Greetings, my friends.
I have at last read The Promised Neverland manga in its entirety- my first manga ever, I might add. And I am here to tell you what I think about it (without spoiling anything because that would be rude), so that you can decide if it’s something you want to suffer through or not.
(The suffering may be both a positive and a negative thing, as is often the case.)
If you don’t know already, The Promised Neverland is a sci-fi/fantasy manga series about some kids struggling to survive in a truly nightmarish world, written by Kaiu Shirai and illustrated by Posuka Demizu. The main characters names are Emma, Norman and Ray. They grew up together in an orphanage, and I can’t really tell you anything else.
So as not to be redundant, I won’t rehash much of what I said in this post (written after reading nine out of the total twenty volumes). If you want to know more about what the heck I’m talking about, go hither and ye shall find answers.
The Promised Neverland has five(ish) main plot arcs. I am going to review them separately, then give my overall impression.
Now that we’ve gotten those preliminaries out of the way…
Arc #1: Grace Field (chapters 1-37)
This arc is gold. I just have to say that first.
Characters: 5/5 The characters introduced at the start of the story are complex and layered (and extremely lovable). They each have varying motivations and varying levels of information about the situation. And the GROWTH. Aw, man. Witnessing the interactions between the characters in this arc was simply a joy. (A painful joy at times, but a joy nonetheless.)
Plot: 5/5 The plot is a slowburn, psychological puzzle. It unfolds a piece at a time and each twist is satisfying. It is well crafted and you care what’s going to happen because you care so much about these kids.
World-building: 5/5 Only a small piece of the world is established in this arc, but it is a compelling setup and a darkly thrilling backdrop for the story. We can really only know what the characters tell us, and maybe pick up some clues from the artwork, but no one in the story really understands the world they live in…
Pacing: 5/5 The pacing in this initial arc is spot on. The plot is thoughtfully woven together and each event builds naturally towards the next one in an impactful way. What a concept.
*weeps tears of happiness*
Arc #2: Goldy Pond (chapters 38-96)
Surprisingly, still solid.
Characters: 4.5/5 There is some FANTASTIC character development in this arc, as well as evidence of growth from the previous arc (which makes me VERY emotional). But anyway. The characters are still great, and the new characters we meet in this arc are also great (even if it took me a bit to warm up to them). There are some lovely character moments. My main complaint is that my favorite character disappeared for a significant number of chapters.
Plot: 4/5 While the plot continues to move forward in a compelling fashion, this arc contains much more in the way of battling than the first arc did, and I am not a huge fan of that. Despite the battling, the unfolding is pretty spot on.
World-building: 5/5 I was very impressed with the way the world expanded in this arc. We get significant amounts of new information that feels disorienting but entirely believable. It doesn’t diminish our previous knowledge of the world, but instead gives it new depth. The best kind of world-building.
Pacing: 4/5 The pacing remains fairly solid, though there are a couple of short time-skips in this arc that I think detract from the flow of the story.
*amazed that things haven’t fallen apart yet*
Arc #3: Seven Walls (chapters 97-140)
And…here’s where things start to get a little wonky.
Characters: 4/5 I still love the characters, but at this point my absolute favorite character really starts to take a backseat, and no?? That is not allowed, son. Though there are still many solid character moments in this arc (a couple of which nearly made me weep), we lose some key development due to issues listed below. Most importantly though, the main character has begun to suffer from Always Being Right, a thing that should be avoided at all costs.
Plot: 3/5 So I find things about this plot arc interesting, and some dear characters get to shine because of it, but overall…I don’t really see why it’s necessary or how we really got here? And the genre shift here didn’t work as well as some of the others. I get that this arc ultimately sets up the end, but…why.
World-building: 3.5/5 This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the plot issue here, but the world-building didn’t feel as believable in this arc.
Pacing: 2.5/5 This is actually the biggest culprit here. The pacing of this arc is all kinds of wonky due to numerous time-skips that detract from the momentum and the cohesion of the story. Just tell us the story without all these gaping holes, please.
