Happy New Year, blogger buddies!
So, here we are. It’s the new year. We made it. (At least, I assume we did…maybe I’ll schedule this post and then before Friday the world will end, but that’s not extremely likely…is it?)
Speaking of this post, here’s what happened:
Me: Hey! New Year’s Day is on a Friday when I’m supposed to put up a blog post. Neat! I should do a whole Special-Inspiring-New-Year’s-Themed-Post. It’ll be awesome!
Me: Okay, never mind. We’ll just talk about Norman instead.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I had my first real anime experience, followed closely by my first ever manga experience, during the last few months of 2020.
And now that’s all my brain can think about so that’s what you’re getting today.
I have now read nine (out of twenty) volumes of The Promised Neverland, and here are my general impressions so far (no spoilers):
- Ah good, it’s been translated into English.
- Oh, weird, it’s BACKWARDS. I’m going to be so confused.
- Never mind, actually, this is great.
- Ha, their faces.
- The ARTWORK though.
- Hm, I like these kids.
- I LOVE THESE KIDS. CAN I ADOPT THEM ALL PLEASE LET NO HARM COME TO THEM.
- *loud sobbing*
- Side Stories give me Life
- I’m glad that even when they’re running for their lives my kids have time to cook wholesome meals.
- *loud sobbing continues*
- *randomly screaming characters’ names forever*
Yeah, so I’m sure that all makes sense.
Anyway, let me give you a run-down of what the dickens I’m talking about.
The specs: The Promised Neverland is a Japanese manga that was published serially from 2016 to 2020 in Shonen Jump magazine. It was written by Kaiu Shirai and illustrated by Posuka Demizu.
It’s definitely dark. It looks cute, but it’s actually terrifying. The genre is basically dark fantasy/science fiction, and it’s recommended for older teen audiences due to disturbing themes, violence and such.
The story set-up: Basically we start out at this super happy, idyllic orphanage and meet the happy kids that live there and their loving caretaker- known to them as Mom. Everything seems pretty normal…aside from a few strange things like the ID numbers tattooed on the children’s necks. It’s probably nothing…
After two of the children discover a deeply disturbing secret about their happy home, they begin to plan an escape. But seemingly insurmountable obstacles stand in their way. CAN THEY SUCCEED?
My (slightly more lucid) thoughts: So far I’ve been impressed by three main things:
- the complexity of the characters (moral quandaries galore)
- the thoroughness of the world-building (it’s horrible… but also wonderful)
- the unfolding of the plot (…it just…has so many folds. It just keeps going and I love it).
I had no idea that manga could be this compelling.
The three main characters are the oldest kids at the orphanage: Emma, Norman and Ray. They are all highly intelligent and they have distinct personalities. They have been best friends their entire lives. Witnessing their interactions is a joy. As well as a torment, but…anyway….
I’m not going to say much about the primary villain in the first few volumes, but she has SUCH a great character and is now one of my favorite villains.
The other kids at the orphanage including Don, Gilda and Phil are also wonderful characters with their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has to make important decisions at some point. I love them all so much.
First off, it’s a nightmarish world. But it’s done really well (so far) and there are unsettling parallels to real life that really make you think. (Hunger Games, anyone???)
I love how you uncover a tiny piece of the world at a time. No one knows everything, and no one knows how much of what they know is the truth.
There are so many plot twists. Like I said, the unfolding. And so far each discovery has been believable, which isn’t easy to pull off. There are so many puzzles to solve and unforeseen issues to overcome and new variables to deal with. The plot thickens… like a nice pudding.
Extra Stuff to Geek Out About
So aside from great characters, an intricate world and a compelling plot, we also get some great gems through sketches and Side-Scenes and other special features- like a page of characters with their ages and heights (because obviously we must have all of this information…).
I never knew how much I needed Side-Scenes.
Not every single one is great, but there are some really wonderful ones. Especially the ones that are flashbacks. I can’t get enough of five-year-old Emma, Norman and Ray.
Also, MUG! SCARF!
No, I’m not giving you the context for that.
It’s definitely been strange, embarking on this journey. Up until quite recently I was under the impression that graphic novels were Not My Thing. I just thought they were about ugly muscly people who beat each other up with lots of action and very little in the way of plot or character development. I had no real good reason for believing this. I also thought that I would be overwhelmed by the words+pictures at the same time, but for the most part I’m doing okay with it.
I’m still kind of in shock that I’m doing this.
Have you ever tried something new and been pleasantly surprised by the result? Have you ever read a graphic novel? Have you heard of The Promised Neverland and does it sound like something you would want to read? What is a story you like that has great characters, world-building or plot (or all three)? I hope you have a fantastic New Year!