The Promised Neverland 011-013 – Review

The Promised Neverland:

Chapters 011-013

Reviewed by: Tom

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Everyone’s got that face that screams, “I shouldn’t have had that second Taco Bell Quesadilla.”

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.

They recruit Ray, the last of the three top kids, and set about trying to determine the best means of escape. But Mother is onto them, recruiting another adult to come in and help her watch over the kids. Things take a turn for the worse, however, as the group is forced to conclude that there may even be a spy among them.

Review:

Chapter 011:

Emma is struggling now with the idea that there’s a traitor among the children. It really could be any of them. It’s a bit hammed up, but seeing Emma now question and fear every other child, unsure now who she can and can’t trust, is great and adds to the edgey atmosphere. Flashing back we return to the groups discussions on escaping by November 8th (oh how I wish I could escape all the Election shannigans too.) Norman wants to escape before winter comes and by moving early subvert Mother’s attempts to control them. But before then they need to recruit Don and Gilda. They’ve decided not to tell Don or Gilda the whole truth, for fear they won’t believe them. I feel like this is guaranteed to bite them in the ass.

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That’s noble and all, but what if a misunderstanding arises from this?

Meeting with them, Don initially doesn’t believe their story that the children are all being sold off to bad people. I mean, I don’t think it helps they use such a general descriptor as ‘bad people.’ Gilda’s more willing to believe however, as she’s noticed how weird both Norman and Emma acted after their night out. This gets Don to come around and agree to the escape plan.

Ray and Norman chat afterwards, with Ray wondering when Norman and Emma will come clean with Don and Gilda. He feels it’s too cruel to keep them both in the dark on what’s really going on. Although Norman points out they still need to assume they’re spies. That night Emma and Gilda chat quite a bit, making Emma feel more secure that she isn’t alone in this fight. That is until Gilda gets up, secretly, in the middle of the night.

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That doesn’t look like the face of someone who just needs a mid night potty.

Flashing back we discover Norman came up with an idea to find out if either Don or Gilda was the spy by telling them the escape rope is hidden in different locations. Don was told it would be under Norman’s bed, and Gilda in the ceiling of the 2nd floor bathroom. If any of those ropes go missing then they know which is the spy. In fact, that night mother gets a note slid under her door, and Gilda goes to visit with Sister Krone. Mother opens the note to read that the rope is hidden under Norman’s bed. This chapter does a great job of driving up the tension, having us flip flop between who might be the traitor, and setting up more complicated twists to come.

Chapter 012:

Emma spots Gilda heading in to talk with Sister Krone and is already feeling betrayed. Inside we learn that Krone refuses to be nothing more than Isabella’s lackey. There’s also an interesting point here of Krone noticing that Mother is grooming the girls, like Emma, to be mothers. That raises quite a few questions: Are intelligent girls kept as Mothers generally? What happens to the boys then? Are they eaten as the standard kids? It also makes me wonder if this is a hint/set up for later arcs. Could Emma, for one reason or another, find herself in the position of Mother?

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Emma’s the traitor! It’s Emma! I’m calling it! Calling it!

She tries to coerce Gilda into telling her about Emma and the others, but Gilda refuses to talk. She thanks Krone for being so concerned for her, but she insists she’s okay now. However Krone stops Gilda from leaving, and asks if Gilda ‘found out everything.’ Gilda is stunned, and initially doesn’t know how to respond. Krone tries to force Gilda into giving up information, and Emma listens on anxiously. Gilda plays ignorant and bids Krone goodnight, although Krone whispers one final kernel of doubt into her ear, that Emma is lying to her. Outside Emma hugs Gilda, and apologizes for suspecting her of being a traitor. It’s a great moment, and yet again makes the situation more complex. Krone has sowed seeds of doubt in Gilda, and finally becomes a more powerful adviseray and danger to our group rather than the meager disappointment she’s been as a character up till now. She’s really done something that could have seriously damaging effects.

The next day Norman and Ray converse on how Sister Krone was inspecting the storage room floor for footprints. This leads Norman to conclude that Krone is acting of her own accord.

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So you mean no one told her to put herself to the floor and stick her ass up all crazy like that?

Norman and Ray then discuss why the traitor might be working for mother, such as an advantage for doing so. Emma helps the children train, and Gilda and Don realize that the tag games were training all along. Later on Norman talks to Emma about whether she’d leave behind the traitor, assuming they learned who it was. Emma, however, refuses to leave anyone behind and that if they did leave such a person behind, their safety would likely no longer be guaranteed.

Norman and Ray then check under his bed and discover the fake rope he’d planted is indeed gone, confirming that Don is the traitor. However, Norman rises and comes face to face with Ray, whom he then accuses of being the true traitor. It’s a big twist, one that I sat a little uneasy on. It’s such a reversal that The Promised Neverland really needed some solid execution to back it up and, thankfully, Chapter 13 delivers.

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Aaaaawwww, well, there goes my guess.

Chapter 013:

Ray smiles in response to Norman’s accusation- and attempts to deny it. However, Norman reveals that he actually set a trap for three people. After their meeting he told Don and Gilda each again different locations for the rope, meaning if the rope disappeared from either under the bed, or the bathroom, then Ray would have to be the traitor. It’s simplistic, but generally works within the confines of this story.

Ray comes clean and admits he’s Mom’s spy. He asks Norman when he started to suspect him and Norman was thinking it might be Ray from as early as Sister Krone’s appearance. Norman admits he was a bit disgusted with himself for suspecting a friend, but Ray would indeed be the most damaging traitor. Norman asks Ray how long he’s been a spy and it’s looking like Ray was a spy since he was very little. He compares himself to that of a Shepherd’s sheep-dog. It’s an interesting point, and I wonder if we’ll go any deeper into the idea of Ray’s initial recruitment. Do all farms do this? Why did Mother choose Ray specifically? Chapter 14 definitely has a few answers left to give, but what’s here is probably the best the series has been yet.

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You’re comparing yourself to a dog!? Have some self-respect, son!

Norman grills Ray for the truth, although Ray isn’t entirely cooperative, but Norman says he wants to turn Ray to their side and share all the information he has. Ray calls him an idiot, but Norman reveals he’s trying to utilize Ray this way because of his conversation with Emma from the previous chapter. Also, Ray was the one who hid the bunny, who suggested they rush after Conny, he basically set up this escape. This all indicates he can’t possibly be one-hundred percent on Mom’s side. Heck he’s even been protecting them by feeding mom the right information so she wouldn’t ship them out immediately. The chapter concludes with Norman asking Ray why he decided to become Mom’s dog. Ray only smiles slyly in response, leaving that answer for next time.

I am incredibly impressed with how solid these three chapters on. Any issues I have are minor at best, and I might even argue these three chapters culminate in events and twists that are the series at its best yet. It’s still a young manga, but of all the recent Jump Starts it easily shows the most promise and I have high hopes for it going forward, at least until the end of this arc, who knows what’s going to happen once Emma and the rest escape, assuming they do.

Thanks for reading and please let me know your thoughts on The Promised Neverland 011-013 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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