Are you ready to experience the same terror gripping the Grace Field orphans? While The Promised Neverland manga releases its final volume on October 10th and the 2nd season of the anime production on hiatus, there’s still plenty to look forward to. We’re talking live-action! As part of the cross-promotion between the manga and live-action movie, Sister Krone has been all over Japan giving everyone the creeps.
You can’t escape her maniacal grin. She’ll catch you off-guard as you’re going about your day on the subway walkways. Beware her demented eyes slowly being revealed in the darkness behind elevator doors, beside the ATM, and even peeking out beside the sidewalk. Run, people, run!
Sister Krone (Naomi Watanabe) is everywhere as part of The Promised Neverland live action promotion.
Here’s a quick comparison below from fans on Twitter. It’s problematic, especially that the Black Lives Matter or BLM movement is ongoing and the black community needs representation more than ever. Others believe this is an example of whitewashing. But we’re not entirely sure. As one netizen puts it, “The Japan film industry lacks black actresses.”
Cast for the TPN Live Action movie
-Keiko Kitagawa as Mama Isabella
-Naomi Watanabe as Sister Krone pic.twitter.com/Xu5pxJpoCp
— 🌟The Promised Neverland🌟 (@TPNManga) June 19, 2020
I have no doubt that Naomi Watanabe is talented. Perhaps she’s been chosen because of her title, “the Japanese Beyoncé”, a trademark impersonation that made her rise to fame back in 2008. Some fans are angry about it, given that Keep Your Hands Off Eikouzen managed to cast Grace Emma (a black actress) as Sowande Sasaki and stayed true to the source material. Why can’t The Promised Neverland do the same for its live-action cast?
Meanwhile, some fans are excited about it, because it’s Naomi Watanabe, who can give the character a better portrayal than the source material. Some think that the original depiction of Sister Krone is racist in itself because of how black people are typically typecast as villains. At least they didn’t go out of their way to incorporate blackface.
Personally, I’m torn. While I understand it might not be easy to find a black actress in Japan who speaks Japanese fluently and fits the role, it’s more important than ever to demonstrate awareness. Erasing Sister Krone’s blackness seems like a step backward in 2020. Despite knowing that it’s probably not as bad as the whitewashing in M. Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, the fact that they didn’t cast a black woman casts a shadow into this quirky and fun promotion. I shudder to think that if Final Fantasy VII had a live-action movie, casting directors would also replace Barret with a white-skinned, fully Japanese actor.
However, I’m still keen to see how Naomi Watanabe will breathe life into this cunning caretaker with a personal agenda. From the short clips, she has the aunty vibes, the frightening facial expression, and comedic timing down. But for me, it’s not enough.
It’s ironic that a series that gives freedom and individuality so much importance wasted the opportunity to represent their only black character. Even if they manage to correct the stereotypical villain that Sister Krone represented in the manga and anime, removing Sister Krone’s blackness is not the best way to go about it. Let’s wait and see if The Promised Neverland live-action movie can make up for this blunder.
The rest of the cast Minami Hamabe, Jyo Kairi, and Rihito Itagaki as well as Keiko Kitagawa seem promising (save for the fact they won’t look completely like kids aged 10 – 12). I expected the wall to be higher, though.
Note: Don’t be confused with a separate live-action series coming to Amazon this 2021. The Promised Neverland live-action film is set for release in Japan on December 18, 2020.
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