Yakusoku no Neverland (The Promised Neverland) Season 1 Anime Review
Season 1 air date: January 1st — March 28th, 2019
Season 2 announced for 2020
Synopsis (from VIZ)
Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest kids at the Grace Field House orphanage. And under the care of the woman they refer to as “Mom,” all the kids have enjoyed a comfortable life. Good food, clean clothes and the perfect environment to learn — what more could an orphan ask for? One day, though, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth of the outside world they are forbidden from seeing.
Perhaps one of the best animes of winter 2019, Yakusoku No Neverland offers an endearing set of characters against the backdrop of dark fantasy and thriller, a fast-paced journey difficult not to become invested in. Episode 1 hits the ground running, with an opening scene of the three protagonists — bright with gravity-defying hair Emma, calm and sweet Norman, and the broody yet brilliant tactician Ray — at the edge of a forest, peering behind bars into a world they can only dream of…in their nightmares.
What ensues after the unintentional discovery of the truth is a quest of survival. What intrigued me most is the first 20 minutes of the first episode setting a bright and cheery stage, going through the daily life at the orphanage and the happy lives the children lead. The happy music and love shown by Mama, the woman who runs the house, belies the nightmare they live in.
Initially, I thought it to be an anime for a younger crowd, given the ages of the children (the trio are just under 12 years old) and the story initially being presented. But midway, the vibrancy suddenly shifts into a darker sort of urgency, one that threads together the rest of the story into a fast-paced, action-packed game of cat-and-mouse between the children and their enemies. Each character struggles with heartbreak, having been raised comfortably enough to believe they would be adopted some day, grappling with a reality no one could have possibly imagined. Their subsequent moves forward each reveal the philosophical underpinnings of what is essentially a war — does one try to save as many people as possible despite probabilistically a small chance of success? Or ensure the safety of a few if…