The Promised Neverland Reinvents Itself in Its Season 2 Premiere

WARNING: This following contains spoilers for The Promised Neverland Season 2, Episode 1, now streaming on Funimation and Hulu.

Season 1 of The Promised Neverland ended with Emma, Ray and their peers achieving their goal of escaping from Grace Field House. With that story arc concluded, the Season 2 premiere not only introduces a new goal and setting but a different tone and genre focus as well.

The Promised Neverland manga regularly reinvented itself, and the anime is naturally following suit. This method wasn't without controversy but, at least for now, the anime adaptation seems to be handling it very well.

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The Grace Field House story arc was first and foremost a psychological thriller, where the kids had to outsmart the manipulative Mama Isabella to prevent themselves from being shipped off to become demon food. Now they've made it out, their main struggle is to survive in the wilds. They still need to use their wits to solve mysteries, particularly in regards to finding the mysterious William Minerva, but the Season 2 premiere is less of a psychological thriller and more a hybrid of survival horror and whimsical fantasy.

The episode's cold opening, where Emma encourages her friends to treat running away from a giant monster like a "game of tag," demonstrates the new sorts of perils they face and sets the tone for the new season's brand of horror. It's no longer the creeping dread of knowing you're doomed to be eaten at a set date, but instead the immediate panic of fearing that you could be eaten at any random second.

This chase actually occurs midway through the episode chronologically; the episode soon flashes back. Before they're running for their lives, the children are able to explore their new surroundings more peacefully. With its glowing lights and wildlife that looks like sea creatures reimagined for land and air, the forest has an almost Studio Ghibli-esque atmosphere. The kids are able to manage basic survival tasks like finding water, and Ray's decoding of William Minerva's pen gives them a map. All this progress, however, becomes threatened once demons come after them.

Perhaps the most representative example of how this premiere blends the magical and the horrific comes at the end of the episode. Whilst hunted by demons, Emma and Ray each find themselves rescued by mysterious hooded figures. Emma's savior appears humanoid but clearly has something magical about her, while Ray's dashes in on what looks like a horse. The episode's cliffhanger reveals these two new characters are demons themselves! But are these demons to fear, or might they actually be helping? Without going into manga spoilers, the fact either could appear a possibility speaks to the world the show has established.

New episodes of The Promised Neverland premiere Wednesdays at 10 AM EST on Funimation and Hulu.

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