This season, Beneath the Tangles will be offering dual posts each week for The Promised Neverland, one for viewers who are new to the series and one for those who have read the manga. This post is for beginners and will only include spoilers up to the episode being discussed. We ask that you avoid any spoilers from the manga if you comment below. If you would like to discuss spoilers and other content from the manga, please read thathilomgirl’s posts for the series.
Episode two of The Promised Neverland presented the problems that Emma, Ray, and Norman must overcome. With only a few months until the next shipment, and maybe less time if Mother discovers them, in this episode the trio begins to hatch a plan.
One of the issues they have to deal with is that of the tracking devices. How do they work? And where are they located? Ray has some thoughts about the earlier, while Emma, who thus far has been presented as the heart and muscle, but not so much as the brains, figures out the latter. Determining that the new girl, Carol, would exhibit scars or other signs of an implant, she examines the girl and discovers that the devices are inserted into the earlobe, where they can be easily torn asunder (demons surely don’t want to consume radios with their tasty child flesh, after all).
This is smart writing. Really smart. What’s impressed me so far about The Promised Neverland is that it’s written realistically, by which I mean the mangaka creates a world with certain rules and doesn’t cheat them. This world presents certain problems. The kids are given talents that may help them overcome, but they don’t do so by deux ex machina or some other cheating mechanism; if they are to solve these problems and escape, they have to use their brains and figure out something that works within their world. If they don’t, they’ll die.
This is precisely what attracts me to a totally different series, Game of Thrones, and more so to the books on which the series is based, from the A Song of Ice and Fire series. George R.R. Martin famously takes his time writing his novels because he won’t be satisfied with anything less than a story that tells itself. Armies are overwhelmed, kingdoms conquered, and heroes unceremoniously slaughtered because that’s where the world of ASOIAF takes the story. There’s no cheating, as those of us who are still crying about the Red Wedding know all too well.
And it appears The Promised Neverland is the same, which is what puts me more on edge than sudden jumpy scenes, like when Sister Krone finds Emma in hide and seek. Scarier than that is the sister herself. She is strong, ambitious, and crazy.
Krone feels like the secondary boss, the character who is going to take the trio to the very edge of losing, but who will eventually be defeated. She’ll make it difficult, though, and that will be part of the fun. Mother, however, remains fearsome, a character that could be considered one of the great villains in anime before is all said and done.
Still, she’s not at the top of “food chain.” In this episode, she reports to her superiors, including “Grandmother,” who gives instructions from a “boss.” But here, I wonder if the series is making a mistake. We get a glimpse of the demons in episode one (incredibly effective), but a second glimpse here is not particularly memorable. Like the movie Signs, I’d rather not see the enemy; they’re much scarier when left in the shadows.
On the flip side, the mention of the children being prepared for Tifari is alluring. What exactly is Tifari? A festival of some kind? A religious rite? An annual feast? Perhaps all of this and more? Judging by the brief conversation among demons, its a crucial event. What if Tifari is central to demon society, central to keeping it alive? Could that be why Mother is so eager to make her plan to succeed and why there’s so much emphasis placed on her farm this year? If so, the trio’s plan could save not only the orphans, but humanity itself.
But that’s all very far away. For now, Emma, Norman, and Ray must hatch a plan while staying out of trouble. There’s a little fun to be had in doing so, as least for viewers, as they train the kids in a nice little montage. In that moment, the series suddenly seems like its namesake (at least what I imagine is the source of its name), with the Peter Pans of the group teaching their Lost Boys (and Girls) how to fly.
Though in this retelling, one of the Lost Boys might actually be a pirate in disguise.
The Promised Neverland can be streamed on Crunchyroll.