Watching The Promised Neverland brought two other passions to mind...
Fair warning, I am going to spoil The Promised Neverland, so if you still haven't watched it, get to it.
There is a lot about The Promised Neverland that I love. I think it's the best anime of this last Winter season, it's one of the few manga that I'm keeping up with, and I've already written a post highlighting what I love about anime. But there is so much more that I love about The Promised Neverland.
I remember back when I first heard the hype about The Promised Neverland. I couldn't wait to watch the anime so I decided to check out the manga at a local Barnes and Noble. After the first chapter, I was immediately hooked and I had to keep reading.
The more I read and later when I started to watch the anime, I couldn't help but think that The Promised Neverland seemed familiar. The themes and tone reminded me of Darling in the Franxx, or what I originally expected from Darling in the Franxx.
Like many others, I thought that Darling in the Franxx was going to be the best anime of 2018 and an instant classic. Instead, it ended up being one of the biggest disappointments. Darling in the Franxx introduced such a mysterious world filled with dangers and gifted children with an unknown purpose. Sound familiar?
But at the heart of Darling in the Franxx, as well as the heart of The Promised Neverland, there was a story about growing up and rebelling against a twisted world. Both stories show that as children get older and mature, they realize that those who raised them have not always been honest and that reality is much darker than they were taught to believe.
Reading further in The Promised Neverland manga, I can see that those themes are still evident. The characters are constantly given the choice of accepting that the world is a bad place and nothing can be done to change it, or to resist and make a better world. The problem with Darling in the Franxx is that those themes ended up being muddled by aliens, a giant space woman, and lots of babies.
But those themes of growing up and resistance can also be found in another series that I love. A Series of Unfortunate Events is a book series by the enigmatic Lemony Snicket. It is a story about three orphans being pursued by a dastardly villain who wants to steal their family fortune. In order to escape, the orphans have to use their wits to outsmart the evil that wants to harm them. They can trust no one but each other because almost all the adults are either scheming monsters or dimwitted fools.
Like The Promised Neverland, A Series of Unfortunate Events shows children using their genius and talents to survive a wicked world in order to one day find a place that is safe. There is a lot of emphasis in both stories on the importance of being kind and learned to make the world a better place. And in both stories, as the challenges become more difficult, it becomes harder for characters to stick to their ideals and the world seems even stranger than it did in the beginning.