“Monsignor” Travis Moody

The Promised Neverland, or Yakusoku no Neverland, is the type of anime I would never watch unless otherwise highly recommended, similar to that of Made in Abyss in its youthful cutesieness. The two shows also have the theme of curious orphans, with the dreaded “don’t go near the gate to the dangerous forest” warnings here in Neverland opposed to Abyss‘ cursed pit. Of course, our children go in anyway and that’s when all the fun — all the sick, demented adult fun — begins.

That said, nothing here is truly gory. It’s meant more to terrify in thought than to stimulate visually. Without spoiling too much, you’ll instantly fall for the kids; Emma stands out in particular — who you wouldn’t even know is a girl, really, unless your attention to detail is top-notch — as someone both loyal to a fault yet fearlessly inquisitive; while other Grace Field House children, such as Ray (the doubtful dumpster fire) and Norman (the gleeful go-getter) have distinct personalities that joyously contrast with our protagonist. What seemingly appears no more than a simple children’s fable turns into a showcase for clues. Everything in Neverland is laid out for you in the first 5-minutes before the twist, so study up and enjoy the fright. 4.5/5 Bibles.

There has been a slew of new fantasy sword-and-magic (and fish-outta-water / isekai) anime releases in the past year — Goblin Slayer, That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime, How Not To Summon A Demon Lord, RADIANT, etc. That list doesn’t even include the wonderful stuff we already possess in Overlord, The Seven Deadly Sins, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Sword Art Online. We could go on all day. So what in the hell could possibly separate The Rising of the Shield Hero, or Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari, from the rest of the pack? Thankfully, Crunchyroll has a 45-minute preview up for premium members and I’m here to tell you: the terrible, fucked up twist. Isn’t that always the case? Isn’t that why we love anime? Nothing is ever as it seems, and in Shield Hero, that statement couldn’t be closer to the truth.

Look, the name is lame AF. That’s the point. Heck, the first half of the anime bleeds that notion into you — that being a “shield” hero (and not the folks over at Marvel) — is probably the worst character a MMORPG gamer could be. The anime isn’t shy about using elements inspired by role-playing video games, but after the first episode (or is it two?), you’ll care more about the matter at hand and our shield “hero” than any concrete influences. The way our guy Iwatani Naofumi, a mere college otaku who’s summoned to a high fantasy world to be one of the fantastic four, reacts to his betrayal is everything. The twist is so unexpected and so fucking glorious, that the typical backdrop we’ve seen time and time again from anime as of late is a secondary nature. This series could be named The Rising of the Business Hero and I’d be all for it. No matter the genre, Naofumi’s resilience and how he handles these severe allegations will determine how great this anime can be. 4/5 Bibles.

(And these allegations will piss a lot of people off, mind you. There are topics here of false rape and.. undead slavery[?] that will certainly even steer me away if these elements go too far. Only time will tell.)

-Travis Moody

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