Welcome to AiPT’s weekly The Promised Neverland recap column. As new chapters are released, I’ll be sharing my reactions to the series’s latest twists and turns. From bloodthirsty demons to elaborate battle strategies, writer Kaiu Shirai and artist Posuka Demizu always have something compelling up their sleeves. Be warned, though, that in order to elaborate on my thoughts I will be including SPOILERS.
Shirai and Demizu start off this week’s chapter by catching us up on what’s been going on with Phil ever since Emma and co. burned Grace Field House down while making their escape. It’s revealed that the younger siblings they left behind have been split up across the remaining orphanages, so Phil has only been able to sustain contact with some of his adopted family. Phil has found his days at his new orphanage painful, as he’s had to watch other children leave to be “adopted,” but he knows the truth: said kids have been harvested by demons. One day, Andrew (the man we saw speaking with the head of the Ratri clan a few chapters back) shows up at the orphanage to speak with Phil. At this point the story shifts to Emma and Ray’s party as they venture toward Cuvitidala. They arrive on the chapter’s final page, and their destination looks barren–save for some Stonehenge-esque ruins.
The long portion of this chapter that’s focused on Phil is excellent. We’ve never gotten such a deep dive into his emotions before, and it’s great to get a perspective on the series’s events that’s different from the usual ones. His narration is heartbreaking, as it makes the reader realize how he’s facing danger without any of the emotional support that Ray, Emma, and co. have. What really sells his despair more so than the writing, however, is Demizu’s artwork. There’s a difference between drawing a character looking sad and looking broken, and Phil looks absolutely devastated at points here. He pulls himself together, however, in order to avoid arousing suspicion. The sheer intensity of his facial expressions and body language when he’s mourning make it all the more clear just how hard he’s working to keep his promises to Emma.
This portion of the chapter also does a lot of heavy lifting plot-wise. The fact that none of the Grace Field children are left at their original orphanage means that Emma will have to go through with her plan to liberate all the cattle children if she wants to save her siblings. This is one hell of a challenge, considering that there are at least four standard orphanages left, not counting where Norman is residing or any as yet unrevealed farms. The sheer scope of the task is daunting to the point of seeming insurmountable. Of course, this elevates the level of tension going forward and will make Emma’s (presumably) inevitable victory later on all the more satisfying.
The most intriguing detail in this chapter, however, concerns Isabella. Neither Phil nor the audience know what has happened to her. This might seem like a total lack of development, but her merely being mentioned is significant in and of itself. She was the main villain of the series’s first arc, after all, and she has a much more nuanced relationship with the children than any of the demons do. It seems likely that Shirai and Demizu are subtly prepping readers for her return, although no clear hint is given regarding when it will occur. Nonetheless, I fully expect for her to make a major comeback. Judging off the fact that seeds for it are being planted here, combined with how many other major plot points are currently being explored, I’m going to hazard a guess and predict that she’ll show up again sometime within the next thirty to forty chapters.
Of course, Emma’s group arriving in Cuvitidala is also a huge development. I had expected their trek to take several chapters, but it gets wrapped up within seven pages here. Part of me is disappointed because I thought the trip would be a good opportunity to develop Don, Gilda, Zach, and Violet’s characters. With that said, I’ll be content as long as they receive more page-time in upcoming installments.
Cuvitidala itself is very intriguing so far. It looks surprisingly barren, especially compared to the Goldy Pond hunting grounds. What architecture we do see, however, only adds to the sense of mystery. Stonehenge and similar structures are fascinating in our own world, and none of that mystique is lost within the context of the series’s fictional one. We have yet to learn much about what distinguishes demon culture from human culture in this series, and it will be interesting to see who exactly erected these ruins, and why.
That’s all for this chapter! Stay tuned for more recaps as The Promised Neverland updates every week. If you’re interested in reading more of our thoughts about the series, check out our column on last week’s chapter, as well as our latest review of the collected volumes.