I covered The Promised Neverland‘s first season when it aired in Winter 2019. I can’t make that same promise for the second (pun not intended) as I’m busy with work and I’ve already picked up two shows for coverage this season. If I can find room for more shows, I’d prefer for that time to first go towards an entirely new IP instead of a returning one (I will wholeheartedly accept any ridicule if I end up covering Gekidol and not this). That said, part of me doesn’t want to give up just yet so I’m writing one more post and I’m leaving the door open for continued coverage.
There’s a great deal of uncertainty coming into Season 2. I still haven’t read the manga and despite the source material ending last year, I’ve stayed in the dark regarding spoilers. Even going into this completely blind, I just knew that things will be different. Season 1 was great but the plot of orphaned kids escaping their creepy was a one and done deal. That whole arc has been resolved and the characters are now stepping into uncharted territory, both literally and figuratively speaking.
“Different” is definitely the keyword here, I would argue unabashedly so. Because Season 1 was set entirely in the Grace Field House, worldbuilding was largely confined to the perspective of our main characters. Now said main characters are out of said house, the floodgates are open and we’re seeing just how sci-fi and/or fantastical the setting actually is. The forest the kids explore is full of strange wildlife, some of them possessing the same appetite for humans as the demons pursuing them do. The pen left by Krone (I can’t believe I neglected to talk about it in the Season 1 reviews) is revealed to contain a holographic map created by William Minerva. That the world of The Promised Neverland is different from ours is to be expected but finally seeing how different it may be in a single episode is a bit overwhelming.
The survival aspect of the premise remains intact though it too seems to have been tweaked. Not that I wasn’t concerned for anyone’s life during Season 1 but the stakes was more based in mind games, the characters trying their best to keep a poker face and not to waste their best cards preemptively. That approach may very well come back though right now, the life or death stakes is more straightforward. The characters are dealing with the demons and other creatures giving them chase. Emma (Sumire Morohoshi) hasn’t fully recovered from cutting her left ear off and falls ill as a result. Ray (Mariya Ise) volunteers to be a decoy but exhausts himself and he is also trying to not throw his life away like he did before. There’s simply more emphasis on action and less uncertainty as to what exactly would befall these characters if they make any mistakes. That’s bad by any means. I’m still invested in these characters and their objective so seeing them in danger still wors. It’s just different is all.
By far though, the most potentially radical change is the portrayal of the demons. Judging by the premiere, this season isn’t going to bother hiding the demons’ full appearance any longer. That’s an understandable change; you can’t keep them hidden in the newly unfiltered setting. And to be frank, one issue I admittedly have with Season 1 is how inconsistent it is with how it presents this threat. Sometimes, they’re foreboding and a bit obscured from the framing. Other times, the show just flat out shows them in their evil lair. Conversely, I’m still a bit concerned that the demons might come across as sillier than intended. I’m sorry but I laughed when the demons pursued the kids with spears in the Season 1 finale and I laughed here when one of them hunts Ray with a sword in hand. No doubt, there’s an explanation for this but it is a baffling sight given how advanced technology in this world can get. That and I can’t help but think that the creator(s) of this show knows that guns would make the situation horribly unfavorable for the good guys.
More importantly, the demons (or whatever they actually are) are potentially becoming a greyer element in the show. Emma, Ray, and the others end up evading their pursuers thanks to the help of a mysterious duo – a girl and a warrior named Sonju. Upon recovering, Ray recognizes them as demons and questions why they are helping them. While this revelation only makes the premiere a bit more overwhelming, it is nevertheless an interesting prospect and it really isn’t all that surprising when you think about it. Surely, there are demons who would sympathize with the humans’ situation, just as how there are humans who willingly follow the system.
We’re definitely in uncharted territory for here but for now, I remain curious as to what lies ahead. It’s too early to feel differently anyway. I heard there’s going to be some original material written by mangaka Kaku Shirai. That strikes to me as odd as the anime staff has the entire manga to work with. However, that might mean that even manga readers will be in for a surprise.
Thanks for reading!