The Promised Neverland Season 1 was an absolutely phenomenal show and considered by many critics and viewers as one of the best animes of the 2010s. The well-written characters, unique story and a palpable sense of horror made it so addictive to watch and an instant classic. This only makes the stark contrast between the quality of Season 1 and 2 much clearer. Season 2 has been a disappointment and that is highlighted in this completely unnecessary episode that basically recaps the previous events of the series.
Why Did We Need This?
Why was it necessary to have a recap episode in the first place? What needs to be further explained in this show? What in this story is so difficult to understand? The Promised Neverland has a very simple story. A group of kids is trapped on a farm by demons that want to eat them so they have to escape. A 10-year-old could understand this. We already watched season 1, we know already what happened, and it’s pretty clear to anyone that was paying attention to what it was about so why do they feel the need to tell us all of these again.
At least they could have presented this in a much more creative way. Maybe they could have told the story from the perspective of Phil or any of the other kids or maybe they could have shown old scenes from new angles. That might have actually been a little cool. But instead, they just exposition dump all the information that we already know using the same scenes from season 1 and from the point of view of the same characters that we’ve been following. This is the laziest and most boring way you could possibly convey information to the audience. It basically just spoon-feeding the viewers with the same stuff that they’ve had instead of letting them experience something new.
Now, I have not read the manga so I’m in no position to compare it with the anime. However, I do understand and sympathize with manga readers who feel disappointed with the cut content in this show. Now, I’m not against adaptations veering away from their source material however they should provide something that is at least as good as what was in the original. You can’t just cut content and replace it with nothing. I don’t know what content was cut or to what extent it was done but even I could tell that something was wrong with the story. The pacing in the last few episodes was just awful. None of the clues or mysteries in the show have been answered and I’m left with the feeling that none of the events that happened in the previous episodes actually mattered.
The only way I can see them answering these questions given the limited amount of episodes that they have is to rush everything which will probably ruin the experience. Remember Attack on Titan and how it took years and several major arcs to unravel all the mysteries of the show. Now, imagine if they rushed through all the major story elements like Marley and the Founding Titan in just a couple of episodes without any of the setup or build-up to their reveals. That would feel kind of underwhelming, right?
What They Should Have Done?
Remember, they only have a limited amount of time, 11 episodes, for this season. They should be capitalizing on every minute of those 11 to fully tell the story. Instead of wasting one whole episode on telling us stuff that we already know, why not instead take this opportunity to further flesh out the story. Why not incorporate some of the cut manga content in the episode? Why not explain to the audience why Norman is still alive, why Isabelle is in jail, or what happened to the people in the bunker? They could have also used this episode to fix all the pacing issues and missing plot details from the previous episodes. In my opinion, any of these options would have been a far more economical use of the time available than what we were given here.
I also noticed so much nostalgia baiting here. Scenes of the previous season were shown while Isabelle’s iconic lullaby played in the background. I could honestly not think of a lazier way to engage with the audience. It’s basically just reminding them of a better show that they used to watch. Instead of exploiting people’s memories why not make new ones for people to enjoy.
By the end of the episode, I felt that I had just wasted my time. I felt that I could have done something far more productive than bore myself with this episode. Is the Promised Neverland Season 2 a bad anime? No, at best it’s a mediocre action-adventure show but it’s far away from its glory days. It’s honestly quite saddening to see one of the most critically acclaimed series fall to such lows. Who knows, maybe the show will pull itself back together but I’m not holding out hope since there are only 5 episodes left and I doubt that’s enough to make any substantial difference. It looks as if this season will continue to be a shadow of its former greatness.