Manga / The Promised Neverland

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Life is peaceful for Emma, Norman and Ray, three children of Grace Field House, a special orphanage directed by Isabella, a sweet woman they all call "Mom". In this house surrounded by a large playground and a forest, children of all origins are raised with love and care, the only constraints being the regular tests of knowledge that establish a ranking by score, and the forbidding to go near the main gate or beyond the forest. Every child is eventually sent away to a foster family, sooner or later, but always before their twelfth birthday.

Being 11 and the top-ranked children of the orphanage, our protagonists know they will be the next to leave after the little Conny. But while they thought they would see her off, they witness something they shouldn't have and discover with horror what kind of "foster family" the children are sent to... Now that they know the truth, they will have to find a way to escape from the house and save its children before they turn into the next dish on the menu. But their once-beloved Mom doesn't intend to make their mission any easier. A battle of wits soon engages.

Started in August 2016, Yakusoku no Neverland (The Promised Neverland) is a Shonen Jump series written by Shirai Kaiu and drawn by Demizu Posuka, mixing an Ontological Mystery with an intellectual battle and a tinge of horror.


Tropes found in The Promised Neverland.

  • Abusive Precursors: Seeing as the human ancestors of the characters left a group of them behind to be bred for food, as part of a peace treaty with the demons before the two worlds were separated.
  • Aerith and Bob: The demons named so far have been Gupta, [illegible], Musica... and Sung-Joo. It's a Korean name, and while not exactly common, there is a rather well known TV announcer by that name. (In South Korea, that is.)
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Krone might be greedy, opportunistic and willing to backstab anyone to benefit herself, but when she knows her life is going to end, she does what she can to aid Emma's group escape and reflects on her horrible life growing up, spending her final moments noting how beautiful the sky is. Terrible as Krone was, she never had a chance to be free and it's easy to see how she turned out.
    • Chaper 37 is an extended one for Isabella: for all her ruthlessness, it is revealed that she had a similarly awful past, lost the one boy she loved to the 'farm' system, and when she realized Ray was her biological son, devoted herself to surviving while trying to protect Ray. At the end, she realizes she's been defeated and resolves to care for the youngest children while awaiting punishment from her superiors, wishing Emma the best..
  • Artistic License Biology: In the third chapter, Norman explains that the reason children get shipped at age twelve is that this is the point when the brain is fully-developed. This is not true, different parts of the brain,like the frontal lobe, continue to develop in your 20s. This could be justified by intentional misinformation being spread.
  • Bait and Switch: The traitor. They tell Don where one of the ropes is hidden and find it gone the next day, giving Norman all the evidence that he needs to see that the traitor is...Ray.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three main focal characters, with Emma having red hair, Ray being a dark brunette and Norman being a very pale platinum blonde.
  • Child Prodigy:
    • Emma, Norman and Ray are all exceptionally gifted and intelligent. Emma is a bit behind but is noted for her great learning ability.
    • Every kid in the orphanage may also count, considering how they solve numerous test questions everyday that are quite advanced for their age.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: At the end of Chapter 32, we see Ray drop a match while doused in gasoline as Emma reaches out in horror, followed by the house and presumably Ray bursting into flames. The next chapter reveals that Emma actually caught the match in time and the final panel with the fire really took place much later.
  • Darkest Hour: Chapter 30-31 is the point where nothing looks good for the protagonists. Krone has been offed, they learned that the orphanage is surrounded by a huge ravine, Norman is gone, Ray has given up, Emma has a broken leg and Isabella only gives her a choice between becoming the next Mom or being "shipped out". The only glimmer of hope seems to be the mysterious pen that Krone has left them.
  • Doom As Test Prize: The kids at the orphanage with the highest average test scores are prioritized by the demons who live outside to harvest and eat.
  • Enemy Mine: Krone and the kids team up in order to overcome Isabella. Of course, the kids realise immediately that as soon as Krone's goal of becoming a Mama comes into reach she will betray them without hesitation.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: The true nature of the orphanage as a farm To Serve Man is revealed in the very first chapter when Emma and Norman come across the corpse of Conny.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Isabella's age is given as 31 despite the Demons supposably taking over 30 years ago. Turns out the lands the kids are in have been controlled by the demons far, far longer than a mere 30 years.
