The Promised Neverland, Vol. 15

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 is the last time I’ll be able to write ‘serialization ongoing’ in the header, as the main manga ends this Sunday as I type this. Of course, that still means another 5-6 volumes to go here. More importantly, though, this volume is around the time when we start to see The Promised Neverland lose some of its initial audience. This series started out as pure horror/suspense, and grew quite popular based on that. Even as Emma and company escaped and tried to find out the secrets of this world, those two genres were never far from everyone’s mind. But here, in this 15th volume, when Ray and Emma meet up against some hallucinatory rooms and dream skeletons, it’s frankly a bit of a relief. Most of this volume is made up of political intrigue (albeit among demons) and moral/ethical arguments. It’s well written, and I think this is a very good volume. But is it what people are really reading this series for?

If Emma is the ‘idealistic’ hero of this series, then Norman falls into the ‘realistic’ side. This is amusing if you recall the start of the series, where it was definitely Ray who fell into that category, with Norman being the balance between them. But Norman’s had two years on his own, whereas Ray’s been with Emma the whole time. As a result, there’s been nothing stopping Norman from getting very dedicated to killing some demons. As I said in my last review, this is perfectly valid. The demons have done horrible things, and murdered many of their friends. That said, when the reveal becomes less “they need to do this or they die, so there’s no good answer’ and more ‘there is a good answer, but politics won’t let them use it’, there’s less of a moral leg to stand on. Emma gets this right away, and innocently asks why everyone can’t simply use the solution Mujika has. Norman (and Ray, who is now the middle ground) understand the real reason: power.

Norman, who has been planning everything for SO LONG, is not inclined to stop it just because Emma wants everyone to live happily ever after in peace and harmony, so she and Ray try to find a way to get him to compromise. There’s also the problem that even if they win, they don’t know if anything beyond the Seven Walls is an escape. So they’re going to go beyond the Seven Walls and find out, giving everyone a reason to move forward – and possibly one that might not involve genocide. Of course, it’s not that simple – they end up seemingly back at a deserted Grace Field House, only to find that it’s an amalgam of nightmares and bad memories. This section of the book is where the art really shines, and as I said before adds a nice bit of surrealistic horror to the proceedings. The question is, can they find the real entrance from here?

This is not the Promised Neverland we started off with, and that’s a good thing, even though I do get nostalgic for the old suspense novel feeling. It’s still well worth a read.

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