The Promised Neverland 2 episode 1 – A Game of Tag

I don’t even know what to do with this day anymore. I’m not going to write about current events because I’m simply unequal to the task but my heart goes out to my southern neighbours. No matter how you look at it, it’s heartbreaking.

Hopefully, by the time this post goes up, things will be much better.

Also, the first episode of The Promised Neverland season 2 was supposed to air on Friday. At least, so I thought. But here we are, surprise Wednesday Neverland. 

First I want to formally thank Crow for once again sharing this season with me. Crow, you have the floor.

Man, I don’t want to go through Wednesday, January 6, 2021 again! What a night…

Anyway, thanks, Irina! It’s great to be collaborating with you again, especially on The Promised Neverland! I was surprised the show came out when it did. Random Curiosity’s winter preview listed it as coming out on the 7th, and even then, I figured Funimation would need some time to caption it. But, I’m not going to complain!

Just noticed that it looks like I’m in bold. Also, there will be spoilers, because it’s almost impossible to say anything about Neverland without some disclosures!

All right, let’s distract ourselves with some awesome anime. Oh, did I accidentally give away my thoughts on the episode? Okay, so I will be in regular font and there will be spoilers. Like that Promised Neverland is awesome.

TBH, Irina wrote that paragraph before I wrote my note on disclosures. But I liked both, so I wondered if we could keep them!

The episode starts off with a bang as it seems life outside the farm isn’t exactly peaceful and the kids are all being pursued by a huge beast. Then you blink, and the world is peaceful again.

But not before an incredibly creepy OP!

Very, very creepy — in perfect Neverland fashion! Fluid animation, lots of dark to impose a somber mood… Perfect fit for the series.

The first thing I noticed is that this definitely isn’t Earth. Or at least, it isn’t Earth anymore. It looks like it. It’s similar in many ways, but some of those plants are off and the animals all seem alien. I have always operated under the assumption that this is a sort of grim alternate future Earth where demons took over at some point.

But what if it’s actually a completely different world? A planet where humans were brought to from the very start as livestock. That sort of changes things, but I’m not entirely sure how. It’s hopeful cause humanity hasn’t fallen but more depressing cause what possible chance does livestock have?

That possibility doesn’t necessarily change the story, but it changes my perception of it. In other words, the story might all along have assumed it wasn’t Earth. But now that I see it’s not what I expected, I have a strong sense of unease. Which is exactly what the show’s going go! The kids are off balance, and we’re right there with them.

I took quite a bit of notes at the start. I continue to believe The Promised Neverland is a beautiful show with some masterful (if very classical) animation and amazing colours. What I had forgotten is just how much the visuals like to play with shadows and lights. Mesmerizing.

I think it’s easy to overlook the importance of shadow. You’re right — it was mesmerizing. And did you get a Made in Abyss vibe from the creatures? I wouldn’t’ve been surprised to see Riko peeking out from behind a tree.

It started off by giving us some hope. The kids already have a plan, a destination and a potential ally. They seem to have some reliable tools and even a survival guide at their disposal. They are in fact way better off than I thought they would be after season 1. And I like this adventure. It has a bit of a spy story feel to it. They have these maps and all these secret gadgets. They need to get to a secret rendezvous point undetected. Interesting.

The narrative established that in just a few minutes. I was surprised how quickly it drew me in. 

And then we remember the monster. Was it CG? I think it was but I couldn’t quite tell. And that’s a great sign.

 When thinking back on season 1, I realize that one of the greatest strengths of this series is that it uses its big moments sparingly. It sprinkles drops of utter despair in what is chiefly a hopeful tale, it throws these tiny moments of terror at us in seasons filled mostly with casual times. It’s a show that keeps us on our toes, and I was wondering if it could really pull it off now that it’s been done once.

It can….

Oh yeah, it can! The sum of small details made that effect. Little musical cues, or a change in camera angle, or even expression. 

