REVIEW: “The Promised Neverland” has one of the best stories of a modern anime

“With the media overload, especially during the pandemic, it’s very rare for a story to actually, completely, and thoroughly, surprise me,” says Web Editor Marcy Wilder.


Image courtesy of CloverWorks.

Marcy Wilder, Web Editor

Editor’s Note: This review was originally in the Feb. 1 “Catching You UP” newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.

“The Promised Neverland” is an anime from Clover Works Inc. based on the manga by Shueisha. Season one premiered in Jan. 2019 and now season two is streaming starting in Jan. 2021.

Season one follows an orphanage of children who wait to be adopted by parents in the outside world while they get tested on their intelligence. The series focuses on Emma, Norman, and Ray, the oldest children there at age 11, as they discovered a dark secret about the world they live in.

With the media overload, especially during the pandemic, it’s very rare for a story to actually, completely, and thoroughly, surprise me. Also, the plot twists and turns that happen throughout all 12 episodes of season one aren’t only there for shock value, they are well-written for when you reflect after an episode, it makes complete sense. The show follows a cliffhanger structure, but never undervalues the cliffhanger with the next episode, always starting right where it left off.

I watched the episodes with my friends over a voice call, and the discussion we had afterward about what we just saw only enhanced my viewing experience.

Every single principal character is perfectly defined in personality and design, which is a departure from a commonality of deep main characters and one-note side characters. All of the dramatic conflict works very well because of how well-defined the characters are, as well as making the opposing sides to the main characters have convincing arguments from their point of view.

The design of the show is gorgeous, especially the way animators use light. A trend I have seen recently in both shows and movies, is that if a story is “dark,” the lighting is also very dark, occasionally so dark you can’t see what’s happening.

The voice-acting, both original and the English dubbed version, is very well-done. Unlike other animes, the dub and the sub are well-matched in what the voices sound like, so there wasn’t a big difference switching between the two versions.

Season two is streaming right now, and if it’s anything like season one, it’ll be a wild but fantastic ride.

The Promised Neverland is directed by Mamoru Kanbe and is now streaming on Hulu, Netflix, and more.

Marcy Wilder is the web editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @MarcyJWilder.