Original Run: January 8, 2021 - March 26, 2021 Number of Episodes: 11 Genre: Fantasy, Thriller Based on the Series Created By: Posuka Demizu and Kaiu Shirai
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for The Promised Neverland Season 2. Reader discretion is advised.***
With little to go on, Emma and Ray cling onto whatever hope they can. As the group journeys onward, they begin to learn the truth of their world and why they are seen as nothing more than food.
Along the way, they find friends in the most unlikely of places. Still, the chances of surviving are never high, and they need to push forward regardless.
“Should The Promised Neverland get a second season – a prospect I think is exceptionally possible despite the more than satisfying ending – I suspect most of this show’s minor problems will be addressed there.”
– Anime Hajime Review: The Promised Neverland (April 13, 2019)
This review you’re reading is from April 2021. I wrote the above sentence two years ago (damn near to the day) before this post went live. The latter half of it – the “I suspect most of this show’s minor problems” bit – is not important. The “more than satisfying ending” part, on the other hand, is.
The Promised Neverland Season 2 (Season 2)– the sequel to the series Anime Hajime named the number one anime of 2019 – had only to answer a single question:
Can a continuation’s existence be justified?
I have not read The Promised Neverland manga; I want to make that absolutely clear. Even if I had, this is NOT a manga review; it’s an anime review, and that is a critical distinction.
Therefore, as an anime, I did not hate Season 2. I found it interesting enough, and I cannot deny my inability to put the show down once I started it. Was this installment as good as its predecessor? No, not in the slightest.
Nevertheless, it would be unfair to say there was nothing good in Season 2 since it’s simply not true. There were plenty of reasons that made this show a fun, if not a thoroughly enjoyable, watch.
Along with awarding Season 1 the top prize in 2019, Anime Hajime also recognized The Promised Neverland’s leading trio – Emma, Ray, and Norman (the number four ranked characters of 2019). After watching Season 2, I can confirm that that acknowledgment was not misplaced.
For reasons everyone who has watched Season 1 knows, Emma and Ray were always going to play even more prominent roles in whatever a follow-up story happened to be. And without a doubt, these two were the best elements of Season 2, especially Emma.
A common word people in this show used to describe her was “naïve.” Sure, many of the arguments Emma brought up were similar to what I have heard from naïve characters in other shows. Unlike those other characters, though, Emma could back up her words with actions; she wasn’t all talk. When Emma said she would save everyone, that was a promise. A promise you wholeheartedly believe she was capable of seeing through to the end.
Emma was a step above a naïve character. She was a proactively optimistic one.
And while, yes, Emma tried to be a one-woman-army, her success wasn’t entirely her doing. Here is where Ray came in.
If Emma was the textbook optimist, then Ray was the definition of a pessimist. Unlike his friend, if left to his own devices, Ray was more willing to make sacrifices when necessary, provided they were for the “ greater good.” Ideologically, Ray and Emma were opposites, but for Emma, that was her primary safeguard.
Ray may not have always agreed with Emma’s point of view, but he loved and respected her so much because he knew she was not a mere noisemaker. Thus, Ray’s pessimism was like a chisel that chipped away at Emma’s more self-destructive tendencies.
There was a great scene between the two where Emma vented out her objections to a rather drastic but highly popular plan. This opinion put her at odds with the will of her group, including Ray. However, Ray knew Emma was internalizing her apprehensions.
To resolve this, Ray got Emma to express her line of thinking. Instead of challenging her every step of the way, Ray let Emma get everything out. He then presented why his and the groups’ take on the situation was the more logical choice (which, to be fair, it was). The kick was, Ray didn’t do this hoping to convince Emma to go along with something she felt was wrong. No, he wanted Emma to come to terms with what she wanted there and then because it would only mean disaster for everyone down the road if she didn’t.
Although Ray could see the complications with Emma’s goal, as long he knew she was confident in her stance, he would support her. After all, it was Emma’s optimism that got the group as far as they did. It’s true; when presented with a choice, Emma tended to choose the moral, more difficult path. And yet, it was that same tendency that saved Ray in more ways than one. Consequently, Ray – and the rest of the group – would follow Emma to the ends of the Earth at the drop of a hat.
