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Friday, November 2, 2018

Selah's Manga Mania Reviews: The Promised Neverland, Vol.1: Grace Field House by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu

by Kaiu Shirai (Author), Posuka Demizu (Illustrator)
December 5, 2017
192 pages
Volumes 11 
Publisher: VIZ Media: SHONEN JUMP
Genre: mystery, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, dark fantasy, thriller
Shounen Manga
Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest kids at the Grace Field House orphanage. And under the care of the woman they refer to as “Mom,” all the kids have enjoyed a comfortable life. Good food, clean clothes and the perfect environment to learn—what more could an orphan ask for? One day, though, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth of the outside 
world they are forbidden from seeing.

I will admit that I sometimes just pick up a title because I need something for a review, and if it looks like something I can tolerate, cool, fine, I’ll check it out and move on with my life. Oftentimes it’s exactly what I think it is, and everything is peachy keen.
And then there are the titles that throw in such a magnificent bait and switch that it makes me jealous to the point of blind fury. The Promised Neverland is one of those titles.

Take a look at the cover art, mind you. Really look at it. It’s cute, pleasant, not really indicative of too modern a setting, great for a fantasy, right? Same with the title. I figure maybe it’s a riff on Peter Pan, maybe it’s some sort of alternate timeline historical fantasy, all solid guesses, right?

Emma, Norman, and Ray live in Grace Field House, an orphanage run under the woman they call Mom. All the kids are cared for, loved even. They get along, are well-fed and nurtured, and have to take certain kinds of tests every day to keep their skills up. The tests, themselves, are done through headphones, so I was thinking well maybe they’re being trained as code breakers or something…
 One day, our three heroes accidentally find out the truth about the outside world they’re not allowed to go into.

The Good: The characters are likable in a kid-like way. Emma’s cheerfulness, Ray’s aloofness, and Norman’s desire to please can get a little cloying, but it really sets things up nicely. Things don’t seem perfect in a creepy way to start, so I was taken by complete surprise by how things play out. The blurb itself is really vague, but it hints at darkness. I would just like to remind you that it hints at it. And because this is a first volume and it’s still kinda recent-ish, I’ll behave and not tell you the twist. Other than this.


Picture me just flailing with windmilling arms at my desk at the moment, because that is exactly what I’m doing.
I will tell you that this becomes a horror title with a lot of gaming out an escape. I’ve read two volumes so far and just…fadjdvjldvjkldvsl’kdsv’kd.
 It’s interesting how a lot of typical kid activities suddenly become vital, and how the three heroes try to outmaneuver Mom and the Sister that comes to help out later on. Art-wise, I think it absolutely helps that things look so charming and expressive. While the more horrific panels don’t go into Junji Ito territory, they are definitely nothing to sneeze at. My only blinky moment is that the antagonists aren’t really the look I was expecting, but it does work for the overall look of the series, and to be fair, we don’t really see much of them right away.

The Bad: The cloying bit doesn’t go on too long, so I give that a pass because it sets things up so well. The only other thing that I could nitpick on is that it is pretty talky. To be fair, a lot of this is setting up plans to escape once they know THE TRUTH (picture me with my hands over my mouth trying not to tell you what it is. I may have texted my best friends who are used to me so I could spoil them on a series they’ll likely never read anyway).

The Ick: some gore, but nothing too over the top. I will warn you that there is a child death on screen, but mostly things are described or hinted at. Once your imagination follows the line given it, yeah (shudders).
Overall, a definite recommend, just because it’s such an unusual blend of styles and ideas for me. I really hope it keeps going on this strongly, because yeah, it’s really hard to startle me, and this series got me, good. AND THAT TWIST, MAN. THAT FREAKIN’ PLOT TWIST. 

5 well-fed orphan sheep

About the Author:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

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