Yakusoku no Neverland Ep. 2: What pairs well with orphans?

A Chianti would be too much of a cliché at this point. Maybe something that normally goes well with veal… Anyways, Operation Prison Break is underway. Thanks to Norman’s sharp recollection, the kids pretty much know that they have about two months before the next unfortunate victim gets shipped out. They’ll just have to come up with a foolproof plan before then, so let’s get the logistics out of the way. Emma and Norman have pretty much ruled out the front gate, because it’s only open when the demons (yeah, they’re officially called demons) are here to pick up their next shipment. So the next best option? Why, all we gotta do is scale a super tall, concrete wall that surrounds the entire area. As you can see, walls don’t work. Walls can’t even keep orphans out (or in this case, in). So the only real problem to contend with here is, of course, Mama, and she’s no joke… maybe. When one of the kids go missing in the forest, the woman pulls out a device that helps her track all of the kids’ locations. She’s never had to use it much before, but things are different now. She’s going to have to keep an eye on these naughty troublemakers. Nevertheless, we see both Emma and Norman regularly pay the wall a visit throughout this episode, so it seems to me that Mama isn’t really checking her tracker as often as she should. I mean, she already suspects them, so what gives?

There are moments that I really love in this week’s episode, because I’m always a big fan of when scenes look as if they’ve been lifted right out of a horror movie. Mama’s creepy stare followed by the loud crescendo didn’t quite make me jump in my seat, but I could imagine it surprising quite a few viewers. And every so often, the anime cuts to Ray silently and ominously watching his friends from a distance. We already know that he knows more than he lets on. But it almost feels like Ray is stalking Emma and Norman. Might he resent them for not including him right from the beginning? Or is there an even more nefarious reason? I also like seeing Norman try to help Emma up at one point, but his hand is also trembling badly. This reminds you that at the end of the day they’re still just kids. Anyways, the only problem that I have with this episode is the same problem from last week: I just can’t push the silly demons out of the back of my mind. I honestly wish the story had held back on that revelation. Like instead of encountering the talking demons, Emma and Norman had simply stumbled upon Conny’s dead body. You would then wonder what Mama was up to. You would then wonder why Mama was killing them one-by-one. You would then let your imagination run wild. But since I know that the kids are being sold to rich, bougie demons for their delicious brains, I just can’t get as hyped up as I would like to be. Every well-executed horror scene ends up reminding me that there are silly, working-class demons trying to make ends meet. You may as well replace the demons with humans and the kids with cows. Turn this into a PETA original or whatever.

The kids are starting to fall neatly into their carved-out roles. First, it should be established that all three main characters are pretty smart. Norman and Ray appear to be slightly smarter than Emma, but she’s no slouch herself. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be here. Apparently, smart brains equal tasty brains, but I digress. One trade-off is that Emma’s got slightly more brawn than the other two. Norman might struggle to climb a tree, but Emma won’t. The biggest difference, however, is that the girl’s got the most soul out of the tree kids. Near the end of the episode, she and Norman finally decide to rope Ray into the equation. After all, he’s a super genius like Norman, so he’d be a big help, right? Well, Ray is also practical, and you don’t need to be a super genius for that. He argues that their chance of success goes down if they try and save everybody, and it’s hard to disagree with him. But of course, escaping on their own is a non-starter for Emma right from the get-go, because she’s not going to let another kid die. You almost want to cheer for her, because saving everybody is the right thing to do. It’s the only moral thing to do. But alas, we don’t live in an ideal world, so if you try to save everyone, you may very well save no one. And even if all of the kids do manage to escape, they have no clue what awaits them beyond the wall. What are they going to eat? Where are they going to sleep at night? If someone gets sick, how will they get treatment? Emma proudly tells Ray that they can change the world, but this means almost nothing coming from a twelve-year-old.

