The Promised Neverland 133-135 – 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 tests 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 and thwarts their plans. Norman gets shipped out, but not before giving Emma and Ray the means to escape. Emma and Ray manage to escape with many of the children, leaving only the youngest behind.

On a quest to find Mr. Minerva, the one man interested in freeing children from the demons, 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 find only more horror as their destination turns out to be hunting grounds where children are slaughtered for fun. Defeating the demons in charge, and freeing the previously hunted children, Emma and Co. work towards finding a way to free everyone suffering at the hands of the demons and rejoin the rest of humanity.

Review:

It’s going to be a short review as Chapters 133-135 don’t add much to the story. Chapter 133 mainly exists as a “wtf?” moment, an attempt to showcase to readers how crazy and bizarre this next arc is going to be. That we’ve abandoned a, mostly, grounded take on this demon world with some truly fantastical material, and supernatural, mind-bending developments as both Emma and Ray try to reach the seven walls. They’re confronted with a version of Grace Field House that distorts and twists reality, something this series has barely toyed with before. Beyond setting expectations, there’s nothing else to the chapter, making it feel thin with its singular purpose.

Chapter 134 isn’t much better, and in part that’s due to the writer’s sudden illness, cutting Chapter 134 down to just 11 pages, and ending with the manga taking a whole week off. This chapter mostly continues what Chapter 133 set out to do, introduce us to the twisting reality, and throw in some crazy teasing about Ray walking sandy wastes without Emma by his side.

Chapter 135 is the meatiest chapter, but even that isn’t saying much. Again this chapter is mostly set up, putting Don and Gilda center stage in their own plot to reunite with Sonju and Mujika. Both realize Norman is out to use them, but decide to find Sonju and Mujika for Emma and Ray’s sake anyway. At the same time we’re also introduced to a totally new character, Ayshe, a girl who only speaks demon, and is a beast tamer with three wolves as her companions. She’s to escort Don and Gilda. As great as the art is for this character, I don’t have a lot of faith that they’ll actually play much of a role. Neverland isn’t much for its characters outside of Emma, Ray and Norman. Everyone else feels like afterthoughts, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ayshe actually serves a very singular purpose in the plot ahead.

The chapter ends back with sandy, run down Ray from Chapter 134’s start, but this time carrying Emma as a baby! It’s certainly attention grabbing, but seeing as how fast we’ve flit between various reality-altered areas, over just two chapters, I wouldn’t be surprised if Emma is back to herself by the end of next chapter and that this development is hardly a bump in the road. Ultimately I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other. Neverland’s doing a lot of set up right now, trying to weather audience expectations for whatever freaky developments it has in store for us next. I don’t know that it really succeeded at any of this, but hopefully it’s all for building towards something worthwhile.

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.

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