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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BNA (Brand New Animal): Beastmen can be the Most Human – Netflix Anime Mini-Review

I take a look at Netflix’s new story about discrimination. It’s solid.

SUMMARY

Humanity is not alone. Since ancient times, the beastkin, humans who can shift into humanoid animal forms, have lived on Earth, but have been hated for as long as anyone can remember. They have finally managed to find refuge in Japan in Anima City, a metropolis built just for them. The newest arrival is Michiru Kagemore (Sumire Morohoshi/Cherami Leigh), a tanuki beastman, who was formerly a normal human high school girl until a year prior. Having grown sick of hiding from humans who now want to harm her, she heads to the city to find a cure for her condition. She gets caught up in a bombing attempt by terrorists and is saved by Shirou Ogami (Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ben Diskin), a wolf beastman with incredible strength and regenerative ability. Soon, Michiru finds herself embroiled in a massive conspiracy involving a large pharmaceutical company, a religious cult, and a beastman mafia. 

Weirdly, Michiru thinks she’s a raccoon for a while. Tanukis are way cooler.

END SUMMARY

Unlike most anime shows (at least as far as I have watched), this series was apparently completely original. While there is now a manga and a light novel series in this universe, they both were created after the anime was already developed. I think that may be why the style of animation seems so different from most other modern anime, seemingly pulling more from the style of Scott Pilgrim or other modern Western comics, themselves a blend of techniques, for some of the shots. It’s extremely colorful, containing a lot of day-glo imagery. The fight animations are pretty awesome throughout, although they get a little overblown towards the end of the series with the neon colors. Bottom line, the style may be what draws you to it or it may repulse you. It’s gonna depend on what kind of “purist” you are. Personally, I thought it was fine. 

The promotional art is a little more stylized, I’ll grant you.

The overarching theme of this show is discrimination, something that most animal-themed media seem to want to talk about nowadays. However, while Beastars and Zootopia both had some issues due to the nature of their societies being based around carnivores and herbivores, this series eschews that complication entirely. Deer beastmen can eat meat, lions can be vegetarians, they’re just regular people who were also born with these abilities. As such, they can stand in for almost any group that faces discrimination based on their birth. Throughout BNA, we see a buildup of violence among the beastmen that causes them to lash out, but the show subtly indicates that it’s because too many of them live in too small a space. In other words, if they weren’t forced to live in a refuge city because of discrimination, they wouldn’t be violent, but their oppressors use the violence as justification to keep them suppressed. If you can’t find a metaphor there, then I recommend reading up on history between 1930 and 1965. Any country, really. 

And Beastmen can be totally normal looking when not in beast form.

The reason why the message works so well in BNA is because the main character goes through a massive amount of personal growth and discovery throughout the storyline. Michiru was a regular human until shortly before the story begins, meaning that while she might have been aware of the bias against beastmen, it was not “real” to her in the way that it is after she becomes one. She, like most people, seemed to perceive Anima City as a utopia for Beastmen, only realizing afterwards that it basically exists only at the mercy of the humans, who constantly threaten to remove financial funding or business or, really, just blow it the hell up. Then, at the end of the series, we find out that there is a very powerful group who just want to “cure” all of the beastmen and damned if that doesn’t have a number of historical nasty parallels as well. 

There’s a great baseball episode, too.

Overall, just a solid series. It’s pretty accessible to almost any age group and, like I said, it handles the metaphor better than most shows. 

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.