The Promised Neverland (Yakusoku no Neverland) is a series that starts off happy and endearing, but quickly becomes heartbreaking and horrific. The fact that the anime involves children makes it even worst. Emma (a happy and energetic girl) awakens, she then wakes her “siblings,” and gets them ready for breakfast. We meet Norman and Ray as well. We are also introduced to the seemingly kind caretaker, “mom” (Isabella) as engages the children in prayer.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the children have (what I’m assuming is tattoo’s or at least permanent ink) large numbers on there necks. It’s not made clear what the numbers are actually representing. The children are also subjected to testing, that requires the children to answer questions in 9 seconds. Regardless, Norman, Ray and Emma scored perfectly on them. Don seemingly jealous of Norman challenges him to a game of tag. The game seems to take on a significant importance in this series. The children even compare not getting caught to “surviving.” I might be reading too much into that though.
The game of tag is considered to be more complicated than just chasing after each other. Ray states that it’s “chess with your whole body.” Don challenges Norman again, this time he’s it. Everyone runs in search of Norman, Emma finds him at a short blue fence. Clearly curious as to why they were warned not to go “near” the fence, Emma considers touching it. She’s stopped by Ray. He’s skeptical of the “dangers” of the fence, calling it a “obvious lie.” Emma seems to believe anything Mom tells her, but Ray doesn’t.
The siblings discuss why they haven’t received letters from the children that were adopted. The conversation is hopeful, with the children discussing what they wish to see when they “go outside.” Interestingly, Emma claims that she doesn’t want to leave at all. Conny says her farewell, but leaves her bunny behind. Emma and Norman run to return the bunny. The tension at this point in the episode increases dramatically. I spoiled myself on what happens hear, but wasn’t sure that they would show Conny’s body. They did, instead of being horrified though I was sad. She was so happy to be “adopted,” and adorable too.
The animation at this point also becomes more dynamic. The camera zooms in on the faces of Emma and Norman as they discover the “monsters” and ease drop on them. The monster states that he wants the “top three” next. Emma and Norman leave Ray in the dark, they plan on rescuing all the children together. I really enjoyed this episode more that I anticipated. I would image that if I didn’t know the ending of this episode it would have more of an impact.
The Promised Neverland series reminds me of Made in Abyss. Both feature orphan children yes, but it’s the contrast between the innocent children and the horrible environments they’re trapped in that connect the two the most. The adults aren’t doing what’s expected, which is protecting and tacking care of them. In fact they are neglectful at best. This results in the children having to grow up and take care of themselves. Would this series be similar to Made in Abyss I don’t know, but I loved what I’ve seen.