The dystopian genre is nothing new to manga. If anything, it is an overused trope. However, the plot of “survival of the fittest” never tires in publishing. That seems to be because the genre keeps evolving thanks to series like The Promised Neverland.

What Is The Promised Neverland?

The Promised Neverland is a manga series by Kaiu Shirai (writer) and Posuka Demizu (artist). The series began serialization on August 1, 2016, in Weekly Shounen Jump magazine. Viz Media started publishing the series in English for North American audiences on December 2017. The Promised Neverland also won the 63rd Shogakukan Manga Awards for “Best Shounen Manga.”

The Promised Neverland
Viz Media’s The Promised Neverland, 2016

In May 2018, Anime News Network released an article stating the series would be receiving an anime adaptation. This anime will air sometime in January 2019 under the production of A-1 Pictures’ CloverWorks Studio.

While the prospects of an anime are exciting, The Promised Neverland is a must-read series. Readers cannot afford to wait until 2019 to discover it. Therefore, here are reasons why fans should add The Promised Neverland to their reading list now!

The Plot Of The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland takes place within the orphanage called Grace Field House. The children never go without and great care goes into raising them. Under the watchful eye of their “Mom,” Isabella, everyone lives together as a family. Every day the children undergo examinations which rank them intellectually, and by the age of twelve, the children leave adopted.

The Promised Neverland
Viz Media’s The Promised Neverland, 2017

Each child receives a serial number tattoo on their neck and must follow only one rule: never leave the premises. The three oldest, and highest scoring, children of the orphanage are Emma, Norman, and Ray. These three are best friends and their twelfth birthdays are nearing, meaning they will soon have to leave. While on the surface, Grace Field House appears to be paradise. But, in reality, there is a dark truth lurking underneath.

One night, when a child undergoes early adoption, Norman and Emma follow their “Mom” outside the premises. There, they both discover the body of the “adopted” child with a strange flower growing from her chest.

The Promised Neverland
Viz Media’s The Promised Neverland, 2017

While hiding, Norman and Emma catch a glimpse of large Demons harvesting the child’s body with “Mom” present. It is here that Norman and Emma realize that the orphanage is actually a harvesting ground for these Demons. And the orphans are their livestock.

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From then on, Emma, Norman, and Ray plan to escape with all the orphans from Grace Field House to survive. However, with the outside world being a complete unknown to them and their “Mom” keeping constant vigilance, will they succeed?

The Characters Of The Promised Neverland

While there are many characters within The Promised Neverland, this section will cover the main players.

Emma (63194)

Emma is one of the three oldest and highest-intellectually-ranked children of Grace Field House. She is energetic, optimistic, athletic, and cares deeply for her family at the orphanage. She is closest to Norman and Ray who are both near her in age. Emma will soon be turning twelve years old, and she has a neck tattoo with the numbers 63194.

The Promised Neverland
A-1 Pictures’ CloverWorks Studio’s The Promised Neverland, 2018

When she finds out the truth about the orphanage, she is heartbroken as she cared for “Mom.” However, she steals herself to create a plan in which all the orphans can escape Grace Field House alive.

Norman (22194)

Norman is the smartest child of Grace Field House. He is also one of the oldest children at the orphanage. He shows great analytical and decision-making capabilities. However, despite his thorough intellect, Norman displays a kind personality, especially to Emma.

The Promised Neverland
A-1 Pictures’ CloverWorks Studio’s The Promised Neverland, 2018

Like Emma, he shows great care for his fellow family members at the orphanage. But, he also displays a realistic outlook on their situation like Ray. He too is near the age of twelve and has a neck tattoo with the numbers 22194.

Ray (81194)

Ray is a realist to the coldest degree. He spends his time to himself, mostly reading books under a tree. Like Emma and Norman, he is almost twelve years old. He has a tattoo with the numbers 81194 on his neck. And, out of all the children, Ray is the closest to rival Norman’s intelligence in the orphanage.

The Promised Neverland
A-1 Pictures’ CloverWorks Studio’s The Promised Neverland, 2018

Unlike Norman and Emma, Ray does not favor the idea of running away with all the orphans. He considers most of them burdens who will hinder their escape. However, he goes along with their attempts in creating a plan to save everyone.  

Isabella (“Mom”/73584)

Isabella is the “Mom” of Grace Field House. She appears to be a kind and caring mother figure for all the orphans. However, she is actually an agent for the Demons who raises the children until “harvest time.”

The Promised Neverland
Viz Media’s The Promised Neverland, 2017

She is a cruel person willing to do anything to ensure the children do not escape. Isabella is a formidable opponent the children face as she outsmarts them on every plan they make. She was once an orphan in these harvesting facilities. However, due to her vast intelligence, the Demons spared her and promoted her to be a “Mom.”

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The “Grading” Process In The Promised Neverland

The children of Grace Field House take examinations every day. These exams rank each child’s intelligence which determine how long they remain at the orphanage. Generally, the children ship off from the orphanage to the Demons between the ages of six to twelve years old. However, the more intelligent a child is, the longer they remain at the orphanage.

The Promised Neverland
Viz Media’s The Promised Neverland, 2017

The Demons are after the children’s brains. Therefore, the better the brain, the more delicious the child. So, the children who are low rank, the Demons harvest quickly. While those who rank higher intellectually get to further develop to the Demons’ preferences.

Similar to how humans grade their beef, the Demons rank the children based on quality. Children whose exam scores are dismal, the Demons call “low grade.” From there, the scoring rises to “average,” “good,” “fine,” and “highest grade.” (Emma, Norman, and Ray are “highest” grade products due to their high scores.)

The Cruel Yet Beautiful World Of The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland flips the dystopian genre upside down. The series does this by not having strength be the main component in survival but intelligence instead. Being the strongest person in this world does absolutely nothing. The only factor which determines longevity is intelligence. The higher the score a person receives on the exams, the longer their life. And, if they are lucky, their intelligence may also provide them an escape from harvest through becoming “Moms.”

Kaiu Shirai’s storytelling shows the cruelty of The Promised Neverland‘s world by sparing no one from death, not even children. However, despite its inherent ugliness in subject, The Promised Neverland is a beautifully illustrated series. Posuka Demizu does an incredible job in capturing the severity of the harvest with a contrasting fairy-tale-like setting.

The Promised Neverland
Viz Media’s The Promised Neverland, 2017

The illustrations are grand, and while Demizu draws people rather simply, the fantasy element is still present. The world and each individual has a little bit of magic in them which is just perfect. If nothing else convinces fans to pick up this series, the artwork enough should.

For it genuinely captures the beauty of a fleeting world and the cruelty of being animals led to the slaughter.


The Promised Neverland is available for purchase through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. For more Animanga reviews, click here.  

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