    • Isabella's behaviour and resemblance to Ray foreshadows that Isabella was the one who gave birth to Ray
    • The bizarre alien biology when the group finally escapes? No way that could have been there in thirty years...
  • Freudian Trio: The main trio is comprised of this. Emma is the Id, as the most emotional and instinct-driven of the three; Norman is the Ego, more calculating but still driven by emotions to some extent; Ray is the Superego, cold and rational to the point of cynicism at times.
  • Genius Thriller: A psychological battle for survival between the brightest of a group of kids raised for their intelligence and two of the brightest of other groups who've already saved themselves.
  • Heroic Sacrifice/I Die Free: Chapter 32 ends with Ray burning himself alive, both to help Emma and his siblings escape and to rob Isabella and the demons of their prized livestock. It's then thankfully subverted. Emma stopped him in time.
  • I Know You Know I Know: When Sister Krone confronts Emma's group in the woods, her inner thoughts reveal that she has no intention of honoring her promise to spare the children if she gets to oust Isabella. Just from watching Norman, she figures out that he's likely realized this. She's right, but what takes this to the next level is that Norman not only knows she doesn't intend to keep her promise, he knows that Krone's likely already figured out that he knows.
  • The Mole: The trio believe that there's a traitor among the kids. There is, namely Ray.
  • Named After Someone Famous: Norman is most likely named after Norman Rockwell. The color pages' warm, yellow-and-tan color scheme and nostalgic appearances are modeled after Rockwell's paintings.
  • The Nose Knows: Some of the demons have a very keen sense of smell and are used to find escapees. Though they have a quadrupedal dog-like shape, they are fully sentient and can speak.
  • Only One Name: Justified in this case. All the characters are orphans, so they don't have a family name.
  • Ontological Mystery: The children know they are in the year 2045, and that human books were published as late as 2015, but they have no idea what happened to humanity in this 30 year gap, let alone what awaits them outside of the orphanage.
  • People Farms: The first chapter reveals that the purpose of the orphanage and others like it is to raise children who will be tasty to the demons or otherwise make suitable sacrifices.
  • Public Secret Message:
    • The books sent to the orphanage by William Minerva are all very subtle messages for the kids, from what the orphanage wants to do with the kids to how to survive should they manage to escape. Minerva's stamp on the inner front cover has imperfections on the ring surrounding its owl emblem that, upon closer examination, spell out words in Morse code, for instance, and that is the least hidden of his messages.
    • Also from William Minerva, Krone's pen contains an encrypted message from Minerva himself with the coordinates to his location and to go there if the kids need help.
  • Red Herring Mole: Gilda gets a lot of shots looking suspicious and upset in the background and is seen talking to Krone, but is really just concerned for Emma. Right after she's cleared, the trick with the ropes seems to implicate Don... But that's another red herring for the real traitor, Ray.
  • To Serve Man: The orphanage is literally a farm where tasty humans are raised to be eaten. The main question raised by this is "why would the demons give education to their cattle?" The answer: because the more they know, the tastier their brains are.
  • Shell Game: Norman sets up one of these to root out the spy. He tells Gilda one location of the ropes, and Don another. Only he, Ray, and Emma know about the ones under Norman's bed—and those are the only ones that go missing. Given that neither Norman nor Emma can be the spies, that immediately proves that Ray is.
  • Shoe Phone: Krone's parting gift to Norman is a high-end pen in a fancy box. This pen is actually a GPS device with a holographic display, though it only displays locations using an atypical coordinate system and requires a password Ray and Emma have to figure out to access.
  • Shout-Out: For One Piece's 20th anniversary, Neverland tips their hat to it subtly with a cover page of Emma and Isabella in a field with straw hats.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: While other characters criticize Emma for her idealism, the narrative ultimately shows Emma to be in the right. The cynical option is certainly safer, but Emma's idealism is what allows her to work towards a future in which none of the members of her family have to die. In chapter 38, Ray realizes this, and vows to also protect every single one of the kids.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Ray and Sister Krone both disparage Emma's idealism, calling her naive for wanting to Leave No Man Behind. Ray in particular never planned on escaping with anyone other than himself, Emma, and Norman.
