Retrospective: The Promised Neverland’s second season was robbed

A broken promise, never to be fulfilled.

The Promised Neverland

I was the first in my friend group to pick up The Promised Neverland‘s manga. It was late 2017 when I saw an ad for the first volume of The Promised Neverland and decided to start reading and to be honest, it was amazing.

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Then, at my behest, all my friends started reading it one after the other until the anime adaptation was announced. Needless to say, I felt absolutely vindicated. I had made a judgment call on a manga, and the world was now taking notice. The anime was produced by an offshoot of A-1 Pictures, CloverWorks, and while this wasn’t their first rodeo, it was one of the first shows I’d seen from the studio.

It was OK. As a whole, the adaptation was serviceable enough for a second season to be greenlit, which led to my friends and I discussing where in the manga season 2 would end. There were several viable moments where a second season finale could leave off and where a prospective third could pick up, but we never could come to a consensus. The Promised Neverland really was a great but oddly paced story.

The Promised Neverland
Image via Crunchyroll

Something Poorly Paced This Way Comes

And then, in early 2021, just before the second season began airing, the news broke that this season would feature an original scenario written by one of the manga’s authors. I was cautiously optimistic about this, as anime original stories are traditionally less compelling than the canon story published in the manga. Still, it was Kaiu Shirai, and surely they wouldn’t steer us wrong, right?

The Promised Neverland’s second season was, for all intents and purposes, loyal — to a point. It begins to diverge after episode 4 and proceeds to cut upwards of five entire story arcs from the manga in favor of wrapping up the story by the end of season 2. 

The Promised Neverland
Emma gets a GUN in Goldy Pond!! || Screenshot via Destructoid, Shonen Jump

I Dream of Goldy Pond

I thought it was bad that they decided to axe what is arguably the manga’s greatest story arc, the Goldy Pond Battle Arc, but seeing how they chose to rush the rest of the story makes me genuinely sad. I understand making some changes from the manga — there were way too many characters to keep track of by the final chapter — but to cut the best story arcs in favor of the weakest ones was a bad call.

If you’re reading this and you wrote the entire series off because you thought the second season was a laughable mess, or even if you enjoyed the second season, read The Promised Neverland manga. It has so much the anime lacked, and what it shares with the anime is fleshed out more. I was someone who rage-quit the series in the midst of the sixth episode, but not before screaming in abject misery at my computer screen. There’s such a thing as introducing an anime original story out of necessity, and then there’s what CloverWorks decided to do with season 2 of The Promised Neverland.

The Promised Neverland
Image via Crunchyroll

The Promised Neverland & Wasted Potential

The manga was finished. In fact, by the time the second season was released, the story arcs to be adapted had been out for three whole years! Thinking about it again after all this time just makes me upset all over again. It blows my mind how much they fumbled the ball here when we’d probably be celebrating the third or fourth seasons of The Promised Neverland today if they’d played their cards right.

Sure, there’s always a chance the industry will revisit this story someday and provide a more loyal anime adaptation. I just don’t expect it to happen anytime soon. But stranger things have happened, especially when it comes to seemingly forgotten anime returning after years. I’m looking at you, The Devil is a Part Timer! Here’s hoping that someday, we’ll be able to see the Goldy Pond Battle Arc, the Cuvitidala Arc, the King of Paradise Arc, The Seven Walls Arc, the Imperial Capital Battle Arc, the Return to Grace Field Arc, and the Human World Arc, all adapted according to the original design.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cry in a corner somewhere, imagining what could’ve been. 

About The Author
James Herd
Staff Writer — James has been playing video games for as long as he can remember. He was told once that video games couldn't be a career, so he set out to prove them wrong. And now, he has.
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