Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, weebs and nerds of all ages, races, creeds, sexuality or anything else I’m forgetting, it is that time once again, It is Sp00ky season and everybody is getting their Halloween on even though they aren’t going to do much partying or trick-or-treating this year (well, you know why at this point) and like anything in this time of the season (HA!), people will talk about their favorite horror-related content from movies, TV shows, music, and especially animation.
So…… the review du jour is something that I have talk about before way back in January 2019. It was one of the most hyped and anticipated anime of the season and luckily for us, it was the first noitanimA anime to not stream on Amazon in the States as that deal kinda dissolve (I think, they did get Psycho-Pass 3 but that was probably a different deal or something) and many rejoice.
Plus, this was based on a weekly Shonen Jump series and having that be a noitanimA show does put more interest going in this show when it debuted.
So, what it’s about?
Emma, Norman, and Ray are the three most brilliant children the Grace Field House has produced in decades. Unlike in a typical orphanage, they, and their fellow children, eat well and are given an intensive education. However, despite living in a peaceful environment with fun games and a caring mother, there’s something not quite right. When six year old Connie is “adopted” by foster parents, she forgets her favorite stuffed rabbit, and Emma and Norman sneak out to return it to her. When they arrive at the scene, the two realize exactly why they had always been isolated from the outside world.
Before going any further, I know there are some that are going to bring up the whole manga thing in there and I know some people were disappointed with this but I’m just going to say this now: I’m not talking about the manga or comparisons or any shit like that. This is merely about the anime and I’m going to stick to talking about the anime.
Going in there, I did read into who was directing the series and it was Mamoru Kanbe and his most well-known directorial work is Elfen Lied. I’m just gonna say it, I don’t like Elfen Lied. I know people who like and loved that show but everything about that show from its over-excessive reliance of gore, the sappy story-telling and that weird cousin relationship shit turn me off of it. Thankfully, it looks like the work he chooses improved over the years since that anime.
From the first episode, I was hooked on it. While we knew about the truth behind the facade of these kids being in an orphanage, the reveal behind it was particularly gruesome and oh boy, it was a rude awakening for our main leads. The way the show plays has some twists and turns that can leave you baffled, wondering and saying “Wait, for real?” It helps with our main leads being Emma, Norman and Ray and all I can say is Emma is the definite MVP of the show and my favorite. Yes, her thing of wanting to save everyone might seem unrealistic to some but at least it’s the better option than just save themselves and not tell a soul about it like Ray does. Although I get the contrast of both Emma and Ray with the former is very optimistic and the latter is all around pessimistic and maybe a bit of the edgelord side.
Norman, on the other hand, is mainly in the middle as he knows Emma’s plan isn’t foolproof but is willing to try and succeed and I’m pretty sure he has a crush on her. The other more notable kids in there are Don, Gilda and Phil and I’m keeping these short: Don is very rowdy and loud, Gilda is quiet and calm and Phil might be the greatest threat to Isabella and the rest of the Houses.
Speaking of Isabella, she’s a very compelling antagonist of being that motherly figure that is posed to love all her dear children but once she sends them away, she don’t give 2 fucks about them and we got Sister Krone and while she is also another great character whose cunning, swift and works that creepy undertone well in the midst of the escaping situation, I admit her design threw me off a bit. It’s like….. you remember those really early Tom and Jerry shorts where one character is a old black woman and if you remember the 1930s well, you know, designs of black people aren’t that very PC back then. No, I don’t think there was any intent to be racist nor do I think it’s racist but it does get close to being problematic.
I don’t have a lot to say on animation but I can say I had no qualms into it. It was very bright (especially in the opening sequence), no notable filters aside from the normal day and night transitions and dream sequences. CloverWorks being the rebranded Koenji studio of A-1 Pictures is responsible for this and their past work before this has been mixed on me but this is some good work on them.
And now the controversial part of the review: The OP and ED songs……. and you know what? The opening song is….. OK. Like, I know that UVERworld has been mixed for the past few years on openings as some love ’em or hate ’em but I got no major qualms with the song “Touch Off”although the sax on there…… yeah, I’ve heard better sax performances than this but at least it’s something interesting than most OP songs in that year. The ED songs, both sung by Cö shu Nie (“Zettai Zetsumei” & “Lamp” ), are both excellent and serve within the tone of the series. Hell, one of them could be the opening and I wouldn’t mind it.
I admit that before there was a dub, I did imagine Erica Mendez being a voice in there and as Emma and lo and behold, she’s Emma and as always, she delivers a great performance as her. I also applaud the performances of Jeannie Tirado and Laura Stahl as Norman and Ray, respectively as before this show, I wasn’t all that familiar aside from bit roles but hey, they were also great as well. Speaking of someone named Laura, I see– well, hear Laura Post in a familiar type of role of the mother—- that wants to kill you. Yes, she’s Isabella. Also, got to applaud the fact that the main roles did went to WOC (Women of Color) and there’s even more roles to POC like Cedric Williams as Don and of course, Rebeka Thomas as Krone and I thought her performance is a major highlight of the dub, hearing dialogue spoken from Krone did have a chilling effect on me.
FINAL VERDICT: With this, My Hero Academia, and Demon Slayer, I’m really starting to like how shonen-type shows have progressed with time and this one is another example of what I’m liking from here. It’s that type of horror that’s more on the mystery/thriller aspect and less trying to be in-your-face about it with some cunning twists and turns in corners and it still has a hopeful vibe despite all odds seeming like they’re screwed. I’m interested in going further with this show.
THE PROMISED NEVERLAND is available on Blu-Ray via Aniplex of America and streaming on…… well, every damn where!!! Crunchyroll, Hulu, Funimation, HiDive, Netflix, HBO Max, and even though it had a Toonami run, at the time of this review, Adult Swim/Toonami is airing the whole series on Halloween Night.
I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid and at least Isabella is slightly not as bad as Ragyo Kiryuin. Still bad, tho.
THE PROMISED NEVERLAND – animated by CLOVERWORKS / licensed by ANIPLEX OF AMERICA