The Promised Neverland (Yakusoku no Nebārando) Season 2

Well, I don’t want to add too much to the vitriol out there and I doubt I’d have anything new to contribute to some of the… discourse (such as it is) either.

But this season certainly didn’t feel quite right.

The Promised Neverland (Yakusoku no Nebārando) Season 2 (2021)

And rather than go over each and every issue, I think I could just suggest “see what your fav blogger has to say” since they’ve probably covered it, and better than I could. Having said that, there will be spoilers below – and in a way, half the pics are too.

I left this season feeling sad – I’m kinda worried that the production team were dangerously overworked and also not given enough time? Were they producing a flawed adaptation from the start, or did something else go wrong somewhere along the way?

And on top of those possibilities, I worry that some great things in season 2 will be simply obliterated by the negatives.

Due to that, I’ll try to confine myself to just 6 observations here – 3 for bits I really liked, and 3 which I did not.

But I want to finish on some positives and so I’m starting with the aspects I didn’t enjoy so much.

1. Compression

Without having read the manga I could still feel how fast the second season was, how often it skipped over or abandoned the stuff I was excited to see more of.

I wanted extra time in the shelter for one, more time to explore and deal with the demons in town, more time to see the leads struggle with certain decisions, more time on Norman’s return.

2. Character

This time around, it felt like Emma maybe softened without enough of her change occurring onscreen for the audience to witness.

Norman and his crew seemed to come around from their positions too fast too – a scene or up to half an episode is all it seemed to be, instead of what could have been explored across entire arcs or seasons, I guess.

3. Conclusion

Montage is very appropriate for the compression of time and events… but I guess I didn’t want so many of them here.

For me, again, without having read the manga, a fair few things that were shown in the end were empty referents. It felt like somewhere, someone had decided that season two would serve as a way to nail down the lid on any possibility of future seasons.


Switching now to things I enjoyed:

1. Exploration

After the tension in the house, the barriers both physical and psychological, it was exciting to see the kids explore a bit of the world.

To see creatures, plants and tunnels, trees and plains – I was pretty thrilled. It also allowed the story to include a bit of action, which was fun (not just via Sonju) and of course, the mystery of Minerva became a bit of a quest too.

2. Ethics

There were plenty of ethical dilemmas in season two and while I wanted more time spent on each of them, it was still nice to see it onscreen.

The kids are all pretty smart to say the least, but they’re not immune to doubt or to a deadly rage – I guess I’m thinking mostly of Norman and Emma here and their struggle with/over genocide.

3. Exultation

Finally! After watching the poor kids go through so much suffering in that first season, it was great to see success, joy, happiness and reunions etc.

Obviously not just between the main heroes, but even good old Phil (whose scenes border on treacle I guess, but I didn’t care) – I wanted to see them all happy 😀 (Even the ending didn’t mar that feeling for me, for the most part).


Okay, and there we go – after this, I’ll wrap things up with a few shots or pieces of background art that I really enjoyed, I think.

It’s a shame this season doesn’t compare well to the first one, but if you have zero plans to ever read the manga, then I guess try season two one day but perhaps don’t expect things to be as consistent as the first.

3 Stars

(Oh, and I love the closing sequence – watched it every time).

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2019

As with my last post, I have a few weekly write-ups starting here from back when No Guns Life was airing and so I guess I’m going to kinda summarise some of them here 😀

There’s a fair chance that if you enjoy science-fiction, action and noir then you’ll like this series and I did for sure… but I do wonder if Madhouse has any plans to keep it going. (Looks like there’s plenty of material available with Tasuku Karasuma’s manga at least).

I mention that possible third season because at the end of No Guns Life I felt that there was still far too much to be explored and I want to see more.

That’s probably the main issue I had with the series.

There’s plenty of action, some eventual backstory reveals about mostly interesting characters and of course Juzo himself was a favourite element, but I wanted a more compelling central villain. It’s clear that the Big Evil Corp (Berühren) take on that role but the episodes here are often building up and then pulling back from developing that central narrative/mystery.

And without a future season there’s not going to be any payoff/resolution for me in that respect.

Instead of expecting that, I eventually started to focus on enjoying some of the smaller arcs or character designs of the humans and Extendeds who live in the almost perpetual blue-green-grey or brown-orange-pink of the city.

What I found really interesting was Juzo and other ‘gun-head’ designs – it obviously makes them seem more impassive, and for Juzo it feeds into the ‘detective with a past’ trope but it also created an issue for comedic moments or scenes that maybe required facial expressions.

And so I thought it was fun that when any given scenario needed to show Juzo as more human, you’d end up seeing stuff reminiscent of Alphonse Elric 🙂

Elsewhere, Kronen and Mary are other fav characters and Victor definitely remains someone I’d love to see more of too but when I balance out some of episodic elements that didn’t work for me (S2E5 for example) and my fear that the beginnings of a great central storyline will be abandoned by financial pressures, then I worry.

