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Yakusoku no Neverland – 06

「311045」

I’m sure all of you were expecting last week’s cliffhanger to end up like this. Because of course it did. You’re not a fool. You’ve seen cliffhangers before. This is how they work. They leave us at a high point in the tension at the end of an episode to bait us into watching the next, only to rapidly deflate at the start of that one. I mean it’s not like they can end an episode with, ‘will they die?’ and then have an episode start with, ‘yes, they die!’. Actually, that would be an amusing reversal, but it’ll make the rest of the episode rather hard to write. Where would you go from there? If you start from the height of tension the only place you go is down.

All in all, cliffhangers are cheap tricks and I find them generally offensive. They go to show, though, that thrillers and horrors are not really that interested in how tension is resolved. Rather, they’re about indulging in the tension itself. The exciting part is the build-up, the anticipation, letting the audience work themselves up. Then they release the tension in whatever way — reveal a monster, lop some heads off, a fake-out, doesn’t matter — so they can start over. You can see the cycle in action this very action: the cliffhanger last week was a false alarm, tension is released, so we build it up again with Don (was his name Don?) pulling even riskier stunts, we anticipate potential disaster, he manages to dodge that bullet, rinse and repeat. It’s a familiar routine, but it can sometimes get heavy-handed. I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I like Yakusoku no Neverland is that it features protagonists more intelligent than your usual shounen fare. They’re smart. They know what they’re doing. Unfortunately, Neverland has introduced ‘conflict via stupidity’ back into the plot through Don. It’s nothing to do with his character, I just find it unsatisfying to have characters stumble into trouble through blind ignorance and then stumble out of it through dumb luck. It lacks agency. And I also fundamentally sympathise with Ray; Dan is rash, arrogant, and violent and such qualities jeopardises the entire operation. Yeah, I know, it’s supposed to be a heartfelt moment where we all have a good cry and renew our bonds with each other, but I must confess that a cold part of me was calculating the increased odds of success if we just feed Don to the demons and be done with him.

Well, at least it all served to drive the plot, and here comes Krone offering a deal. Of course, we know better than to trust her, but the enemy of our enemy is our friend. I assume that, if she is indeed bargaining in good faith, she does so in order to undermine Isabella. After all, if a bunch of children escaped on Isabella that would be a mortal blow to her reputation. Better yet, if a bunch of children escaped but it’s Krone who manages to catch them, then she gets to have her brain-flavoured cake and eat it too. Sounds shady, but I’m sure smart kids like Norman and Ray can work with that, and a mutually exploitative relationship is probably better than having Krone as an active enemy. Or perhaps not; as an ally she’s like Don. She’s unreliable, partly because she’s treacherous and mostly because she’s cray. I’m not entirely comfortable in siding with Krone simply because she opposes Isabella, because I’m not convinced that Isabella is entirely villainous. She looked noticeably dismayed when she heard that Norman planned to murder her. She keeps mementoes of her lost children. Perhaps there’s something human in her still.

On that note, who’s William Minerva? Minerva is the Roman version of Athena, the patron god of, er, Athens, who presides over wisdom and the martial arts. The owl is one of her symbols. No spoilers, of course, but here’s my bets: first place, Isabella; runner up, a generic resistance group outside; dark horse, a race of owl-people opposing the demons.

February 15, 2019 at 8:05 am
9 comments »
  • February 15, 2019 at 1:31 pmDewey

    Your read of Don as arrogant and violent…I have to completely disagree. Also, Ray would probably be more mad at Norman considering he was in favor of taking Don and against Norman lying to him about Conny (which led directly to this whole mess in the first place).

    Also I hate that the anime has done this to Krone. She is not this dancing, singing, baby-carrying weirdo in the manga. She is just ruthless and quirky.

    • February 15, 2019 at 6:00 pmPasserby

      I just call it like I see it. Even Don realised he had been acting quite inappropriately.

      As for Ray, he will of course have very fundamental disagreements with Norman. That’s their dynamic, after all. Recall, though, that Norman lied to Don back when they were still suspecting him as a potential snitch (and that Ray tried to frame him as such as well).

      As for Krone, luckily I haven’t read the manga so I don’t have the same issues as you do. I still feel she falls within the realm of ‘ruthless and quirky’. After all, one man’s quirky is another man’s weirdo. In fact, in a cast that’s generally sane and sensible perhaps it’s a refreshing contrast to have those who are ruled by passion (Don) or madness (perhaps Krone). And anime is an animated medium so let’s make her more animated.

  • February 16, 2019 at 2:34 amNyast

    I’ll have to admit, I did not understand what was going on with the secret room. Don and Gilda are trapped in it, realizing that Mamma came back and is blocking the way.. and suddenly a kid comes in with the key.. the key they used to open the library, which should be with them in the secret room ? And even then, once Mamma got the key, she did not move out, and was starting to be suspicious. Then the next sequence, we see the kids out of the room like nothing happened. Must have missed something.

    Another comment: these kids sure are noisy. They keep talking out loud, even shouting sometimes. It’s a miracle they didn’t get caught before.

    • February 16, 2019 at 5:14 pmPasserby

      From some passing dialogue, they had apparently left the key somewhere to be casually found. As for how they got out, they smash-cut past that part so I don’t think you missed anything. I think we can only assume that Isabella was sufficiently distracted, didn’t investigate further, and they found an opportunity to slip out later.

      • February 17, 2019 at 3:09 ammac65

        “Plot hole galore,” <sic> is the technical term :).

        But, that’s okay as it’s not ridiculous and can be imagined
        away in the story-telling. Still an interesting twist at the
        end and it didn’t come out of the blue, either. There was
        lots of foreboding in previous episodes and we were led to
        think it was some other student(s) watching them in secret.

        What will be interesting in if the author has a good backstory
        for her reasons to help the kids — and is this a genuine offer
        of assistance…

        We’ll see..

    • February 17, 2019 at 8:25 ammac65

      I found myself shouting “shhh be quiet” at the TV…

    • February 18, 2019 at 1:05 ama20000000

      The secret room has two doors leading to it so they probably used the opposing side to escape.

  • February 16, 2019 at 7:19 amstarss

    Phil will forever be that image meme of cliffhanger letdowns on all of social media.

  • February 18, 2019 at 3:45 pmshen

    So I found myself reading the manga after last week’s episode cause I didn’t realize it was only going to be 12 episodes while I was watching it. This episode was pretty much 95% faithful to the manga with some slight changes that don’t really make a huge difference honestly. I hope the show gets a season 2 eventually but not take as long as “cough” AOT “cough”.