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Yakusoku no Neverland – 04

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Last week, in the comments, there was a bit of a discussion about Sister Krone, her anime behaviour, and what that did to her character. Let’s talk about her a bit more this week.

As a reminder: I haven’t read the Yakusoku no Neverland manga. I kind of like it that way; stories are best experienced fresh, and I also enjoy sharing that fresh experience with you, gentle readers. It also means that I’m judging the anime purely on its own merits. This is usually a good thing, as adaptations should be able to stand on their own, but it also means that I can only imagine how Krone was in the manga. From what I gather from your comments, though, she was apparently not this psycho in the manga, meaning that her characterisation has changed in the process of adaptation.

Is this necessarily a bad thing?

Obvious, the anime wanted an excuse for Krone to monologue and decided that filching a few of her mental marbles was the best way to do it. Now, I know that some have argued that plenty of shows freely dip into characters’ heads, simply letting us hear their internal thoughts rather than having the character shout into the void like a loon. For better or worse, Neverland has chosen not to do this. At all. It makes for a more organic style, where information about characters and their feelings and motivations are more obscured, revealed either through inter-cast chatter or through the highly expressive faces. On my part, I’m from the ‘anime should speak as little as possible’ school. Unlike in manga (and other paper formats), where dialogue can all be shoved into text boxes, talking in anime takes a lot of time. And we only have 20-odd minutes an episode. Therefore, every word in your script needs to carry weight. To that end, Krone’s monologues are multi-purpose. They, of course, tell us a lot about her: she really wants to be a ‘Mum’ and she has anger management issues. But they also turn her into a foil for Isabella. The art of characterisation is all about contrast, partly because it helps each character stand out against each other and partly because a bunch of clones would be boring and redundant (aka the Jango Fett principle). Krone wears her heart on her sleeve while Isabella is largely inscrutable, and the contrast between the two adults highlights the qualities of both.

The protagonists are arranged like this too, with Ray being the obvious foil for both the idealistic Emma and the aloof Norman. In a story called Yakusoku no Neverland I guess the metaphor is that Emma doesn’t doesn’t want to grow up, while Ray probably grew up a bit too quickly. I’m actually sort of glad that Ray has been fingered as the snitch rather than one of the other kids (I’m guessing Norman actually only told Ray where the rope was hidden). For one, I honestly don’t care about the other kids on any personal level; I can hardly remember the names of the main three, let alone the greater cast. More importantly, it’s simply more interesting that way; rather than the snitch just being some plot device, if it’s Ray it will make for pertinent character development. Ray is a character defined by his cynicism (alas, Norman seems to taken the role of ‘the smart one’) and he manages to keep it pragmatic rather than nihilistic. Cynicism has a bad reputation in shounen anime and is often dismissed out of hand as some vaguely villainous flaw — the power of friendship is just too darn strong — so I would appreciate some exploration here. I’m willing to wager that if Ray really did turn traitor he wouldn’t have done so if the perfect score trio had decided to just escape by themselves instead of dragging the entire Brady bunch along with them.

Or maybe it’s just a deceptive cliffhanger, but that won’t be any fun at all.

February 1, 2019 at 8:59 am
14 comments »
  • February 1, 2019 at 9:48 ammac65

    Wow! I have to re-watch this one to see what happened!
    Great cliff-hanger! Hope it’s not just a deceptive cliffhanger,
    as I don’t think my teddy bear can handle the stress of being
    torn apart :) …

    So the big question is, what now that the traitor is exposed.
    My guess — is that Ray will redeem himself (somehow) and that
    trust that he has w/Mom will work to the kids advantage for
    their escape. IoWs, a 1-1/2 agent (not quite a double agent).

    Good series – intriguing and not too far out for a premise …

    • February 1, 2019 at 5:38 pmPasserby

      Joker Game (obligatory plug of the season) would say that there’s nothing so useless as a revealed spy — nor anything as useful for the enemy. If Ray is the snitch, but is also turned back to the light, he can perhaps feed false information to the adults.

  • February 1, 2019 at 3:45 pmAshen-phoenix

    As another anime-only fan of this series, I was totally blown away by the reveal of Ray being the traitor–but then everything started to sink in, and how much SENSE that made for him based on what we know of him and how he’s behaved up to this point.