And I worry because No Guns Life feels like 24 episodes of establishing character, setting and stakes, all of which has left me invested enough to want more of the story, and it probably won’t happen…

3 Stars  

Deca-Dence (Dekadansu)

If you are super-keen to see what I thought about specific episodes of Deca-Dence I was writing weekly, back when the show aired, and those posts start over here. (That first post contains a few predictions, of which I was half-correct about from memory.)

Deca-Dence (Dekadansu) 2020

Here, I’ll say that I really enjoyed Deca-Dence.

It had lots of things that I seek in a show; science-fiction, action, secrets and even a tiny adventure feel (sans exploration). Of course I liked the characters too, as people such as Natsume and Kaburagi were easy to root for in their fight against an unjust system.

Really enjoyed the setting too, despite some elements that seemed to clash…

Deca-Dence was popular during screening – a bit polarising also – and so if you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, and you’ve also somehow managed to avoid spoilers, I wanted to mention that I’ll have some below.

Plenty of us have expressed disappointment over the big reveal.

The vivid clash between art styles that becomes clear once you see the truth about the cyborgs and their cruel ‘game’ was a surprise for sure. In time, I guess I did adjust to the visuals but it really did take a few episodes. The cute designs and flat or bright colours maybe functioned as a disturbingly cheerful veneer, but for me it did undercut the tone of the story too.

There was also a storytelling choice that I still can’t decide how I responded to – namely, when the audience got the truth vs when our main POV character Natsume was let in on the game.

I think it would have hit me harder if I’d learned what was going on when she did (around episode 9 or so I think) but on the other hand, there was a different tension afforded to me after learning what was going on so early in the series. I was a few steps ahead of Natsume and that caused different worries and so I was still engaged.

And in the end, I thought Deca-Dence was heaps of fun both to watch and to write about.

Even if I still want a sequel series to see our heroes go out and explore the world, there’s definitely a clear and satisfying resolution to the Deca-Dence, so if you take a look you won’t be left hanging after episode 12.

(And Pipe is cute too.)

4 Stars

Abandoned #9 (High-rise Invasion, Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul, AfterLost & Chrome Shelled Regios)

As ever, with these posts I don’t usually rule out one day returning to the titles I list each time… but something didn’t grab me for these ones upon first attempt.

And so, two quick notes first up (though I only have a touch more to say about the others as I’m a bit pressed for time :D)

High-rise Invasion

I didn’t finish episode one here and I think it was because I’m picky when it comes to ‘in medias res’ kinda openings. (They tend to be empty of connection for me.)

Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul

Rage… was just as bright and visually pleasing as its predecessor and had some fun action sequences… but I went in wanting more characters from the past and got far too little of them, and so I’ve set this to one side for now because I really ought to judge the sequel on its own merits and I can’t seem to do that at present.

Afterlost

From memory I’m about two episodes in and once again, a show that was very much casting the viewer into the middle of everything and then wavering between abandoning context altogether and portioning out just enough.

More than that, perhaps, was my own expectations getting in the way.

I read the logline as two strangers having to solve a science-fiction kinda mystery about the vanished citizens of an entire city but instead it was a little more paranormal + high-tech government conspiracy stuff.

Which is not bad at all but just not what I was keen for going in 🙂

Chrome Shelled Regios

Only two and a half episodes complete and there was a lot I was enjoying here re: the somewhat post-apocalyptic setting and other science-fiction elements for example. Some of the characters seemed like they were going to have nice arcs too but I simply haven’t come back to this yet.

It’s probably been a case of other shows drawing my attention more consistently, I guess.

Maybe of all the ones I’ve mentioned here, this is the show I might come back to first but it’s hard to say for sure!

Heaven Official’s Blessing (More Impressions)

I wish I had more to say today, but basically – I’m still enjoying Tian Guan Ci Fu plenty and also finding it hard to wait between episodes.

The adventure feel is still really strong and what probably amounts to Xie Lian and San Lang’s first date is really cute, even if the scenes aren’t quite played that way onscreen.

One of the only seasonal shows I’m keeping up with this time around! (8 episodes in so far.)

Heaven Official’s Blessing (Early Impressions)

I started a fair few shows from the current season but haven’t really drifted back to many of them yet – with one exception, Tian Guan Ci Fu.

Only the first 4 episodes are available but I’m enjoying it a lot – it has plenty of things I love: action, fantasy, historical aspects and fantastic costumes, lovely art and engaging characters, so I’ll definitely continue on.

This early, the romance hasn’t really kicked off – in fact, the show is a little darker, more supernatural perhaps than I was expecting, but that’s not a problem at all. Xie Lian is a great lead too and I’m keen to see how he’ll hold his own against the Demon King.

