Broken Promises – ‘The Promised Neverland’ First Season Review

Broken Promises – A Full Season Review for ‘The Promised Neverland’


What’s the show? The Promised Neverland.

And what’s it about? A group of orphans live in a massive orphanage in the middle of a forest and are looked after by a woman known as “mama”, while there’s the occasional mandatory intelligence test the majority of their days are spent having fun and playing together. Every few months one child leaves the house under the pretence of adoption and is never seen from or heard again. (Spoilers for episode 1 incoming) One particular “adoption” takes place with a young girl Conny leaving the house, accidentally she leaves one of her favourite toys so Emma and Norman–two of our protagonists hurry to bring it to her before she leaves. There they are confronted by a terrifying truth, as they witness the dead body of Conny in a wagon and a monster-like creature seemingly responsible. They hurry back to the orphanage, shaken by what they have seen but resolved to break out and take all the kids with them.

Emma’s seen some shit.

Sounds interesting. Sure, it’s an interesting concept one that has a lot of potential but I feel like its potential that’s squandered by leaps in logic and plotting, tonal issues and an overall inconsistent execution.

So that’s the one-sentence spoiler-free version, I take it you’re going to elaborate and get into spoiler territory from here on out? Yes. Firstly, I was willing to suspend my disbelief that our main characters were capable of such elaborate planning— their geniuses after all so that much I could reconcile. But by episode 12 it’s revealed that some of the younger kids, including Phil who is 4 years old were not only participating in an elaborate escape plan, managing to keep it secret and be trusted with keeping it a secret with little to no evidence that their beloved “mama” was the evil manipulator they sold her as. Credit to the final episode, they surrounded this revelation with plenty of other reveals that it was easy to gloss over it on a single viewing but thinking about it after the fact shows just how many holes this plot point has.


But that’s just one part of one episode (albeit a pivotal one) what about the “inconsistent execution” you spoke of? I’d argue that there was enough material for ~maybe~ 6 episodes tops. Whereas it’s stretched out to 12 here, maybe manga readers will argue that everything we saw was necessary for things later on but every episode felt it was 5 minutes of interesting stuff at the start and 5 minutes of interesting stuff at the end with 10 minutes of padding between.

Gives new meaning to ‘watching the clock’.

And the “tonal issues”? The show made an impact with its “powerful” first episode but ever since felt like it was tip-toeing around returning to the dark promise it first offered. And a part of that comes from the lack of scenes exploring the world outside the orphanage. Yes that’s certainly to come now that the kids have escaped but that’s too little, too late for me as I won’t be watching the second season. They had ample opportunity to give more of a glimpse of the outside world but instead wasted literal hours of run time on long winded, unimportant scenes inside the orphanage.

Our protagonists: Ray, Emma and Norman.

Well that’s certainly a lot of complaints. What did you actually ~enjoy~ about the series? Visually the series is attention grabbing, and all the voice actors are expectedly high quality—especially Emma who wrings a lot of emotion out of her scenes. And as I said at the top of the review, the idea is compelling I just think it’s not well executed.

Mama’s story was pretty good, but again all left to episode 12.

Right then, so final review and recommendation for ‘The Promised Neverland’? I’m probably the last person you should be looking for a recommendation from because the majority of people really loved this series from beginning to end—and chances are you will too. For me though there were too many things I had issue with to say I “enjoyed” the experience. Promises undelivered: 65 out of 100.

Happier times.

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Traitor Trouble – ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 4 Review

Traitor Trouble – An Anime QandA Review for ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 4


What’s the show? The Promised Neverland, Episode 4.

How’s this episode? I feel like this show is very manipulative in how it constructs its narrative episode-to-episode. Like for the majority of this episode I was just sitting, kinda bored as the sounds and images washed over me and I failed to care about much of anything. Then the show goes and pulls the rug out from under me by delivering an ~actually~ interesting reveal in its final minutes that had me sitting up and paying attention. (And I feel like it’s done that in previous episodes too…)


Spoilers? Well obviously. Turns out that in their search for a “traitor” in their midst, it was neither of the two characters the show ~wanted~ us to expect (them being Don and Gilda) but Ray, one of our original three! I didn’t see it coming and yet, thinking about it logically it totally makes sense–so kudos to the show for delivering something compelling. Too bad it was preceded by mostly unnecessary treading of water that comprises the majority of this anime.


