The Promised Neverland (Season Two)
Emma is leading her party of escapees from the Plant, but how will she keep them safe, much less free the other captive children?
I should first note that Crunchyroll released the Second Season with very little fanfare; I didn't even realize the Second Season had been streamed until I saw that the Blu-Ray version was in release, and looked at Crunchy a little more closely.
Julian did warn me that there was a drop in quality in the later parts of The Promised Neverland. I'd say it was a different kind of story than Season One was, but I was still willing to give it credit for some virtue- at least until near the end.
First of all, with the children free of the prison of Grace House, the claustrophobic terror that lay at the center of Season One is gone. Oh, sure, the demons are in hot pursuit (and the show occasionally has to resort to a deus ex machina plot device to save our refugees), but the show never manages to capture the same sense of menace once the kids are "out of the bottle".
Back in Season One, Emma vowed to return to free the kids "within two years", and I had no idea how that was to be managed, but Season Two conveniently lets Emma stumble onto all the pieces needed to solve the demon problem. (The most important of those pieces had, in fact, been walking around loose for many, many years.) It reminded me a little of the story mechanics of Sagrada Reset, a show I tried to watch a while back and gave up on because it became clear that anything- ANYTHING- could be easily managed in its universe by just assembling the right people. Another that came to mind was the "good" ending of the Festival Appearing arc in Higurashi. Now, I'm really not a fan of utter nihilism, as I've said in other reviews, but in the Real World victories over major foes are seldom won without SOME loss and sacrifice- and to give Higurashi credit, there was that penultimate attempt with all the pieces for victory thought to be in place that STILL failed- but when the "right" ending happened, everything went so smoothly that it somehow trivialized all the horror that had preceded it. I had the same feeling in the latter part of Season 2 of The Promised Neverland. TPNS2 has the visceral hatred humans who've managed to survive the demons would naturally feel, but Emma's charisma somehow makes all that vanish. Another show, Shiki. also had hatred of humans toward an inhuman foe, and the good guys "won" in that one too, but it was an incomplete, pyrrhic victory involving considerable sacrifice. If you had asked me, I would have preferred a lot less sentimentality than TPNS2 indulges in, with an ending somewhere between this show's and Shiki's, one where all the good guys won, but not without scars and sacrifice, and where everybody's resentments didn't just suddenly disappear, but DID lessen over time. YOU know, the way things happen in Real Life.
Still, I DID like Higurashi, despite the corny flippancy of its closing arc (I was just so relieved to see those kids FINALLY come out ahead), and I would have been perfectly happy to go three stars on TPNS2- its main sin, after all, is that it's just a conventional crowd-pleaser compared to the brilliant paranoia of Season One- but there's that final business Emma and allies have with their demon opponents, where the show sets it up by showing us the head villains, and then...we're celebrating Emma's victory. The End. WHAT HAPPENED? I felt swindled by a narrative that seemed to have grown bored with itself, and just wanted it all to suddenly end.
This series is not the first to start off with a great idea, but have no clue how to keep its own fire burning. The first Rec is another humans-versus-monsters show that also ends without on-screen closure of some issues, but that doesn't cave to sentimentality as much as TPNS2 does, and manages to maintain its suspense throughout. The second Rec is also a struggle between humans and monsters, that starts dark, and STAYS dark. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: One blood-soaked suicide, and quite a bit of carnage (though the demons experience most of THAT.) RightStuf rates the Blu-Ray 13+.
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (11/11)
The Promised Neverland (Season Two) © 2021 CloverWorks
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