Follow TV Tropes


Manga / The Promised Neverland

Go To

Life is peaceful for Emma, Norman and Ray, three children of Grace Field House, a special orphanage directed by Izabella, a sweet caretaker 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 being forbidden 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 Connie. 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...


By the way, what was for dinner again?

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. The battles do get more physical in later parts, but without letting go of the strategic aspects.

It should be noted that the series was born in a particular context within the Jump magazine, after several long-running big-hitters ended in rapid succession (Naruto, Bleach, Nisekoi, Toriko, and even the record-breaking Kochi Kame). Among the many new series that were launched in the hope of bringing new blood, Neverland was one of the few that came out on top, and has been rapidly gaining success ever since. The manga received an anime adaptation by Studio Cloverworks in the Winter 2019 season.


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.
  • Achilles' Heel: For demons, the eye in the middle of their face. This is why the intelligent demons wear masks, to cover their weak point.
  • 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 Izabella: 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..
  • Arc Words: "Promise" (and its verb derivatives, such as "promised," "promising," etc)., starting with it being in the title. Emma and Norman promise to each other that they'll escape, with Emma also promising to safely get every child out of Grace Field. William Minerva promises to lead the kids to human civilization. Sonju and Mujika promise to bring the Grace Field group away from the hunters' and guards' eyes. The pen given to Emma leads them to a shelter unknown to the demons and ultimately to a transporter that would take them straight to the human world. A survivor among Minerva's supporters promises to head to the shelter where the kids are staying to assist them. There are also broken promises, as betrayals: Isabella promises the kids a normal life and adoption but betrays them to the demons. Krone promises to give the kids what they want if they help her overthrow Isabella, though she clearly acts out of self-interest. Sonju promises to be good to the kids and refuses to harm them, though it's only through his religious beliefs, as he carries no such compassion for the offspring he expects them to have. The man found at the shelter immediately turns on the Grace Field kids. Goldy Pond was intended to be William Minerva's town set up to keep escapees safe but has been turned into a hunting ground for demon poachers. Minerva's elevator he promised would help them to travel to the human world has been sabotaged.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Demon nobility not only exist, they're as corrupt as any evil human noble. Right down to using connections so they freely hunt human children.
  • 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.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: "Demons" vary in shape and form from large monstrous humanoids with one to two eyes, ones with hulking muscular bodies, and ones designed more like hounds, to lesser ones that run on all fours and are essentially large wild animals. There are also ones that are near human like in appearance like Sonju and Musica. Musica herself notes that their kind have been undergoing many changes since the barrier between the demon and human world was put into place.
  • Black Dude Dies First: According to the authors, they gave Sister Krone African features (something that's quite rare in manga, where Ambiguously Brown is more common) to make her look more distinct, and the only way they found to keep her plot-relevant was to have her die after leaving hints to help the protagonists. Though Demizu Posuka wishes they could find a way to bring her back somehow.
  • 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.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Despite the rather uncluttered character designs, every human has their own facial features and skin color. Even the Demons have various sizes and shapes.
  • 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.
  • Crapsaccharine World: From the point of view of kids in farms, not that they know it. You grow up in a pristine orphanage with a loving, kindhearted caretaker, surrounded by friends with a wide open range to run around in, and once you're at least six years old... you're harvested for meat product.
  • 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 Izabella 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 Izabella. 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 Connie.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Izabella'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.
    • Izabella's behaviour and resemblance to Ray foreshadows that Izabella 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.
  • Genre Shift: Partly. The first arc is mostly a Psychological Thriller while the second arc veers more towards action-horror and fantasy.
  • Gilded Cage: The farms have everything a child could want, but they're never allowed out beyond the walls or the gate.
  • Go for the Eye: Eyes are the only known weak points for the demons. This is why they wear those masks.
  • Healing Factor: Demons have the ability to rapidly regenerate from nearly any wound. Killing one involves attacking the eye in the center of its face.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Chapter 32 ends with Ray burning himself alive, both to help Emma and his siblings escape and to rob Izabella and the demons of their prized livestock. It's then thankfully subverted. Emma stopped him in time. Tragically played straight in the latest chapter, however, with Yuugo and Lucas sacrifice themselves via explosion to take down Andrew. This is made even worse when we find out Andrew has somehow survived the explosion, nullifying their sacrifice.
  • Human Notepad: The children have identification codes printed on their bodies. The format and location varies from farm to farm, and factory farms use brands.
  • 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 Izabella. 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.
