The Promised Neverland Manga Review: Sacrificing for the Greater Good

    In anticipation of The Promised Neverland Season 2, I decided it was about time to read The Promised Neverland manga. At that point, the only thing I knew about the story was whatever happened in season 1 of the anime, which translates to around 4 volumes of the manga. I was spoiled here and there from TikTok and from the latter volume covers I’d see when walking the isles of Kinokuniya. While I’m a big no spoilers kind of person, the spoilers I saw didn’t make sense to me because they required context, which I didn’t have. Regardless, now I’ve completed the manga and I’m here to provide my thoughts and opinions on this series.

    Emma and the Grace Field children, Photo by CloverWorks

    The Promised Neverland takes place in a realm overrun by demons whose favorite dish is human meat. They created farms to produce and cultivate children for the sole purpose of being eaten by a certain age. Children with high potential were kept alive until the age of twelve whereas others until the age of six. One of the farms, Grace Field, is where our protagonists grow up and learn the truth.

    Emma sees demons for the first time, Photo by Shirai Kaiu

    One of the children, Conny, is adopted and accidentally leaves her beloved stuffed bunny behind. Emma and Norman decide to go to the gates to Grace Field to go return the bunny since Conny hadn’t left yet. Upon reaching the gates, Emma discovers Conny’s dead body inside a cart with a blooming flower pierced through her heart. This is where Emma and Norman discover the existence of demons and how the children’s sole purpose is to be eaten.

    Norman leaves, Photo by Shirai Kaiu

    This sparks Emma, Norman, and Ray to figure out a way to escape from Grace Field and return to the human world. For the first four volumes or the first season of the anime, the trio quickly learns the measures the demons put in place to make it difficult for children to escape. I’m not going to focus too much on this arc of the anime/manga mainly because The Promised Neverland Season 1 has been widely seen already and I want to focus on the parts that haven’t been animated yet.

    Ray figures out the shipment schedule, Photo by Shirai Kaiu

    Throughout the series, the characters witness firsthand the wrath of the demons as well as the trauma previous farm survivors have to endure. With that, the series is very strong in the character development department, especially when it comes to Emma. Emma’s determined attitude when it comes to saving her family does not stagger one bit. However, her mental development takes a huge turn after she asks Sonju, a friendly demon, to teach her how to hunt. Emma seems to mature very quickly to the level of an adult, despite being twelve-years-old. During the Goldy Pond Arc, she’s practically respected at the same level as Lucas, an adult who has witnessed far more horrors than Emma.

    Lucas’ first appearance, Photo by Shirai Kaiu

    At the beginning of the series, Ray explains to Emma how Norman strategizes during their game of tag and how Emma needs to learn how to think like the enemy. This moment foreshadows practically a majority of Emma’s encounters with enemies and friends. She’s able to assess Yuugo, Norman, Peter Ratri, and others quickly and say the words that they need to hear. While Emma has always been able to empathize with others, she combines this empathy with strategizing to make sure that her goal of human survival is met to its fullest potential.

    Emma, Photo by CloverWorks

    With that, Emma becomes a ray of hope for all the children and practically becomes the sole protagonist of the series, which is why I’m focusing on her so greatly. Yes, Norman and Ray are at a higher intellectual level than Emma. However, they lack the level of empathy Emma has, making them unfit to fill her role. No one in the series can emulate Emma’s abilities.

    Emma, Norman, and Ray, Photo by CloverWorks

    Before I go deeper into the review, overall the series is great. The art style is beautiful and the dialogue is easy to digest. The story is very creepy and will at some points leave you with your jaw dropped. Definitely give it a go, especially since The Promised Neverland Season 2 won’t be following the manga.

    Below will contain spoilers for The Promised Neverland manga.

    One of Emma’s biggest character flaws is that she sacrifices herself for others. We first see this during the Promised Forest arc when Emma passes out. She later is healed by Mujika and is yelled at by Gilda for not letting the children know of her condition. While Emma is reassured that her family wants her to rely on them more, she doesn’t actually take this to heart. We see her self-sacrificing nature later in the Goldy Pond arc, where she jumps into a group of powerful demons to save three children she’s never met before. Later on, she tasks it upon herself to make a new promise with the demon god. Ray normally accompanies Emma, however, it’s mainly out of worry for her well-being.

    Leuvis vs. Emma, Photo by Shirai Kaiu

    Her flaw ultimately leads to her end when she loses all her memories to the demon god in order to get all the children to the human realm. This ending made me sob alot because Emma will never remember her life in Grace Field farm as well as the sacrifices others made for her (*cough* Isabella, Yuugo, and Lucas *cough*). However, this ending was very in character for her, and any other ending would seem out of place. It is relieving that the demon god let Emma retain her emotions towards her family, which we see in her dreams and when she finally reunites with them.

    Emma arrives at Goldy Pond, Photo by Shirai Kaiu

    Switching away from Emma, one character I found very interesting and integral to understanding the demon society is Sonju. We first meet Sonju during the Promised Forest arc, where he explains that for religious reasons he doesn’t eat farm children.

    Sonju and Emma, Photo by Shirai Kaiu

    What isn’t revealed later until the King of Paradise arc, however, is that Sonju is able to retain a human form because he ingested Mujika’s blood, which has the ability to stop demon deterioration. Mujika’s blood is regarded as “evil” by the demons, which confuses Emma. Why continue to have the risk of deterioration when it can be solved easily with Mujika’s blood? It’s because of greed. The royal family and the lords wanted a way to control the demon citizens and decided the only way to do that is by having the farms. With the farms run by royalty and the citizens fearing the risk of deterioration, the royal family can control the citizens however they want.

    Mujika and Queen Legravalima, Photo by Shirai Kaiu

    However, it is later revealed that Sonju is part of the royal family and is the younger brother of the Queen. Sonju chose to not partake in consuming farm children and was cast as a traitor to society. He loves and believes in Mujika, despite still having a desire to hunt free-roaming humans. This desire also reflects on the demon’s true nature, which is the wish to hunt living things of a higher-intelligence.

    Cover of Chapter 144, Photo by Shirai Kaiu

    Having Sonju be a rejected member of the royal family is important to the demon society as it shows that the royal family chooses to use their power to indulge in high-quality human meat rather than actually serve their citizens. This selfishness is also shown during former Lord Geelan’s backstory, where one of the lords frames him so that he can get exiled because he serves the citizens too much.

    Norman meets Lord Geelan, Photo by Shirai Kaiu

    There are two things I wish were touched upon in the story. The first is the reason why Sonju left the royal family and how he came to meet Mujika. My guess is his hatred for his siblings but the reason is not very clear in the manga. The second is what happened in the Lambda farm. While we understand through Norman and the other Lambda children’s telling about the Lambda farm’s conditions, I wish we could’ve read about it first-hand. I would’ve liked to read about how Norman escaped, recruited the other children, and ultimately became William Minerva. Maybe there will be a side-story about Norman’s time in Lambda? But, there haven’t been any announcements.

    Norman in Lambda, Photo by Shirai Kaiu

    These two holes don’t affect the manga’s story. So, it wasn’t a very big deal for me while reading. While there are some things I haven’t touched upon (such as Leuvis and the Ratri Clan), I definitely enjoyed the entire story and I hope that it will all be animated someday. I want to see the fight with Queen Legravalima animated so badly!

    What did you think of The Promised Neverland? Should Emma have lost her memories? Or was there a better way for the children to successfully escape to the human realm?


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