The Conclusion of The Promised Neverland


Promotional art for the second season of The Promised Neverland (Made for CloverWorks by CloverWorks)

Eleanor Shaw

On March 26, 2021, the final episode of The Promised Neverland season 2 aired, concluding the tumultuous and controversial season with a whimper. I would highly recommend reading my previous article on the matter in order to receive the fullness of information concerning the details of the reactions towards the season throughout its airing as well.

In the final paragraph of this aforementioned article, I mentioned that there was still lingering hope that the season would finish strong. Those hopes were soon squandered after the release of the penultimate episode, showcasing the show’s nadir of messy writing. It featured convenient plot holes and rushed character development seen within the show. Once the finale released, there was no question that the show–once praised for its intelligent writing, gut-wrenching twists, and thrilling narrative–had fallen from its throne of grace.

As stated in an article concerning the final season published by the online fan publication, Comic Book, “[A] worrying pattern began to emerge with each new episode. Not only was the series skipping over fan-favorite arcs with its original story, but the pace of the narrative seemed to speed up overall as major characters, world-building, and more were just half-heartedly mentioned in between what seemed to be some whirlwind introductions.” From the start of the season, it was clear that material had been cut out, but fans did not anticipate to what extent this would eventually manifest itself. With nearly 180+ chapters from the manga being cut out of the story at the conclusion of the season, the entirety of the manga’s story had been condensed into eleven episodes. Needless to say, the story was doomed to be jumbled up into a messy sequence of events loosely connected by thin threads of luck from the start.

Near the end of the season, the show began to unravel more than it already had. With no credited writers for the final two episodes (episodes 10 & 11), as previously stated, the plot began to rely on convenience. In scenarios in which the protagonists, Emma, Ray, and Norman, would have typically been pressed to use their intelligence to escape, they were rather rescued by a forced and unsatisfying solution in the form of deus ex machina. Events began to happen for the sole purpose of simply happening, tearing open plot holes that could have easily been avoided. The conclusion felt lackluster, each emotional beat missing the mark while the viewer was left trying to comprehend the scrambled story unfolding before their eyes at a break-neck speed. In another article published by Comic Book regarding the final season, the author states that “Netizens are now calling the anime one of the worst adaptations in modern history as its reputation took an unprecedented nosedive.”

Many viewers began to ask themselves, what had caused this? What was the reason for this? Some theories point to the rushed production of the season, resulting in a patchwork of plot points from the manga. As stated in my previous article, the release of the season was pushed from originally airing in October to January due to COVID-19 related issues. On top of this, the finale’s release was postponed by several hours. Many have theorized that issues revolving around scheduling and timing of production resulted in the rushed and lackluster product, with the postponing of the finale serving to buy time for the crew to complete their work. Furthermore, the presence of a filler episode recapping the events of the season airing halfway through the season may have served to buy more time for the crew to continue working towards completion.

There is one clarification I would like to make involving the production and regarding my previous article. CloverWorks, the animation studio for The Promised Neverland, had no say in the plot. Rather, they were only involved in the animation itself. The animators who worked on this season were likely just as, if not more, heartbroken about animating an unsatisfying conclusion for the fans watching it. Needless to say, harassing those who have worked on the show is never okay, regardless of what role they played in making it.

In my opinion, this season was a disappointment. This is the case with the vast multitude of fans of the manga and/or the anime. While the precise factors concerning what resulted in this outcome are relatively unknown to the general public, it is likely a blend of the desire to hurry the plot to a conclusion alongside rushed production of the season. Many fans continue to hope for a readaptation to bring justice to the original story, but as of the time this article is written (and what may continue to be the case for a long while more), there is no sign that this sentiment will become a reality.