The Promised Neverland: A Horrifying Premise, a Fantastic Follow-Through – Netflix Anime Review

This show has a disturbing set-up and uses the heck out of it.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Emma (Sumire Morohoshi/Erica Mendez), Norman (Maaya Uchida/Jeannie Tirado), and Ray (Mariya Ise/Laura Stahl) are three 11 year old children who live together at an orphanage called “Grace Field House.” They live an idyllic existence with their foster siblings and their caretaker whom they call Mom/Mother (Yūko Kaida/Laura Post). One night, after one of their siblings is adopted, Norman and Emma sneak out to give the child her stuffed animal, only to find the child dead at the hands of a demon. It turns out that Grace Field House is not an orphanage, it’s a farm and they’re the crop. Now the three have to find a way to escape along with their other siblings while evading Mom and her assistant, Sister Krone (Nao Fujita/Rebeka Thomas). 

The neck tattoo numbers should have been an indicator.

END SUMMARY

This show is one of the most aggressively disturbing set-ups I’ve seen in a long time. It hits harder than many shows because it’s not just a dystopia, it’s a dystopia focused on killing children. Almost all of it, at least so far, has been off-screen, but it’s still a horrifying idea that this happy orphanage is literally just raising children to be slaughtered. The show does a good job of keeping the pressure on all of the characters through that and it’s all the heavier because these are young people who normally wouldn’t have to consider their mortality. 

Yeah, that moment where your life gets torn apart.

What sets the show’s cast of characters apart is that these aren’t normal 11 year olds, they’re all prodigies on an epic scale. They not only are heavily educated, but they’re constantly trained to think critically. The explanation of WHY they were raised that way is a bit of a stretch (at least the one they gave so far), but it justifies having a hypercompetent set of protagonists so I can accept it. Against a normal adult, these kids would likely triumph without issue, so naturally their opposition, Mom, has to be unbelievably intelligent and resourceful. Watching the two groups scheme and counter-scheme is like watching a high-level chess match, sometimes literally. It’s tense and exciting and full of twists. 

She oscillates between loving and sadist very easily.

Overall, this was a really solid series. It’s rough to watch, because of the plot, but it’s worth it.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Great Pretender: It’s Leverage Meets Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Netflix Anime Review

Netflix brings us a new heist series from the studio that animates Attack on Titan.

SUMMARY

Makoto Edamura (Chiaki Kobayashi/Alan Lee) is a Japanese man who was forced into becoming a con artist after being the fall guy for a fraudulent corporation. He attempts to run a scam on a French man named Laurent Thierry (Junichi Sawabe/Aaron Phillips), only to find out that Laurent is a much better con man. Makoto chases after Laurent and ends up following him to the US, where he finds out that Laurent is a gentleman thief who steals from the corrupt. The two end up becoming associates after Laurent drags Makoto into a scam on a drug dealer. Along with Laurent’s associates Abigail and Cynthia (Natsumi Fujiwara/Kausar Mohammed and Mie Sonozaki/Laura Post), the pair travel the world trying to take money from the most despicable people on Earth.

They’re a fairly diverse group of thieves.

END SUMMARY

I was a big fan of the show Leverage, but I often found it to be too formulaic. It was a series about repeatedly committing elaborate heists and, as Rick and Morty pointed out, eventually having a big reveal that everything was “just part of the plan” gets old. This show manages to avert that a bit by having each of the heists consist of four or five episodes apiece. The first season actually only consists of three separate heists and, with so much time to spend on the stories, they’re able to focus more on the growth of the main characters, mostly Makoto. While it does still tend to have a “let me tell you how it really happened” finale, the fact that they’re spaced out by several hours and usually less dramatic than in films like Ocean’s Eleven helps to make it easier to deal with.

Yes, Rick you can make a tired genre watchable through character development.

Makoto and Laurent’s relationship is one of the more interesting facets of the show. Laurent is the more talented one of the pair and operates on a completely different scale from Edamura, however, he’s also somewhat colder and more unforgiving towards his victims. In the first heist, for example, Edamura becomes concerned about the welfare of one of the goons working for the target and his son, even risking everything to help them. Laurent would likely have just ensured everyone went down if it weren’t for Edamura. However, Laurent considers his business to be completely moral, something that Edamura starts to doubt after the initial partnership. Edamura frequently states that he’s getting out, but, naturally, after Laurent lays out the pitch to him, he tells the son of a b*tch that he’s in. Their relationship bounces between mentor and student, partners, and semi-rivals, which keeps it interesting.

And occasional wingmen.

In terms of supporting characters, Abigail and Cynthia both end up getting a bit more development than I had expected from the beginning and there have been hints that there is still a lot of ground to explore. I feel like Laurent’s background is the least explored as of now, but that is natural given that the show is really only starting. The villains that the cast deals with are also expanded upon better than I would have thought. While many of them are still unrepentant in their lack of care for their victims, they also seem to have some personal relationships that matter to them, which is more than we usually get for targets in shows like this. 

I want to know where Laurent gets those shirts.

Overall, I really did enjoy this show. It’s more character-driven than most heist series. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.