WARNING: This following contains spoilers for The Promised Neverland Season 2, Episode 4, now streaming on Funimation and Hulu.
Last week's episode of The Promised Neverland appeared to be a tipping point for the anime, proving that Season 2 was going to at least change a lot from the manga if not just abandon its plot entirely. Episode 4 of Season 2 pushes the show way closer to the latter. This heavy divergence from the source material isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does raise a lot of questions, and those who read the manga might find themselves disappointed or confused.
The big disappointment is the complete elimination of Mister, which most likely means the elimination of the fan-favorite Goldy Pond arc. Having an older, more jaded survivor of the farms reluctantly joining ranks with the kids made for great drama in the manga, but by the end of Episode 4, the kids have already left the shelter with no sign of Mister hiding around anywhere.
With Mister nonexistent and Emma already receiving the phone message from "William Minerva" (whose real name is revealed to actually be James Ratri) about finding the human world, it seems as if the whole Goldy Pond arc is being skipped over. At least the names of his fallen Glory Bell comrades were shown on the shelter walls this time, so perhaps more aspects of this arc will show up in different forms.
So what danger does the anime serve up for the kids this week in lieu of an unstable ally and a perilous journey to a hunting ground? For the first half of the episode, it's mostly basic survival tasks, including a humorous scene where Ray and two of the younger kids have to taste test a freshly caught species of land-fish to make sure it's not poisonous. Mamoru Kanbe's directing this season really seems to be emphasizing the calmer aspects of the kids' lives, perhaps to make the jolts of terror all the more intense in comparison.
This episode's big climactic jolt raises a lot of questions. Whilst heading to their next destination as provided by James' new password for the pen, the kids are chased and caught by heavily-armed seemingly-human soldiers. Who are they and how did they end up working on behalf of the demons? Though it's a bit disappointing the anime seems to be ignoring much of the manga's world-building, new questions like these could open up avenues. Of course, the soldiers don't last very long, getting gobbled up by a giant demon themselves.
All these changes are naturally going to be controversial, but at least one anime alteration that should please just about everyone is spending more time with Isabella. Now locked up in prison for her failure to stop the Grace Field kids' break-out, she's given a new offer from her demonic jailers that could win her genuine freedom. Caught in a system where she has to be monstrous to survive, Isabella is one of the series most complex and tragic characters. If the show is taking a risk on an anime-original storyline, it's wise to elaborate on what was already successful about the first season.
New episodes of The Promised Neverland premiere Thursdays on Funimation and Hulu.