*WARNING: I would highly recommend watching at least the first episode of this series before reading this review as I will be discussing major spoilers from that episode.
I’ve always been a fan of thrillers, simply because a lot of them know how to use suspense right, leading up to something frighting, shocking, or leading to a satisfying catharsis at the end. At the same time, I’ve never really enjoyed horror animes due to most of them just using a lot of gore and blood to show the horror, which isn’t for me personally. However, I had heard good things about the series from those who read the manga and decided to give the Promised Neverland a try, and boy am I glad I did.
This series is such a good thriller and horror anime, because of how it is able to use suspense throughout its run. Starting right away in the first episode, the suspense slowly rises as we see our three man characters, Emma, Norman, and Ray, are orphans in a far off place, and that they are not allowed outside a gated area. They, as well as other orphans also have numbers tattooed on their necks, giving the viewer another hint that something is off. Then we see all the orphans doing a high level test, the goal being to try and score the highest, another hint that something is wrong. All of this builds up to Connie being “adopted” and leaving, and then Emma and Norman simply trying to return her stuffed bunny before she leaves. And then the suspense finally reaches it’s peak as we and the characters see the lifeless body of Connie in the back of the wagon, and it finally revealed that these children are livestock to some other worldly beings and that their caretaker, Mom, was apart of this sinister act.
All of this happens just in the first episode mind you, and the suspense only continues to grow as the main characters try to find a way out for everyone in the orphanage, while trying not to be caught by Mom. The anime becomes a game of cat and mouse with naturally rising stakes. The suspense is never lost, it might not always be front and center in every episode but it is still there in the background as the main group tries to find a way to escape. And, while not giving anything away, it does lead up to an extremely satisfyingly catharsis by the end.
The animation, particularly with the character’s expressions, is really well done. I know that there are some scenes where their faces look disproportionate, but the animation done on each of the character’s expressions is amazing, it helps shows exactly what the character is feeling, from fear, disgust, happiness, or anger, it is shown clear as day, and I think that helps with the thriller aspect of the show, as some of the characters, like Mom, or the main characters try to hid how they truly feel at the moment and hope no one else catches on to that facade.
I think this anime is an example of what horror anime can be, a well paced story with good characters with raising stakes and suspense leading all the way up to the climax of the season. Even if you not usually into horror, I would definitely recommend this show, it has great animation, a good suspenseful story, and is one of the best horror/thriller animes I have seen in a while.