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The Promised Neverland ( (やく) (そく) のネバーランド, Yakusoku no Nebārando?) is a manga series written by Kaiu Shirai, illustrated by Posuka Demizu, and published in Weekly Shōnen Jump. The series has been running ever since at of Weekly Shōnen Jump.

Synopsis

Setting

It is the year 2045, and over 1000 years after an agreement called "The Promise" was made to end a long war between humans and demons. "The Promise" was an agreement where each would live in their own separate "worlds": the human world, free from the threat of demons; and the demon world, where human breeding farms were set up to provide food for the demons. By eating humans, demons take on their attributes which prevent them from degenerating into mindless monsters. In the demon world, a special breeding program was set up under the guise of orphanages; there, a human "Mother" would oversee the children to make sure they grew up as intelligent as possible. These children had identifying numbers tattooed on them and had no knowledge of the outside world. They believed that they were orphans and once they reached a certain age or intelligence, they would be taken out for adoption, but were fed to high-ranking demons instead.

Plot

The bright and cheerful Emma is an 11-year-old orphan living in Grace Field House, a self-contained orphanage housing her and 37 other orphans. They lead an idyllic life, with plentiful food, plush beds, clean clothes, games and the love of their "Mom", Isabella. Their education is seen as an important part of their development, and Emma with her two best friends Norman and Ray, always excel in the regular exams. The orphans are allowed complete freedom, except to venture beyond the perimeter wall or gate which separate the house from the outside world.

One night, a girl named Conny is sent away to be "adopted", but Emma and Norman follow with her favorite stuffed animal toy. At the gate, they find Conny dead and discover the truth about their existence in this idyllic orphanage – to be raised as meat for demons. Emma and Norman plan with Ray to escape from Grace Field House with the children, but Norman is taken off to be "adopted". Emma and Ray then decide to escape with some of their older siblings, leaving the younger children behind.

The escapees find life outside Grace Field House is filled with dangers, but under the leadership of Emma and Ray, they become determined to return to free their remaining siblings, along with children from the other Farms. They encounter demons of all descriptions, including Mujika and Sonju who aid them in their quest. Emma and Ray later meet up again with Norman and together with their allies, they fight a battle for freedom against the demon queen Legravalima and the human Peter Ratri who manages the Farms. Eventually, through her own determination, Emma secures the freedom of all the children and re-forges "The Promise", but at the cost of her own memory.

Production

Development

The series first conception originated by the end of 2013, from a draft originally simply titled Neverland, but was later changed to The Promised Neverland after running into some copyright issues. Kaiu Shirai brought the 300 page of The Promised Neverland draft to the Weekly Shōnen Jump editorial department. Suguru Sugita, the editor of The Promised Neverland, said that the series was an ambitious work, with both bright and dark scenes that needed a world of fantasy that would also create suspense. They had difficulties trying to find an artist whose style could match the story, ranging from famous illustrators to new and upcoming talent. Shirai considered Posuka Demizu as one of the candidates, as he and Sugita felt that her art was the best fit for the series' imagery. Some candidates turned down the offer, giving comments like the story did not feel like a Jump manga, or that it would not become a hit, so they were "really happy and excited" when Demizu agreed to work on it.

Sugita said that Shirai and Demizu had a kind of synergy similar to Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the creators of Death Note. Before The Promised Neverland began its serialization, Shirai and Demizu published the one-shot Poppy’s Wish (ポピィの願い, Poppy no Negai) on the Shōnen Jump+ online platform in February 2016. The one-shot was popular among readers and Sugita expressed that they were the right team for The Promised Neverland.

Inspirations

Shirai was inspired by children's folklore books from all over the world and video games like Final Fantasy for the series' setting creation, while for the horror elements, he said that he only used his imagination because he did not like horror films. He also mentioned that part of the story came from some nightmares that he had as a kid, especially after having read Hansel and Gretel, stories about children being eaten, and a manga focused on spirits that made him ask himself if the monsters could solve their problems if they raised humans like cattle. Shirai said: "All these fears, ideas, influences, have come together. This is how the story of The Promised Neverland was born".

Demizu said that the Japanese folklore and its monsters were a first source of inspiration, also citing European fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel. She also mentioned Naoki Urasawa's Monster, Ghibli's universe and prison escape films, like Escape from Alcatraz, Papillon, The Great Escape and the American television series Prison Break.

