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"The Promised Neverland" Review

Micah's qualifications include watching anime and watching it while eating.

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Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.

The Promised Neverland delivers an amazing (yet still unfinished) tale of hope in the darkest of settings. Nearly all aspects of the show not only work well together but compliment each other so perfectly that they create a character-rich narrative that is perfectly balanced with the dystopian formula written for it.

It's quite difficult for me to place into words how amazing and hard-hitting this show is, but let me try my best. Let me list for you all the things that won me over so that you have an idea of why I thought the first season of this show is a phenomenal masterpiece.

I have four criteria that, for me, dictate the strength of a show.

  • Narrative
  • Characters
  • Soundtrack
  • Artwork/Animation

I'll give all of these elements an individual score out of ten. Then I'll average those scores to give an overall score for the show.

Okay, let's get into it!

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Narrative

The story for The Promised Neverland isn't necessarily groundbreaking or game-changing by any means. That's not too say it isn't good, in fact, I think it has a fantastic story. However, it's pretty similar to most others that exist within the 'dystopian-future' sub-genre.

Without spoiling too much, the show centres around three young, highly intelligent children. Emma, Ray and Norman stumble across a dark truth regarding the nature of the orphanage in which they reside, sparking a chess-match of sorts between themselves and their caretaker.

What really makes it stand out is the storytelling. Everything about the way each episode unfolds feels perfect. The pacing rarely loses its momentum (which from the start feels natural/organic) and only ever speeds up when it needs to reveal a dark twist that changes the course of the narrative.

The setting it's placed in is overwhelmingly grim. However, as the first 12-episode season progresses, you cannot help but be optimistically hopeful for our young protagonists. This is something that I particularly love about the show, this contrast between the dark, hopeless, violent world and the optimistic nature of our heroes. The anime pulls no punches in terms of its violence, which isn't necessarily depicted directly on screen. It's implied through small cuts and sound effects which leaves it in the imagination of the viewer.

After the first season concluded, I felt incredibly satisfied but also hungry for the next chapter. This is something that, in my opinion, isn't done well enough in shows lately. Most of the time I feel like it wraps up completely leaving no room for continuation or it's a huge cliffhanger that you have to wait another year for to get answers.

Overall the storytelling in this show really brings up the score for the narrative for me and makes the show a blast to watch.

Narrative = 9/10

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Characters

All of the main characters within the show, heroes and villains, are superbly written. Each character has their own motivations and desires regardless of what side they're on. There are two main villains who have very different goals and three main heroes who share a goal but have different objectives within it.

This makes each character feel more alive and personal. If you were to watch with a few others, everyone would likely relate to different character. This only adds to the genius of the narrative. Our three main heroes, Emma, Norman and Ray, all have separate objectives which sometimes works against them but makes it all the more better when they tend to line up. I found myself in love with each of the characters for different reasons.

If I had to nit-pick, I'd say that the supporting characters don't have a lot of depth. However, this is easily dismissed as most of them are quite young so they are designed to be that way in the first place.

To summarise, the characters are all fantastically fleshed out even from the start.

Characters = 8/10

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Soundtrack

When I first started watching, I initially thought that the soundtrack was the weakest element of the show- apart from the OP (which is an absolute banger.) When the soundtrack moves to the forefront, boy oh boy... It absolutely blows your socks off.

Most of the time I found that the BGMs were pretty forgettable, but the moment they move the music into the spotlight, it drives home hard. All of the music they use in these moments are quite intentional. In fact, one song in particular is easy to dismiss at the start but comes back in a big way towards the end of the first season. The payoff is unbelievable.

Even though the music, in my opinion, is the weakest element of the show, it's definitely not bad. When it comes into focus, it doesn't fail to blow you away.

Soundtrack = 7/10

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Artwork/Animation

The budget for this anime feels like it would have been high. I only say this because the consistency with the artwork between episodes does not falter. All the characters are beautifully drawn as well as the environments they exist in.

Part of the uniqueness found within each character comes down to how they're drawn and animated. As I stated above, I loved the characters, so naturally I feel like the artwork is phenomenal. The tones of each scene change depending on what's happening with the narrative, which makes every frame of this show no accident. Everything from the characters to the background is drawn with purpose and successfully conveys the mood/feeling of each event that occurs within the story.

Be it darkness, hopefulness, sinister intent or innocence, the artwork does not fail to convey this during necessary scenes. I honestly cannot fault the artwork at all.

Artwork = 10/10

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Overall

In summary, The Promised Neverland is unmissable for anyone ready for their next thrill ride. Its narrative is well-written and perfectly paced. The characters are unique and fleshed out with their own unique motivations. The soundtrack feels absent at times but is amazing when they need to drive important plot details. The artwork is consistently beautiful and never fails to capture the tone the story is trying to convey at the time.

The Perfect Neverland = 8.5 / 10.