The series timeskips into its final arc.
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.
This week’s cover of Weekly Shonen Jump reveals this chapter’s biggest development outright: there’s been a timeskip. The events of chapter 102 take place a year and seven months after Emma and co. blew up Goldy Pond. To help readers regain their footing, there’s a brief overview of what all the cattle children have been up to in the meantime. Yugo and the others have expanded the sanctuary’s garden and other facilities in order to avoid leaving as much as possible. Meanwhile, Emma’s search party has been masquerading as demons in order to investigate the outside world more safely. Upon regrouping with everyone else back at the base, they reveal that they’ve located the temple and golden waters from Emma’s vision back at Cuvitidala.
Taken strictly on its own merits, this is a solid chapter. Its internal pacing is good, and numerous plot developments are dangled in front of the reader as compelling mysteries to be solved. The characters’ actions all make sense given their demeanors and circumstances, so nothing about the plot per se feels off. These are still the characters we know and love; we’re just a bit further along in their journey now.
With that said, I’m still not convinced that the decision to skip forward in time is a good one. This is a series that’s at its best when the creators are depicting characters’ internal conflicts and planning processes. So much of this series revolves around psychological warfare and mystery that to rob us of the protagonists’ actual information gathering seems like a cop-out. Emma and co.’s discovery of the temple and golden waters feel unearned, and it’s hard to feel like they’ve accomplished much when we don’t see any of the struggle involved.
The timeskip is also disappointing due to how cool the events described sound. Our heroes went undercover in cities full of demons who are out to kill them, and we only get to see a few pages worth of this? Talk about a missed opportunity. You could draw so much suspense and tension out of that premise, plus it would be interesting to learn more about how the disguises were crafted. What are the daily intricacies of passing as a demon? We don’t know, and no indication is given that we’ll find out later either.
As disappointing as missing out on this content is, my biggest gripe with the time-skip is how it robs the reader of chances to watch the characters develop. This is especially troublesome for Gilda, Don, Violet, and Zach, who already seemed underdeveloped prior to the story jumping forward so significantly. At this point I’ve begun to resign myself to the fact that they likely won’t ever get the chance to become as dynamic and interesting of characters as the main trio. This isn’t a terrible thing; naturally, some characters are going to pull more focus than others. Given how important those four have been to the story, though, it’s still a bit of a bummer.
There are a number of other plot revelations here that haven’t been expanded upon but that are mentioned in such a way that I’m still hopeful. One of these plot threads is that Lord Bayon’s family’s plantations have been subjected to a series of thefts. We don’t know who is to blame yet, but it’s nice to see the demons from the Goldy Pond arc receive some follow-up. We also learn that the children haven’t received any further calls from their mysterious allies via Minerva’s secret telephone. This is quite surprising given how much time has passed, and I’m eager to finding out what caused the massive delay between communications.
If there’s one thing I can count on, pre- or post-timeskip, it’s that Demizu will always deliver great visuals. A large part of what keeps this chapter enjoyable, despite my concerns about the time-skip, is her artwork. The chapter opens with the results of the series’s first ever character popularity poll, for which we get a nice two-page depicting the extended cast. The chapter proper is also a pleasure to look at thanks to lovely backgrounds, imposing demons and architecture, and Demizu’s usual great sense of movement across panels. She’s a great storyteller all around, and she’s crafted a world that looks every bit as menacing to the reader as it does to the protagonists.
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 review of the latest collected volume.