I’m also enjoying this introduction to the Xianxia genre (which is closely related to Wuxia, I believe), with the heroes not just being warriors but also gods – which creates some interesting problems for the story; how to make them not too overpowered too early etc

Looking forward to more!

It’s also my first introduction (I think) to Chinese animation group Haoliners Animation League, and this is beautiful work so I’ll definitely seek more of their productions in time.

I will say, that I have one minor issue so far, which is with the typsetting for the subtitles, they’re a touch small. Obviously, that’s because both the Japanese and English are placed onscreen, one above the other. Maybe that’s just my poor distance vision, but the alternative is to have no translation at all, and I would not like that!

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 12)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

Okay! Another series final – this time No Guns Life wraps up and I’m left kinda desperate for a further season one day.

I feel that mostly because all 24 episodes of No Guns Life seem to be set-ups for something that cannot possible happen within 24 episodes.

There’s just so much more story! And I fear I won’t get a chance to see it. (Especially because I don’t have the shelf space to start collecting the manga, and thus my hope is that Madhouse green lit more.)

Ultimately, I didn’t enjoy this ending episode as much as I’d hoped – but that doesn’t mean I thought it was bad, not at all. (It was interesting to get some backstory on Pepper for instance).

And there was a bit of welcome focus on comedic stuff and the switch in colour palette was refreshing, but the finale wasn’t an explosive finish, even if I appreciated an important reveal in there.

Still, as I said before – I really do want more No Guns Life one day.

DECA-DENCE (12)

Deca-Dence 2020

Yay for a big finish!

So, whether some things were easy to predict in the finale doesn’t matter so much to me, since they were fun, and I got an upbeat ending too! Plus, my curiosity is high now, upon seeing the changes in the aftermath.

Interestingly, I enjoyed this ending more than that of the other show I’m currently writing about on an episode-by-episode basis, which is No Guns Life.

I am also (due to the length of time and repeat exposure perhaps) growing accustomed to the visuals of “Tanker + Cyborg within the one frame” now, so I guess I’m onboard fully, despite much initial resistance 😀

And, based on the ending, I can see room for more story and I wonder if – based on this interview that Lyn mentioned to me on twitter, maybe a film sequel in the future?

(It was fun to review a seasonal show as it streamed, but I don’t know if I could handle doing two this October. Maybe just one will be enough :D)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 11)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

After a fairly large recap for an intro, and a bit of recapping within that kinda impacted the pacing for me, the fight between Juzo and Seven kicks up a notch or two.

At the same time, there was a little widening of the focus to bring in other players too, and to give Pepper a chance to make a mess of things.

Maybe there are a few cracks in Seven’s resolve too, enough to weaken him – but I think the most important thing I picked up with episode was basically confirmation that those two have essentially gone rogue.

Not much else that I think needs highlighting for me, other than my feeling that the over-sized arms as weapons could be a touch comical… but then, is it really any more odd-ball than guns as heads?

Nope 😀

DECA-DENCE (11)

Deca-Dence 2020

Stakes are definitely getting higher – as they probably should, now that the season draws closer to its end.

And while the new Gadoll threat brings with it not just echoes of the God Warriors in Nausicaa, but also a horde of offspring to trouble the Tankers and Gears alike, I still found myself enjoying the comedic bits most.

Again, I’m hoping that next season there will be a chance for characters to explore a bit but for now, it feels like the episode is using the pause before the big showdown to offer a few light moments.

Kurenai’s drinking was one of course, and the mistaken identity moment, but I’m mostly thinking about Natsume and her reaction to seeing the cyborgs, plus her attempt to imagine what Kaburagi really looks like. I won’t spoil it here, but I definitely laughed.

(It was also satisfying to be offered a small resolution for he and Minato, and I remain very curious about Jill’s past. Ready to see how the gambit she and Kaburagi have come up with plays out too.)

However, I spent a bit of time after the episode thinking about stuff ‘behind the curtain’ as it were, re: the way both Natsume and the viewer are being eased into the eventual moment when she and Kabu finally meet face-to-face.

I still think the two art styles are not complimentary… but this interview with some of the Deca-Dence team explains nicely why the ‘cute’ choice was made, and intellectually I like the reasoning, but at a gut-level I feel the clash between the two styles.

Anyway, to finally get to the point – I like this episode’s approach to revealing the cyborgs for several reasons, one because we get to see Natsume process the idea of cyborgs in general first, and two, this implies that she won’t have to ‘waste’ time doing too much adjusting when she does see Kaburagi in the next episode, which I think will need to pack a lot in to set up the next season.

And finally, I liked it because this way, we didn’t have to rush her onscreen response to the cyborgs either, as might have happened if it was part of the final ep.

A little sad that next week is the final installment for now, but also feeling a touch relieved because I don’t know if I’m cut out for reviewing multiple seasonal shows at once 😀