  • Slave Brand: While they don't know why, every child in the orphanage has a number tattooed onto their necks. The revelation of the orphanage being a People Farm explains their purpose and offers major implications when Isabella is shown to also have a number.
  • Stealth Mentor: If the kids' plan to save everyone is to succeed, as many of the other children as possible need to be trained to make the attempt. However, between Isabella's suspicions and the fact they can't tell anyone about her since they aren't certain to be believed, the protagonists have to be careful how to go about it. They engage the other kids in high level games of tag and hide and seek, which teaches the kids ways to run and hide without telling them why they're learning them.
  • Take a Third Option:
    • So the escape is finally on. Emma and co. have two main options for escaping the complex, and their only option for actually getting out is the bridge (which they know will be heavily guarded), with their two main routes being: attempting to run along the wall and hope they're not spotted, or try to use the other platations as cover on the way to the bridge. Of course, they pick an option that's far more conductive to their success: they reach a spot where the cliff on the other side was closest to the wall, and used ropes they managed to attach to the trees to zip-line across to the other side. By doing that, they completely fool their pursuers (all except Isabela, who notices too late to do anything about it) and successfully escape, and with Isabela doing her best to cover their tracks, the demons won't realize they're already gone for a long while.
    • Similarly, instead of taking every child with them in the escape or leaving them all behind, Emma and Ray opt to take the oldest, capable children and leave the toddlers— who are too young to be shipped away— at the farm, though they plan on coming back and rescuing them later.
  • The Unpronounceable: The name of the "god" the demons worship is written in an alien, unreadable script.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: None of the three protagonists behave like they are 12 (except maybe Emma sometimes), but Ray is especially bad. Knowing that they're all cattle on their way to the slaughterhouse since day one did little to make him enjoy his childhood. He appears very cold and cynical as a result. That being said, all the kids have been forced to go through intense education regimens to produce intelligent (if not outright genius) children with more appetizing brains, this is somewhat justified by the setting.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 32, and how. Emma and Ray never gave up on escaping after all, and on the night the chapter takes place—the night before Ray's 12th birthday—the escape plan goes into action. To pull it off, Ray sets himself on fire in addition to burning down the orphanage, partially to ensure that Isabella will be too distracted to stop the escape and partially to spite her and the demons by denying them his brain.
    • Chapter 34 goes even harder. Emma is acting on a revised plan made by Norman, because Norman figured out months ago that Ray intended to kill himself. Many other kids have been let in on the secret, with Norman having used the Power Trio as bait while Don and Gilda moved behind the scenes to spread the truth to the other children. And if that weren't enough, the chapter ends on a Cliffhanger suggesting that some of the kids have been left behind to keep Isabella from running the escapees down.
    • Chapter 47 takes it further. Emma and Ray discover that the demons have been around for at least a millennium, with the demons being apex predators. After a long war, humans and demons agreed to divide the world between each other: humans got a realm of their own and so did the demons. An additional measure to maintain that 'promise' was that nothing should be ever allowed to pass the boundary that divides the humans and the demons. The unlucky humans that remained in the demon territory when the split was completed were sent to plantations in order to harvest the human meat that the demons love so much, and the kids in the multiple plantations around the demon territory are their descendants (a.k.a. Emma and co.).
  • When Trees Attack: The first major threat to the kids after escaping from the orphanage is a tree that traps animals in its root system, then envelops them to sap nutrients from them.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Isabella pulls this twice:
    • First, to Krone. At first, it seems as if the system trapped them, but it's implied that Isabella did this to Krone and was behind her death.
    • Second, she does it to Ray, even saying "I don't need you anymore" before locking him in a room.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Manga/ThePromisedNeverland