I have to admit, last week’s posts was a little surprising for me, Crow. I was aware that you had been less enchanted with the last few episodes of The Promised Neverland, but you were still praising it not that long ago, so I had not realized you had gotten to the point where you basically did not like a single element of it anymore. 

I offered to finish the season on my own but Crow is a trouper you guys and didn’t want to go back on our collab. So at the very least, I’m going to try to keep this review as mercifully short as I can. I know how difficult and not fun it is to have to write about something you didn’t enjoy at all. Please don’t feel obligated to answer every prompt, just whatever you feel like 🙂 But before we get to that, some more fun stuff, how are you, Crow, how was your week so far?

I appreciate your concern! Thanks! But no need to worry. The previous episode just hit me entirely the wrong way. My enjoyment varies based, I’ve discovered, on my expectations. So, I thought about Taboo Tattoo, which helped lower my expectations — a lot! Then I thought about Hand Shakers, which holds a dubious record: It’s the only anime to make me feel physically ill. 

What that did is reset my expectations and allowed me to enjoy several moments in this episode! Unironically, I might add.

Looks like I’m in bold, and there will probably be spoilers — big ones, too!

So basically, everything in the Promised Neverland is coming to a head. Last week Norman managed to change his group’s objective from kill all demons to kill all bad demons and free the human children. And it seems they have been working towards that goal starting with some trademark Norman sneaky strategizing.

Turns out last week’s cliffhanger of a potential Victor betrayal was just a bait ‘n switch and he had been acting under Norman’s orders. I guess that makes sense, although I would have understood if he wanted to save his own skin as well. After all, those characters haven’t been developed that much and I would have accepted that Victor is just a bit of a coward and selfish. This works better in establishing a foundation for a plan though. Still, I’m sure some viewers did not appreciate being led on for the sake of some easily manufactured tension.

That was a huge relief to me. Doubly so: It was hard for me to swallow Vincent doing that (based, admittedly, on what little we knew about him!). But best of all, it was part of Norman’s master plan. It was good seeing Norman back on the same team with Emma and Ray!

Seeing the orphanage again was strangely nostalgic for me. I realized how much I liked Grace Field as a set-piece. One of my favourite settings in a while and it almost felt like they were bringing back a fave for a cameo.  

The kids’ plan was iffy and relied on a lot of variables that could have gone very wrong. Now that’s nothing new. Their plans are always sort of shaky because they’re kids with all the odds against them and very desperate. The idea was to feed the demons false information which would distract them long enough to infiltrate the central hub and get to the elevator, meanwhile a small group would get the Grace Field kids and guide them to the elevator rendez-vous point while panic ensued. 

A simple plan that could go wrong in millions of ways but straightforward enough to maybe work. That’s a good sign.

I like that — strangely nostalgic. It did feel that way. There was a shot of Emma and Ray looking through the burned out remnants of a window, and it looked like they felt the same way.

Of course, it didn’t work. Not even a little. I guess the kids reunite and that was one win. And I have to say, that scene where Phil and Emma see each other again for the first time in so long was just the sappiest. 

Once, while sitting on a public bus full of people (you can tell this was some years ago), I was reading Sailor Moon (the manga is pretty great too) and there was the sequence where all the sailor scouts are pouring their strength into this crystal to allow Sailor Moon to save the day and I started crying. In public. Because I thought the power of friendship was so touching and beautiful.

What I’m getting at is that I have a very high tolerance for sap. I would say an appreciation even. I would have changed the soundtrack during the Emma and Phil scene but nothing else. I loved seeing them hg each other. I also just really love Phil. Great character. But it was not for everyone. And it was some pretty cheap sentimentality when you get down to it.

That scene worked. They earned it, too. Seeing Phil trying to keep it together when the Sisters moved the kids out of the houses, not to mention an entire season of Phil saying behind, built that hope that they’d see each other again. 

Honestly, that’s one of the scenes that got me thinking more positive about the show. Showing the kids working together and fighting for each other is where this show shines.

The kids sort of succeeded only because of not one but two huge conveniences. I wouldn’t call them contrived since both have been decently foreshadowed but still. The first was that Isabella and the mothers suddenly turned coat and decided to defend the children. We have seen many scenes across both seasons that show the mamas (or as the demons call them, the breeders) being traumatized and devastated at having their children taken away. We also saw Isabella’s pride flare up while she was in prison at how dispensable she was despite all the work and loyalty she had shown to the demons.

So there was groundwork but it was here and there throughout episodes. I’m not sure if it will feel satisfying for most viewers. I personally wasn’t crazy about this turn of events because it just seemed too easy and because I like Isabella as an antagonist.

