The Promised Neverland // Episode 1 Review
In The Promised Neverland, we are greeted with joyous and harmonious orphanage of young boys and girls. Everything seems perfect in this walled garden. Unfortunately for our pre-teen heroes, the world is not how it seems. Something about The Promised Neverland is unsettling to me. It is probably the dead children, but we can get to that later.
Emma, Norman, and Ray are our young protagonists. The three have been together in this orphanage they call home their entire short lives. All three excel in their studies far beyond the remaining orphans. Emma, the one girl of the threesome, has bright curly orange hair and the bright personality to match. Norman is more relaxed and focused. Ray is reserved and rather brooding for a child grown in this kid utopia. Unfortunately for these three, there are sinister forces waiting for their departure from the facility.
The Promised Neverland establishes very quickly that our protagonists and their 35 other brothers and sisters live contently with their matriarchal figure appropriately named Mom. She is also called Isabella, but more on that later. They don’t appear to live with much stress. Most fictional orphanages and foster homes always have a depressing setting. Outside of rigorous testing, the children are mostly free to roam the large and expansive garden, playing tag and other games amongst themselves. They are well fed with delicious food. It is a paradise that makes the children question why their friends who leave never write back or visit. There is a pretty good reason for that.
Leaving Before Turning Twelve
Unfortunately for the crew, one of the younger children Conny is scheduled to be “adopted” well before turning twelve when most kids leave. She gives a quick and sad speech apologizing for not being smart enough to stay longer. Also unfortunate is that she leaves a stuffed bear behind for Emma and Norman to find and attempt to return. Here we find out what Mom/Isabella really has in mind for when they leave.
During their attempt, they find Conny dead in the back of the truck. Laid out with a bouquet of flowers in her chest. Horror stricken Emma and Norman quickly hide under the truck only to overhear a rather disturbing conversation between Mom and two walking nightmares. The children are not at an orphanage but rather a farm. They are being bred to be eaten by the rich. This is why they were forbade to attempt to leave or go near the gate. Returning home, they plot their escape.
A Not So Promised Neverland
The title of the series is such a delight to think about. The children have been promised a land beyond what they know that will never exist. Thus a promised never land. It also nicely plays into Neverland from Peter Pan. A place where the lost boys, little boys that fall out of their carriages as babies, find their way to. It is delightful to think about how the title really spells out the futility of the situation for our lost boys and girls at the orphanage/farm.
Now back to the dead kids. Quickly building up and killing such an innocent and sweet girl in Conny was extremely effective. Her goodbye to the group had me quite concerned. I went into this show knowing to a certain degree what was going to happen, but having not read the manga I wasn’t familiar with the reveal. The unveiling of these monsters was rather quick and effective. We know roughly what they are; long clawed baby eaters. We know roughly what they do; kill people and eat their flesh. We also know roughly where they are going; to market to sell these children to the rich. They are terrifying.
Overall the buildup to the reveal is fantastic. Mom is shown initially as very caring and motherly as a good foster parent should be. Most curiously she doesn’t appear phased when speaking to the two monsters. She actually appears zombie-like in stark contrast to her gentler nature early in the episode. I am excited to see how Emma and Norman react around Mom now that they know her dark and disturbing secret.
The first episode of The Promised Neverland is a rather successful pilot. We are immediately into the drama and mystery of this human farm of orphans. It will be exciting to see how our three protagonists plot their escape from the slaughterhouse.
[Images via Official Site]