The Promised Neverland 005-007 – Review

The Promised Neverland:

Chapters 005-007

Reviewed by: Tom

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Unless you’re going to puree them before hand, a wine glass seems a poor way to consume children.

Synopsis: Emma is an 11-year old girl living at an orphanage along with thirty-seven other children. They spend their days playing in the yard, the nearby forest, and taking test over their headsets in the house’s school room. When they turn twelve the children leave the orphanage, going beyond the gate they’ve been warned to never venture near. However, despite how quaint and comfortable this life has been for Emma and the other children, there’s a much darker truth awaiting them beyond that gate.

(Warning: Spoilers to Follow)

While exploring the gate one night, in hopes of delivering a forgotten stuffed toy to a departing friend, Emma and Norman, one of the smartest boys within the Orphanage, discover the horrible truth: The orphans are being raised as mere meat for horrific demonic creatures. Escaping back to the orphanage both Emma and Norman decide to try and find a way to escape with the other thirty-six orphans before they’re harvested too.

Review:

Chapter 005:

We open with Emma in the library with Norman and Ray trying to ascertain where on the world map they might be. Emma isn’t satisfied with what little they can glean however, she thirsts for power and knowledge to ensure that no one else dies. She’s very determined, although the manga harps on this quite often. I don’t think it needs to harp on the idea so often, and it makes me feel like the authors don’t trust in their ability or audience yet.

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We’re five chapters in, Emma. I think we get it.

Before they can get much further Mother calls on them and the two other oldest kids, Gilda and Don, for help. She needs them to do some chores that involve moving beds around, and such. But this isn’t a one time thing, as Emma and the others are asked to do extra chores for three days in a row. This seems to indicate that Mother might even suspect them of attempting to escape.

Norman and Ray convince Emma to calm down, that mother still doesn’t know exactly who she’s up against and naturally suspects the older kids. Emma is amazed at how calm and methodical Norman and Ray are, hardening her resolve to become like them. Again we jump back to this same idea that Emma wants to improve, grow smarter and stronger. In fact, I feel like within this chapter here is the better moment to bring it up, and we wouldn’t have lost anything by cutting the earlier mention of Emma’s desires.

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Emma you’re turning into a broken record. Work with us here.

Don starts to break down, growing with frustration as he wants to go out and play. Gilda wonders if this is punishment for something. I like this moment and later as we build up how the other kids are slowly but surely realizing something is up. When the two run off to do some chores elsewhere, Norman notes they need to do something about Mother’s tracking device, her pocket watch, if their escape is to be successful.

Emma checks her body for the tracking implants they must all have, but it isn’t obvious where they might be. Ray points out that they’re potentially up against the demon’s own technology, which means it’s exceedingly hard, if not impossible to find the tracking chips implanted inside them. As it turns out it’ll be fairly easy, but we’ll get to that.

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Don’t worry you’ll solve this problem soon. Like, two chapters from now.

It all comes down to needing more information, and Norman’s also bothered by the chores Mother is having them complete. It’s not a sound strategy if she wants to make them impatient and reveal their plans. As they try to understand Mother they think back to all the chess games she played with them when they were little. She was always one or two steps ahead. Always. It’s great to get a little history of what it was like being raised by Mother, and how something so innocent as a friendly chess game can now seem so evil and ruthless with the knowledge they have now.

As it turns out their current struggle is just like that Chess game. Before the end of the day a new caretaker arrives, Sister Krone, along with a new baby girl, Carol. Norman realizes this was all to buy time for Mother’s reinforcements to arrive. The group realizes that none of Norman and Ray’s scheming mattered, because Mother was playing a longer, more methodical, more predictive game. Sister Krone greets herself and they can feel the menace of the demons behind her very presence. This moment felt odd, as I feel like Norman’s strain over the situation is misplaced. Sure, she pulled one over on them, but I guess I’d be more concerned with the arrival of another enemy. From my perspective it’s less of a problem that she kept them held down with busybody work and more so that things have become more difficult, the odds stacked against them. The focus of this development shifts for the next chapter, but here it’s all on Mom pulling the wool over their eyes.

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Give the woman some credit, she’s been your mother for over a decade, she knows what she’s doing.

I suppose it could be argued that it speaks to Norman’s arrogance, unwilling to recognize the true disadvantage they’re at. It’s natural mother would be able to pull this over them, seeing as the three know hardly anything about the outside world and what resources are at her disposal. It feels odd to me though, like our heroes aren’t really focusing on the greater problem at hand.

Chapter 006:

Picking up right from the end of the last chapter, the group realizes that it’s now even more difficult to escape. The group is also frustrated, having played right into Mother’s hands. Norman realizes it’s now all about surpassing Mom in terms of strategy and forethought and if they can’t do than there’s no escape. Ray suspects there’s a psychological component as well, if she can depress them enough then their resolve will weaken and they’ll give up. It’s a solid idea, and I’m glad it’s touched on, even if the manga doesn’t really explore that angle all too often. Sure Emma gets flustered and frustrated, but she never seems to be actively on the edge of giving up. We’ll see going forward though if Neverland toys a bit more with the strain placed upon our heroes psyche.

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Parenting: It’s all about beating into your children that they’re worthless.

Ray also points out that this turn of events could also be a boon. The baby and Krone are, at least potentially, new sources of information. With that the tone of the conversation changes and their spirits are lifted. It’s a sudden shift, and reminds me that ultimately, even if these kids are bright, they’re still just kids. Their mood seems to shift at the drop of a hat and while I think that perhaps bites at the overall quality of Neverland’s darker tone, it’s not nearly as jarring as the forced comic relief from before.

