REVIEW: ‘The Promised Neverland,’ Season 2 Episode 1

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Promised Neverland S2 episode 1

The Promised Neverland Season 2 (S2) is a highly anticipated return for fans of both the manga and the first season of the anime. Season 1 of The Promised Neverland aired in Winter 2019 to critical acclaim. Season 2 is a direct continuation of the previous story, tracking Emma and the children of Grace Fields as they fend off the demons that inhabit their steadily growing world. Here on But Why Tho, LaNeyasha Campbell has been covering Promised Neverland’s manga volume by volume. While its serialization has ended, the English volumes are still on-going, with the newest release being Volume 18. The Promised Neverland S2 Episode 1 picks up midway through volume 5 of the manga: perfect for readers who want to get up to speed quickly ahead of their watch.

Promised Neverland S2 episode 1, “121045”, picks up right where viewers left off in the first season. In fact, the episode starts in media res with the children of Grace Fields running away from the horrors they left behind. Behind them dashes a beast or demon, clashing with Emma’s single, huffed line: “Freedom is so beautiful… Yet so cruel.” It’s a satisfying opening that cuts to a brand new, haunting anime OP that’s sure to be an earworm as the season goes on.

Post-OP, viewers are returned to Emma and the gang in a resolutely lush forest, silently crunching their way through tons of leaves. The forest itself stands in stark comparison to the previously cozy Grace Fields, which had a tamed forest and a deliberate warmth to it. Instantly, the viewer is hit with the enormity of the world, which is beautifully animated. It’s excellent backsetting, and a stark reminder that the kids can’t go back to their small world. 

If anything, this huge, sprawling world outside Grace Field’s walls is their new home… potentially forever. Clearly, Promised Neverland S2 episode 1 is going to go about things very differently than the first cour’s opening. There’s no more safety for these kiddos. There’s just the harsh reality of the wild, wild world beyond what they once knew.

Quickly, Promised Neverland’s plot kicks in when the kids figure out a code provided by none other than William Minerva via Norman’s pen. Smart as the kiddos are, they quickly suss out what they need to do, thanks to his forethought. The kids take a moment to lament Norman’s loss, which is still a keen ache for the Grace Field kids and viewers alike. Norman’s presence -or rather, his lack of presence- is noticeable. Truth be told, it’s hard to see Ray and Emma stand together with their third companion just… gone. Still, as worried for the kids as viewers may feel, there’s a pervasive throughline of hope. It’s great to see all of the kids -really, their family- together again, even if Norman is gone forever. Yet with a smile, Emma reminds them of their goals, and the kids are back off through the forest to their destination.

Honestly, that’s one of the best elements of Promised Neverland. The bonds and friendships and sibling relationships are so powerful and sweet that you can’t help but root for the kids to find safety. That’s part of what made Promised Neverland’s first season so strong. I suspect that’ll be what carries this season as well.

Heartwarming moments aside, there’s still the reality that the kids aren’t safe. There are demons to contend with: demons who crave Reality ensues, as it always does in Promised Neverland. With this, we’re back at the beginning with the children running from a multi-eyed demon, rendered in CGI. Emma tells them to think of it as a game of tag: a nice sentiment that’s hard to remember when you’re running for your life! Still, it’s ultimately what protects the kids and keeps them sane as they fend off the demon and consider ways to take it down.

There’s a solid amount of tension around these sequences, especially since our rag-tag group of characters is so particularly vulnerable. While they’re not the most thrilling thing to witness, they still have enough there to enjoy. Full transparency: I’m working with previous knowledge from the manga, which might be why I didn’t find these duck and dodge moments super exciting. Still, these scenes felt about as they did in black and white.

All that said, there are two glaring elements in this premier. The first is the CGI. It almost always stands out, especially against the really lovely 2D animation. It sticks out like a sore thumb and almost never looks good. If anything, it kind of reminds me of a greenscreen, and at times, it looks like one too. While CGI in anime certainly has a place and has been done really well in many series, it feels a bit too obvious in Promised Neverland. Hopefully, the CGI will smooth itself out as Promised Neverland S2 finds its legs. However, I remain a bit… leary of that ever happening, and anxious for future episodes that feature CGI prominently. I worry it’ll lessen the impact of some of the really key moments coming up in this arc. 

There’s also the concern about pacing. Part of what made Promised Neverland‘s first season so thrilling was the battle of wits. There was no physical element between Isabella and the children, at least not until the end. Their fight was all about being one step ahead and outwitting one another at every turn. It was good too. In fact, some of the most engaging action scenes were times when Emma, Ray, and Norman displayed their genius-level smarts. Perhaps that’s why the addition of a physical element hits differently. 

The kids are no longer only using their minds to overcome a literal life or death situation. While no one has acted out of character yet, there’s this lingering concern that their intelligence and quick thinking will get put on the back burning. Honestly, the thought of a long, drawn-out action sequence isn’t…the most thrilling. Still, Promised Neverland S2 episode 1 is a strong enough opener that I’ll be here for the long haul with this series. Plus, I’ve got lots of hope that it’ll strike the right balance in the coming episodes.

Ultimately, Promised Neverland S2 episode 1 is a beautiful premiere and one of the strongest right upfront. I had high hopes for this series, and I’m glad to say this episode won’t disappoint. It jumps viewers right back into the plot of the series without hesitation. Plus, it hints at a wild, thrilling ride ahead as we delve into a new arc over the cour. It’ll be really exciting to see what all will be adapted during this season!

Promised Neverland S2 episode 1 is going to satisfy fans of the first cour a lot. It’s a bombastic opening to the next arc of the series, introducing new terrors, new threats, and new challenges for the kids of Grace Fields. While there are still loads of episodes to go, this first episode certainly marks Promised Neverland S2 as an anime to add to your watchlist this Winter season.

The Promised Neverland Season 2 is streaming now on Funimation.


The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 1 - “121045”
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TL;DR

Promised Neverland S2 episode 1 is going to satisfy fans of the first cour a lot. It’s a bombastic opening to the next arc of the series, introducing new terrors, new threats, and new challenges for the kids of Grace Fields. While there are still loads of episodes to go, this first episode certainly marks Promised Neverland S2 as an anime to add to your watchlist this Winter season.