The Promised Neverland, Vol. 14

By Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu. Released in Japan as “Yakusoku no Neverland” by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz Media. Translated by Satsuki Yamashita.

This review will contain a spoiler for the volume, but the manga has not exactly been trying to hide it, and the cover makes it even more obvious, so let’s just come right out and say it: hey, Norman is back! And he’s Mr. Minerva! And he’s a lot taller than Emma now (which leads to a very funny interstitial gag). This reunion has been building up ever since the reader first saw that Norman was, in fact, non dead after all, and I appreciated how it’s given room to breathe. Emma and Ray both have very in-character reactions to his presence here, and even have a nice talk and snuggle. That said, things may not be as easy as “yay, I’m back!” – Norman has a definite agenda, and it’s one that Emma doesn’t agree with, though at the moment she can’t really think of a solution that isn’t Norman’s. Fortunately, Ray, who is awesome, tells Emma not to bottle it up but just tell him.

Norman has to step up his plan because Emma, in a brief action sequence at the end where she helps to get medicine for one of their dying companions, and is discovered by some demons, who now know Grace Fields kids are nearby. This sequence also shows off how much everyone in this manga thinks about things. First we see an argument about why Anna and Ray should be going on this mission as well. Then later Hayato splits off from Emma and Anna to go with Ray, as that makes things more chaotic, and, as Emma sagely notes, will stop Ray from doing something that will get himself killed. These kids have been together a long time, and even those who just joined from other farms are starting to know everyone like the back of their hands. In fact, it also leads to a funny sequence at the end – Norman’s minions only know him as cold and aloof, and threaten Emma and Ray to get them to spill stories about Normal being goofy and childlike.

The big news going forward, however, is Norman’s revelation about the demons, why they want to eat humans so much (hint: it’s not just because they find them super delicious), and how best to deal with them going forward. Norman’s plan makes perfect sense, as even Emma admits: these demons have been the villains the entire book, they’ve viciously murdered a number of children, and they’re mostly a nasty set of characters. But Emma is gonna Emma, and can’t help but think of the demons that are living their own lives and raising demon families. And then there’s Sonju and Mujika, the two demons who helped the group a few volumes ago… who do NOT eat humans (so they say), and thus put a giant wrench into Norman’s plan, provided Emma opens up to him about it, which I think will come next volume.

In fact, I suspect next volume will have a big Emma vs. Norman fight. Idealist vs. Realist is a classic manga scenario we’ve seen time and time again, and I have some bad news for Norman: in fictional works, the realist rarely wins. In the meantime, enjoy this tense yet heartwarming volume.

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