After realizing that he can’t convince Emma that they should prioritize just the three of them, Ray tries to work on Norman instead. Surely, the latter will listen to reason over emotions, right? Well, they’re getting to be that age where things start to change. Plus, Norman is so cocksure of himself that he just comes right out and admits it: he’s in love with Emma. And as such, he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure Emma never cries again. He even reveals that he’s ashamed of himself for not being as caring and compassionate as the girl. Nevertheless, he knows he’ll succeed, ’cause hey, he’s Norman! Arrogant, lil’ bastard, huh? But hey, if he’s never failed, then he has no reason to lack confidence. He has no reason to be unsure of himself. There are moments, however, where I’m not keen on our trio being comprised of a bunch of super capable geniuses. Being smart is one thing, but Norman apparently knows how to pick locks. Is that a skill that you just automatically acquire with a high IQ? So of course, this leaves me a bit wary of future plot developments. At one point, Emma is concerned that there might be listening devices or cameras hidden throughout the orphanage. Norman simply replies to her that he had already gone and looked for them. This is the sort of thing that I don’t want to see. I don’t want actual, legitimate concerns being brushed aside so easily because super genius Norman had already thought to take care of them.

Of course, things are never quite that simple, so right before the episode comes to an end, we meet new faces. First, there’s a kid to replace Conny, and she seems even more helpless and vulnerable than her predecessor. Second, there’s another adult in the room. Not only is she even taller and more imposing than Mama, Sister Krone already appears to have a rather devilish glint in her eyes. She’s the cavalry. She’s been called in to help keep the situation under control, and it seems as though she relishes the opportunity.

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8 Replies to “Yakusoku no Neverland Ep. 2: What pairs well with orphans?”

  1. There were some fairly solid moments this episode like Norman’s hand trembling. But you are right in that brushing aside the possibility of listening devices didn’t really come across well and that may be the weak link in an otherwise fairly good opening to the series.

  2. I don’t think you’re wrong about those points, but to me they’ve been minor details in an otherwise well-executed show. It might’ve been better to hold off on revealing the monsters, but it might’ve also been a disappointing plot twist if it came much later and built up the anticipation. For now I’m fine with it, and it lets me focus on the danger directly in front of them instead of wondering what’s behind all this. I wonder how it holds up in the long term though.

    Also, it’s weird how pretty much all actual horror anime is terrible, but something like Promised Neverland is genuinely tense and unsettling.

    1. I don’t think you’re wrong about those points, but to me they’ve been minor details in an otherwise well-executed show.

      I think it’s pretty clear I don’t dislike the show.

  3. Something that is not convincing me is the direction they chose in the anime is extremely simple and blatant, they cut the scenes abruptly to create artificial tension along with the music and more somber color palette. And there are some things that I don’t understand, like the decision to move the camera to the rhythm of the clock at the beginning, or the close-ups to the faces of the characters as they speak. And above all, the change of the characters because they seem more scared than they should,. Emma started to fake her good-girl face from the beginning, she needed to talk to Norman to realize that. And, in the same way, Norman was not so terrified after the scene of the meeting with Mama when going down the stairs. Emma had to endure it first hand but he remained strong to support her, the story at the beginning was not so exaggerated, while here, the anime tries too hard to provoke fear and tension.
    -I just say that there is a time and place for everything.

  4. hm, I think there;s something about this that remind me of the female -orientated apocalypse young adult fictions which is popular a few years ago. You remember Hunger Game, Divergent and the like? An apocalyptic setting, characters are confined in their space without much understanding (sometimes a lot of misinformation) about the nature of the world. A main female character who would start a revolution or shake the status quos due to her unwillingness to bow down to society norms (Emma is more similar to traditional shounen protagonist, but I think there’s some element there), a potential love triangle with a somewhat gloomy mysterious boy and a caring, gentle boy, a lot of surveillance from the government, or the one in chart, society or the word they know being some sort of experience or something with dark, hidden motive….

    It struck me as quite interesting. Yakusoku Neverland is a new manga, so maybe the author got some influenced?

  5. I like we’re seeing the trio started working together and the confidence they gain for that. Also like Mama bringing in help. If they’re always literally on Mama’s radar and she can get back up, she doesn’t need cameras or listening devices.

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