Any strong adaptation inevitably leads to polarizing changes. Even adjustments that are considered faithful, like Hunter X Hunter and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, occasionally still optimized story beats. The first season of the popular horror anime The Promised Neverland did so too, but Season 2 makes enough changes to be called something entirely different. If it does, we may have a reversal Fullmetal alchemist In our hands a show that changes the course from a faithful adaptation to a successful original story that still satisfactorily captures the intent of the source material.
[Ed. note: This story contains spoilers through the most recent episode of The Promised Neverland season 2.]
The second season starts shortly after the first one ends. Our group of brave young children fled the farm they had lived on all their lives thinking it was an orphanage. For the first two episodes The Promised Neverland The essential parts of the manga, which were written by Kaiu Shirai and illustrated by Posuka Demizu, seemed to fit in well while accelerating the pace. Then Episode 3 makes a number of fundamental changes to the story, removing the fan-favorite character known as “Mister” who serves as a catalyst for major storylines.
Adding or even rearranging characters and events isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as season one expanded on Isabella’s backstory and her time preparing to become a mom. However, fans noticed how the show appeared to be actively playing with readers’ foreknowledge of the story before changing it. In the third episode, one of the children in the bunker begins to play the piano and the camera pauses for a longer sequence to build up tension, assuming the melody will attract an enemy – but a secret compartment on the wall opens. In the manga, this compartment is shown to the children by the mysterious “Mister”, who reveals a large room full of abandoned firearms so that the children can defend themselves against the hordes of child-eating demons that rule this part of the world. The anime still contains that reveal, but instead of shelves full of guns, it’s an empty room that the kids leave as quickly as they discover it. The creators of The Promised Neverland
Episode 4 doubles that thought and rearranges the events so that in the first scene of the episode the kids find a solution to their benefactor’s mystery and a series of coordinates that could mean a much faster path to freedom than in the source material. It also introduces the idea of armed human soldiers sent in much earlier to catch or kill the children, and quickly tosses that idea aside. As if that weren’t enough plot and world structure, the episode ends with the surprise return of Isabella, the children’s caretaker and very first villain, in a reveal staged much, much earlier than in the source material.
The decisions have caused an uproar in certain Manga circles. Complaints from fans suggest that the show apparently skipped one of the more popular storylines, “Goldy Pond,” or at least changed enough of what came before that, even if the arc was adjusted, it would be significantly different. What is missing from the debate, however, is the idea that doing so wouldn’t necessarily harm the anime version of the story. On the contrary, it gives him the chance to get even better.
Up until this point, the show’s biggest changes were related to the intricate lore of the second half of the manga, which is known to be overwhelming, rushed, and full of plot holes. The manga never reaches the tension or creative height of the first arc of the story (told in the first season) and exchanges the initial survival horror tone for Just Another Battle Shōnen story. This has led to the belief that the show will end after this second wave of episodes, a rumor spread by the widespread Involvement of the manga creator in this season.
By doing away with the Goldy Pond Arch and the more “out there” story of history and bringing Isabella back, The Promised Neverland Season 2 appears to be correcting the manga to bring back the suspense and horror of season one. Instead of following a cast of 50, the show stays with just 15 kids. Instead of arming the children with weapons and letting them start a revolution against a whole world of demons, the anime so far contains the story of another exciting cat-and-mouse game with Isabella as the main villain.
The fifth episode challenges the whole approach and brings one of the worst parts of the manga at its worst: the time jump. So far, every episode of the season has ended on a heavy cliffhanger, only for the next episode to completely ignore any tension from this reveal. A sick room with “HELP” on the wall and the names of invisible children? Not brought up again. The invasion of the bunker by armed people? No Isabella’s return? Nada. Instead, the episode jumps forward a full year in time, breaking the pace of previous episodes as well as the tension. Now the kids are grown up, they have roamed demon land and are now so well prepared that they can easily blend in with the crowd in a demon village. Has Isabella done nothing for a year? Weren’t more soldiers sent to find the children? If the show only runs in the anime and tells an original story, then why jump all the way to a part of the manga that we have no connection to instead of paying off the twists and turns that you put in your own story?
This episode continues the trend of merely pointing out plot points or lore from the manga and skipping them. The kids live in a temple that is central to the manga’s story, but here it’s just an abandoned shelter. There is mention of something called “bad blood” that becomes important in building the world of the manga but is used as a throwaway line in the anime. Yet they still seem to be following the main story points of the manga, just much, much earlier. At the beginning we hear two demons talk about how farms are attacked and their cattle (children) are stolen. Then the episode ends with the shocking return of Norman, one of the main characters who allegedly died in Season 1.
Norman’s return to the manga is huge because we’ve spent a lot more time believing he was dead than we did getting to know him. When he comes back, it’s an emotional scene that opens the third act of the story. We spent less time here without Norman than with him. The payoff isn’t that big. Its inclusion in the anime version of the story gives way to the idea that maybe The Promised Neverland doesn’t plan on telling his own story a la Fullmetal alchemistbut blow through the manga chapters to finish the story asap – still telling enough of the story to be similar to the original, but doing everything that made it impactful in the first place. This brings the way back to the last season of game of Thrones reportedly reached the same ending as the books while treating its story as just a series of bullet points to be checked off while skipping all build and payout.
The Promised Neverland is at an intersection. There are only a few episodes left by the end of the season (series?). Right now, the show has the opportunity to build its own story without restrictions from the source material, correct the manga’s mistakes, and forge a new promise with the audience. There is also an option to treat the story as a commitment by rushing to get to the end and skipping anything that makes the story worth telling. May be pulling backwards during the anime Fullmetal alchemistdoes gambling feel as big as Game of Thrones.