An anime series that looks cutesy, but is about children dying in a boarding school? That was all I knew about The Promised Neverland when I heard of it and I was in, as disturbing as that sounds.
The Promised Neverland is an extraordinary series. With an art style that is so cutesy, the story revolves around 10 and under year olds living in an orphanage. The aesthetic gives the impression it will be a child friendly story about friends or something, and that is one of the things that makes the series so powerful. It isn’t.
The show kicks off introducing you to some of the children in the orphanage. They all do everything that the Mum of the orphanage says, and all seem happy enough. When one of the kids is lucky enough to get adopted she leaves the orphanage but accidentally drops a toy. Emma and Norman (two of the older children) take the toy to the gate to give it to her and discover something horrifying. Demons have killed and taken the body of the child, and Mum seems to have facilitated the situation.
Emma and Norman uncover more information then start hatching a plan to escape the orphanage’s giant concrete walls. Of course this would be far too easy so throughout the short 12 episode season they get thrown some more curve balls like a sister that works for Mum and an orphan that also seems to be working for Mum.
One of the show’s biggest strengths is the pace. Rather than dragging the show out over 20 episodes like many animes do, it tells the whole story nicely and concisely. By focusing most of the character development on a small number of characters you get the chance to connect with characters like Emma with no unnecessary filler.
The voice acting tends to be good but Sister is played by someone doing a weird Oprah impression. Given Donald Faison has Oprah impressioned me out on the Fake Doctors Real Friends podcast, it immediately annoyed me. But despite this the plot and the rest of the cast is so solid that I still adored the show.
I seriously can not recommend The Promised Neverland enough. Beautiful animation clashing with dark and serious content makes the 12 episodes an absolute blast to watch. Seriously stop reading this and go watch The Promised Neverland. Make sure the kids are in bed.