Yakusoku no Neverland | Anime Universe

Welcome to The Promised Neverland (Yakusoku no Neverland), a series that managed to make a new breed of itself among the popular Jump manga family. Consisting of 12 episodes, it’s a show that blends elements of survival, science fiction, mystery, horror, and suspense. It’s a thriller that manages to capture the essence of life at its innocence while masking the façade of horror. The first episode spells out a deceptive first half opening when we meet a group of kids at an orphanage. Among the children, Emma, Ray, and Norman stands out the most as a trio of friends. They come from the Grace Field House, an orphanage managed by caretaker Izabella, also known by the children known as “Mom”. The innocence and lighthearted story is broken when we discover why these kids are sent away when they reach a certain age. From the first episode, the truth becomes a living nightmare when we discover that there are more than just humans living in their world. And they got an insatiable appetite for human meat.

Like most survivor thrillers, the producers aimed to make the series deceptive as possible at first. Newcomers may be surprised especially for those who has never heard of the show or seen the promotional material. Coming in as a manga reader, I knew what was to be expected and the first few episodes achieved nothing short of excellence. The ability to create an atmosphere in a world of uncertainty is accomplished through the openness and freedom of the children. Although they are monitored for tests, the children are treated with love and care. It isn’t really until the revelation hits that we realize something much more sinister going on from behind the scenes. Izabella is a symbol of a manipulator as she is the one who is pulling the strings. We realize this early on but to decipher her true agenda remains a bigger mystery. On the other hand, we have Emma, Ray, and Norman who lives a carefree life as normal children would do. Before any casualties appear on screen, everything seemed normal.

The word “promise” is a significant word and part of the series’ title. After discovering that their lives are in danger, our trio of friends make a promise to escape together and control their own destiny. Don’t be fooled because these kids are far more intelligent than you may think. Norman is a prime example with his planning and strategic thinking. Taking life with an optimistic direction, he is no doubt the most intelligent child at Grace Field House. With his deductive and analytical mind, the show makes him an invaluable friend and ally of the children. Similarly, Ray is also cunning with a clever mind for his logical thinking. His only flaw may be his outspoken personality and temper on occasions. Finally, Emma is symbolic for being a bright hope in the show. Always playful and energetic, she provides a positive attitude with fierce valor and determination. To her, promise is more a word but a commitment to succeed. She also knew exactly what they signed up for. And to escape, she is willing to put her own life on the line. While not as intelligent as her two friends, she is a quick learner and shows great potential as a survivor.

You may be asking yourself if these three main characters can carry this show. Being a 1 cour (12 episodes) adaptation, we see what they’re capable of as they play intelligent games against Isabella. Indeed, expect a lot of psychology in the show with plot development with each episode. Unlike battle shounen with power ups and fighting, The Promised Neverland takes on a more psychological approach at its execution. The story contains a great deal of mystery with its plot elements ranging from the objects our characters discover to who can or can’t be trusted. It formulates a success for a thriller as viewers will have to anticipate each episode to see what may or may not happen next. What is Izabella’s true goal? What exactly are those monsters in the show and where did they come from? Can these kids fulfill their promise and make their ultimate escape? These are just a few questions I’m sure most people have in their mind as each episode progresses. In the meantime, the anime adapts the first arc and structures it in a way to make the show flow together. Don’t expect this to be a 1:1 adaptation as characters such as Krone is introduced early on. In fact, I think what the producers were aiming for is making this into a psychological thriller. And to be honest, it’s very polished made.

A thriller like this needs a great character cast and although I mentioned some already, there are other names to remember. One of the more prominent cast member is a woman named Krone who decides to form an alliance with the children. Whether she can be trusted or not is a big question mark. This is because she knows what Emma, Ray, and Norman are planning. Now as I watched more and more of this show, it made me realize that Krone is rather similar to our trio. Her motivation is to survive although unlike them, she trusts only in herself. Indeed, this brings back the question of who or who can’t be trusted. As a psychological thriller, the anime creates a sensation as to who may be the real master at pulling the strings. The mid-season episodes reveals a “traitor” that brings in more tension to the storytelling.

Cloverworks helms this project along with its talented crew and it’s definitely a visual performance to feast eyes on. The ominousness of the first episode demonstrates that there’s a lot more than meets the eye. The visual production enhances the experience with the quiet world setting. Meanwhile, character expressions communicate their feelings such as fear or happiness. Character designs for the children displays a variety of characteristics with the most common ones being innocence and youth. Outside of the main protagonist group, the younger kids are portrayed with playful energy and charm such as Connie. However, the most notorious impression this show made is the monsters’ appearances. With their grotesque and repulsive look, there’s no doubt the monsters are the ultimate obstacle the children must deal with. It is their very existence that threatens the fragile lives of the characters.