How the Promised Neverland Redefined Horror | Teen Ink

How the Promised Neverland Redefined Horror MAG

May 6, 2019
By mk805 SILVER, Tirana, Other
mk805 SILVER, Tirana, Other
8 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"I was saying and doing things that made no sense. All because I was too scared to drop my image." -Etika

This season in anime has been a blessing. With shows like “Kaguya-sama: Love is War,” “Rising of the Shield Hero,” and “Dororo,” 2019 anime has been a blast. But one anime in particular, “The Promised Neverland,” is redefining the genre of horror anime as a whole, gaining it a spot as one of the best horror animes of all time.

The plot of “The Promised Neverland” follows about 40 children in a range of ages between newborn and 12 year old. They live at a foster home called Grace Field under the protection of their “Mama” and “Sister,” the women who care for them. Every day, the kids have to complete tests and tasks to train themselves mentally. Three children in particular – Emma, Norman, and Ray, – have always reached the top scores on these exams. One day, the kids find out that the House, while posing as a foster home, is actually a plantation where the kids are shipped out as food for Demons, so they decide to plot an escape to save everyone. From the very first episode I felt compelled to keep watching. It was one of those first episodes that is so good, it hooks you instantly. It ended on such a dark tone that I had to keep going on. 

One of the main reasons this show is so good is the blending of character archetypes. For example, in most shows, you would have the edgy kid that wears black, the nerd that won’t get his nose out of a book, the overly energetic kid, and the super-fit athlete. “The Promised Neverland” cuts out all these clichéd characters by blending archetypes. Ray, while being the kid that’s always reading a book and opting out of physical activities, lets loose his emo side with long black hair and a pessimistic mindset. Emma, the caring girl who never seems to run out of energy, is also the most physically fit out of all the kids. This idea makes the anime much more engaging without needing to follow 400 different characters at the same time.

Another great thing that this anime has going for it is the theme. The theme of this anime is teamwork, and here’s why. Even though certain characters are revealed to be traitors, the group still needs them in order to escape. When Sister Krone, the woman who accompanies Mama, tells the kids that she wants to help them, they accept – even though they know that she is probably going to betray them. They need everyone they can get to help them reach their goal. Another overarching theme is that of betrayal. The plot twists reveal shocking betrayals and allow the show to explore how the characters deal with them.

Mama is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting villains that I’ve seen and is a textbook example of how to create one. While it’s true that the concept of “person acts like your friend but is actually the villain” exists everywhere, “The Promised Neverland” executes it perfectly. We start off feeling emotionally attached to Mama. She appears to be so caring and nice as she looks after the kids. There’s no way she can be bad, right? Once her reveal as a villain has been fully understood, your emotional attachment to her leaves the viewer confused. Mama’s power as a villain does not come from raw strength, but from the emotions of the characters that she has manipulated into loving her. Emma, Ray and Norman have built up their trust over the years to their guardian angel, which means that even though she’s evil, the kids are so afraid of her that she still has tons of power over them. 

Whenever I talk about this show and refer to it as horror, there’s always one person who tells me, “But it’s not even scary! How can it be a horror anime if it’s not scary?” Well, that’s where the psychological part of psychological horror comes in. Despite what many people believe, horror isn’t all jump-scares and ghosts; it’s often more subtle. This is one of the reasons that “The Shining,” another psychological horror, was so good. 

“The Promised Neverland” has many aspects that make it a contender for one of the greatest horror animes, although not everyone watches it for the horror. Its character depth, theme, and especially its treatment of a villain are things that caught my eye and drove me to write this review. I implore you to at least try watching it. If you do, I guarantee that you will enjoy it. “The Promised Neverland,” joins my list of favorite animes. I give it a 10/10.

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