A thriller manga about three intelligent kids who find out the secrets of the orphanage mansion.
Lately, I have been getting really invested in many manga. I have read great manga like Berserk/Vagabond/Tsugumomo and have read so many books about manga from great mangaka like Hirohiki Araki. These recent events have influenced me to become a mangaka in the future and explore what new manga came out that could peak my interest. The ones that peaked my interest were from Shonen Jump, with new series like ROBOT x LASERBEAM and Dr. Stone. However, there was one manga from that company that has quickly become one of my all-time favorites. That particular manga is called The Promised Neverland.
What is amazing about The Promised Neverland is how its first chapter immediately engrosses me to its world. The mangaka’s colored art might give the impression of an innocent tale about children forming friendships, but it is far from that. The story starts and goes over the lives of the main characters named Emma, Norman, and Ray. These three live in a gated orphanage called the Grace Field House owned by the caretaker Isabella, where all kids take daily tests to increase their level of knowledge. Emma, Norman, and Ray are the smartest kids currently living in the mansion. All of these orphaned kids have numbers labeled in their necks and are not allowed to leave beyond the Grace Field House’s gates until they get adopted by a new family.
In the first pages, there are already some things to feel shady about. Why are these children given labels? Why does a caretaker want the children to take tests? What is the caretaker of these orphans planning to do with them? What is the end goal of having these children be very knowledgeable? Why are there gates around the mansion? These questions wandered into my brain swiftly. The Promised Neverland‘s story piqued my interest and gave me a desire to know what is going to happen next.
One night, an orphan named Conny (A friend of Emmy) is sent off in a carrier to be adopted by a family. Emmy notices that her young friend left behind her cherished possession, a bunny plush. With Norman and Ray’s help, she leaves outside in the dark to help give Conny back her plush. When Emma rushes to the entrance gate, what she finds out is shocking. Emma discovers that Conny is dead. They find demonic creatures carrying the lifeless orphan talking about the reality of the Grace Field House.
The main characters learn that the orphanage is actually a farm where they are raised to become food for demonic creatures. The caretaker Isabella is cooperating with these demons to help them with their cause. These new pieces of information terrify Emma, Ray, and Norman to the core. The three kids vow, use their incredibly sharp intelligence, and utilize their different personalities as “disguises” to escape the Grace Field House alongside the other orphans. The story shifts from cheery and fun to terrifying and tense. I wanted to see how the kids would escape without being noticed by the caretaker. What exactly are these demonic creatures? What is the world beyond the orphanage? At that moment, I was engrossed in The Promised Neverland.
At that point in the story, this manga gets darker and more intriguing. I will not say more beyond that point, but The Promised Neverland manages to be consistently interesting each chapter through its constant feed of new story information, learning more about the creatures, world, characters. There is a constant feeling of tension with the kids trying to think through these obstacles. This makes learning new information feel purposeful and impactful. I worry about the lives of the characters, while also seeing them discover new things about the world, with new mysteries to uncover. In my opinion, The Promised Neverland has an intense narrative that ranks among the high thrilling levels of Death Note, but much more.
To further clarify, unlike Death Note, The Promised Neverland also offers fantasy setting that has mysteries waiting to be solved. Neverland’s story is not just about being caught and thinking about the morality of the situation, but also learning about the world and the historical relationship between these creatures and humans. Not only can Neverland challenge my mind, but also offer a captivating, fictional setting that I want to know more of. Basically, The Promised Neverland is Death Note, but adding a grand story that builds itself like One Piece and Hunter X Hunter. Not that I think Death Note is bad (The series is still my top favorites of all time), but I feel that The Promised Neverland goes to extra miles to engage me due to this reasoning.
Overall, The Promised Neverland is an amazing experience. This is a manga that is very thrilling and filled with mysteries of the world that begging to be solved. The amount of care put into the story really shows through its writing. This is a series that can inspire more intense thrillers with a building world. As of now, the manga is incomplete, currently up to 50+ chapters in its second arc.
As someone who has caught up to the latest chapter, I can confidently say that the story is still just as engrossing and intense, filled with consistent quality since the beginning of the story. I am so glad that Shonen Jump decided to let this series keep going even if it is not the typical battle manga they usually approve of. You can read the first three chapters of The Promised Land on VIZ Media’s site, or you can wait until Volume 1 of the manga releases in the U.S. in early December of 2017. Or you can do it the other way. Either way, this manga cannot be missed. The Promised Neverland is a must read.
*Also, if you plan to read it soon, it is essential that you do not look up any images of Promised Neverland on search sites. You will get spoiled. I made the mistake to briefly look the title up on Google and checked the images. As a result, I accidentally have seen pages of several key moments in the manga. I did not know the context, but based on what I have read in the manga’s first chapters and the way the manga encourages thinking for the readers, I am more likely to guess what key moment of the story it is. That can ruin the overall experience.