The Disney+ Fantasy Anime Death Note Fans Need To Watch

By Jacob VanGundy | Published

the promised neverland

For fans of cerebral battles of wit, supernatural horror, and dark fantasy The Promised Neverland is a must-watch anime, at least for its first season. While the show is bogged down by a rushed, messy, second season, its phenomenal first season makes it worth watching. Death Note fans in particular will find the dark tone and chess-like strategic planning familiar and appealing. 

The Premise

Initially, The Promised Neverland presents an idyllic orphanage, where the children are cared for by their “mother” and given advanced education, until a group of friends discover the orphanage’s real purpose is to raise them as livestock for demons. The first season follows the friends, Emma, Norman, and Ray’s plans to escape the orphanage with the other children. The second season follows their quest to overthrow the demon society feeding on children like them. 

Season 1 Is Excellent

the promised neverland

The first season of The Promised Neverland is an incredibly suspenseful battle of wits between the children and the orphanage’s “mother” Isabella. It’s this dynamic that Death Note fans will find familiar, with the children trying to secretly make plans for their escape while Isabella grows increasingly suspicious and tries to uncover their plot. The children hide their plans by disguising their training of the other children as games and maintaining their usual behavior on the surface while constantly adjusting plans. 

Wonderfully Crafted Characters

the promised neverland

While each of the main characters in The Promised Neverland is preternaturally intelligent, the characters are all distinct and smartly written. Emma is hopeful to the point of naivety, Norman is the charismatic natural leader, and Ray is pragmatic and disillusioned. The villains are also nuanced–particularly the haunted Isabella whose genuine affection for the children is at odds with her own desire to survive. 

It’s the relationship between the children that sets The Promised Neverland apart from other battle of intellect shows like Death Note or Code Geass. All of the children are smart, capable, and have the same goal, but their personalities create conflict and tension as they work together. Seeing a group of genius children work together, each with their own skills and perspective is a subversion of individualistic, narcissistic protagonists like Light and Lelouch. 

Season 2 Delivers An Unsatisfying Finale

While the first season of The Promised Neverland is an immaculate, near-perfect story that combines suspense and horror, the second season turned into a disappointing finale. The first half of the season kept the suspenseful feel of the first season, focusing on the children who had managed to escape surviving in the woods, however that quickly gave way to a rushed, unearned ending. The clever strategy and horror gave way to long strings of exposition to lead the characters through an underwhelming conclusion.

The second season’s conclusion does wrap up the series and conclude the arcs of its characters, but not in a satisfying way. It offers complex moral dilemmas, but because the story is so truncated, the characters resolve them immediately and move on with no sense of gravitas or drama. The Promised Neverland is a show that is legitimately better if you only watch the first season, which has an episode that works fairly well as an ending on its own. 

Stream It Now


The Promised Neverland is available to stream on Disney+ through Hulu. While the first season is one of the best anime stories ever told, the second season actively undercuts what made that season work. Despite the awful conclusion, the show is worth watching for fans of cat-and-mouse mind games or supernatural horror.