The Promised Neverland 146-148 – 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.

Now, years later, Emma, Ray, and the rest of the children work to free the other children from the farms and escape the world of the demons. But Emma can’t stand the idea of bloodshed and sets about trying to stop a war between man and demon.

Review:

And so begins The Promised Neverland’s climatic battle, as we’ve been led to believe anyway. Norman’s plans are in full swing, manipulating the demon on demon mayhem from behind the scenes. He pits Geelan, a demon fallen from grace, against the corrupt demon elite, who would hold all humans as food for themselves if they could. What’s here in chapters 146 and 147 ultimately works, although feels like a cliff notes version of a far grander and more gripping story that the manga ultimately passed right over. Let’s Jump in!

Chapter 146 sees the demon’s capital city assaulted during its grand celebration. The city’s forces have been pulled away, searching for Norman, rebel demons, whoever has been attacking the farms. With the city under-guarded, Geelan is offered perfect opportunity to attack the nobles. As it turns out he already has minions within their ranks, having eaten various demon nobles and servants and taken their place, making his rise to power that much easier.

It’s great stuff, save that many of these demon nobles we only came to know quite recently, making their shocking deaths feel, well, kinda hollow. In fact for as cool as any of the demons designs are, we know only just enough to make this story work, and no where near enough to feel totally invested with what’s happening.

Chapter 147 tries to instill some greater meaning by flashing back to Geelan’s golden years, when he was still a noble on the court, and his valiant efforts to do exactly what Emma and Co. hope to do– to remove demon dependence on humans for their intelligence by finding Mujika, and using her blood to cure their needs. Unfortunately Geelan was betrayed, and now exist as a shattered version of himself, bent more so on revenge than anything noble (I wouldn’t be surprised though if Emma manages to pull that nobility back out of the dark recesses of his heart.)

For as much as Chapter 147 works to make these events meaningful and heartfelt, it’s doing too much work for but one measly chapter. In fact the writing is so painfully on the nose in places. We have Geelan spouting lines like “I am so fortunate” before immediately losing it all. Or Geelan’s great tormentor, the man/demon who betrayed him years ago, Dozza, going on a massive monologue talking about how strong a warrior he is, all to try and surprise the audience when he’s cut down instantly on the next page. It’s very pedestrian and on the nose all so we can squeeze these events into just one chapter. It’s unfortunate, and while this version isn’t awful, it’s a shame we didn’t start building up this plot line far earlier.

It’s instances like this that make me wish the manga had had the gumption to focus on demon society midway through the series’ run, shifting focus periodically to delve into our enemies’ world and allow us to learn more about what the demons are, who they are, and how their society works. This could’ve tied into that timeskip, seeing as Emma and Co. were at one point seen rushing through demon cities. It’s a shame we skipped over all that potential, but it is what it is.

There’s really not much to say about Chapter 148, as it works almost exclusively to catch us up on events the series decided to sideline in favor of the full-blown battle chaos and last minute flashbacks. We snap back to Emma and Ray arriving in the city just before Norman’s attacks go off. They meet Mujika, have a tearful reunion, we learn that Norman’s distraction for the soldiers may be backfiring, and for all the teasing of Norman’s secret weapon, Ray just drops the truth bomb that it’s poison that’ll wipe out the demons. Seems kinda a lame way to introduce something so teased, but there we go.

Ultimately 146 and 147 are cool, but would’ve felt much stronger with a more lengthy, interwoven build up through previous arcs. 148 isn’t really worth talking about since it’s mostly everyone standing around and talking about what they’re about to do next. I think we’ve got less than thirty chapters left before the series concludes (Please don’t let this turn into a Freeza and Namek situation for me) so we should see events really ramping up in just a few issues.

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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