The cattle children make some unexpected allies.
The collected volumes of Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu’s The Promised Neverland have caught up with one of the series’ main turning points. Vol. 5 detailed the cattle children’s escape from Grace Field House, and Vol. 6, out now from Viz Media, follows them through the deadly demon forest as they venture toward the coordinates B06-32, where they hope to find William Minerva or at least some other ally. Along the way, they make a pair of unlikely friends: Sonju and Mujika, both of whom are demons. Can demons and humans truly work together? This volume collects chapters 44-52, which, needless to say, are eventful. But are they good?
Art-wise, Demizu does a great job as always here. The different environments in the demon world all look imposing and alien, and the reader’s lack of knowledge about the world leaves open the possibility that anything could be hiding around the next corner. The action scenes are fantastic, as Demizu utilizes a great variety of page compositions (to include some awesome two-page spreads) that help keep events dynamic and unpredictable. Sonju and Mujika also have striking designs that combine the horrific traits of demons in this series (razor-sharp teeth, birdlike feet, etc.) with less threatening, more human attributes.
Sonju and Mujika are at the heart of this volume’s plot progression, as they shake up the children’s understanding of the world around them. For starters, of course, Sonju and Mujika are demons, but they don’t blindly hate or attempt to eat all humans. They also tell the children about the world’s past, or rather, a world’s past. It is revealed that there used to be a singular world where both humans and demons presided, but it was split 1,000 years ago into two worlds: one for each species. The implications of this event significantly complicate the children’s plans, although they do receive new hints about how best to move forward. There’s still something sinister in the air however, as the reader learns that Sonju and Mujika’s motivations for helping the children aren’t entirely altruistic.
There are various other bits of lore and character development in this volume, which by and large are exhilarating to watch unfold. My favorite scene is when Emma requests that Sonju take her with him as he scouts the forest for potential enemies. Upon doing so, Sonju asks Emma what she’s after. Her response? That she wants to learn how to kill other living beings. What initially sounds likes a gruesome request makes perfect sense when viewed through the lens of how much Emma has given up to protect her family, and how much more work she still has ahead of her. We also learn about the vida plant and its importance to the spiritual practice known as Gupna. Not only is it satisfying to learn more about demon religion, but these details also add terrifying context to events from the series’ very first chapter.
Those who have been keeping up with this series via Weekly Shonen Jump will also recognize the specific meanings behind a lot of foreshadowing that is foreboding but cryptic on a first read. Demizu and Shirai play a long game, and much of what gets introduced here is crucial to where the story is now. Just as some events receive more context, other questions are dangled in front of the reader, prompting further interest. This strategic interweaving of plot elements makes the manga that much more thrilling, as it’s clear that the mysteries raised will in fact be unraveled.
The Promised Neverland Vol. 6 is excellent. Its pacing is flawless, as it clears up some mysteries just to introduce more through sinister implications. With that said, the characters don’t just gain new knowledge about the world around them, they also push themselves to grow as a result. Add in Posuka’s amazing artwork and you have a must-read on all counts.