  • Insistent Terminology: "Demons" are called as such due to none of the kids knowing what they really are and their monstrous appearance being the only thing they have to go on. Krone simply says "them" when Emma refers to them as demons. Sonju and Musica reveal humans called them demons in the past as well, and while it's not a true description of what they're called they never correct the kids and call themselves as such.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Norman is somewhat of an outlier for admitting he has feelings for Emma, but all the children at the orphanage are raised to regard each other as siblings even if there are no (known) biological ties. They all deeply care for one another.
  • The Mole: The trio believe that there's a traitor among the kids. There is, namely Ray.
  • Mole Hunt: 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.
  • 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.
    • Chapter fifty reveals that farms like the one the kids grew up in, which raise them in happy ignorance until the time comes, are rare. In fact, including theirs, only four farms raise premium goods like the kids. The humans in all the rest are just cattle fattened up for the slaughter.
  • Posthumous Character: William Minerva is revealed to be Dead All Along in Chapter 71.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The demons overseeing the farms perform the Gupna ritual in honor of God, not because they particarly care about respecting their food or God, but that the Vida plant is the most efficient means of preserving their meat. The fact that it is also a painless death is likewise unimportant in their use of it.
  • 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.
  • 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 Izabella 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.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The very point of this series in regards to both Emma and Ray. Emma is an idealistic protagonist while Ray is a cold, pragmatic cynic. Both characters have their own merits and flaws to their own viewpoints.
  • 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 Izabella 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 Izabella'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.
  • Surprisingly Good English: All of the in-universe text written by humans is in English, and all of it is perfectly spelled and grammatically constructed.
  • 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 children who are all at least capable physically on a basic level, 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.
  • Theme Naming: The four major orphanages all have two-word names that start with the letter G: Grace Field, Glory Bell, Grand Valley, and Goodwill Ridge. Also fitting with this naming scheme is Goldy Pond, a location William Minerva intended to be a human settlement within the Demon World.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Emma, Norman, and Ray. They're all the same age, are best friends, and work very well together. While Norman admits early on he has feelings for Emma, it doesn't interfere with their dynamics or change how highly they regard each other.
  • Time Skip: As of chapter 102, the series jumps forward about a year and a half to the intel team finally hitting gold on their information trail.
  • 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.
    • This is actually commented upon by ETR3M8, who notes and is somewhat unsettled that the kids preparedness and willingness to gamble with their lives without hesitation in order to survive is more advanced than his own when he was their age.
  • The Unpronounceable: The name of the "god" the demons worship is written in an alien, unreadable script. In general the demon language is portrayed as such but with the exception of the aforementioned name, most of it is translated.
  • Vampiric Draining: The flower that is found on Connie and pierces Sister Krone's heart and kills her is known as a Gupuna plant. It sucks the blood out of living beings if it accepts the body it's thrust in.
  • 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 Izabella 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 Izabella 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.).
    • Chapter 51 has a minor one relative to the others, but it's still there. Sonju, the male demon who's been helping protect and feed the children, who also taught Emma to hunt, isn't actually on their side. It's true that he aided the children and refused to kill them...but that's because his religion demands that he hunt natural food. Humans raised on farms don't count. He didn't help the children because he's a good guy, he just wants humans born freely into the world that he can hunt and kill for food. Musica, for her part, does seem somewhat attached to the children now, but it was revealed that she originally considered handing them over to the orphanage trackers for a reward and was only stopped by Sonju enacting his own plan.
    • Chapter 52. The kids have reached B06-32, to find a man already there. Except he's not William Minerva, but a former escapee who's been hiding in the shelter for years. But while supplies in the shelter are plentiful, they're still limited, and he has no intention of sharing. He holds Emma hostage, threatening to shoot the rest if they don't give him the pen and get out.
    • Chapter 72. William Minerva is a descendant of the people who trapped the remaining humans with the demons and is likely long dead, Goldy Pond was supposed to be a sanctuary for escapees that Minerva would smuggle into the human world, only to be compromised by a collaborator he was with, Emma has the options of ending the truce and restarting the war between humans and demons, sneaking out with a select few people, or a third option known as the "seven walls". Also, there's multiple elevators to the human world, some of which are located at plantations, Grace Field included.
  • Wham Line: "Norman's shipping date has been decided."
    • Chapter 69: "Nice to meet you. I'm Lucas."
    • Chapter 72:
    William Minerva: It is currently May 20th, 2031. By the time you are listening to this recording, I am probably no longer in this world.
  • Wham Shot: Chapter 118. Emma finally comes face to face with William Minerva... and he's the spitting image of NORMAN.
  • 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.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: The first arc is this, as implied in the summary. Need to investigate the top of the wall? Distract Izabelle with Ray. Izabelle leaves Ray locked in a room and catches the investigation in progress? Push ahead, it's the last chance. Izabelle puts the kids in checkmate? Well...
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Izabella pulls this twice:
    • First, to Krone. At first, it seems as if the system trapped them, but it's implied that Izabella 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.