’ll already know the twist before that happens. Usually even the promos spoil that part since it happens so early. The show builds up the tension through the atmosphere as opposed to crazy shock value or anything outside of that. You might quickly yell plot armor during the final episode when someone isn’t instantly murdered the way the last few were but I suppose it helps to build up the hype for season 2 as well.

Overall 6/10

Spirit Photographer Saburo Kono Review


It’s time to look at a one shot that recently came out from the Promised Neverland author. In theory if it does well enough then this will get picked up for a whole series. I can already see the kind of vibe they’re going for so this would be something like Neuro or Hell Girl. Based on how the first chapter goes I’m sure we’ll have quite a few tragedies occurring here on the regular before we transition into the more antagonistic spirits. I can’t say that it grabbed me though. This isn’t a series I’d be particularly interested in but due to the anthology format it is going for some volumes would likely be better than others.

The story here is about a boy named Sota who has been rather depressed as of late. His next door neighbors are always moving out every few months because of a ghost that supposedly resides there. One day a suspicious guy named Saburo shows up while Sota’s mother is out. He says he is a photographer and forces Sota to accompany him to the haunted apartment. He then has Sota give him the full history of the place which is basically that a lady used to live there until she committed suicide. Sota asks why he’s needed anyway and that’s when the ghost shows up. It is the lady and for some reason she is after Sota.

This is just a one shot so I feel like there’s no such things as spoilers. Either you read it or you didn’t. So if you haven’t then skip the next few paragraphs or just go and read it before reading the review. Not much point in reviewing a one shot but skipping the plot right? So here’s the plot twist. Sota tried committing suicide so the lady stopped him but ended up slipping due to the rain and fell out of her apartment. Sota then kept quiet and let everyone believe she simply tripped. The ghost was just the lady saying she didn’t blame him so Saburo took a picture and she moved on. See, Saburo is a spirit photographer so he takes pictures of the spirits when they get to finish their business. He makes it a point to say that he’s not an exorcist so he doesn’t handle evil spirits or anything like that. I think this already implies that they will appear soon. I have a few problems with the story though.

The first is rather superficial but I feel like Saburo will need some work before he becomes the main character here. Granted, if this is like Hell Girl then he will show up in every story but won’t really be the main character. Still, the dynamic doesn’t work as well. He is portrayed as very shady and he did completely force the kid to go to the haunted hallway under the implied threat of violence. This is going to be our main character? The guy’s design and actions scream villain. You can certainly have a character like this to subvert expectations but I really don’t see him working well as the lead. Certainly he has less charisma than almost any other lead I’ve seen. Seriously, read chapter 1 of almost any other manga and I bet they’re a better character. So he needs work.

Next, the whole anthology string of tragedies isn’t going to work for me either. So we’re already starting with a indirect murder/suicide attempt? The whole thing’s pretty tragic for the lady who was just trying to help out. It doesn’t do wonders for Sota. He’s just a kid of course and I expect he would never appear again but this just isn’t a strong first chapter. Aside from being tragic there just isn’t much to this. There’s no big incentive to keep on watching because the premise itself just isn’t very interesting. What helps Hell Girl out a bit is that she acts as the punisher and sees that vengeance is carried out. Now, that’s a series that I doubt would get high marks if I reviewed it because of how dark things get, but at least it’s an interesting angle. Then Neuro quickly went full on action which was exciting at least.

There’s no way to guess how this one would progress so I can only go off the pilot. Suffice it to say, this is not a pilot that would really get me interested. There’s not a whole lot more to say beyond that. I wouldn’t say the art is particularly good but it’s basically the same as the Promised Neverland so if you liked the art there then you should be good here. It works well enough for the horror atmosphere I suppose but it doesn’t flow as smoothly as a lot of the other titles on the block. I imagine the author will continue to improve as the series goes on though.

