I was obsessed with The Promised Neverland pretty much from Episode 1. As soon as I finished the first season of the anime, I read the entire manga on my Shonen Jump mobile app. I was hyped for Season 2 more than practically anything else this year. But the latest episode has me torn about where the series is heading. An entire arc of the manga has been cut, and I’m worried this season might be barreling towards a rushed and anticlimactic ending.
It’s unfortunate, because every episode before this has been excellent. Emma and Ray have to survive a world of hungry demons, so the adorable Grace Field kids have to grow up fast. The two friendly demons, Sonju and Mujika, have great chemistry and give viewers even more questions about this spooky world. There was one major change from the manga, bringing back Isabella/Mom early to hunt for the kids. But I think this actually works, since she had such a terrifying stage presence in the first season.
But Episode 5 is where things get weird. The story jumps forward about a year with no explanation, which is especially jarring considering the previous episode ended on a cliffhanger. Our heroes’ circumstances and personalities have shifted, which must be confusing for anime-only watchers who lack context. One of the biggest twists, that demons need to eat humans or they will degenerate into mindless monsters, is lazily dropped by two random goons who die five minutes later.
But all that is small potatoes compared to the big reveal at the end, that Norman is still alive. Well… that was anti-climactic, wasn’t it? In the manga, it takes an entire story arc to even reveal Norman is still alive, and then another whole arc to reunite with Emma and Ray. He slowly becomes a vengeful antihero, trying to wipe out the demons with more violent methods than the Grace Field gang. Here, Norman is gone for all of… what, six episodes? They killed off Dragon Ball Z characters for longer than this!
It’s a shame, because the stuff that was cut is some of the best in the series. The Goldy Pond Battle Arc takes place in an abandoned escape base, where aristocratic demons hunt humans for sport. It’s here that the gang meets up with Yugo, a surly old bastard who escaped from a separate orphanage years ago. He becomes a mentor and father figure to the kids, especially Emma. They try to rescue the humans from a terrifying/hammy villain named Leuvis, and there’s a ton of action and suspense as the cat-and-mouse game keeps escalating. It’s fantastic stuff, exploring many different aspects of The Promised Neverland‘s characters and themes with while staying fast-paced and fresh. Cutting it makes me lose faith in Cloverworks’ adaptation of this amazing story.
I know that no anime is perfect, and even the most faithful adaptations will change a few things. I also don’t want to judge this series too harshly after just one episode, because every one before this (except for some rough scenes in Season 1) has been brilliant. I love The Promised Neverland, and I’m still going to keep watching until the end. But I’m not quite as optimistic about the anime as I was before. I’ll post my full thoughts when the season is finished, but I’m worried that they will try to end the show early with how much has already been skipped. It’s still a great show at the moment – but with a series as rich with mysteries and lore as this one, it needs a fleshed-out and satisfying conclusion.