The Promised Neverland Season 2 review: Complex themes for a shonen anime

·3 min read
Emma, carrying one of the siblings, and Ray running away from a demon in The Promised Neverland Season 2. (Screenshot: Netflix)
Emma, carrying one of the siblings, and Ray running away from a demon in The Promised Neverland Season 2.

Director: Mamoru Kanbe
Cast: Sumire Morohoshi, Maaya Uchida, Mariya Ise
Language: Japanese with various subtitles

Streaming on Netflix and iQiyi from 1 September

3.5 out of 5 stars

This review covers all 11 episodes of The Promised Neverland Season 2.

The second season of The Promised Neverland continues the story from its first season, after Emma (Sumire Morohoshi) and Ray (Mariya Ise) successfully escape from Grace Field House with the older siblings. While they struggle to survive in the wild filled with all kinds of demons, they come up with a plan to free their remaining younger siblings, and children from the other Farms.

The Promised Neverland is one of the better animes recently, with a thrilling, dark fantasy plot. The antagonists are the demons who devour children, although there is no specific face given to these so-called higher-ranking demons — or at least this is so in the anime (more on this later). These children are specially bred in Farms with the facade of an orphanage, to become as intelligent as possible, and their smart brains are considered a delicacy for the demons.

In some sense, the plot strikes some resemblance to our current society. One of the similarities is how children have to undergo tests to measure their level of intelligence. The Farms are akin to schools, with the top performers continuing their education to reach their maximum potential, while the “bad students” get “shipped out” into the harsh working world first.

Another theme is the philosophical question of whether it is ethical to farm humans (or in our case, animals) as long as they live a happy life. One school of thought also argues that these lives would not even exist if not for the demand. This may be a debate for another day, but The Promised Neverland undoubtedly is imbued with some profound topics, which makes it stand out from other shonen anime.

The story for the second season is also far from predictable. Just when you think events will unfold in a certain way in the earlier episodes, it is skewed in a totally different direction. It depicts how uncertain life can be, especially for the children surviving in the dangerous world of demons.

This makes you wonder how they will achieve freedom, not just for the escapees, but also the children still in the Farms. Although the concept of co-existing with the demons is not entirely bad, it may appear too idealistic and simplistic, especially when there are only 11 episodes to come up with a resolution.

Moreover, the anime has removed some key events from the manga, such as the battle with the demon queen and Emma losing her memory, which took out a lot of juice from a supposedly plump storyline. Fans of the popular manga may be severely displeased with the turn of events.

Although The Promised Neverland Season 2 is still entertaining, it would have been even more exciting and intense to watch if it had been a more faithful adaptation. Should there be a live-action film for the second season as well, it is best if they don’t repeat the mistakes of the anime.

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