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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Netflix Review – Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (Season 1)

Netflix releases an anime set in a generic fantasy world.

SUMMARY

A while ago, the gods descended from the heavens in order to have a fun time. They limited their powers so that they could experience the world more like mortals, but choose mortals to empower who join their groups, called “familias.” A number of them set up in the town of Oraria, located next to the entrance to an underground labyrinth creatively called the Dungeon. The goddess Hestia (Inori Minase/Luci Christian), unfortunately, only has one member of her familia, a young man named Bell Cranel (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryson Baugus). Despite being a level 1 adventurer (yes, they have levels), Bell falls in love with the powerful swordswoman Ais Wallenstein (Saori Onishi/Shelley Calene-Black). Unbeknownst to Bell, his crush actually causes him to develop the rare skill Learis Freese, which makes his strength grow rapidly. Bell soon tries to win Ais’s attention while making the Hestia Familia the best. He’s later joined by helper Lilliluka Arde (Maaya Uchida/Hilary Haag) and armor smith Welf Crezzo (Yoshimaasa Hosoya/David Wald).

IsItWrong - 1Hestia
The one on the right who looks like a super-endowed teenager is the immortal goddess.

END SUMMARY

Someone advised me to check this anime out and, as I’m a nerd, I get why. This show pretty much follows the classic RPG rules, including the characters actually having stat blocks involving their strength, dexterity, etc. You get experience from slaying monsters, which allows you to raise your stats, which allows you to slay bigger monsters, rinse and repeat. When you kill monsters, they release magical crystal shards (because why not?), which can be sold or used to craft magical items. Monsters get stronger the deeper you go in the dungeon with “bosses” every few floors. However, sometimes monsters can make their way closer to the surface, which means that it’s important to keep a supply of strong adventurers going deeper and deeper in order to keep the population of strong monsters lower. There are also “free levels” where there are no monsters, just to keep it fair. Like I said, it’s basically just a traditional JRPG.

IsItWrong - 2Minotaur
Additionally, the “boss” monsters that almost kill you later are the things you easily destroy.

The thing that’s supposed to make it interesting is that it is more of a character-driven comedy than an adventure series. Bell is extremely awkward when around Ais, which is sometimes amusing, but completely oblivious to the fact that a number of other women around the town are attracted to him. It’s a fairly typical harem structure that Anime has adopted since Ranma ½ and Tenchi Muyo helped popularize it. The problem is that most of the characters here are just way too generic to make it work. There’s nothing about their personalities or characters that really feel unique to this show. In Ranma ½, characters would have descriptions like “Martial Arts cross-dressing chef who fights with a giant spatula.” Here, the description is “protagonist with a crush and tragic backstory.” Yes, the idea of literal gods and goddesses roaming the Earth and having competing teams is fun, but there aren’t really any stakes to anything involving it, so it doesn’t help much. 

IsItWrong - 3Lili
She’s a catgirl who can carry a big backpack, but that’s still somehow not compelling.

Overall, the monster and world designs were fun, and the elements that involved actual dungeon-crawling were entertaining, but I just couldn’t get into it. If you are a big anime person, you might like this, but I just didn’t care about any of the people. The series is apparently based on a bunch of light novels, so maybe those are better.

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.