Travel into a dark fantasy world where children are given everything they need to thrive only to be shipped out as demon food.
The Promised Neverland by Kaiu Shirai, illustrated by Posuka Demizu, was published as a manga on August 1, 2016. It wasn’t until 2019 that the first season of The Promised Neverland was released as an anime. Having heard exciting things about this anime, I felt it appropriate to spend a night watching season one. The entire season was packed with beautiful animation, music, and a fantastic start to a psychological dark fantasy anime. (Warning: Some Spoilers Ahead)…
The season starts by introducing the three main characters Emma, Norman, and Ray. These three are close friends, top of the class, and some of the oldest kids at the orphanage, at eleven years old. It’s revealed that all of the children at the orphanage lived with Isabella, referred to as Mom. She is the one who cares for them, teaches them, and eventually walks them to the gates, where they will be picked up for adoption.
As the first episode moves forward, it is revealed that the kids are not allowed to go anywhere near the fence or the gates. Emma and Norman break this rule when one of the other children leaves behind their stuffed rabbit, when they leave for adoption. They rush to the gates with the mission of returning the rabbit, only to discover the truth. The children are not being adopted but are being cared for like cattle, so that demons may eat them. This revelation causes Emma, Norman, and Ray to plot an escape for themselves and the other students at the orphanage.
After finishing The Promised Neverland, I had so many emotions and thoughts running through me. One is that this anime is beautifully horrific. The creator, Kaiu Shirai, captures the elements of family, home, and security, and takes it all away within minutes. Emma, Norman, and Ray once had a loving family, a safe home, and no worries, but now they need to outwit Isabella, keep secrets from their loved ones, and try and stay alive long enough to escape.
A couple of things made me pause, like the ages of Emma, Norman, and Ray. I know that it’s a fantasy world, but the situations these three are put in, and are somehow able to survive only using their wit, is a bit of a stretch. It seems almost too much for any eleven-year-old, no matter the circumstances. I think that Emma, Norman, and Ray were all relatively flat to go along with this, which could be due to it only being the first season, but I do feel more could be added to the characters.
Regardless, I am looking forward to watching the second season of The Promised Neverland. Even though this isn’t a traditional horror, I find the uncertainty and crumbling safety that Emma, Norman, and Ray face in this show to be rather horrific. So, if you are interested in dark fantasy or psychological horror, The Promised Neverland would be my suggestion.
See our episode on Dead Talk Live, all about Horror Anthologies.