The series's setting is based on the Victorian England, as Shirai expressed that he wanted to "destabilize the readers, to lead them on the wrong tracks" by making them think that the story was set in an English orphanage in the 19th century. He also wanted to avoid situating the story in a very specific time frame. He had no particular reasons to choose England, but the Grace Field House orphanage name written in English in the text appealed to him. Shirai also said that the European town planning is a benchmark, a very popular style highly appreciated for the Japanese. Demizu did a two-month language study trip to England when she was younger and took a lot of photos that she used as a reference for the series. She was particularly impressed by the English forests and its atmosphere.

Characters

The author, Kaiu Shirai wanted to create "upbeat and hopeful" characters to echo those heroes from Weekly Shōnen Jump's series. He stated that Emma is the epitome of the positive attitude, Norman is the mainstay of the group and Ray has an opposite and darker personality. Originally, Emma was a less decisive and active character, Norman had a "lighter" mood, and Ray was "more extreme", but Shirai and the series' editor, Suguru Sugita, decided to tweak the characters’ traits and personalities, something that, according to Sugita, continued as the series progressed. Sugita thought that a shōnen manga with a female main character would not be popular enough to be serialized and suggested Shirai to change the character setting, making a version where Emma was a boy, but it did not work out. Sugita later considered that since Studio Ghibli films, which features female protagonists and a male character that supports her, are widely popular across the world, they thought that having a female main character would not be a problem. According to Shirai, the choice of having Emma as the main character in a shōnen manga series, was mainly due that he was more interested in exploring a mother-daughter opposition rather than a mother-son opposition. He added that, as a girl, Emma has the choice of become a "Mom" or to try to run away, and to Shirai that was more interesting in terms of the storyline.

Shirai created a base of drawings with images and expressions of each character and the artist of the manga, Posuka Demizu, fine-tuned their features and attitudes. Demizu alternated two styles of drawing for children and demons. She enjoyed drawing both, as children reminded her of the period when she was doing illustrations and the demons came out of personal taste for "all that is fantastic and scary". Demizu has also designed monsters for video games. According to Shirai, they were about it very early to imagine the design of the demons and the new characters, to have time to think about it well and to not be rushed by the rhythm of weekly publication. Demizu, nevertheless, had the characters ready in one or two days, as Shirai mentioned as example that the design of Sonju's horse was conceived, produced and validated in one day. Shirai emphasized that he rarely had seen someone as fast and confident as Demizu.

Concepts and themes

Regarding the title and its relation to Neverland, the fictional island of Peter Pan, created by J. M. Barrie, Shirai said that it is a magical, fairy tale place to have fun thanks to Peter Pan, but that half the place is dark and dangerous. He said that these two parts, "the cohabitation of childish playfulness" and "the dangerous shadow that hovers at the bottom" are factors that he tried to transcribe through The Promised Neverland. Shirai and his editor wanted to keep "Neverland" in the title, considering the story and its development. They then came up with “Promised” around the time they were working on the post-escape story. They considered the word to be important and agreed to also mention it in the plot.

Despite its dark tone, Shirai wanted to publish The Promised Neverland in Weekly Shōnen Jump instead of a seinen manga magazine because it was the kind of stories that he would have liked to read at 15 and that there was no reason to deprive the magazine's readership of a story due to an editorial line. He added that the series has canon shōnen manga themes, such as mutual aid or surpassing oneself. According to Shirai, the main characters are children because the magazine is mainly read by them and adolescents, making easier the identification for the reader, and the concept of children rebelling against adults was used because it is a classic theme in many stories. Although Shirai admitted that the story is darker than the majority of the Weekly Shōnen Jump manga, they avoided using "extreme trends" such as "ero-guro", "violence" or "nonsense", since, according to the series' editor, that would just make it an ordinary manga, and they tried to include those essences as little as possible and only when they were necessary to the story.

Shirai said that the idea of students with the lowest grades being the first to leave the Farm to be eaten by the demons, while not necessarily a metaphor, was a way of inviting the reader to reflect on current society. Although Shirai admitted similarities between the series and the Japanese society and its school system, he said that it is not meant to be a underlying critique and was rather an approach to daily life family, school and the way children look at adults. Despite some interpretations made by PETA, claiming that the series is a pamphlet against mass farming and pro-vegetarians, Shirai expressed that he was not trying to put moral values, and as an author, he was not in position to judge. He emphasized that it was never explicitly said that demons were bad people in the story. He further said: "That people make a connection with veganism and intensive breeding doesn't bother me, but our main goal is to create a story to entertain people, not to offer a moral judgment. Our manga is not a critique of the consumer society as such".