You really have it in for this show, don’t you? Seems like you want the abridged version rather than the full story. I resent that comment. I’m just telling it like it is, and what I find interesting is everything other than this show wants to show us. I think this show is terribly paced and doesn’t deliver nearly enough content per episode to justify it. And maybe this pace would work if I could buy this story as belonging to the ‘horror’ genre, but just having a bunch of intimidating adults make grotesque close-up faces to our protagonists in intimidating them doesn’t really cut it for me. Nor does agonisingly boring first-person shots of someone slowly walking up some stairs and opening a door followed by ~zero~ pay-off. But I get it, ‘horror’ as a genre, is just as much subjective as ‘comedy’ is–you can’t quantify or gauge a person’s reaction to perceived ‘horror’ and articulate its effectiveness to the next person. Either it scares you or it doesn’t. And this doesn’t–quite frankly it bores me and if it weren’t for the teases of the outside world provided in brief moments in previous episode I would be wholly uninterested in continuing with this story.

I know this is supposed to come off as endearing but it felt quite patronising.

But you will continue? No? I will. I like Emma (even though I don’t like the way the show seems to think she’s weak for having empathy) and I’m interested in expanding the core cast away from Emma, Norman and Ray with beefier parts for Gilda and Don–assuming they aren’t again sidelined in future episodes.

Gilda best girl.

Previous ‘The Promised Neverland’ Reviews:

Growing Up Is Hard – Episode 1 Review
The Promise Of What’s Out There – Episode 2 Review
Curiosity Killed The Suspense – Episode 3 Review

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Curiosity Killed The Suspense – ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 3 Review

Curiosity Killed The Suspense – An Anime QandA Review for ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 3


What’s the show? The Promised Neverland, Episode 3.

So how’s this episode? This is going to be a shorter review because I’ve not got much to say and I’ve got better things to do than talk about this show–like sleep.

Ouch, roasted! I’m just relaying my thoughts the same way other people do–albeit with a lot more ~sass~ because apparently I’m like that.

Apparently. So what, this episode was no good? I feel like I wasted 20 minutes of my life watching this.

Not holding my breath any longer! Rant incoming!

So there was nothing redeemable about it? I said I “wasted 20 minutes” not 25, so clearly 5 minutes were worthwhile.

Okay, so while we’re on the negative what was so bad about the 20 minutes that were “wasted”. For large swathes of this episode I was incontestably bored. I don’t care about what’s motivating the new ‘adult’ character Miss Krone (haha subtle…), I don’t care about where Emma and the others think the tracking chip is located and I absolutely don’t care about training up the other kids to escape by playing tag. This felt like an episode that was doing absolutely everything other than providing a compelling narrative experience by spinning its wheels at the starting gate. We should be heading into the Abyss by now not still having interminably endless dialogue scenes where children theorise and conjecture in dimly lit rooms–THIS IS NOT ENTERTAINING.

Derp, don’t care.

I’ll note that you capitalised “Abyss” in that last sentence and presume it wasn’t a typo. That’s me just reminding myself (and my readers I guess) that ‘Made In Abyss’ exists and is a similar sort of story but is like seventy-three times better than this series. But that’s a subject for another day…

Okay, sure.

Right. So I take it you have a ~fix~ for this series. You seem awfully insistent that the show is at fault rather than the concept behind it. The narrative is interesting, the setting is interesting, the characters are interesting. The execution is clumsy and dull and uninteresting. Despite me knowing absolutely zero about this series I am 100% sure these kids (not sure how many but probably the main three at least) will escape. My increasing worry is that this won’t happen ‘til Episode 12 and having a pay-off that I already predicted in Episode 1 is irritating. Here, I’ll fix the show–instead of having Episode 1 (and subsequent episodes) take place entirely at the Orphanage have the series set after the kids escaped already. Then throughout each episode cut between the drama of their escape mixed with the drama of them planning their escape in flashbacks. Tie in important revelations to relevant things that come out of their time outside. It’s double the drama without too much of a hit to the narrative substance! Doesn’t that sound more interesting? But instead we’re treated to this ultra-extended prologue to an escape which is neither tense nor satisfying.

Imagine how much more effective this scene would have been if we’d spent, oh I don’t know, let’s say 3 episodes with other kids from the orphanage in the “outside” world during their escape and then we learn that one of them is a traitor? But that’d be a better show, so nevermind…

I thought you said this was going to be a “short” review… I’ll do what I can, dammit!