Overall, We’ll see if this ends up becoming a series. I’m not really pulling for it, but if it happens it happens. It’s not like it’ll be a bad thing if it does, but I’m hoping for more action type titles. A lot of the other recent jump titles look more interesting so I’d be hoping that those continue to go strongly. Pilots usually end up being quite different than the actual series though so we’ll see how it’s restructured. My personal recommendation to the author would be to change the main character’s design and for the camera stories either go for more of a Yotsuba type of adventure with the spirits or have Saburo take a more active role in the adventures rather than scaring people for kicks. If you start out with smaller cases first that would make sense. Due to the nature of unfinished business though, I imagine a lot of the would turn out rather dark like this.

Overall 5/10

The Promised Neverland Review


It’s time to look at a manga that ended pretty recently. The Promised Neverland is a very different Shonen Jump title. It’s a lot darker than most and is going for a full horror vibe. Don’t expect to find big super forms or hyper fights running around in this title. It’s more of a slow burner with the heroes trying to escape the demons, at least for most of the series. The series peaked rather early on with the final arcs getting to be a bit much with the plot armor. It’s an interesting series but one that I’m not really a fan of.

The plot starts by introducing us to Emma and the other kids who currently live at an orphanage. They have to take many tests each year which gives them various scores. The 3 smartest kids by far are Emma, Norman, and Ray. They are geniuses at this point. Unfortunately their lives are turned upside down when they find out that one of the kids has been murdered. It turns out that their home is actually a breeding ground for demons and they murder all of the kids. Emma now needs to find a way to save everyone but that will naturally be a difficult task. Can she accomplish this mission along with Norman and Ray?

You can already see how this series will be pretty dark. The heroes literally live on a farm where they are the meals. You also have to live with the knowledge that there are other farms out there with kids who won’t be quite as fortunate as the main characters. We get some pretty interesting mental battles between Norman and Ray during this arc which are typically the highlight. They’re definitely the smartest characters in the series after all. Norman is definitely a bit smarter than Ray though and tends to come out on top.

The second arc changes things up a bit as they finally escape the place. They manage to make it to another farm where Lord Bayon has trapped a bunch of other kids. The rules of this farm are different as it is a pure survival game. Everyone already knows that they are the prey in this case. Every day a few more kids are lost. Emma decides to help their commanders Oliver and Lucas take down the demons. The heroes are through with running and this time they’ll be taking the fight to the villains. Can mere human kids really take these guys down though?

We get quite a bit of solid action here and the heroes learn how to fight back against the demons. It’s definitely the best arc in the series. Granted, this is also where the power levels initially start to get a bit wonky. So the demons have a weakpoint that can be shot. It’s good since that lets the heroes do something but half the time they only win because the demons barely move. There’s no way they could hope to defeat these demons in a straight fight even with a weakpoint. The battle with Leuvis was great for sure, but it’s one that he definitely should have won. That was one reason why it was fun to throw the adults in here, you can definitely see them doing a bit better.

I’d say the third arc is probably protecting the base but it’s almost more of a transition arc. I’d say this could basically lead us to the final arc. We’re introduced to the concept of metahumans who have been developed to stop the demons. The problem is that they are still outnumbered. If they can murder the Demon Queen then this long fight will finally be over. The problem is that Emma doesn’t really want to murder the demons. She wants a world of peace and her inaction threatens to jeopardize the heroes. Will they have to take her down to ensure a better tomorrow?

This final arc definitely added quite a bit of new elements to the series. One of those things was an alien/god who would show up and it all got very meta. It’s an interesting angle even if it doesn’t feel like it’s from the series. A positive element was the metahumans. These guys have actual powers in the form of strength and speed so now this was a group I could see actually taking down the demons. I also liked that Norman’s group was taking a more active approach. They were shutting down farms left and right in what was a very effective campaign during the war between humans and demons. They were really doing just fine on their own so the whole time it felt like they absolutely did not need the main group. If anything it felt like Emma and Ray were holding them back. If they had stuck to just the metahumans running around and fighting I think it would have helped with the power levels.

