I don’t think I’d want to play that version of tag…
Evidently, The Promised Neverland is still in the set-up phase and it wouldn’t surprise me if the single cour stays that way until the very end. While a slow burn is on the horizon, I still find the main trio planning their escape in minute detail pretty engaging. Emma particularly shines this episode as she not only discovers that the trackers are implanted on everyone’s ears but also devises a smart plan to get everyone fit for escape via the most brain intensive version of tag. I’ll admit that these characters do seem a bit too smart for someone their age but I think I’ll have to let it slide given the way they’re raised and you need them to be this intelligent in order for the story to even work.
Since she was introduced at the end of the last episode, it’s only natural that Sister Krone would get some screen time here. Maybe because it’s 2019 and people have become very sensitive about representation, I couldn’t help but take some concern with Krone’s character design. I don’t want to harp too much since I doubt there’s any sort of statement being made but if someone told me they took offense with how she’s drawn in any way, I don’t think I could blame them.
Looking past that, I am liking how Neverland differentiates Krone from Isabella in terms of villainy. Compared to the veteran caretaker (“Sister” and “Mama” even appear to be designated ranks), Krone is a lot more expressive. She’s more vividly animated and Nao Fujita’s performance as the character exudes a lot of enthusiasm and eccentricities. Because of the way Krone acts, she is also lot more overt with her efforts to catch Emma, Norman, and Ray red-handed. A big example is when she volunteers to be It for one round of tag. Not only can she outrun most of the kids but she also proves to be quite the psychologist, enticing kids to walk out in the open by cutting shapes into leafs and even openly psychoanalyze the main trio’s respective flaws. It’s essentially a taunt at the trio, mocking their efforts as futile. Emma ends up losing the round because she chose to try and save two toddlers, proving to Krone that she is too concerned about other people. Norman and Ray manage to win thanks to their teamwork though it’s worth noting that it was easier to outsmart Krone when everyone else is eliminated.
Krone being a huge obstacle for the children is concerning enough though the fact that the caretaker doesn’t see eye to eye with Isabella merits attention too. For whatever reason, Isabella hasn’t immediately reported Emma, Norman, and/or Ray even though she appears to suspect them the most out of all the orphans. It’s hard to tell why exactly. I highly doubt it’s because she’s attached to her children since she has no problem shipping them out on a regular basis. Maybe she just wants to be absolutely sure she found the culprit but Krone is kind of right that it’s so obvious who the suspects are and it’d be easier, maybe even better, to just report them. Thus, Krone decides that she’ll catch the trio herself, take all the credit, and usurp Isabella’s position. Krone might be an enemy but it is interesting to see that she could very well oppose her superior if the opportunity arises.
There’s also the matter of there apparently being a spy in the orphanage. Right now, all the signs are pointing towards Gilda, that green-haired girl with glasses with a lot of conspicuous shots of her looking at Emma with concern or suspicion. That she really wants to know what happened to Conny raises some alarms too. It’s possible that she is just a red herring and the spy is someone else though if that is the case, you’d think there’d be foreshadowing involving multiple suspects and not just one. Frankly, the best hint at the existence of a spy was during one of the trio’s conversations with the “camera” situated behind the bushes. Not only does it make you assume they’re being watched but it also obscures the identity of the observer. Had Neverland just stuck with that scene, I think the show could’ve sold Emma’s paranoia at the end of the episode even more.
To be fair though, the only part that I really took major issue with was a scene cutting to the demons sitting in a council room, plotting their next course of action. Part of what I really liked about their introduction in Episode 1 was how much of that scene was framed from Emma and Norman’s perspective. They struggled to get a good look because they were hiding under a truck and the emphasis of close-ups and shadow effects really helped sell the terror these monsters are evoking to them. In this new scene, they’re drawn at waist level from a very basically composed shot and you lack the context that it’s mere children looking at them. In other words, they don’t feel that intimidating in this particular instance and could damage their gravitas in the long run. The smart thing would’ve been to keep the show entirely framed from the viewpoints of the children at the orphanage. Only show the demons when it is absolutely necessary to keep them foreboding. After all, not knowing and seeing much can be a powerful tool in crafting terror. You don’t really need a throwaway scene with them onscreen. I think the one, now two, caretakers at the orphanage are villainous enough.
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