Japanese animated tv series (2019-current), also known as Yakusoku no Neverland. Based on the Manga by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu. CloverWorks. Directed by Mamoru Kanbe. Written by Toshiya Ono. Voice cast includes Nao Fujita, Mariya Ise, Yuko Kaida, Hiyori Kono, Sumire Morohoshi, Ari Ozawa and Maaya Uchida. Twelve 23-minute episodes. Colour.
In 2045 (see Near Future) at an idyllic Pastoral orphanage, the children are raised by Isabella (Kaida), their loving "Mama". The orphans regularly sit exams, with three eleven year olds, boisterous but caring Emma (Morohoshi), cool headed Norman (Uchida) and cynical Ray (Ise), being the smartest – save perhaps for Phil (Kono), aged four. The children will leave by the time they are twelve, though none ever write after leaving: distracted because they are "having so much fun", suggests one orphan. Each child (and Isabella) has a number tattooed on their neck.
When six-year-old Conny (Ozawa) leaves, taken to the orphanage gate by Isabella, Emma and Norman notice she has left her toy bunny behind and rush to take it to her. At the gates they find a truck: Emma looks in the back and discovers Conny's dead body. The drivers and Isabella return, the pair hide and watch two Monsters put Conny in a glass jar, complaining how such expensive food is only affordable to the rich.
Realizing their world is not as it seemed (see Conceptual Breakthrough) Norman and Emma, with Ray, plan an escape. Isabella, suspecting the truth is known, brings in a helper, Sister Krone (Fujita), who sees the situation as a way to advance herself. However, Isabella has her fed to a monster – though not before Krone has passed important information to the trio. It seems Isabella has won: Norman is taken away, presumed killed, whilst Emma and Ray appear broken. But by the end of Season One the house is aflame and Emma, Ray and those children over four have escaped; though, like us, they know virtually nothing of the world in which they have fled.
The monsters are called "Demons" by the children; Krone refers to them as "they". Their origins are as yet vague: they may be Aliens and probably arrived about 2015 (see Alternate History), as the Orphanage Library holds no books published after that date. At one point Krone enquires "do you know about him?": they don't and the matter is dropped.
Flashbacks to Isabella and Krone's early lives earns them some audience sympathy: their Intelligence offered them a cut-throat opportunity for survival, employed as farmers of children. Isabella is a scarily efficient antagonist: "this is the first time talking to you without the acting. Nice to meet you Emma. Nice to meet you Norman."
Though Krone's depiction has some problematic elements and the children are remarkably capable for their age, The Promised Neverland is one of the strongest Anime of recent years, permeated with dread and foreboding (see Horror in SF) and focusing more on character than action. The anime reworking of the Manga storyline (season one covering chapters 1-37 of the 128 chapters to date) leaves out some interesting material, such as its Satire of the Japanese educational system, particularly for girls. A second season is to be broadcast in 2020. [SP]
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