Lets talk about Emma. She’s a character who changes quite a lot as the series goes on. Unlike the other kids she is not willing to make any sacrifices. She wants to save everyone without a doubt. It’s a noble cause even if the others give her grief about it. She’s a little more unhinged than most leads and the manga does a good job of showing this with the various zoom ins. The art really knows how to get very dynamic. That said, her resolve starts to get a little shaky in the final arc. Suddenly she doesn’t want to destroy any of the demons either? At some points it’s really a decision of whether you save the kids or the demons but you couldn’t possibly do both. This request is a bit more unreasonable on her part. I can’t fault it morally because it’s good to be able to save everyone but it does ruin all of the plans. Without plot armor her decisions would have definitely destroyed the rest of the group.

It just seems like a very different perspective on her part. The demons ruined everything for the heroes and they all couldn’t stand them. A big part of what changed Emma were the two nice demons who helped her out but even so, it was pretty surprising to see. Her final decision was also pretty selfless although it definitely did totally go against what everyone else would have wanted. A selfish choice to help out others, that’s one I can agree with. So Emma’s a good character, but a little too extreme at times. Of course all of the main characters tend to be extreme in some way or another.

Norman gets a really big role in the series. At his core he’s more merciless like Ray but he always tries to help Emma out as much as he can. He’s the brains of the group and does a good job of making sure Emma succeeds in whatever she wants to do. He looks pretty great throughout the series. If anything, if Emma hadn’t shown up I feel like he probably had everything under control. I can also see why his subordinates were pretty upset at the change of character. Then we have Ray who is the best member of the 3 if you ask me. He’s definitely got solid ambition. He’s easily the most rational of the 3 even if Norman is the smartest. Ray always goes for the highest chance of success even if it means sacrificing some people. Ray still does his best to be heroic though and Emma helps change him on that. He has no problems eliminating the demons though.

Then you have Isabella who is the first big villain we see. After all, she’s looking after the children and getting them set up to be eaten. She’s rotten to the core. So you can probably guess how her character arc will go during the series and all I can say is that it isn’t really earned. She did break Emma’s bone intentionally and that’s not even counting the people she actively delivered. While she can make for a good villain, it’s hard to see her as a sympathetic one. Then we have Krone who shows up early in the series. She’s pretty intimidating and also has some good tactics up her sleeve. She can’t compete with Isabella in terms of wit but does a good job regardless.

After the main 3 kids, most of the others weren’t particularly solid at least from the first house. Don and Gilda always felt like they were just getting in the way. They would ignore the wise advice from the main 3 to go ahead and do their own thing. Just because it works out doesn’t mean it was the right move. They’re always a few steps behind. Phil is another kid who gets a roll although he’s one of the youngest so he’s not exactly out in the field. Mostly his character was fun out of universe as there were many theories about him. None of them ever actually happened though so his role is extremely small. It makes sense though since having him fight would be odd.

Mujika is one of the two special demons that meets up with the main characters. She’s not much of a fighter as she is typically known as more of an intelligent demon. She tries to stay ahead of things in that sense so that she won’t even need to fight with the others. Her partner Sonju is the main fighter. Sonju is able to take down several demons at once. The guy’s pretty shady and doesn’t mind murdering humans either. He comes awful close to taking down the kids at one point. He’s not as bad as the rest though so that’s definitely a start. I thought he was one of the more interesting demons and a solid rival to have around. It would have been cool if he could have gotten a few more fights.

Then you have Leuvis who is a solid villain. he likes to have a good fight and I always like that about a villain. He’s willing to let the kids get prepared or whatever they need to make things interesting. It does make for a lot of plot armor on the heroes’ side but that’s to be expected. Regardless it was probably one of the better fights in the series. That arc also introduced us to some new kids and even two adult characters who would go on to be some of the best characters in the series. It reminds me that if the series was based around the adults it probably would have been quite a bit better.

First off is Yugo who initially doesn’t like the kids but gradually gets used to working with them. While he eventually mellows out I can’t say that he starts as anything less than a full villain. He actively did try to murder one of them after all. His fight scenes with Lucas against the government were quite solid. One thing’s for sure, Yugo was never the kind of guy to go down swinging. He went full blast from the jump. Lucas is just as solid if not more so. He never gave up the fight and kept on going the whole way. He’s not quite as skilled as Yugo, but it’s close and he definitely is very good at planning.