This is where Season 2 got most of its power.
Season 1 focused more on fighting to achieve a slimmer than slim chance. Season 2 was the next step – making the most of that chance after beating the odds to obtain it.
This perspective could have served as the foundation for a much deeper, more meaningful, and longer story. Unfortunately, the possibility of a The Promised Neverland Season 3 is now virtually nonexistent.
I’m sorry for repeating myself, but I do not want any misunderstandings:
I have NOT read The Promised Neverland manga.
What that means is, I cannot comment on how The Promised Neverland was as an adaptation. Therefore, I cannot tell you to what extent this series might have skipped or ignored things from its source material.
That notwithstanding, I can say this. Despite not reading the manga, even I could tell Season 2 was a rushed job.
A crucial reason Season 1 was as phenomenal as it was had to do with it being a slow burn. The original series took its time to build the suspense and the terror of its situation. The goal of escaping the farm was a seemingly unassailable task. As such, it was the ultimate triumph when Emma, Ray, and their group pulled it off.
The moment the children left the farm, Season 2 was always going to have a different atmosphere. Season 1 told a horror-mystery story. Its successor was more of a dark fantasy because that was what the circumstances required.
This could have worked, and for the first few episodes of Season 2, it was working. Then it all just stopped. Somewhere during production, it was decided that this installment had to reach an ultimate ending. That was a fatal mistake.
If you had to pick which option would be the more challenging, would you go with:
- Escaping a highly guarded, practically impenetrable prison.
- Wandering the wilderness trying to find a way to travel to a different dimensional while wondering how you were supposed to break back into that same impenetrable prison to save everyone you left behind.
Well, if Season 2 was any indication, option two might as well have been a god damn walk in the park. Any sense of challenge was not a part of this season. Things always seemed to fall into Emma and Ray’s favor.
Remember how in Season 1, there was this intense chess match between our three heroes (Emma, Ray, and Norman) versus the farm staff? Do you recall how at any moment, the powers at be could whisk away someone whenever the hell they wanted? There was like, I don’t know, an actual possibility of failure, danger, and death.
Not in Season 2.
There was one moment when this show tried to set up a huge plot twist. It looked like the group was about to be betrayed at the most critical moment. And this came at the end of an episode, so it was meant to be a cliffhanger.
The problem was, once this scene was over, I stared at my screen and blurted out, “I do not believe you.”
The sequel to one of the best mystery anime to come out in years, and it failed to plant even the tiniest seed of doubt in me. Why? Well, up to this point in the series, the characters planned out and prepared for every single possibility to a near superhuman degree. It was always impossible for them to fail.
There were also times when the characters had zero clues to go off of, and there was no feasible way for them to get the information they needed. This was when good old Deus ex Machina would waltz in with the perfect piece to solve the entire puzzle.
- Character A: How will we get into this massive fortress without any weapons and no time to scout things out?
- Character B: That’s okay. I’ve only been relevant to this story for about five minutes, but I’ve got this full map that shows the entire layout of the facility, where all the traps are, and the location of the guards.
Then there was the final episode. Here is where Season 2 gave up any remaining pretense.
This series had laid the groundwork for a potential continuation. However, instead of saying, “Season 3 coming soon,” we were shown everything that could have been right there. A whole five-minute flashforward montage of what-the-f@#$-are-you-doing.
You’re saying there is more story, but you don’t want to tell it? Make a third season; produce a movie; I don’t care what you do as long as it’s not what you did.
Season 1’s ambiguous ending was perfect for this show. These characters were risking everything for the unknown; I mean, wasn’t that the point? Leaving their fate a mystery brought home the kind of story The Promised Neverland was. But if there is more to this tale, then tell it properly or don’t tell it at all.
I want to end this review with that first question – could this installment justify a continuation? The answer was a hard no.
This show was not a trainwreck; there were good things to like about this season. But if you’re expecting a proper follow-up to one of the best anime in recent years, you will be disappointed.
The first season is all you need.
Therefore, The Promised Neverland Season 2 can be skipped.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise The Promised Neverland Season 2? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
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