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Yakusoku no Neverland – 03 »« Yakusoku no Neverland – 01

Yakusoku no Neverland – 02

「131045」

Who doesn’t love a good monster? Every summer millions flock into movie theatres to get their fill of scary beasties. Sometimes it’s in the form of yet another remake of some old franchise, starring a giant, possibly radioactive, lizard. Sometimes it’s a pulpy thriller where the monster is a human who is nonetheless capable of grossly inhuman acts. Often, though, in many monster movies the actual monster doesn’t actually spend that much time on screen at all. In horror we dread much more opening that creaking door than what is actually behind it. The footsteps of the T-Rex shaking a glass of water has more impact than a bunch of animatronics shambling about. Cloverfield was all about hiding the monster from the viewer. Why do they do this? We paid good money for scary monsters! Well, mostly it’s a testament to human imagination. We’re much better at scaring ourselves than anything on-screen can. When the monster is not seen, but implied, we anticipate it with gripping paranoia. We’re hooked, on the edge of our seats. After the scare is revealed we might scream a bit but then it’s over and we calm down. The essence of horror is the unknown.

The corollary is that information is the antithesis of horror. The more we know about something, the less scary it is. Thus I was surprised that this episode of Yakusoku no Neverland spend much of its time not just explaining everything, but showing that our protagonists also properly understood everything. They knew that they had left the rabbit behind and alerted ‘Mother‘. They scoped out the House and have a good idea of its layout. They have a plan and the necessary skills to enact it. Heck, they even realise that, in true young adult fiction tradition, that what awaits outside the walls is probably horrible dystopia. Sometimes I wondered if the children don’t in fact know too much. I mean, where would they even learn how to pick a lock? Or the words ‘tracking device’? I know there’s something about ‘tasty brain meats’, but why teach these children anything useful at all? If I was running this place — not that I’d ever run a nightmarish home that farmed children as food for demon-aliens (again) — I wouldn’t even tell them that there’s anything outside the orphanage. Pretend the children leaving were raptured away by angels or something. Or maybe teach them that being eaten by horrific netherbeasts is just part of the circle of life.

That said, it’s actually rather refreshing to have protagonists that are actually competent. You can tell that Yakusoku no Neverland is not your typical shounen series because the protagonists are actually intelligent (even if one of them is perhaps too idealistic to live) and don’t trip over their own shoelaces at the most inopportune times just for the sake of drama. Part of the reason I enjoyed Boku no Hero Academia is that it had a protagonist who tried to solve problems with his head instead of (just) GUTS and FRIENDSHIP, and even he started weak and needed training montages and everything. So let’s have some competent kids for a change. We need something to appeal to the ‘young and tasty geniuses’ demographic.

And even if our trio are fully cognizant of the danger they are in and what they must do, there can still be scares and thrills in the best laid plans going awry. At the end of the episode we were introduced to Sister Krone (a Germanic name, but the similarity to ‘crone’ is difficult to ignore). If we’re still adhering to the Roald Dahl model (and I definitely think Yakusoku no Neverland is, deliberately or not) then adults are, in general, bad news for children. So more obstacles have arisen even before the kids have executed their plan. And perhaps despite all their genius and competence they had no chance of success from the very beginning. That is the realm of Lovecraftian horror, where struggle leads only to despair and knowledge only to madness. All that is left is an existential dread over our own insignificance.

Also, Norman is giving Emma the finger. Ah, cultural differences, you’re an endless source of unintentional amusement.

January 18, 2019 at 9:12 am
15 comments »
  • January 18, 2019 at 9:26 amsosbrigade1991

    Not only is this show really good but it’s also incredibly refreshing to have a popular shounen series that’s still going strong that has a very competent young girl in the lead role, and without shred of fanservice to boot. Who was the last one? Maka? I’m hooked on this series!

  • January 18, 2019 at 10:18 amzztop

    Neverland only has 12 episodes to work with; likely it’ll just cover up to the manga’s 1st arc – the orphanage escape.

  • January 18, 2019 at 6:48 pmYuhsaku

    Seems they skipped the part where the mom gave them chores to keep an eye on them while waiting for Sister Krone’s arrival.

    • January 22, 2019 at 12:15 amSuicuneSol

      Show Spoiler ▼

      I’m also noticing a lot of exposition has been cut. In particular, the internal thoughts of Isabella (Mother) are removed so we don’t know what she’s thinking.

  • January 18, 2019 at 7:50 pmstarss

    Would you like some tension with your salt? I bet you can’t cut it with a knife!

  • January 18, 2019 at 7:53 pmstarss

    I find it odd that 11 year olds are using SAT-level vocabulary, much less understanding what’s going on and thinking up elaborate plans. Also I assumed each ep was named after an orphan’s tag which means I had expected another one to get killed this week. Nothing like that happened.

    • January 22, 2019 at 12:21 amSuicuneSol

      Remember these kids are exceptionally smart, especially Norman. They were raised to be so. And kids who skip grades do exist IRL.

      …as for elaborate plans, you haven’t seen anything yet. (lol)

  • January 18, 2019 at 9:55 pmSpitFire

    Very cleaver to be using kids as a plot device to serve pity. Still, I am still seeing this as a meat-eating analogy.

    Being preyed upon is in our DNA to be feared upon. Why not jump out of a safari car in Africa beside a pride of lions?

  • January 18, 2019 at 10:44 pmBambi

    Fresh that they’re smart, but haha I can’t believe all this snooping around hasn’t realistically have them busted by Mama

    • January 19, 2019 at 12:16 amRyuutobi

      Because there are so many children and only one Mama?

      I’m sure that’s the reason she called for reinforcement (Sister Krone).

  • January 19, 2019 at 10:15 amUrahara

    The movie Room got this right, these kids should not know this much about the outside world regardless of what book they read or what stories they hear

    • January 20, 2019 at 5:47 amNickP

      As anon234 mentioned below, they are strongly encouraged to learn from the large library of books they have at the orphanage. Whether the outside world really is as portrayed by the books, they don’t know. As Norman said, there is no evidence that what is outside of the walls will be a world humans can live in. Their books and references may seem normal for our world, but the world they are living in has these ‘demons’, so there is no telling what else is out there.

  • January 19, 2019 at 11:39 amanon234

    For those wondering how the kids know so much, what hasn’t been shown yet is the farm’s library. It contains high-level technical textbooks, such as ones covering electrical engineering, as well as history books and your standard fictional children’s tales. Since the brain is the part of the body that is desired for consumption, the kids are encouraged to spend time in the library.

    Now, having said that, the kids have no way of knowing whether the books in the library are correct or accurate.

  • January 21, 2019 at 7:32 amCharAznable

    why teach these children anything useful at all?

    High test scores = better product, as they mention in the episode. Dumb kids are shipped out faster as lower quality product. That they think to immediately dissect their situation rationally after seeing Connie get shipped off is a bit whatever but that’s why it’s a manga/anime.

  • January 21, 2019 at 9:19 amMistake_Mishaps

    Safe to say this is the most underrated series for this season hands down. I’m actually skipping Rise of the Shield Hero just for this show alone.

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