Isabella worked as an antagonist because she was a strong character. She didn’t relish the children dying. She worked to make their lives as pleasant as possible until the world demanded they die as food. 

As soon as she stood beside Peter Ratri, I was all like, “Isabella, you’d better point that muzzle at Ratri, or we’re going to have words.” So I was really pleased to see her turn. That, and her little interaction with Emma where Isabella said she’d raised her children well and Emma thanked here was very cool.

Hmmm. Looks like I’m part of the whole sap fan club thing. We should make jackets.

What I did like better is that this first turn was in fact useless. It didn’t solve anything, and if it hadn’t happened, events could have played out more or less the same. Maybe it would have been better if it never happened actually.

The actually decisive twist was Mujika leading the evil-blooded into rebellion against the farms. Now they have been establishing this part pretty consistently for the past 5 episodes or so. Demon society was deeply unequal and the majority of the population were savagely oppressed. With the farms being both the tool and the symbol of this oppression, of course, they would want to destroy them. And having a way to prevent degeneration is all the push they needed. The timing is real good but then again, it had been planned. Mujika and the children talked it all over before the invasion but it was still very last minute.

Very effective scene. Like you said, the foreshadowing was in place. The attack on the village even brought them Vylk, who turned out to be a powerful ally. I just like it when old dudes play a positive part. 

The part I liked the least was the very end. Emma wanting to forgive Ratri. Admittedly this is a very Emma thing to do. It’s pretty much the only option for the character, but it still annoyed me a bit. I hope it won’t be an important point in the next episode.

I hope this wasn’t too painful for you Crow. Please let us know if you have any closing thoughts.

Yeah, that moment was very, very annoying — for exactly the reasons it needed to me. I was annoyed, not because I thought it was a character inconsistency. I was annoyed because I expected Emma to do that, and there she went. It was perfectly in character. I suspect my hope it doesn’t blow up in her face is part of the hook for the next episode.

So, no, I didn’t hate this one! After Hand Shakers, nothing is painful! And this episode did step it up in terms of character and plot cohesiveness.
I just won’t mention the impossibility of accurately steering balloons… But no show is perfect, and that was a minor thing.

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9 thoughts

  1. Like you, I have a high tolerance for sap! And I’ve enjoyed the season so far. The manga is still better, but that doesn’t have to detract from enjoying the anime. 😊

    1. I get that, two different things and I might finish the manga after the season just to see the other side of the story

  2. Honestly, there’s one thing that always throws me out of a SF story, and that’s if the story actively works against the worldbuilding. It’s okay to miss a few opportunities, but to scorn them in favour of sap? I thought, as an exercise, I should rewrite From the New World Neverland style.

    For example: Yes, they did foreshadow the commonor’s rebellion. In fact, I thought that was where they were going from episode one season one, when we saw that demon grunt mumble about the quality meat not being for them. That’s Checkov’s gun right there, and it’s fairly prominent, too. So, yeah, that’s foreshadowed. I wasn’t fond of the evil blood/regression element, because I felt, when they introduced it, that they’re not going to engage with what that sort of biology would imply. And it seems I was more right than I feared it would I would be. At that point, the show does its level best to condense all the complexity into two factions, where we have no difficulty at all with a defeat-the-evil-demons plot. Now some shows who do things like that feel like they have a point to make (propaganda), but in the case of Neverland it feels like they’re afraid of the implications of their own story. The scene in the opening where all the kids have those dead but unskinned rabbits on their plate? That blatant food-chain imagery? There’s no real place for any of that in this ending. And then out of nowhere Ratri brings up the war, and he might feel like that, and some lines of his (about crushing hope, for example) might make sense in that direction, but ultimately they played him too much like a villain (they did much better with Isabella last season; much, much better), so what he’s saying has little weight, while also drawing attention to the lost opportunities. So when only moments later we get the rebellion and old guy being worried about Emma, that sort of drives a stake right through the middle, so – see? – you can get along after all. And the show seems to hope that if you lay on the sap thickly enough, they can get away with generalising from anecdotes. It’s not even subtle. There’s something like willing suspension of disbelieve, and once that fails there’s something like indulgent suspension of disbelieve, and once that fails there’s grudging suspension of disbelieve. Neverland has managed to push past even that for me, probably because I wasn’t that much into season one to begin with. At that point, I’m just curious at what they’re going to do from now on. The show has invigorated the sort of stale metaphor of a “trainwreck you can’t look away from” for me.

    I’m a little surprised to find that Neverland dropped below Attack on Titan for me, even though I actually dropped that show. If it’s your standard shounen fighter, this season has Jujutsu Kaisen and World Trigger for me. (Just for what it’s worth, other shows, like, say, Log Horizon, have a more seinen feel for me, though its manga is published in a shounen mag. I don’t get demographics.)

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