The Promised Neverland (約束のネバーランド)
My friend recommended me to watch this series, thinking that I’d enjoy it. I actually did enjoy it despite being traumatized.
The Promised Neverland is about a group of orphan children trying to escape the orphanage after discovering that their “mother” is selling them off to demons as food.
The way I framed the synopsis doesn’t sound too bad. However, it isn’t the plotline that makes this series creepy but rather the execution of how the story is told that creates this eerie and uncomfortable feeling that the viewer will experience while watching the show. Every moment I felt terrified and scared for these children because they can easily be caught by their “Mom” and instantly get sent out as food for the demons.
One of the biggest moments of fear for me is when Don and Glida went into Mom’s study to find out what she is hiding and found all the toys from previous orphan children that got “adopted.” That was creepy because it seems like Mom was keeping those toys as rewards or mementos for the children that she sold. Also, in this scene and others, it’s the silence that adds to the suspense for viewers. Like any other horror movie, when we hear nothing, we get this gut feeling that something bad will happen. And thus, The Promised Neverland delivers on this silent suspense. I hate it but love it at the same time.
I also found the constant stares by Mom Isabella and Sister Krone to be creepy. The close-up shots of the two with crazy eyes disturbed me because they looked like they could be serial killers. However, it is also the fact that Mom has an innocent and kind persona to the children, but we know she isn’t. We see her carrying around the babies and playing games with the younger children and as a viewer, there is this underlying fear because you know what will happen to the children and they are unaware of it. Furthermore, the way that each scene is cut adds to the suspense and fear; most of the cut scenes end up being jump scares for me because these shots were of the wide-eyed faces of Mom Isabella or Sister Krone staring at the children.
Before watching this series, I questioned why it was called The Promised Neverland. You would assume that it has some essence of the tale, Peter Pan, but the only reference to the name is when the three main characters discover the word “promise” (約束 yakusoku) in a book. The setting, Grace Field House is crafted like Neverland, where an orphanage is a place for the kids to remain kids and be together forever. Emma, our main protagonist, desires to remain at Grace Field House with all her brothers and sisters; in which she wants all of them to grow up in peace together. However, The Promised Neverland alludes more to the fairytale, Hansel and Gretel, where there is an old witch that eats children, but in this case, we have a witch that sells children to demons that want to eat them.
Yet, the true horror of this series is that it is a metaphor for the human trafficking of children. The children are taken care of by a trustworthy person, Mom, but then sent out to be sold for food by demons and no one in the outside world is aware of it (or at least we think). Now if we apply this in reality, the true demons are the adults who undertake in this illegal activity of selling and shipping children to different parts of the world against their will for child labor or sexual activity. This is where the horror really happens for viewers because we can actually see this happening in real life.
After watching this series, I have so many questions that I hope the next season will answer. I want to know how this entire system started and what’s going on in the outside world where there are adult humans and demons (possibly living alongside one another?). Also, I hope that Emma and the rest of the group save Phil because he doesn’t deserve to die when he’s so cute!
Hopefully, season two of The Promised Neverland will premiere Jan 2021. You can watch the first season on Crunchyroll.
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