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The Promised Neverland 066-070 – Manga Review

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.

Joining forces with the other top kids, Ray, Gilda and Don, they plot an escape. But Mom closes in on them and thwarts their plans. Norman gets shipped out, but not before giving Emma and Ray the means and plans to escape with. Emma and Ray manage to escape with many of the children, leaving only the youngest behind. Now as they make their way from the Demon’s farm they find themselves in a whole new, and dangerous world.

Review:

It’s been almost two months since I last discussed The Promised Neverland. Since then the manga has addressed my biggest issue, while also providing a few new nagging problems with this latest arc. Something any reader who’s been following my reviews has picked up on is my dislike for ‘defanging’ villains. Where the villains have killed before, but fail time and again, so that after awhile, they no longer feel like a threat.

This has been a problem with The Promised Neverland for some time now, and with this latest arc we finally put some bite back into the demons. Chapters 66-70 take us into a new arc where Emma meets The Poachers face to face (though they’re just more demons, but with a slightly different modas operandi.) These new villains range from effective to ho-hum. One of the demons, Duke Leuvis, is exactly what I’ve been asking for. He’s the demons new fangs, capable of actually killing characters, rather than always getting outwitted by Children. There’s another demon, one who’s carried around on a chair (I guess his throne) all the time, who’s more bumbling and feels like a child’s cartoon “Why you little kids” type villain.

I think blood-curdling trumps meeting someone. Maybe that’s just me.

Duke Leuvis provides a credible threat for Emma in this new arc, and thanks to ditching the rest of the Grace Field kids (who suffer from extreme plot armor) meets other children who are far more likely to meet with untimely ends. It’s a little bit of a cheat, and the manga tries to have its cake and eat it too. Shortly after Emma is thrown into the thick of things she runs around helping these new children. Ultimately however, Duke Leuvis, wanting to build Emma as a fierce prey to hunt, murders two of the weaker Children to rile her. While great at setting up Duke Leuvis as this smarter threat than what we’ve faced up till now, we linger on the sibling of the two murdered children and do some flashbacks to try and pull at our heartstrings.

I don’t think it works all too well however, as we haven’t known these kids for very long, and what little we know of them was entirely in relation to Emma’s current predicament, making this attempt to get tears out of us feel weak and undeserved. So it’s a bit of a mixed bag here. If it wasn’t for the revelations teased for the next set of chapters, I might argue this arc will eventually be remembered as one of the manga’s weaker points.

The reason I think that is we’re introduced to a lot, and I mean a LOT of new characters, but none of who feel meaty or interesting, save for their visual designs. Emma’s almost incidental to their fight, thrust into the middle of an ongoing parallel story. It feels half-baked and, in some ways, a little forgettable. And I think it says something when so much of this Poacher’s Goldy Pond plot is usurped by the tease of reveals.

And her little dog too!

It isn’t long into Emma’s introduction to the ongoings of Goldy Pond that we take a hard turn from the plight of these children (which to be fair is at least sort of tied to the primary plot) and to learning the secrets of Mr. Minerva and the backstory for our Nameless Geezer.

We meet Lucas, one of the Geezer’s friends long thought dead. Oddly we get a name for him, while the manga continues to go to incredible lengths to keep the Nameless Geezer, well, nameless. It’s either because the Geezer’s name will mean something, or for some emotional impact later on. Either way it’s actually distracting here during Lucas’ introductory scene. He doesn’t refer to his friend by name, instead asking Emma “Is He Alive?” which is a really odd way of addressing the topic, and reeks of the writer struggling to keep something he wants to remain a secret, a secret.

Otherwise, and I know I’ve been hard on these chapters so far, these events mark a solid turning point. Tragedy and death are injected back into the story, we’re teased with forthcoming revelations, new angles to the story etc. I’ve got more negative comments than positive mostly because we haven’t yet had these reveals it’s on the cusp of offering up. My verdict on how this new arc is progressing really depends on what’s in the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

Can’t wait for the anime adaptation, so curious what kinda song will play for the end hunt music.

Over the next few chapters, in addition to the reveals, I’m hoping we stop to get to know these new characters. Right now, outside of a couple of their designs sticking in my head, I barely remember anything about these kids, save that they have a crap ton of guns and ammo and haven’t used it at all. If we can slow down, introduce them, get us to care for them, this arc will mean a whole lot more than just “Goldy Pond is where we learn things, oh and some kids were there being hunted by demons too.”

Let me know your thoughts on The Promised Neverland’s latest chapters in the comments 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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