Writing

According to the official 2020 fan book, The Promised Neverland 0: Mystic Code, the writing process for the final chapters was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Shirai felt that the length of the chapters, particularly chapter 179 and the final chapter, limited the content that he wanted to include.

Media

As a part of the JUMP START initiative, the first three chapters of The Promised Neverland were published in English in VIZ Media's digital Weekly Shonen Jump on the same day as the Japanese release. After, the series was added to VIZ Media's Weekly Shonen Jump lineup. The publisher has been physically releasing the series since December 5, 2017. The series has also been licensed in Polish by Waneko, and Spanish by Norma Editorial.

A 16-page one-shot chapter about Ray titled, "The First Shot" was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump on October 5, 2020. A 36-page one-shot chapter about Sister Krone titled, "Seeking the Sky of Freedom" was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump on December 7, 2020. A 19-page one-shot chapter about the children accomplishing their dreams in the human world titled, "Dreams Come True" was released at "The Promised Neverland Special Exhibition", event that was held in Tokyo from December 11, 2020 to January 11, 2021. A 32-page one-shot chapter about Isabella titled, "A Mother's Determination" was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump on December 14, 2020. A 32-page one-shot, titled "We Were Born", which tells the story of "another The Promised Neverland", was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump on January 4, 2021. Both "Dreams Come True" and "We Were Born" were collected in the Kaiu Shirai x Posuka Demizu: Beyond The Promised Neverland tankōbon volume published on September 3, 2021 by Shueisha and will be published in Q2 2022 in North America by Viz Media.

A comedic spin-off titled The Parodied Jokeland, illustrated by Shuhei Miyazaki (Me & Roboco author), was published in Jump GIGA on July 26, 2018, and it was later serialized in the Shōnen Jump+ application from January 11 to March 28, 2019. Its chapters were collected in a single tankōbon volume, released on June 4, 2019.

Reception

The Promised Neverland was among the Japanese works listed in the Jury Selections in the Manga Division of the 21st Japan Media Arts Festival Awards by Japanese government's Agency for Cultural Affairs. On Takarajimasha's Kono Manga ga Sugoi! ranking of top manga of 2018 for male readers, The Promised Neverland topped the list. On Da Vinci's magazine "Book of the Year" list, The Promised Neverland ranked 26th on the 2018 list, 35th on the 2019 list, 18th on the 2020 list and 26th on the 2021 list. The Promised Neverland ranked 12th on Alu's manga community "My Manga Best5" 2020 ranking, in which 46,641 users (via Twitter) participated. On TV Asahi's Manga Sōsenkyo 2021 poll, in which 150.000 people voted for their top 100 manga series, The Promised Neverland ranked 46th. The Promised Neverland was one of the Jury Recommended Works in the Manga Division at the 21st Japan Media Arts Festival in 2018. On a 2021 survey conducted by LINE Research asking Japanese high school students what manga series they are currently into, The Promised Neverland ranked 2nd among girls, and 10th among boys. The series was chosen as one of the Best Manga at the Comic-Con International Best & Worst Manga of 2018.

The series won the "Shonen Tournament 2018" by the editorial staff of the French website manga-news. Barnes & Noble listed The Promised Neverland on their list of "Our Favorite Manga of 2018". The Promised Neverland was included on the American Library Association's list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens in 2018, and 2019. In Tumblr's Review of the Year, which highlights the platform's biggest communities, fandoms, and trends throughout the year, The Promised Neverland ranked 15th in the Top Manga & Anime category in 2019, 46th in 2020, and 35th in 2021.

Manga artists Osamu Akimoto and Eiichiro Oda each wrote praising comments which were featured on the obi of the series' 2nd and 4th volumes, respectively.

Critical reception

Leroy Douresseaux of ComicBookBin gave the first volume a score of 9/10. Douresseaux praised the series for its characters, storytelling, and graphics, saying that the result is "a sinister, dark fantasy, and mystery thriller". Gabe Peralta of The Fandom Post, in his review of the first volume, praised it for its plot twists and suspense, giving it a "B+" and saying "The Promised Neverland feels like a modern Weekly Shonen Jump comic in every respect—it's energetic and eager to please". Katherine Dacey of The Manga Critic enjoyed the series. Dacey wrote that she liked the world-building, crack pacing, crisp artwork, and a shocking plot twist in the first volume. She also praised the introduction of the principal characters and the main conflict.