So not a fan then? Overall thoughts? I’ll reiterate a point I made in a previous review and double down on it–this show is curious but not compelling. I’m curious about what will happen after the kids escape, I’m curious about the world outside the orphanage but being constrained inside these walls is not the least bit compelling. I’ll keep watching in the hope of the ‘compelling’ outweighing the ‘curiosity’.

More of this insanity, please.

Previous ‘The Promised Neverland’ Reviews:

Growing Up Is Hard – Episode 1 Review
The Promise Of What’s Out There – Episode 2 Review

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The Promise Of What’s Out There – ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 2 Review

The Promise Of What’s Out There – An Anime QandA Review for ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 2


What’s the show? The Promised Neverland, Episode 2.

So how’s this episode? I don’t know, I’ve kind of got the same complaints I had last week about the show. It’s not really doing anything particularly interesting or original or compelling and so as it is I’m just playing a waiting game until it does do something worthwhile.

That’s an odd way to watch a show, shouldn’t you just drop it if it doesn’t interest you? I could but I still want to see where this story goes, just because it’s not ~actively~ doing anything of note doesn’t mean the premise isn’t at the very least intriguing. Besides I’ve watched far worse shows for less interesting reasons so I really don’t see me dropping this.

You smile, you lose.

Right. So we have to listen to you moan about the show not being “interesting” for 10 more reviews instead? Not necessarily, the show might find itself in ‘Watched But Not Reviewed’ territory by next week unless I find something worth talking about.

Okay, so do you at least want to feign interest by recapping the events of the episode? Emma and Norman go to investigate the forest for a way out and they find a massive concrete wall that’s as tall as it is thick. Afterward they come to the realisation that they all have “tracking chips” in them and that ‘Mom’ can see where they are whenever she wants to which complicates their plans slightly. They decide that they’ll use tablecloths as ropes to scale the wall. Realising they’ll need more help they agree to enlist the help of Ray only for Ray to have already been following them out to the wall. They fill him on their dire situation and he agrees to help but he doesn’t think it’s logistically feasible to bring all 37 kids with them. Emma refuses to participate unless everyone comes and Norman backs her up even in the face of the logical realisation that outside the walls is likely a world no-longer belonging to humans but ruled by the ‘demons’. At the end of the episode a new ‘adult’ character is introduced to the orphans, much to Emma, Norman and Ray’s despair.

Let’s just hope she’s not made out to be too much of a villain because BOY do I have a rant in store if she is.

Right, well that seems interesting enough! I don’t see why you’re not enjoying this more–everyone else seems to be. Yeah, and that’s probably a part of the problem too. Too much positive hype on social media and elsewhere is seeping into my brain and informing opinions before I even get the chance to watch the episode and then nothing lives up to the hype as a result. That’s why I think I’m constantly surprised and delighted by CGDCT and slice of life shows because nobody ever talks about them on social media (least not on mine) and so I get to have an untainted experience without expectations.

I mean the lighting is pretty gorgeous in this show.

Sounds to me like you’re blaming others for your own problems watching this show. Maybe I am, and maybe I’ll mute the words ‘Promised Neverland’ on Twitter and see if that changes anything for next week but there’s still the pre-hype that accompanied the show before airing and sadly nothing’s going to erase that.

Okay. So was there anything about the episode you liked? Sure I mean the concrete wall was odd and fun to see, the fact it’s as wide as it is tall makes me presume there’s a corridor within it, and its specifically those moments of unexpected imagery that recall the oddness of US TV series ‘Lost’ (in its early seasons) and I like that. Also the stylish nightmare scene that opened the episode was visually evocative. Other than that not much else I’m afraid. Nevertheless I am still curious about what kind of world exists out there and if we’ll even see any of it by the time this short season is over…

Show don’t tell!

Previous ‘The Promised Neverland’ Reviews:

Growing Up Is Hard – Episode 1 Review

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Growing Up Is Hard – ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 1 Review

Growing Up Is Hard – An Anime QandA Review for ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 1


What’s the show? The Promised Neverland, Episode 1.

