The last manga I’ve read in recent weeks is the unforgettable Promised Neverland series. I was reading under my breath and could not resist the narrative, interesting characters and mysterious plot that runs through this story.
Let’s start from the beginning. What does Promised Neverland tell us about? The Promised Neverland manga (or Yakusoku no Nebarando), written by the enigmatic mangaka Kaiu Shirai, and drawn by Posuka Demizu, was released in 2016 and spanned twenty volumes. It is known that this manga also has one of the most interesting anime adaptations. The anime was released in 2019 by CloverWorks Studio.
The story of the Promised Neverland series follows a group of children growing up in an orphanage called Grace Field House. The children are taken care of by Isabella, a young woman whom the children call Mom. Every day, the clinics do different tasks, they also play one. Everything seems to be the same as in any other orphanage.
The main characters are Emma, Norman and Ray. They are the oldest and the most intelligent kids in the whole group. In the beginning, the main characters discover the painful truth about the Grace Field House orphanage. This knowledge leads them to the desire to escape from the orphanage forever and thus save their lives and the lives of their friends.
Let’s now analyze the story of the Promised Neverland manga together to judge its characteristics objectively.
Arc#1 (chapters 1-40)
The characters in this arc are the already mentioned Emma, Norman and Ray, and other kids as secondary characters who occasionally appear and help the central trio leave the Grace Field House orphanage. Compared to different arcs, the arc will remember this one as one with the most vivid and interesting characters. The dynamic between the characters needs special attention since these relationships contribute to the exciting and mystical action to the greatest extent.
The story of this sequel is as compelling as the characters. These two things are inseparable from each other and together contribute to the overall impression that the Promised Neverland manga brings. Once you start reading this story, you won’t stop until you find out where the children from Grace Field House are taken and how Emma, Norman and Ray try to stand up to the hostile forces. How the world is built adds much intrigue to the story we follow in this manga.
Even though only a tiny part of the world is shown in these initial parts, it is set in such a way that we do not get much information, but this is precisely what develops our curiosity and the need to find out where the heroes of Promised Neverland are. The overall impression is unique, and the story moves forward at a moderate and steady pace.
There are no omissions in the narrative, and almost the narrative thread is executed flawlessly.
Arc#2 (chapters 40-96)
The second arc is also very well done. Although here, certain shortcomings are noticeable when it comes to the characters. The main characters are not represented to the extent that they are described in the first arc. But, despite this, the development of Emma, Norman and Ray is presented authentically and strikingly. The emotional attachment we felt in the first part now gets its development and reaches its climax.
This part brings us much more fighting than in the first part. The first part was more focused on the characters’ psychology, while the second part brings us Emma, Norman and Ray’s struggle with the world around them. This arc also brings some new knowledge about the world into which our heroes come. Although they may seem exaggerated and confusing at first glance, as the story develops, each piece of information falls into place, giving us the overall picture of the world the characters are surrounded by. The flow of the story, on the other hand, has certain omissions compared to the first part. Occasionally, the narrative thread gets twisted, and it is necessary to pay extra attention to catch the direction in which the story is moving.
Arc#3 (chapters 97-140)
The third arc goes in a different direction, and things get a bit weird, but the quality still doesn’t drop, but certain flaws compared to the first two arcs exist. This part introduces several new characters that greatly influence the story’s development. On the other hand, the mentioned central trio is constantly in focus and what catches the eye is that the three of them are now non-progressive in terms of their opinions and attitudes towards other characters.
Our heroes are almost always right, and the world is presented to us through their point of view, which robs the story of objectivity and authenticity. The unity of the story in this arc is broken in a certain way. A large number of time skips make the story uneven and confusing. Compared to the previous angles, this one has several flaws that make reading more demanding, although the level of interest in the story itself does not decrease at any moment. The attention is still held by the intrigue and the main question, which is “Who is behind the strange events in the world that Emma, Norman and Ray navigate?”
Arc#4 (chapters 113-154)
In this arc, the number comes to a sharp decline in quality. Many characters lead to confusion, and it is difficult to follow his relationships and their meaning. Even though each character has a vast potential to develop in a good direction, this does not happen, and they remain half-developed, unfinished and static. Despite these problems with the characters, the world is built in a very fresh and authentic way, so it compensates to a certain extent for the mentioned shortcomings.
The conflict in this arc is compelling, and the way the story moves forward is primarily character-driven (which is the only way any level should ever move forward). In some ways, the conflicting interests in this arc remind me most of the original arc, which is always a good thing. Surprisingly good at this point. The build-up to the climax of this arc felt pretty solid, and we got back some of the momenta we lost in arc #3.
Arc#5 (Chapters 155-181)
At this point, very little time is devoted to characters, which saddens me greatly. Things that should have been explored are lost, and glorious character potential is wasted. We get a handful of moments highlighting characters we know and love (BEAUTIFUL moments), but more is needed. Compared to the other parts of the story where the plot takes place, the outcome of the manga is also uneven and strange since a lot of illogical and unbelievable things happen that are not related to the previous events of the manga.
A large number of events require additional explanations, context expansion, etc. Readers are left in suspense and asked, “How did this happen?” “Why is the story’s outcome like this?” or to exclaim, “Whaaat?” in confusion.
In terms of narrative, this arc has a lot going for it. As I mentioned, additional explanations are needed. Between 10 and 20 more chapters are necessary to describe the whole story and bring it to an end in the tone in which it began.
Conclusion: If we had to rate the Promised Neverland manga on a scale of 1 to 10, we would give it a 7.5. An incredible start and potential that continued to develop until the third arc. But then there is a sudden drop in quality, most likely caused by the author’s rashness and the need to finish the manga as soon as possible.
Some omissions are simply unacceptable at this level of story creation. However, what remains as the primary impression is the unusualness and authenticity of this story. The Promised Neverland series, despite its shortcomings, remains a one-of-a-kind manga, which you can see for yourself if you read this fascinating story.
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