I knew Ray was going to be ok. I simply knew it. But I was still worried. He could be okay and separated from the group or injured, after all. And the run from the monster was just so well-paced that I lost myself in it. Waiting for the kids’ plan to work out. And then awww f**k.

I have to admit, I had stopped taking notes at this point. I was just looking at the TV waiting to see what would happen. I still knew Ray was going to be ok but what if he disappeared for the rest of the season. But he was going to be okay, right?

This is Neverland. This is the show that literally put little children on the table as food. Now, I comfort myself saying things like I’ve analyzed the narrative structure and am confident that Ray, as a main character, will survive. Then I remember the first episode in season 1, and I’m not quite sure…

The first episode of the second season of The Promised Neverland featured secret spy gear left behind by one of my favourite characters, a high speed and high stakes chase with a huge monster, a second pretty hopeless chase of my actual favourite character by an entire group of demons and yet, it’s the last few seconds of the episode that left me speechless.

The first note I took is strong start. Had I been still taking notes at the time, I would have written stronger end! And the thing is, I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen. These mysterious rescue demons might turn out to be unlikely allies. I think they will, or at least I hope so. Or maybe all the other kids are already part of that diner she mentioned. And that’s the thing. The Promised Neverland is the type of show that would make such an event completely possible.

Remember how you mentioned shadows? The use of light and shadow in those last scenes was masterful. Alfred Hitchcock could not have done better (if he had made anime, of course — now that’s an interesting thought!). 

What really set it off was how calm Ray was, even as he realized just who these new people were. Emma was considerably less calm!

They even featured those new demons alone in the closing credits. Not surrounded by other demons but not accompanied by kids either.

I’m telling myself that’s a hopeful sign. Because I’m really anxious about what kind of dinner little Mujika has prepared!

So now what I’m hoping for is that The Promised Neverland will air on Friday but it’s going to be the next episode. How am I supposed to wait for a whole week????

Immerse yourself in the other entries for the new season! It’s a perfect season for that! At least, that’s what I’m trying to do.

The kids really are safe, aren’t they?

I didn’t know where to put this, but the episode kept coming back to both the concept of and the actual word “promise”. Now if they just put a white rabbit in, we have our title!

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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21 Responses

  1. Mari says:

    Goodness, this came out today? It’s been such a crazy week, I lost track of everything. I haven’t watched it yet but I have read all of the manga. I really like how this arc opens up the lore and makes you question assumptions you might have made about the story from the first season.

  2. OnyChaos says:

    This blog post was a good read. I have yet to see episode 1 of S2. I have seen most of season 1 via Toonami on adult swim. And the first season was dark. But it kept me wanting to see how things play out. So I am sure that Season 2 will be just as good if this review is anything to go by, but keep up the rad work. :3

  3. Zsoro says:

    Switch from final shots of season 1 to opening moments of season 2 is a full 180 from hope to despair… Wow. But looks like they have some shelter and strategies to escape recapture and keep discovering more on the outside. Great review!

  4. Scrolled past most of this because I haven’t seen it yet and I don’t want to spoil ep.1. Don’t worry, though. After I watch it. “I’ll be back.” (Spoken with a low, thick German accent.)

  5. Dawnstorm says:

    Solid opening episode. I know how much I’m into a show when it comes to a cliff-hanger. Here: I’m curious, and there are many possibilities, none of which are obvious, and it could even be something I haven’t considered. This is good. I’m not really speculating, though; just thinking “oh well, next week.” Reading this post makes me want to speculate more than the actual show.

    As for the kids: it’s very likely that most survive, or the show would drastically reduce its stakes.

    And as for the setting: I’ve wondered since season 1, what’s out there. I even considered the possibility that there’s no breathable air (though more as an interesting possibility than a plausible theory). Anything’s possible really. Maybe the demons are mutated humans (alien virus came with a meteoroid). The demons we’ve seen in season one, for example, were pretty much behaving exactly like humans.

    Honestly, for all we know, Minerva might be a demon. Radical vegetarian activist, maybe.

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