Dustin Cabeal from Comic Bastards gave a score of 5/5, to Volume 1 as well as Volume 2 and 3, describing there are "too many things to compliment about [the series]".[1] Cabeal from Comic Bastards gave a score of 5/5, for Volume 2 as well as Volumes 1 and 3, describing there are "too many things to compliment about [the series]".[2] Hey Poor Player's Anthony Pelone gave the volume a 5/5, praising Demizu's art "stunning" and the story to be "Harrowing, but not entirely hopeless".[3] Eric Cline on the website Adventure in Poor Taste gave volume 8 an entirely positive review and a total score of 10 out of 10, and went into depth in praising the writers' way of introducing the antagonists in this volume, especially Leuvis. The critic also praised Posuka Demizu's art, saying how it impresses him with countless small details.

Anime News Network's Rebecca Silverman enjoyed the first manga volume and gave it a A−, saying, "Tense pacing, interesting literary connections, art and story work well together, strong plot and foreshadowing". Nick Creamer of the same website gave the second volume a B+ and called it a "Unique and altogether thrilling story offers fun tactical drama and striking visual set pieces". Creamer praised the third volume of the series, saying that Sister Krone and Emma's new allies adds thrilling complexity to a story that is both tightly plotted and thematically biting. Mentioning that, the series continues to be one of the most unique and gripping shōnen tales around. He described the fourth volume as not the most exciting volume of the series, but offers some welcome character building for Neverland's leads. Creamer gave volume five and six an A-. Praising their transition phase with grace, offering some of the most exciting conflicts and beautiful set pieces of the story so far and pulling off the "big world building reveal" with such intelligence, But he criticized the fact that Posuka Demizu can't really show off her illustration skills when everyone is stuck in a dark cave. Reviewing volumes seven, eight, and nine, he wrote that "on the whole, setting the story's ambitions towards a new horizon while reintroducing some of the initial concepts that made this manga so thrilling continues to stride forward with tremendous confidence. The Promised Neverland's eighth volume may well be my favorite volume so far, and Demizu's art has never looked better". Adding that, Goldy Pond translates Neverland's core appeal into action theater, while the art keeps the fighting clear and the monsters terrifying.

In a review of volume fourteen and fifteen of the series, Wolfen Moondaughter of Sequential Tart says that he likes the philosophical discussions of ethics, with great points made on both sides and the creative team did a great job showing the pros and cons of each side, and exploring how morality is not as easily defined or attained as we might wish. Moondaughter also praised the history part of volume sixteen and seventeen, saying that Geelan's story is tragic and offers a great parallel with Norman's, with both of them willing to accept losses now that they wouldn't have accepted once upon a time. Reviewing the volumes of the series, Reiichi Narima from Real Sound praised the good storytelling and worldview of the series, he also stated that Posuka Demizu's art is so beautiful, elegant, and spectacular. It also underlines the psychology and the suspense of the work, which confronts existence with "wisdom". On the other hand, we can say that the last arc, in which the monsters eat people and demons at will, is a scene where the theme of this work is illustrated. We can say that it is the sad end of those who have monopolized wealth and sacrificed the weak. Narima added, "The dilemma of purpose and sacrifice is why The Promised Neverland has become a masterpiece full of reality".

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Result
2016 Mandō Kobayashi New Serialization Award Won
2017 Manga Grand Prix
1st Annual Tsutaya Comic Awards Next Break Division
Manga Shimbun Taishō Grand Prix
10th Manga Taishō Manga Taishō Nominated
3rd Next Manga Awards Comics Division 2nd Place
2018 63rd Shogakukan Manga Award Best Shōnen Manga Won
22nd Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize Cultural Prize Nominated
11th Manga Taishō Manga Taishō
24th Saló del Manga de Barcelona Best Shōnen Manga
2nd Annual Tsutaya Comic Awards All-Time Best 3rd Place
2018 Google Play Awards User Voting Excellence Award Won
Ridibooks Comic Award Next Trending Manga Award
2019 French Babelio Readers' Awards Best Manga Series
2019 Mangawa Awards Best Shōnen Manga
23rd Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize Cultural Prize Nominated
Geeks d'Ouro Best Manga Series
Ridibooks Comic Award Grand Prize Won
Piccoma Award Luna Prize
Japan Expo Awards 2019 Daruma for Best New Series
Daruma for Best Screenplay of the Year
25th Saló del Manga de Barcelona Best Shōnen Manga
2020 Lucca Comics & Games Amazon Comics Award
20th Sense of Gender Awards Grand Prize
2021 Geeks d'Ouro Best Translated Manga Nominated
25th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize Cultural Prize
52nd Seiun Awards Best Comic

Sales

The Promised Neverland Sales Evolution from Oricon

The Promised Neverland was the 24th top-selling franchise in Japan in 2018, with estimated sales of ¥1.9 billion. It was the 7th best-selling franchise in 2019, with estimated sales of ¥3.8 billion. It was the 10th best-selling franchise in 2020, with estimated sales of ¥3.5 billion.

