The Promised Neverland is a twisted tale of orphans living at the Grace Field House and their beloved caretaker Mama, Isabella. The orphanage that houses these clueless orphans lies in the middle of a forest. The rule that these naive children must follow is to never venture out of the orphanage, come what may.
Norm has it that every couple of months, a child gets fostered into a family, never to be heard of again, it is Conny this time. As Conny bids goodbye, the oldest trio follows her to handover a left behind, stuff toy. They are shocked to see her dead body at the gates of the orphanage but are quick to realize and act by finding an escape route for everyone. The escaping children must stay safe from the demons of the outside world as they discover more secrets.
If the thriller/dark fantasy genre enthralls you, here are 10 picks of the same lot, given that season 2 of Neverland is slated to come out in 2020.
10 DEATH NOTE
Justice, morality and right vs wrong, Death Note is the be-all and end-all of all thriller animes. Adapted from a manga, this anime places the two, Light and L in a morality battle, where one outwits the other and vice versa. Although L loses his life to Light in the end, by virtue of a Shinigami, it is the element of strategy that draws a parallel with The Promised Neverland. Survival is another twin theme between the two animes and so is the dark world of criminals.
9 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST
There's twin treat for watchers here, the original Fullmetal Alchemist and its remake, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, is the tale of two boys and their attempt to resurrect their mother. What draws a comparison with The Promised Neverland is the dark world of secrets, that are slowly unveiled to the protagonists of the anime.
Just in case, Brotherhood forms the better of the two versions with an incredible plot digression. There is obviously the element of morality, planning, plotting and mysticism that enchants one.
8 ATTACK ON TITAN
Ever been a fan of humanoids eating out humans? Based upon a manga, produced by Wit Studio, Attack on Titan popularised the plot of humanity confined within walls to keep safe from the humanoids that want to devour them.
As the protagonist and her adoptive sister are rendered without a city and parents on account of an attack by a colossal Titan, they set out to seek revenge. Just the same story of a group, fighting demons, it is the element of horror that compels you to watch.
7 SCHOOL LIVE (GAKKOU GURASHI)
It's quite the same, 4 girls in a school (read: orphanage, The Promised Neverland), are trapped with their teacher, in wake of a zombie attack which quickly turns into an apocalypse.
The entrapment means battling inside demons, for characters in the anime, such as post traumatic disorders. Call it a psychological thriller, if you will, Gakkou Gurashi should be another pick.
6 FROM THE NEW WORLD
From the New World traces the adventures of village simpletons into the ugly demonic world. Feel the parallel yet? The story of From the New World spans across decades as the children learn the brute nature of the world.
The Promised Neverland is a coming-of-age tale that mirrors From the New World in many ways. First off, the character bondings are just as warm, second off, the discovery of brutal truths outside of the never-before ventured zone.
5 SERAPH OF THE END
Seraph of the End places the utmost importance on demons, just as Neverland does. The scary additions are vampires, in the former. But the similarities are far too many, such as fighting back, orphans saving themselves and most of all, looking for escapes.
Seraph of the End also has some of the finest action-animation sequences, but the tale of characters raised as fodder for vamps, to eventually battling for their life, in a fantasy war is beyond incredible. FYI, Owari no Seraph, the ongoing manga shares a magazine with The Promised Neverland with weekly chapter releases.
4 HIGURASHI: WHEN THEY CRY
The compelling reason to go for Higurashi: When They Cry is the similar element of horror and mystery. It deals with the village of Hinamizawa, where characters are tied to the rules of Oyashiro, the village God.
The reason behind these infallible rules is a deep dark mystery that the while unfolding shocks the viewers with gore, psychological horror and mystery. A classic horror anime in its own right, Higurashi will leave a deep psychological imprint. And it forms a fine transition from Neverland, if one has a decent slasher taste.
Almost similar to Higurashi, Shiki traces the tale of a village, Satoba where reanimated dead bodies eat up the villagers, a classic zombie story. These zombies are called Shiki and they throng the village to feed on the locals. The word Shiki literally translates to corpse-demons.
The list so far mentions stories along the same lines, the keywords all the same: coming of age, survival, demons, zombies, gore and learning the dark truths of the world. Shiki will not disappoint, if shown a little patience in early episodes till the plot builds.
2 MADE IN ABYSS
First off, Made in Abyss is centered around the tale of kids, the first episode of which starts out on a mellow pace. Enter the universal theme underlying both The Promised Neverland and Made in Abyss: two similar tales of children running away from their orphanage.
From the orphanage to the mysterious dark world, Made in Abyss, takes a dark turn real quick as the terror hits. There are extra layers of mystery that one has to scrape through in order to get to the bottom of Made in Abyss. The 12-episodic anime currently anticipates a movie sequel.
Madoka is the tale of denial, of putting characters in the ordeal and stealing their Childhood. Madoka, hands down feel like a paler version of Neverland, given how only 12 episodes came out and a sequel movie failed to impress. But that shouldn't deter a watcher.
Neverland and Madoka are two different standards of probably the same thing: stolen childhoods but it is world-building that Madoka fails at. There isn't enough build-up to the characters losing their innocence and in the anime getting dark. However, the story is far from a feel-good experience. Watch it for the visuals and emotional trajectory that the female leads take.