The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland anime series cover art
The Promised Neverland

Overview

The Promised Neverland (Yakusoku no Neverland / 約束のネバーランド) was potentially the best anime of the season. The only other series that I think could compete with it is Kaguya-sama: Love is War. But, comparing the two is pointless simply because they’re so different.

However, what I think makes this series so good are all the twists and turns in the story. And because of this, it’s extremely easy to spoil. So, to try to keep spoilers to a minimum while still giving an accurate summary and review of the series, I’ll be including spoilers from the first episode, and maybe some smaller ones from later on.

That said, towards the end of the review I’ll have a spoilers section which goes into the bigger spoilers in more detail. If you haven’t watched this series yet, and don’t want some of the biggest twists to be spoiled, I highly recommend skipping that section.

So, what’s the series all about? Basically there’s a house with a bunch of kids in it all being raised by a single woman whom they refer to as “Mama.” The house is said to be an orphanage of sorts, and by the age of 12 every child has been adopted and shipped off to live with their new family.

Or, that’s what the very beginning of the first episode wants you to think. In reality, the orphanage is a farm and the children are the cattle. Beyond the plot of land they call home is a giant wall separating the farm from the outside world which is controlled by demons who eat human brains.

And, apparently the brains of 12-year-olds are the tastiest (I wouldn’t know from experience), so that’s why none of the children are left on the farm past their 12th birthday. That said, they can still be shipped out well before their 12th birthdays, but in those cases they’re considered lower quality products.

But, the real plot of the story begins when some of the children find out the truth about their home and must devise a plan to escape from the farm. Will they all make it out of the farm? And, what kind of world awaits them on the other side of the wall?

Characters

There are a decent number of characters in this series, and I’m sure some of the more minor ones will play a bigger role later on in the series. But, for now I’ll just be covering the four characters who played the biggest roles in this first season: Emma, Norman, Ray, and Isabella.

Emma is the protagonist of the series, and one of the three 11-year-olds living on the farm. As we learn, the way one gets to stay alive on the farm until their 12th birthday is by having good test scores. It seems that the brains of smarter children taste better, and so they’re given the longest time to develop.

However, being smart isn’t enough. The children also need to be physically fit as well. One thing we learn later on in the series is that although the demons only seem to eat the brains, the quality of the entire package matters.

As for her personality, Emma is like the Naruto of the series, which is a comparison I’ll make specifically so I can compare Ray to Sasuke later on. She loves all of her siblings, and after learning the true nature of the farm she’s determined to escape with all of them, even if it would be easier to leave the young ones behind.

But, although Emma is one of the three top scorers at the farm, her two best friends, Norman and Ray, are better at planning and critical thinking than she is. Emma often lets her emotions guide her, which is dangerous in a game of life and death.

Norman and Ray from the anime series The Promised Neverland
Norman and Ray

Next we have Norman, who’s kind of like the mid-point between Emma and Ray. He’s basically just as good at strategizing as Ray, but can also occasionally let his emotions get the better of him, especially when Emma is involved.

He and Emma were the first two of the children to find out the truth about the farm, and it was he who convinced Emma not to reveal what they learned to anyone else. While Emma was panicked, Norman was able to stay calm and logically think about the best course of action despite the circumstances.

Ray is the third and final of the 11-year-olds, and as I mentioned is like Sasuke in a lot of ways. He’s good at strategizing, acts like he doesn’t care about things even though he does, and even just looks like Sasuke in general with his emo haircut.

If Emma is the emotional one, and Norman is the middle ground, then Ray is the full-on critical thinker of the trio. While Emma wants to escape from the farm along with all the other children, Ray is more realistic and believes the trio should escape on their own, or only with a handful of the older kids.

He understands that the younger kids would just slow the rest of them down and increase their chances of getting caught. Further, without knowing what the outside world is like, there’s no guarantee that it’s any safer beyond the walls.

The final character I want to briefly mention is Isabella, also known as Mama. Isabella is the “mother” of the farm and is the sole adult in the lives of the children. She works for the demons who run the farm and is the main antagonist for the first season of the series.

Spoilers

There are three to four fairly big spoilers I want to discuss in this section. The first is how Ray has the ability to remember literally everything ever since he was born, and possibly even before that. This is another reason I liken him to Sasuke, because they both have crazy powers that change everything.

The fact that Ray can remember everything means that he remembers what life was like before being sent to the farm as an infant, and even knows who his birth mother is. Honestly, I think this was a pretty bad twist in the series on its own.

However, while alone it would have been a bad twist, and I do think it’s a pretty dumb one, it does set up some future plot points which have the potential to be pretty interesting. I’ll come back to this shortly.

Next we have sister Krone, another adult who was sent to the farm to help Isabella once it was discovered that some of the children found out the secret of the farm. From what I’ve seen, she’s already been dissected as a character by a lot of other people, so I don’t have anything else to say about that.

However, at one point she reveals the process by which human girls can survive past their 12th birthdays to become a sister or mother. After rigorous physical and mental training, these girls who proved themselves to be good candidates as children are given a child of their own to raise.

This is essentially the final test to see if they’re ready to be in charge of a bunch of children. But, since sister Krone keeps a stuffed, baby doll, I kind of thought this is what she meant when she said they were given a child of their own to raise; that they were simply raising a doll.

It turns out this isn’t the case, and that the mother candidates are actually forced to give birth to a child and then raise it for the first two or so years of its life. We later learn that these children born from the mother candidates are then shipped off to live on the farms and be raised as food for the demons.

And, this is where the point about Ray remembering his whole life comes back into play. In the very last episode of the season it’s revealed that Ray is actually Isabella’s child. Ray always knew this was the case, but even Isabella didn’t until he revealed it to her.

This may be the reason Isabella chose to use Ray as her informant. But, regardless of whether or not that was the reason, I’m hoping we learn more about how the familial relationship between those two affected each one.

The final spoiler I want to mention is Norman being shipped out of the farm to his death. While the rest of the children believe he’s dead, I think it was made pretty clear to us that he’s actually still alive. Rather than being killed by a demon, we see him get invited into a side room of the tunnel which leads to the outside world.

I don’t know anything about the manga other than a few panels I’ve seen which make it look like the series is going to head in an entirely different, and stupid, direction, but I think we’ll see Norman again. In what capacity we’ll see him, I’m not so sure.

We know that only girls can be selected to survive past their 12th birthdays to become the caretakers of the children, so why would Norman be kept alive? Is he actually a girl? That’s unlikely. Perhaps males are needed for breeding purposes. Or, my craziest theory, perhaps some male children are turned into the demons that eat humans.

Maybe we’ll see Norman return later in the series, but this time he’ll be one of the demons. I don’t really know why this would happen, but it’s just a possibility I came up with.

Conclusion

So, have you watched The Promised Neverland? If so, what did you think of the series? What are your thoughts on the spoilers I mentioned? Let me know in the comments.

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