If you don’t know anything about Neverland but are interested in it, I’ll spoil my review for you: It was good, 4.5 melonbread out of 5, great adaptation of a currently very popular Jump manga. Now go watch it, read my review after. I personally think its best to watch/read it completely blind, but if it already got spoiled for you – or you just don’t care – read on.
Grace Field House is an orphanage, home to many children who live day after day in complete and utter happiness – plenty of delicious food, plenty of play time, everybody gets on well and they are all watched over by a maternal figure who loves them all dearly. There are only two major rules at Grace Field House – one, the children must undergo some kind of mental training tests every day, and two, they must never ever ever ever go anywhere near the fence surrounding the House, or the gate that leads to the outside world – until their turn comes for them to leave and go to a foster family.
In this episode, it’s the young Conny. Emma – our main heroine, along with her friend Norman, accidentally discover the secret of Grace Field House when they sneak off to the gate to try to get her treasured rabbit plush back to her. They discover that the foster family thing was a lie, Conny is dead, and that they’re all being raised as free-range kids to be sold to rich demons as meat.
The Promised Neverland was one of the shows I had most been looking forward to this season after finally starting the acclaimed manga a few months back. It’s definitely off to a strong start. I’m extremely curious about how things are going to unfold for Neverland because decent anime adaptations of ongoing Jump manga are few and far between, and Neverland is, curiously, a noitaminA anime. This means the following could happen: 1) a small part of the story is adapted with an anime-original ending 2) a small part of the story is adapted with a copout ‘want to see what happens next? Read the manga!’ ending, 2) the story gets extremely condensed and a much larger portion of the story ends up adapted 4)A small part of the story is adapted, and then there are multiple seasons to adapt the rest. I’m hopping for 4), although it would be unusual for noitaminA and it would also depend on the popularity of this first season. The uncertainty about the shows episode length is a shame though, because the first episode already looks great which is also not particularly common with Jump anime.
I was impressed with how well the anime captured the feeling of mounting dread throughout the episode – it’s obvious from the beginning, with the emphasis on being never allowed near the gates, that something is a little off, but exactly what was off is an incredibly striking and genuinely horrifying moment. Even though I already knew what was going to happen when Emma and Norman went to the gate, I could still feel the anticipation making me tense. The demons are also animated in a way that’s suitably creepy for their otherworldly appearance…although I have to admit I was surprised to hear their voices sounded so human.
The adaptation does have a few minuses though, however minor at this point. First of all, the transition from Conny saying goodybe to Grace Home while holding her rabbit and then leaving was extremely abrupt, which makes it all the more odd that she left her rabbit behind and it seems a little contrived (the manga also had Emma comment on Conny’s absent-mindedness). The main minus is that I think the twist at the end of the episode works so much better with minimal foreshadowing. While I did like the uneasy mood in some of the earlier scenes, the holy shit demons! moment hits even harder when it’s hitting the viewers as hard as it’s hitting Emma and Norman. One of the main culprits of this is the fact that the first episode features an opening sequence when it really shouldn’t – and given that its common practice to play the opening at the end of the first episode with anime these days I was kinda surprised by this. It’s true (and welcome) that the opening does not outright spoil the plot, but it does spoil the fact that the kids are trying to escape from something, which already sets the tone of something being not right at Grace Field Home. The tone that something is ‘off’ isn’t so bad as it can still imply that the gate is protecting them from something, but the we basically start the episode waiting to find out why the kids need to get out. (Or…maybe we don’t? Maybe someone watching this for the first time without reading the manga would disagree with me.)
Those gripes are still pretty minor in the scheme of things – it’s a good-looking and good-sounding adaptation so far that’s sure to be on the season’s biggest hits. I actually took it off my ‘potential blog’ list because I was assuming netflix had it and thus it wouldnt be a simulcast, but it turns out that Hidive and CR got it anyway. Whether I plan to blog it or not, I do plan to watch this one to the end.