Hello and welcome back to Otaku Thursday! I’m going to be honest with you, I’m a little tired of doing first impressions, so I decided to take a break from that this week and do something else. And y’know, this was something I was waiting to speak on until I felt like I could and I finally, finally think I can. That thing? Well the title already gave it away: Promised Neverland season 2. Now, as you know, I really liked Promised Neverland season one. I did–I really did. So much so I went out and read the manga–even read it all the way til it ended. So when season two came out, I was excited. I shouldn’t have been. As I’m sure many of you who watched Promised Neverland season 2 know, it went bad–and fast. Manga readers were devastated, the average anime watcher probably even notated the pacing issues and plot weaknesses. So what exactly went wrong? While I’m not an expert, I am here to give my two cents on that question.
What even is source material?
Now I’ll start off by saying I don’t know why this decision was made, but I can only guess it was because the studio had little faith the show would continue to get off a payoff. Yes. Promised Neverland was good. But was the hype worthy of being able to carry it for however long it would air for? After all, while good, TPN was not seeing as big of a boom as say, MHA or Black Clover. So there could’ve been some hesitance at the studio to keep making the show past season two. This would’ve been fine and dandy if this had been years ago and say, the manga hadn’t already ended. HOWEVER, TPN’s manga had already ended (albeit early), when season two aired, and there was plentiful material when season two was announced. Which means that to finish the show in season two, they went ahead and cut out large portions of the source material and made some very controversial anime only choices. And these choices? Didn’t really work. One of the biggest changes seen in season two was the essential deletion of over 80 chapters of character growth and world building. For a manga reader, this was essentially storyline suicide for the anime. Especially when they literally did just skip these chapter and pick up the plotline those 80 chapters later. This meant missing out on essential growth, drama, and loveable characters. And yes–spoiler alert right now–as the anime stands, re-introducing Norman into the anime without showing the years that Emma and Ray had to essentially come to peace with his death, made his re-entry into the story feel extremely underserved. Ignoring those chapters of character growth also meant reducing our main trio to skeletons of who they were. Emma was especially lacking substance, feeling like the same character we knew in first season (instead of the badass she becomes). But of course, mixing up the plot, and ignoring lots of the source material meant for a rather weak story in second season. For really no reason.
Making an unsatisfying ending downright bad
Another thing the anime did, which was not entirely it’s fault, was make an already bad ending to a manga worse. Let alone they skipped so much of the source material, they still decided to keep the essential parts of the ending–an ending which many manga fans didn’t even LIKE. However, due to the pandemic, an already bad ending took a turn for a worse as it essentially became a glorified slideshow. Yes. Yes if you haven’t seen it, you read that right. Instead of consisting of animation, we got a slideshow that showcased the ending. This was a huge YIKES. Let alone that they didn’t even take the most interesting part of the ending which–SPOILER ALERT–was Emma’s sacrifice. In my opinion, that was like the one part of the manga ending I thought was alright because I love a bittersweet ending. The anime? Totally ignored this and gave everyone a super happy ending. And again, this was a super happy ending that DIDN’T feel deserved. Again, this is in due part to the pandemic which is likely why the last episode was just a slideshow, but it doesn’t excuse the bad writing of a bad ending.
Now, removing myself from the view that I had read the manga and knew everything they were skipping, things just–didn’t make sense and the show had a serious pacing issue. Like honestly, if I was watching it with no context–I’d be so confused on certain things. How did they stand a chance against guns? What are the chances Norman found them at random? Are there are other farms then? Can we learn more about them? Should we even care about them? NO?? WTF is this Lambda stuff? Why did Isabella pursue them? Why should I even care about this traitor dude? So many questions, so little time. Not only that, but the pacing was just OFF. Sure, TPN is supposed to be a thriller but so many things felt so RUSHED. It was not good. And the pacing was in part due to the characters making random ass decisions that didn’t have context. Honestly, I feel like I gave it a somewhat pass on pacing because I knew how much they were skipping, but without that knowledge–it just would’ve felt unbearable to me. Some episodes were just action, some just talking. Again, everything felt shaky and just not properly thought out.
So I’m not going to spend time talking about the episode itself, but rather that it was on episode 10 did the scriptwriter credit completely disappeared from this point on (fair–at this point there was only two eps left). This, to me, is unheard of. WHICH means that either they somehow proceeded with these last two episodes without a scriptwriter/official script, or the writer wanted no credits to the terrible script. Either way you look at it, that’s pretty bad.
So what went wrong with Promised Neverland season 2? A LOT. But we don’t really know the productions reasoning for why. The first season was amazing, there was so much hype for it, and there was plenty of source material. But season 2 was just plain ole’ bad. Bad no matter how you looked at it. Bad if you were only an anime watcher. Somehow WORSE if you were a manga reader. I wish I could blame the terrible decisions on lack of funding or the pandemic, but I just can’t. Something happened for some reason, and now TPN is going to forever be a dark spot in the CloverWorks anime roster. Because CloverWorks normally makes good anime. They have made a LOT of good anime. This was just somewhere they went wrong. But at the end of the day, TPN season 2 may live on infamy as being the worst anime-manga adaption of recent years.