Then we have Oliver who is probably the most experienced member of the new kids. He’s a solid fighter and is also a bit older than the others which helps him stay ready for what’s about to come. He’s not on the same level as the metahumans who pop up but that’s okay. He’s strong enough. For the metahumans who appear we’ve got 5 main ones. First up is Vincent who is all about following the plans. He does whatever Norman says. After all, it tends to work out. He’s not really a fighter but he makes sure that all of the characters are in the right spot. I suppose it makes him a little redundant since Norman is smarter but it’s always good to have a backup.

Cislo is pretty fun. There’s not a whole lot to him but he loves murdering demons just like the others. He’s pretty strong and a capable guy to have around. Same for Barbara only she is even more zealous about this. She just loves destroying demons to the point where she eats them. I thought she was definitely the best member of the group. She was always right there on the front lines and could put up a great fight. Finally there’s Zazie who is also strong although he’s a bit more on the mindless side. The powers came at a huge price for him which was pretty unfortunate. He definitely made sure to come through when it counted though.

Ayshe had a sad backstory where she was raised by wolves and definitely does not like Norman or the metahumans. She doesn’t really care for demons either though so she doesn’t really have any friends. She’s a solid fighter though. Ayshe probably gets a smaller role than most of the other characters but the scenes she is in are quite solid. Finally we have the Queen who is of course the strongest demon. She gets a few super forms and looks good. Unfortunately she is way too powerful for this series though. The instant she appears you know that there is no way the kids will be able to do much of anything here. There is no realistic way they could hope to take her down so the final battle gets a little interesting. Either way I did like her as a final boss though. She did a good job of leading the demons even if she should have stepped in sooner to crush the humans.

The art for the series is pretty good. There’s quite a lot of detail in all of the shots. As mentioned earlier, the author did an especially good job of drawing Emma. For some reason Emma became less and less sinister as the series went on though. I don’t think she got any “evil” shots after arc 2. It seems like the author maybe had a different plan for her but ultimately decided to make her more of a hero in the end. I liked the more morally dubious Emma who was willing to blow everyone up to make a point. It did make her look a bit sketchy but that was the point. I can’t be the only one who feels like the Emma in the final arc is a completely different character right? Emma not dishing out veiled threats to people just doesn’t feel right.

Neverland can get pretty dark though so definitely keep that in mind if you start the series. Not only is there a considerable bodycount here but a lot of the people who die are kids. That’s ultimately what holds this series back. When people die it’s pretty fine if they’re main combatants. Context is key of course, but in general having a kid die is a pretty tricky element. Especially a series based around that whole fact. The whole farming thing is about as grim as it gets. You’re unlikely to find another series quite so dark. Attack on Titan’s up there though. It’s in a different way but I would say that it’s pretty comparable.

The series definitely stays pretty interesting throughout. There’s quite a lot of suspense built into it with twists at every corner. As with most mysteries you’ll have to see what you preferred, the build up to it or the payoff. A lot of times the best part of a mystery is the opening act because it’s fun to not know anything. I wouldn’t say any of the twists are bad though. I would have gone in a very different direction with the ending though and added 1 more arc but I suppose the series definitely didn’t want to drag itself out. At least like this people can point to it as a series that’s complete so you can now marathon it from start to finish.

Overall, The Promised Neverland delivers on being a very different kind of manga title. It’ll probably go down as the definitive horror title in Shonen Jump. That said, as horror is already not my genre it’s not surprising that it lagged behind the other manga titles. I’d be down for a sequel series that’s more of a sci-fi thriller with everyone trying to move forward in the new world. I think that could be pretty interesting. That said it’s not like the franchise needs to continue. The ending ties everything up. There are open plots that could be continued but if they don’t you can easily assume what happened on your own. So if you like horror titles then check this one out, otherwise I’d say to go and check out another modern Shonen Jump title like One Piece.

Overall 3/10

The Promised Neverland


Well, this series has been getting quite a lot of hype lately so it’s nice to finally start it. It’s definitely got a pretty unique premise so that’s good. I’m wondering how this plot can be stretched out for very long though and I’m hoping for a big time skip. Still, a solid start and I’ll review the series once it’s over.

Overall 6/10