The Promised Neverland 089-091 – 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.

On a quest to find Mr. Minerva, Emma and Ray guide the others to an underground bunker, where they meet a broken man, another escapee of the farms, suffering a dark past. Together, Emma, Ray and this new ally make for Goldie Pond, where they hope to learn the truth of Mr. Minerva, but instead find only more horror as their destination turns out to be hunting grounds where children are slaughtered for fun.

Review:

And so The Promised Neverland barrels to the end of this current arc as Emma and Co. square off against Leuvis. While Leuvis doesn’t go down near as fast as his companions, Emma and Co. manage to maim him enough to even the playing field. In the last set of chapters, Leuvis is revealed to be on an entirely other level compared to the rest of the demons, seemingly unstoppable, capable of catching bullets before they can even strike him. Emma and Co. manage to tear Leuvis down just enough with a stun grenade to give themselves a fighting chance.

Look, if we’re not going to give Old Geezer a proper name can we at least settle upon a Pseudonym?

Most of these three chapters are dedicated to Leuvis hunting our characters down, although never actually killing anyone. The most we get is one kid maimed in a counter attack. As per usual with this series we get feints of despair, where our characters are portrayed as seeing the situation as utterly hopeless, only to pull back on that atmosphere and reveal they’re still calm and collected enough to formulate some kind of counter offensive. It’s a bit tired once you realize the formula. Chapter 89 ends with pained expressions and consternation at the predicament they find themselves in. Chapter 90 continues that sense of despair and fright only until Emma and Ray feel like stepping up to the plate to formulate a plan. In fact the manga even goes out of its way to try and drag this sense of dread out as our characters begin to realize certain deficiencies that Leuvis suffers from. We cut mid conversation to give this sense that our characters are interrupted by Leuvis’ pursuit, only for it turn out in the next chapter they’ve already come up with a complete counter offensive strategy.

It’s in Chapter 91 that we learn that Emma and Co. have realized that Leuvis suffers from slow regeneration. There’s nothing wrong with the ideas presented here, yet the execution feels lacking. Tension would be so much higher if our characters had to formulate this plan on the run, rather than having apparently had plenty of time to converse and put one together before Leuvis finally caught up.

Well he is the final boss for the arc, so hopefully much of one?

Sadly, as much as I would’ve liked to finish this week by discussing the end of the Arc, we’re not quite there yet. Leuvis is put on the run by Emma and Co.’s plan and comes face to face with the big, bulky Adam, still rattling off Norman’s number. Things end so abruptly and so little here really happens that there just isn’t that much to unpack. One thing we do finally learn is why the manga has been so painfully forceful about keeping the Old Geezer’s name hidden. While Emma talks him out of running from Leuvis and into the final confrontation, she asks to finally know his name, and the Old Geezer opts to give it to her only should they succeed. So now we know it’s been saved as some kind of victory trophy for Emma to achieve in this battle against Leuvis. I understand the perceived significance, but the lengths we’ve gone to keep his name hidden have bordered on the contrived.

Ultimately what’s here feels stronger than the last few chapters, but not without its flaws. There’s ways the presentation could be so much stronger, and I feel the story is only damaged by allowing our characters to have it so easy at times. Forcing Emma and Co. to formulate a plan on the run would’ve allowed Leuvis to remain in a position of power for much longer, giving our heroes a greater sense of dread. Otherwise it continues to feel like Leuvis, our seemingly insurmountable villain, is the one with his back constantly against the wall. My ultimate thoughts on this portion of the story entirely depend upon how Emma and Co. ultimately finish off Leuvis. I guess we’ll discuss that next time after the Summer anime premieres finish.

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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