The Promised Neverland: Why it works

The Promised Neverland

There are many different kinds of manga out there. Many of them however, suffer from bland character personalities, harem filled plots, or incoherent stories. The Promised Neverland doesn’t go through the same complications. If I were to compare TPN to something, it would be Shutter Island meets Battle Royale mixed with Death Note and a dash of Peter Pan. It’s a gem that everyone would do well to read.

Plot

The general plot of The Promised Neverland is that babies are raised at the Grace Fieldhouse by their caretaker known as Mama. The children have to take complicated daily written exams, but otherwise, spend much of their time as a family playing outside. Sounds like a fun time right? Wrong! In the first chapter, it is actually revealed that the orphanage is actually a farm, the kids being the meat. See where this is going? Soylent Green territory. There’s an added twist on top of everything else where the consumers are actually demons. This is definitely not your run of the mill story.

The subject matter is incredibly dark, while keeping a façade that everything is going well. When consuming entertainment, dread is often felt more intensely when there’s a layer of normalcy over all of “the feel bad stuff”; that’s exactly what reading this manga feels like sometimes. Knowing something is wrong, but the majority of the cast acting normal.

The mangaka loves to subvert expectations while also having the characters act realistically. Sometimes you’ll find yourself thinking that a character should do an action and they do it, only to be presented with an even crazier situation.

The story constantly escalates without ever feeling rushed or unnatural.

It also asks an important question. How does someone readjust to their entire reality and existence being a lie?

Characters

After finding out that they’re just cattle, most people would probably give up or fall into despair. Our main trio consisting of Emma, Ray, and Norman instead decide to fight back. Standing between them and freedom are Mama Isabella, and later Sister Krone.

So how exactly can youngsters realistically compete against adults?

The author does a really good job of using intelligence, resourcefulness, and knowledge to give the children a fighting chance. Each main character encompasses one of the three previous traits while exhibiting the other two to a lesser degree.

Isabella is in a completely different lane as it’s revealed that the kids have never won against her mentally or physically.

In order to balance out the roster, the rest of the house is filled with children, each one having their own lovable personality making them stand out.

The house and its surroundings may also be seen as a figurative character as it essentially works together with Mama to keep the characters prisoners. It also raises more questions while not being the main focus of the story. In later chapters, it lends its unexpected nature to whoever can maneuver their plans around it the best.

The Promised Neverland 3 main characters
Together and full of hope, they can accomplish anything.

Art style

The art style lends itself perfectly to the actions and feelings the characters take and feel. If they are running, you really feel as if they are moving. If they are stricken with a sense of hopelessness, you actually get to feel it through the art. When everyone is happy, the style tells us that there may be more to the situation than the words we read.

Although the demons are used sparingly, whenever they are present a sense of unease fills the pages. They are disgusting to look at to the point that I feel a knot in my stomach in their appearances.

The art tells a story that complements the words and actions we are presented with.

The rest

The author ingeniously set up the field for a battle of epic proportions. It isn’t a battle fought physically though. A battle using the mind is often times much scarier and draining than a simple fist fight.

The imagery used in one of the chapters compared the battle to a game of chess, which is on point. If I had to venture a guess on which kind of pieces they would all be, Mama would be a queen while the 3 protagonists would be rooks and the rest of the kids would be peons.

While Mama is alone yet backed up by an organization, the children are alone while being together. This contrast creates certain moves that are only possible to each respective faction. Mama is stronger and smarter than the kids, but she can only realistically be in one place at a time, whereas the youngsters can use distraction techniques to split her attention.

A limit placed on the minors, in the form of Emma wanting to escape with everyone on the farm, considerably increases the difficulty. Mama also has a limit placed on her, because she can’t outright kill the cattle.

The protagonists are constantly trying to outmaneuver Mama while she cuts off any retreat. No one holds back their blows which mean we get a true psychological thriller.

The manga also knows when to relax so that you aren’t constantly anxious throughout, but those times never last.

The Promised Neverland 3 main characters posing
Hopefully better times await them.

Why read it?

To sum up it all up, The Promised Neverland is a manga everyone should read if they enjoy mysteries and thrillers. In a sea of similar content, this stands out as one of the most enjoyable stories told across any medium. Some images or plot points may cause mental breakdowns, but know that it’s all worth it. With 34 chapters out, you can easily catch up to the latest chapter.

Leave a comment if you thought the same, thought differently, or just want to leave your own opinion.

Jahmssen Ruiz Castaneda
Jahmssen Ruiz Castaneda
Jack of all trades, master of none. Did some college time, and ultimately got a degree that looks good on a shelf. I like anime, video games, and I love manga.

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