Greetings everyone! Ohayo! Kicking off the Winter anime season, I decided to pick up The Promised Neverland because of a friend who recommended to me after she read through the manga. She said it would be right up my alley and after reading the thoughts and opinions of a few others in the community, I couldn’t resist waiting until I got back from my vacation.
New Format! Indeed! Let’s go for broke and see what comes of it! And have no fear! This review isn’t spoilery until the end.
Is spoilery a word? It’s highlighted red… It is today!
The Bait and Switch
I love this entire episode from start to finish. The opening that planted the seed of mystery that loomed in my mind throughout the entire episode. The subtle reminder of that mystery throughout the episode and the overly satisfying climax at the end of the episode that sets the stage for a very promising series.
I am walking into this series completely blind. As I said earlier, I hadn’t even heard of the series until my friend recommended it to me when she heard it was being adopted into a anime and believe that is the best way to go if you are going to pick this show up. Avoid the manga material and potential spoilers and just enjoy this ride.
I am a sucker for adopting a mood or tone without questioning how it could it be flipped later on. I know, I shouldn’t fall for stuff like that but it very easy for me to lose myself in the moment and enjoy the ride. Ah! Is that the reason why you don’t like horror? It has to be, right!?
So I was blissfully ignorant to the all the subtle signs that were sprinkled throughout the episode. I didn’t miss the initial one that was at the beginning of the episode! Sure, you didn’t…I thought we were about to get some series about these kids working hard in various orphanage/school acts to be the best and land the best family when they came. I can even back up that idea with the fact that they showed them testing and highlighted all their strengths and weaknesses thoroughly throughout the episode. From Emma being deemed the most athletic and having her skill showcased during their time outside to Ray being seemingly the smartest with the jab in dialogue and Norman’s confirmation. I was confident that was where we were headed and I was okay with that. It would have been a bit generic, but the characters would have been intriguing enough to pull me along.
But then it came…
The Sucker Punch
Despite my ignorance, I will say that I was fully aware of the subtle horror vibes near the end of the episode and that shift in tone had me leave the room because I was getting what I like to call the jump scare vibes. You couldn’t have convinced me that something wasn’t getting ready to pop out from behind the curtains of that truck. You are too old to be like that…
How!? The entire episode has been filled with bright and vibrant colors, easy going music, and talks of optimism! Then at the drop of a dime, it becomes eerily quiet. Momma starts to hum a creepy melody and she isn’t happy anymore. The atmosphere is dark and all becomes silent. If that doesn’t scream something bad is about to happen, I don’t know what does.
Combine that with our characters horrified facial expressions albeit wonderfully executed and you have the perfect recipe to scared the living daylights out of me. Fortunately, there was no jump scare and once I settled down, I got to see the dark truth of this anime.
And it was absolutely brilliant! Maybe it was the fact that I was sold on a different concept that was totally flipped on me. The opening eludes to something dark going on but I would have never came to this conclusion. The episode gives you clues but I still wouldn’t have connected the dots to lead to what happens at the end. Not to that extreme.
I loved it. As I said in the beginning, I loved every moment of it. I could make an argument that this might have been the best initial episode to a series that I have seen in a while that wasn’t a shonen.
There is something about seeing kids interact with each other that brings a smile to my face. Is it odd that I found myself growing attached to all of them while they were running about in the morning?
Emma’s charismatic presence that just seems to infect those around her. The girl just a ray of sunshine and love that hair color is bright and vibrant as well. It really suits her! Norman gives off the impression that everything is under control with his cool demeanor. The kid just seems to ooze confidence naturally. You don’t get much from Ray, but I am digging the fact that he is on par with the prodigy Norman. I am interested to see how he will standout amongst the group.
Animation and Design
I am really digging the design of the characters though at first, I was a little bit antsy about it. I don’t know how to describe it but it was strange looking to me. I think that it might have been because they were kids and my mind was adjusting but I totally dig the design. I like how they made everyone’s head different sizes. You harp on kids with weird shaped heads so of course, you would. I also don’t think I am the only one that appreciates the sense of innocence in all of the eyes of the orphans. (Outside of Ray… Ray looks like he has seen somethings… or at the very least thought of some things.)
There is also a hint of maturity in our main three protagonists that is absent from the other characters. Do you guys notice that? Perhaps it might be in their expression but it is there.
The animation is gorgeous! This is my favorite snippet from the episode and I love the transition in speed when she decided to kick it up a gear. I wish that their hair flowed while they were running but I’m just nit-picking now.
Speaking of my favorite scene, the music that they play during that sequence is lovely! I love piano and whenever I get action with they keys in the background, I am captivated. The song here will definitely be add to my playlist whenever I can find it. Also, I am a huge fan of the song that they played while they were testing.
I cannot tell you much I am waiting for the next episode. I think the opening by UVERworld is absolute greatness and that ending pretty rad! I have no doubt that they will be contenders for best opening and ending this season. I love how they did not give us a preview for the next episode, leaving us in the dark as to what is going to happen next. I’m so excited! I actually sad that I won’t be here to watch the episode when it comes out but I will definitely be looking forward to it when I get back.
What did you think of the episode? Did you fall for the bait like I did? Will you be watching it this season? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
As always, thanks for stopping by and reading. You have no idea who much it means to me. You guys and gals are really awesome.
And until the next post…
Okay, I can’t finish this post without talking about the ending. I can’t. I tried to publish this two times and I couldn’t do it! So here we go, you have been warned!
Oh my Gawd those expressions sold EVERYTHING!
Kudos to CloverWorks, who have been really killing it since their rebranding and later separation from A-1 Pictures last year because the last seven minutes of the episode was perfection. Pure and honest perfection! From the cringe-worthy cracks of the monster’s fingers to their choice in cinematography, opting to split the screen to continue to show Emma’s and Norman’s haunted expressions, it drove everything home and the weight of their discovery reverberated through me.
What makes me so excited about this anime is the growth that we got to see in Emma and Norman in the last few minutes of the episode. After they escape and run back towards the house, they take a moment and they stop with their minds racing on the revelation that they had just discovered. And as they are connecting the dots (because they are smart for their youthful age), they are forced to accept the logical conclusion to their situation.
Even back in their room, the sense of hope and determination that was visually conveyed through their expressions was… just… I don’t even have words anymore! It was so moving! So heart-wrenching! The idea that Norman had to come to grips with his own fears and thoughts to console Emma spoke volumes to his character. The idea that Ray due to this choice of words throughout the episode may already have suspected their fates in some capacity is fascinating!
I can go on and on about the little nuances of this episode that resonated with me but I won’t. I loved the episode and I can’t wait for the next one.
I hope you guys enjoyed my thoughts. See ya guys later!