121045 is the first episode of The Promised Neverland anime. It aired on January 10, 2019.
Eleven-year-olds Emma, Ray, and Norman live with thirty-five other children in an orphanage. The place, while isolated from the outside world, is like a safe haven for the children. They spend their days playing in the woods and having fun growing up together. But not is all as it seems in the orphanage, and once the truth is known, there is no turning back.
Emma, Norman, and Ray are three extremely intelligent orphans that share a happy and structured life at The Grace Field House along with 35 other kids. Their day starts off early, with Emma rousing the kids from their sleep and getting everyone ready for breakfast. We see Emma in the “house mom” role, helping younger kids with their shoelaces and generally caring for the other orphans.
At breakfast, we meet “Mom” – Isabella. With black hair, purple eyes, and a warm smile, Isabella tends to the kids with matronly patience and care. The kids all adore and revere her – especially Emma. Following breakfast, the kids are shown demonstrating their intellectual aptitude in a series of tests, which Emma, Norman, and Ray all pass with perfect scores. Despite their impressive intellect, Norman notes that Mom is still far superior as Emma agrees, recounting that they’ve never been able to beat her in chess.
The kids then engage in a game of tag on the large green fields and among the lush trees of the forest that surround Gracefield. Emma is best known for her athletic abilities, and so when Norman is “it”, he quickly knocks out most of the house with the exception of her. The two square off as Emma makes a daring leap over a crevasse to escape Norman. Just when she thinks she’s home free, hiding out in the canopy of a tree, Norman feigns falling over and lures her out. “Your weakness is that you’re too kind.” he says.
The trio summarizes their game of tag, and another round is played where everyone is “it” except for Norman. He seemingly disappears into the forest, with nobody able to find him until Emma accidentally stumbles upon the outer limits of the forest and notices him gazing at the low-level fence at the border. She tags him, and the other kids eventually catch up with them. There’s a discussion of what the “outside world” must be like, and the kids all take turns dreaming about that fated day when they’re adopted and finally leave Gracefield.
One of the younger kids, Conny, is actually being adopted that very day. After a day of play and fun, Conny bids a tearful farewell to her Gracefield family and is led away from the house by Isabella.
During cleanup, Emma comes across Conny’s beloved stuffed animal – “Little Bunny”. Knowing that she can’t possibly make the transition into her new foster home without her dearest friend, she takes Norman and attempts to return the doll to Conny.
The pair makes their way to a distant garage of sorts, where a truck lies waiting in the stone corridor. Emma assumes that if she leaves the bunny in the back of the truck that Conny will eventually find it, but when she goes to place it, she discovers a horrific scene.
Conny’s lifeless, gray body greets her as Emma staggers back in shock. She calls Norman over to confirm and he’s also shaken by the sight of their lifeless former sibling. As they’re attempting to make sense of it, they hear voices from another room and immediately go to hide under the truck. Horror begets horror as Emma gets a good look at these figures and discovers that they are honest-to-god monsters. She and Norman both struggle to muffle their screams of terror as the monsters discuss how the kids are being raised as high-quality meat for rich and powerful monsters.
Emma wants to know where Mom is and gets her heart-rending answer as a third monster calls on her by name to ensure that the delivery of the “high-quality goods” goes off without incident. In a matter of moments, Emma and Norman’s entire world has been shattered, revealing the terrible truth of their lives.
They eventually escape from the corridor, running back to the house as Emma collapses with a mournful scream. That night, she and Norman are discussing what to do next when Norman suggests they should plan on escaping. Emma is reluctant, not wanting to leave the other kids there to die.
Norman assures her it comes down to strategy – much like tag and chess. Emma seems to be briefly comforted by the thought, as the episode concludes with Isabella holding Conny’s Little Bunny – seemingly recognizing that someone was sneaking around.
- The title of the episode, "121045", when arranged in DDMMYY format translates to 12 October, 2045, which is the date the events of this episode is set in. This date is also Conny' shipment date.
- When Isabella was bringing Conny to the gates, Conny questioned Isabella when she heard her humming a song. The song is foreshadowing two things:
- An addition to the points stated above: The background music that played when Norman was comforting a traumatized Emma is similar to Isabella and Ray's song, it is one of the Original Soundtrack of the anime called Isabella's Lullaby.
- The scene with Isabella staring blankly at the stuffed bunny in her hand was only shown in a small, insignificant panel in the manga, it was however heavily emphasized in the anime, to the point where it is presented as a jump scare, coupled with the sudden change of music in the background.
Anime and Manga Differences
- The manga is more comical and comedic as compared to the anime, which is more serious and down-to-earth. Such examples are the goofy and over the top expressions showcased by the manga characters, which is toned down to look more realistic in the anime.
- The flashback scene of young Emma, Norman, and Ray standing at the gate of the wall was shown at the start of the episode. In the manga, it was shown in the middle of chapter 1.
- A short fence that stood a small distance away from the large wall of Grace Field is never shown or mentioned in the manga.
- An additional scene of Emma, Norman, Ray, Don, Gilda, Conny and Phil interacting next to the short fence was added.
- There are more interactions between Don and Conny in this episode as compared to chapter 1 of the manga. Though the two did interact more in the extra pages of a few of the manga volumes.
- The scene with Norman lockpicking in chapter 1 was not shown in this episode. It was, however, shown in episode 2 instead.
- The setting where Norman was comforting a traumatized Emma after discovering Conny's corpse is different in the anime. In the manga, Norman consoled Emma when they were at the field outside the house. In the anime, the setting was changed to the bedrooms inside the house, where Norman consoled Emma next a bed.
- Additional dialogue between Norman and Emma in this scene were added. Such was the part where Emma talked about a game of tag.
- This episode had pre-screenings on streaming services ahead of broadcast on January 9, 2019.
- The episode premiered in several countries like Singapore way before its date of airing (January 10, 2019) during anime conventions as a way to promote the show.