The Promised Neverland Anime Rushes One of the Manga’s Most Emotional Twists

WARNING: This following contains spoilers for The Promised Neverland Season 2, Episode 5, now streaming on Funimation and Hulu.

In the original Promised Neverland manga by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu, there are 44 chapters between Norman's sacrifice and the reveal to readers that's he's actually alive. It's another 44 chapters between that reveal and his reunion with Ray and Emma. In the anime, those 88 chapters have been cut down to a mere seven episodes, sapping the reunion of its emotional impact.

It was already known that the Goldy Pond arc, the part of the manga where the Norman reveal occurs, was being cut from the anime. With a six-month time skip between Season 2's fourth and fifth episodes, the Cultivada arc, which established essential aspects of the series' mythology, has also been eliminated. While the manga also included a time skip, the passage of time there felt more natural because the story had spent more time showing the kids' adventures before the skip. The anime, in contrast, has practically eliminated all of the adventures up to this point.

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Despite what some hardcore fans might believe, changing an anime from its source manga is not inherently a bad thing. There could be something interesting about an alternate take on The Promised Neverland that's less concerned with mystery-solving and more focused on the drudgery of survival. To its credit, this episode has some good scenes tackling how Emma's lost her optimism after so much time doing nothing more than barely supporting the other kids.

If The Promised Neverland anime is truly going an original storytelling route, however, it shouldn't be treating plot events from the source material as mere bullet points to check off without proper build-up. In the manga, finding out Norman was alive was a genuine shock. After that reveal, a reunion was inevitable but separating the characters for so long made the reunion all the more emotional. By this point, Emma and Norman's experiences had changed them in such different directions that they now had a real philosophical conflict over how to deal with the demons.

The circumstances in which the reunion occurs are also way too convenient and not at all believable. Somehow the kids have been disguising themselves as demons to acquire food and getting away with it for six months, but only now do any of the demons realize they smell like humans and of course it happens to be the day Norman's around to save them.

At this point, not even halfway through Season 2, it just feels as if Emma hasn't really been through enough to make their divergent arcs as powerful as they should be. This really should have been a season finale reveal, if not part of a third season. Hopefully, Norman's story is told well in next week's episode. If the horrors of the Lamba farm and the introductions of both Norman's new allies and the main antagonist Peter Ratri are handled properly, rushing through to this point can be at least somewhat forgiven.

New episodes of The Promised Neverland premiere Thursdays on Funimation and Hulu.

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