*hugging all of my children and trying to ignore the annoying bits*
Arc #4: King of Paradise (chapters 113-154)
(Yeah, so arcs 3 and 4 overlap, in case you were confused…I’m certainly confused.)
Characters: 3.5/5 This arc introduces a slew of new characters, many of whom I initially disliked and then grew to love (that is a trend with me and new characters in this story). But at this point there are too many characters for the author to know what to do with. Many of them have much potential, but there isn’t time to develop most of them. Not to mention the original characters. Though there are still some complex, nuanced character interactions in this arc, many of the characters are beginning to fall by the wayside, which should be an actual crime.
Plot: 4/5 The conflict in this arc is compelling and the way the story moves forward is primarily character driven (which in my opinion is the only way any story should ever move forward). In some ways the conflicting interests in this arc remind me the most of the original arc, which is always a good thing.
World-building: 3/5 While some of the world-building here doesn’t not make sense, some of it seems a little far fetched at this point. Things that should have been established by now are just being given to us. And though some of the world’s backstory is interesting, much of it seems unnecessary.
Pacing: 4/5 Surprisingly good at this point. The build-up to the climax of this arc felt pretty solid and we get back some of the momentum we lost in arc #3.
Arc #5: Finale (chapters 155-181)
It’s like I love it but I hate it at the same time.
Characters: 3/5 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 that highlight characters we know and love (BEAUTIFUL moments), but it’s not nearly enough. And the main character…I have issues with this character arc, or lack thereof. Major issues, okay? I kind of can’t give this lower than a 3 because I love them all so much, but…they deserve SO MUCH BETTER.
Plot: 2.5/5 So there were way too many convenient occurrences right there at the end. Sheesh. I mean…a couple interesting points, but…so much that needed way more explaining. Plus that thing that started in arc 3 that I just Don’t Like. But…my kids. Some of the stuff they do is still pretty great. Underneath the gnarly points, the heart of the plot is not bad.
World-building: 2/5 Not a fan of the attempts to connect it to our current world. Just no. And wonky government stuff. So much wonky government stuff. Oi.
Pacing: 1/5 The pacing is just BAD in this arc. I don’t really know what to say about it. The whole arc needed about 10 to 30 more chapters to straighten it all out… Just give us more time to explore the untouched character potentials and flesh out the plot!
*weeping with a combination of fierce love and bitter frustration*
- One consistently wonderful thing throughout the series was the artwork. Seriously. It’s beautiful.
- I want to give it credit for holding up as well as it did. I mean, I still CARED at the end. I didn’t hate the actual ending. In fact, it was better than I was expecting by the time I got there.
- Somehow I still love it, despite its glaring flaws. The characters/concepts were strong enough throughout to keep me caring. I am a sucker for good characters, and though they floundered a bit along the way, these were good characters and I love them to death.
- The first arc is definitely the best crafted, but I am glad that I read the whole thing. It’s worth reading. I love to pick things apart and rant about how they could be better, but at the end of the day, I have to remind myself that nothing is perfect.
- Except for The Lord of the Rings. Why can’t more stories be like The Lord of the Rings?
- The Promised Neverland is no Lord of the Rings, but it is an epic story with compelling characters and a plot that is overall impactful, even if much of the potential ended up being wasted.
- It actually felt like the first draft of a brilliant story. The skeleton is there, but some of the execution needs some work.
- So yeah, now that I’ve scared you away from it, please go read it and get to know my precious children.
So, much to my surprise, I have a life outside of blogging, and it turns out that I’m the music director for my community theatre’s fall musical. (how did that happen??) I have never done this before and since I need to focus in order for it to not be a total disaster *nervous laughter* I am going to be TAKING A BREAK from blogging.
You’ll hear from me again come December…probably.
In the meantime, I may pop in to read your lovely posts and such in-between tearing my hair out over this music. 🙂
Until we meet again- happy blogging, everyone!