As of August 2017, the manga had 1.5 million copies in circulation. By October 2017, the number increased to 2.1 million copies in circulation. As of January 2019, the first 12 volumes had 8.8 million copies in circulation. As of September 2019, the manga had over 16 million copies in circulation. As of June 2020, the manga had over 21 million copies in circulation. As of October 2020, the manga had over 25 million copies in circulation. As of December 2020, the manga had over 26 million copies in circulation. As of April 2021, the manga had over 32 million copies in circulation, including digital versions. The Promised Neverland was the 8th best selling manga in 2018, with over 4.2 million copies sold. It was the 4th best selling manga in 2019, with over 7.4 million copies sold. It was the 6th best selling manga in 2020, with over 6.3 million copies sold. It was the 6th best-selling manga in the first half of 2021, with over 3.1 million copies sold.

The first volume of The Promised Neverland appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list in March and April 2021. Individual volumes of the manga also ranked on NPD BookScan monthly top 20 adult graphic novels list several times from 2018 to 2021. The Promised Neverland volume 1 ranked 4th on Publishers Weekly's bestseller list in March 2021. Volume 20 also made Publishers Weekly's bestseller list in September 2021 ranking 10th. Additionally, The Promised Neverland ranked 13th on Rakuten's Top 100 Best Selling Digital Manga of 2021.

When volume 1 was first published on December 2, 2016, there was an estimated total of 24,980 copies sold in its opening week (specifically, 3 days), earning the 32nd position in Manga sales in Japan.[4] During the 2nd week, the sales dropped to the 35th place, with an estimated total of 25,405 copies sold.[5]

Doing better than its predecessor, volume 2 achieved the 10th spot during the first week of its release, selling an estimated total of 40,683 copies from 3rd to 5th February in Japan alone.[6] During the second week, it climbed up to the 9th spot with an estimated total of 37,726 copies sold. In less than 14 days, there was a total of 78,409 copies sold.[7]

During the first 3 days of volume 7's release, an estimated total of 164,072 copies were sold, thus earning the top position on the highest manga sales in Japan alone during the first week of 2018 from January 1 to 7.[8] During the following week, an estimated total of 90,179 copies were sold, and still remained as the number 1 highest selling manga in Japan from January 8-14.[9] During its third week, from January 15–21, it dropped to the eighth position with 19,156 copies sold.[10] 24,052 copies were sold from 22–27 January, achieving the sixteenth position.[11] It later dropped to the twenty-ninth position with a total of 17,781 copies sold during the subsequent week.[12] 12,280 copies were sold following on from February 5–11, ranking as the forty-seventh highest selling volume.[13]

Volume 11's sales outperformed all of the previous 10 volumes during the first few weeks of its release. There was an estimated total of 303,921 copies sold during the first 4 days of its release, earning the first position in Manga sales in Japan alone, beating other notable Shōnen Jump titles like Black Clover and Demon Slayer.[14] During its second week, the sales ranking dropped to the 10th place, with an estimated total of 51,854 copies sold from November 12 to 18.[15]

Images

See Also

References

  1. Critic Dustin Cabeal's review of Volume 1-3 from Comic Bastards
  2. Critic Dustin Cabeal' review of Volume 1-3 from Comic Bastards
  3. Critic Anthony Pelone's review of Volume 1 from Hey Poor Player
  4. The Promised Neverland Volume 1 sales from November 28 to December 4 2016
  5. The Promised Neverland Volume 1 sales from December 5 to December 11 2016
  6. The Promised Neverland Volume 2 sales from January 30 to February 5 of 2017
  7. The Promised Neverland Volume 2 sales from February 6 to February 12
  8. The Promised Neverland Volume 7 sales from January 1 to January 7 2018
  9. The Promised Neverland Volume 7 sales from January 8 to January 14 2018
  10. The Promised Neverland Volume 7 sales from January 15 to January 21 2018
  11. The Promised Neverland Volume 7 sales from January 22 to January 27 2018
  12. The Promised Neverland Volume 7 sales from January 29 to February 4 2018
  13. The Promised Neverland Volume 7 sales from February 5 to February 11 2018
  14. The Promised Neverland Volume 11 sales from November 5 to November 11 2018
  15. The Promised Neverland Volume 11 sales from November 12 to November 18 2018
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