Elsewhere it looks like the other children are starting to realize something is up, as Norman, Emma, and Ray are never around anymore. This really has me interested, and I’m very curious to see how our authors work this angle in as the series continues. Will the other children end up being a boon to Emma? Or perhaps they’re another hindrance waiting to go wrong?

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Damn, if only they’d give up on escaping then these little kids wouldn’t be so sad!

Back with our trio, they put together that there must be a baby farming facility somewhere, hence where their new little sister came from. Krone’s presence also means it’s likely there are other farms just like this one. Ray points out the biggest boon though, that if Carol only just arrived she might still have a scar from where the tracking device was implanted. Ray also thinks there’s significance in Mom having so blatantly teased the tracking device. The conversation ends with Emma deciding she’ll learn about the tracking device from Carol and reaffirming that she won’t lose, either to the demons or the two adults. That’s another thing Neverland seems to harp on frequently. It feels like we cut away from Emma half the time with “I won’t lose.” or “we won’t lose.” I mean, I get it, things are tense, but we’ve got to stop harping on that for near every transition.

Krone and Mother meet in private, with Krone making comments about “finally coming back to this side” and divulging that Mother was the youngest ever to become a head caretaker and has raised the most high-quality goods out of all the houses. It’s a lot of great hints that really make you wonder about the backstory and details behind these characters, and more importantly Neverland’s setting. Mother is uninterested in Krone’s brown nosing however, and instead instructs her to memorize all the information on the children, pointing out that it should be easier than scoring perfects on the tests she took as a child every morning.

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Twist!

This moment makes me wonder if we’re going to get a twist about the whole education/brain eating through line. Are children perhaps educated so that they can one day become Mother’s themselves and watch over the farms? I don’t know that the rest of the series entirely supports that, and I’m not sure educating the children to be their own wardens makes too much sense if thought about too hard, but it’d certainly alleviate some of the trouble I have with the brain eating stuff.

Krone asks why she was even brought in, and Mother reveals that some of her children discovered the secret. Krone freaks out, talking about how they’re supposed to ship the kids immediately if that happens, but Mother refuses to. She doesn’t want to report it, because “her kids are special.” Mother tells Krone all she needs is assistance to keep the children in line until the day of shipment. Krone agrees and addresses Mother as Isabella. I believe this is the first time we’ve heard her called anything other than mother.

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Dun dun dun!… well, maybe not exactly ‘dun dun dun’ quality.

Chapter 007:

We learn that one reason Emma is in charge of learning what they can from the new baby girl is because only the girls are allowed to help with the babies. This is definitely interesting, the throw away text explaining why only Emma is able to search for this information. I wonder if Neverland is trying to hint at the idea that Emma, unlike say Norman or Ray, is being bred to become a Matron like Isabella or Krone? I’m wondering if that’s a twist we’ll see coming up, the girls bred as caretakers and the boys as food for the demons. Or perhaps I’m reading too much into it.

Meanwhile Norman and Ray note how the kids have already grown to like Krone. They discuss how it’s not enough to out-maneuver Krone and Mother, they can’t allow them to report anything to the demons on the outside. Ray indicates that perhaps they need to kill Krone and Mother, but he stops just as Krone appears behind them. She greets them and Ray is worried for a moment that she overheard, although it looks like they shut up just in time.

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These caretakers seem to be experts at sneaking up on people.

Krone herself makes note of how calm it is, as if the children don’t even know the truth. Krone then launches into her own monologue, amused that someone like Isabella would make such an easy mistake. She plans to betray her and take a position of power for herself. I feel like Krone as a ‘major’ player in this conflict is a mistake. We don’t really need this angle of betrayal and infighting as the central conflict between Mother and Emma is already so interesting. I’m hoping the author realizes this and puts this plot on the back burner as it really isn’t needed.

Meanwhile Emma searches the new baby for any indication of an implant. It’s not looking good, but just as she’s getting discouraged Emma realizes the easiest place to inject an implant would be just behind the ear. And bingo, she finds it. It’s harder to find on her own ear, but Emma lets this boost her mood and resolve. I do have to say that was much easier than the last chapter lead us to believe. From Ray’s dialogue it made it sound like this was almost a lost cause. I feel like it was a mistake to talk about finding the tracking device if the answer was going to be so easy and quick.

Later at night Mother contacts someone known only as Grandmother, who gives her a message from the boss, asking if ‘the three’ can be shipped out as scheduled. The other farms have been fruitless, but they need Isabella’s children for the Tifari ceremony. Isabella assures Grandmother that they can indeed be shipped and we snap to a meeting of demons who wish to ensure the meal for a unknown demon is as special as can be. The demon has a very ‘weird’ name, not even English, a miss mash of squiggles and odd lettering.

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A couple of the demons in the back look like Star Wars Cantina refugees.

Overall I’m still very happy with where Neverland is going. I feel there’s still a few missteps here and there, but things have also improved in other areas. The awkward comedy seems to have taken a backseat, and we’ve begun introducing hints and twists that help to flesh out and intrigue the reader as to the nature of the world. While I feel Krone plotting to betray Isabella is a mistake, it’s a smaller one and overall Neverland remains one of the more promising Jump titles introduced at the end of August.

Thanks for reading and please let me know your thoughts on The Promised Neverland 005-007 in the comments section below!

The Promised Neverland is published weekly in Shonen Jump. The first few (001-003) chapters can be read for free via Viz.com

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