One of the best new shows of 2019.
Anime as an artform, in my opinion, deserves more respect than it’s given, and it already has a great deal of respect. Many people still define anime as cartoons made for children, and people who watch it only watch “provocative” animes to see the “hotties” present within them, but in reality, some animes can push the boundaries of storytelling. They can contain complex characters, interesting themes, and a unique world all combined with a beautiful soundtrack and superb animation, and no anime better exemplifies these aspects than The Promised Neverland.
The Promised Neverland is truly in a league of its own, and captured my attention unlike anything I’ve seen since Attack on Titan. It perfects the art of suspense horror, and digs its claws into your back and drags you full force into each episode until every moment you’re not watching it is full with thoughts of what is going to happen next. It’s an artistic achievement of storytelling that deserves to be recognized as one of the most well-written animes ever put to television. Am I giving this show way too much hype? Probably, but only because I personally adored The Promised Neverland, and this review is my own opinion of how much I enjoy it, and all of the aspects that sucked me into it’s world.
This show excels at suspense horror. As someone who likes scary movies but is never really scared of them, The Promised Neverland gave me scenes where I was holding my breath, and plot twists that completely changed the trajectory of these characters. I can’t count the amount of times I was screaming, “wait, wHAT?!” while watching. The show has so many twists and turns that it feels impossible to truly know what is about to happen, and no twist feels like it’s being pulled out of the writer’s ass. Almost every single time the story surprises the audience, the surprise is properly built up, to the point where all of the plot holes I noticed were completely eliminated by the end, leaving behind a grounded captivating story that never fails to satisfy its audience.
Another satisfying thing The Promised Neverland does is never take a break from it’s story. It’s a continuously flowing narrative that doesn’t allow for any pauses in it’s storytelling unless you literally pause the episode to fully understand what just happened. Some animes make the mistake of slowing down, as the first arc of the season can be filled with action and adventure, while the second arc is mainly pointless filler that doesn’t add anything to the overall experience. The Promised Neverland doesn’t have this problem as it is all one singular arc. It’s a constantly evolving story that goes from one beat to the next, and never slows down. Everytime I thought I knew what was going to happen or how things were about to turn out, the show slapped me in the face with new developments or shocking twists. It never pauses, never falters, and that’s what sucks you in the most. Due to things happening constantly almost every second you’re not watching the show is filled with thoughts about the show itself, until you have no choice to just binge the entire thing.
Keep in mind that, until this point, I’ve just been talking about the story, and I haven’t even gotten into how stunning this anime is. There were frames where I paused the show and simply admired the striking visuals in the backgrounds. The faces these characters have perfectly highlight the horror they are experiencing in their situation, and make it clear whether a smile is fake or real. Some of the shots were incredibly creative, and gave the house a much more sinister feel, as if someone is always watching the characters, and this suspicion is highlighted with the POV (point-of-view) shots within the show. As for the music, I was listening to the soundtrack while writing this interview, and it just gets better and better. While there are some scenes in the anime where the music felt a bit out of place, a part of me didn’t even mind because the soundtrack just creates such an immersive experience not only to the story, but to the psychology of the characters themselves. Each theme perfectly encapsulates the characters and their goals, while also being absolutely beautiful works of art that touch my heart every time I listen to them.
Speaking of characters, the characters, to me, are the most important part of any story. The characters in a story need to be entertaining, likeable, and compelling for the story to work, and some forms of media just don’t have good characters. This is one of the reasons I’ve never particularly found The Office that great, because while it is funny, I can’t stand ANY of the characters, so I don’t care about the journeys or challenges they face. It’s fine if there are a few bad apples in a tree with delicious fruit (in fact some of my favorite characters in shows are bad apples), but when every apple on that tree is bad, then why even eat from it?
Fortunately, every apple in The Promised Neverland’s tree is filled with rich, complex flavors that make those apples memorable. Emma is truly compassionate, and never gives up on her goals despite how impossible they may seem. Norman is the intelligent, calculating member of the group, who is mostly calm and collected but also places the burden of everyone else on his shoulders. Ray is a complex intelligent realist who is a part of the show’s biggest plot developments, and one of my favorite characters whose loyalty to his friends shows no bounds. These three have very strong chemistry, and almost every decision they make throughout the season is believable, and the twists these characters went through the entire season just added more depth into this already incredible world. Of course, one thing about these characters is that they made me feel really stupid because they are 11 years old and they are way smarter than I am as a highschooler. Chances are you might feel stupid too, and that’s ok. Then there’s Isabella, who’s the caretaker of the house. While I cannot go into that much detail about her because of spoilers, she is easily one of the best written adversaries I’ve ever seen in an anime. You simply have to watch the show to understand.
So what is my final review of the anime? Simply put, The Promised Neverland is brilliantly written, beautifully shot, stunningly animated, and very memorable. The finale is incredible, and the only complaint that I have about the show is that I felt stupid while watching it, but to be fair, I feel stupid all the time, so it’s not the animes fault. I give The Promised Neverland a 10 out of 10, and I plan on revisiting it time and time again. At least until the second season comes out.