So how’s this episode? So here’s the thing, you might not know this about me but generally speaking I like my anime on the lighter side–after all, I personally watch anime as escapism and for fun! That’s not to say I don’t enjoy darker anime too for example I loved (the first season) of ‘Psycho Pass’, ‘Attack on Titan’ is a classic, ‘Happy Sugar Life’ was my favourite anime of 2018, ‘Made In Abyss’ I think earned its darkness even if it seemed occasionally excessive and even a show I consider flawed like ‘Magical Girl Raising Project’ was entertaining and has its value. And that’s just off the top of my head, there’s many more. But what I don’t like is anime I deem ‘edgy for the sake of edgy’, I won’t bother listing the shows I think are but there’s plenty of them and seeing the hype that was building around this show made me genuinely fear for the worse. It was at the point where I was going to not even bother watching because I didn’t need another dose of misguided drama in my life. But here we are, with me about to type my thoughts on this show–The Promised Neverland–onto the screen for you all to read. Are you ready for my opinion?

Oh jeez… Yeah, it was an okay episode.

…huh? What?

Simpler times…

Don’t “what” me! With all that build-up, I thought you were about unleash a tirade upon this show! Kinda like how all that build-up to the show airing had me expecting the worst too? Looks like I did the same to you!

Ugh… damn you! So anyway, you going to elaborate? What happened? What’s the “dark” thing about the show? Spoil away! Yeah, so obviously huge spoilers for the first episode, this isn’t going to be a post where I give a vague recommendation and let you go your merry way, the ~big reveal~ of Episode 1 will be discussed after this paragraph. If you want a spoiler free recommendation, watch it–what’s the worst that could happen? (That’s a terrible recommendation, but you’ll see why in a minute.)

The stuff with the barcode exams was curious…

Right, thanks for the warning. So go on… So yeah basically it’s a boarding house of 38 kids and they’re not allowed to be in contact with the outside world because their ‘mom’ says they can never leave the grounds under any circumstances. Their lives seem ~nice~ and peaceful enough except there’s an undercurrent that things are amiss, especially as none of the previous kids who have been “adopted” ever write letters back like they promised they would. So anyway it comes the day for the ‘cutest’, ‘most adorable’ one Conny to be adopted out and yeah, that’s a trope that’s kind of obnoxiously on the nose but I’ll get back to that. But Conny forgets her favourite plush toy so two of our three protagonists Emma and Norman go to return it–leaving the grounds of the estate, even though they were told never to do so. Then the big reveal! Emma passes the back of a wagon and finds Conny–she’s dead, her body battered and bloody. Two voices come from down the alleyway and so they hide under the wagon, the voices belong to two monstrous looking creatures who talk about how delicious children are and how they are being bred for the “quality of their meat” and their ‘mom’ who runs the orphanage is in on it too! The kids escape back to the orphanage, traumatised but determined to get not only themselves out but the other 35 kids too.

I mean that’d be ideal but I somehow doubt we’ve got a cast of 35 just so 35 people can survive.

Okay then, yeah that qualifies as pretty dark! So here’s the thing… I was expecting this to be a lot worse, especially considering what qualifies for ~entertainment~ these days (sorry that was very catty of me) but all the same I found this kind of–mediocre not just in execution but in tone. In fact, it was almost childish, like a Brothers Grimm fairytale and I just can’t shake the feeling like I was oversold on something. Granted this is only the first episode so I’m not going to judge too harshly the potential of this series. But having seen the swathes of people clamouring for this show (and likewise, the people’s reactions both positive and shocked) I’m left a little underwhelmed. What’s more is that it was predictable, from the moment I saw ‘Conny’ written up on the calendar I knew she’d be the first to go and I knew she’d be the ‘cutest, most adorable’ one too. (Sudden brief spoiler for Magical Girl Raising Project incoming!) They did that with killing off Nemurin–the cutest, quietest one in ‘Magical Girl Raising Project’ and they’ve probably done it in other shows too. And I get why they do it, its to endear the audience quickly to character visually without having to waste time on a lot of character development but it’s lazy in my opinion.

Don’t get too attached.

Seems like you have a lot of complaints but none of them are about how dark the show is? That’s surprising. I know right? Maybe I was expecting too much darkness from this first episode and the premise in general, it’s an adaptation of a shonen manga after all not a seinen or a light novel so there’s only so far they can push it.

Geez, what were you expecting? Listen, my mind can go to pretty dark places, let’s just say I wasn’t expecting the evil to be monsters but I was expecting Conny’s “meat” to be used in a different way and I’ll leave it at that.

Ew. Hey, theirlwaifu Sharon thought exactly the same thing, it’s not just me, okay?!

What’s with the look?!

Right. So what are your overall thoughts on the episode? Put simply, I’m intrigued but not enticed, I’m curious but not captivated but thankfully for you, dear readers, I’m not at all triggered (yet). So for now I’ll keep watching to see where it goes.

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