    He’s described as someone who commits to a plan quickly but also gives up quickly, and he’s terribly pragmatic in his weighing their odds of survival. It was cold but I can see the logic in wanting to escape with only him, Norman, and Emma–but that also carries another layer in light of this accusation. IF Ray agreed to spy on them for their “Momma,” perhaps he bargained for the trio’s guaranteed survival? Maybe that’s why he wanted to escape with just them.

    Even if he only agreed to train the other children to placate Emma and Norman, I have to side with Emma’s assertion that none of them are straight-up evil.

    I’m curious to go back and read the manga once this season has reached its end; it’ll be fascinating to compare the different ways they convey information and characterization.

    THANK YOU for covering this! I haven’t seen an anime written this smartly in years.

  • February 1, 2019 at 5:09 pmGuardian Enzo

    I don’t want to keep this hanging on Krone, I get that people are sick of it. But I think non-manga readers need to know that Krone in the manga is not the buffoon she’s portrayed as in the anime. It’s a good adaptation, pretty much faithful, but this decision with Krone baffles me. They even added clown car BGM for her this week, just in case there was any doubt.

    Setting aside the troubling matter of *which* character the anime chose to make a joke out of, and her troubling design (which is just as troubling in the manga), defanging a primary antagonist for this arc makes little sense for the story.

    • February 1, 2019 at 5:28 pmPasserby

      Being pure anime, I never got the impression that Krone was a primary antagonist, nor was she intended to be. She’s Isabella’s foil in every way. I still feel she’s dangerous (though cuckoo), but because she lacks Isabella’s restraint but not her ambition she’s dangerous to both sides. It seems to be that the adults are doomed to be undone by their discord, whereas the children’s unity (or at least Emma’s insistence on it) will likely be their triumph.

      • February 1, 2019 at 5:30 pmGuardian Enzo

        I’m glad she’s coming off that way for new viewers. This is just one of those cases where I think it’s better not to have read the manga.

    • February 2, 2019 at 2:27 amDavid

      I have also read the manga, but didn’t get any of those impressions that Enzo listed. They have pretty much perfectly adapted all of Krone’s activities, though with the addition of her room rants to take the place of internal monologue in other settings.

      She may be a little on the ranty side, but that same craziness is very much felt in the original manga, even if she didn’t have a doll to yell at. It doesn’t make her look like a buffoon; it makes her look both ambitious and dangerous, which increases her threat level far beyond what would be implied by a simple watchman.

      Plus, this makes it something interesting to watch, as opposed to something like Serious Men Walking In Circles and Talking At Each Other (ie: Fate/Zero).

      So yeah, I pretty much 100% disagree with Enzo on this, including the so-called “troubling design”.

  • February 2, 2019 at 12:32 amBambi

    Haven’t read the manga, but I think I would’ve personally prefer another more cool-headed villain that could be more on par with the cast (like Death Note or something, some of them were crazy deep down but still made use of their minds).

    Other than that, I did not see the twist at the end coming! Good one, good one.

  • February 2, 2019 at 11:06 amstarss

    REVEAL! I wonder what tipped Norm off.

  • February 2, 2019 at 12:38 pmMimS

    Up until now, this anime has been faithful enough with the original material while taking some straight choices. I’m fine with them (i.e Krone and the doll)… I just regret previous episodes made it so obvious that Ray was the traitor. Well, reading the comments it didn’t seem like so but to me, with all of the shots having just being a silent watcher, it was made obvious.

    Really hope the anime gets the success it deserves in any case, so that we get all of the arcs adapted.

    • February 2, 2019 at 1:29 pmstarss

      Maybe it was because Ray seems so obvious that viewers assumed he was not. “Oh you really think they would paint the one mature stoic child with the killer eyes the traitor??” But no it turns out it was just that obvious.

    • February 2, 2019 at 4:38 pmGuardian Enzo

      I didn’t think it was significantly more obvious in the anime than the manga. That said, I did think it was pretty obvious the manga to begin with.

  • February 2, 2019 at 7:29 pmanon234

    A hint for the anime-only watchers. Go back to the previous 3 episodes, and re-watch them while making sure to pay attention to Ray’s actions. What does Ray say, when does he say it, and when does he appear while not saying anything?

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