ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘The Promised Neverland,’ Volume 20

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The Promised Neverland Volume 20

The Promised Neverland Volume 20 is a fantasy thriller manga illustrated by Posuka Demizu and written by Kaiu Shirai. VIZ Media publishes the English-language release as a part of the SHONEN JUMP imprint. The Promised Neverland centers on the Grace Field House orphanage children who uncover a dark secret. Their loving caretaker, Mama, was actually raising them to be slaughtered and fed to demons. Emma, Norman, and Ray devise a plan to escape their hellish fates while they desperately try to find a place in the world where they can be free.

Following the previous volume, in The Promised Neverland Volume 20, Emma faces Peter Ratri at Grace Field House as the future of the demon world hangs in the balance. Meanwhile, something unexpected is happening in the demon capital. It appears the children’s long journey is finally coming to an end. They are so close to finally escaping to the human world, but their escape comes at a high cost.

A lot is going on in The Promised Neverland Volume 20. Granted, this is the last volume of the series, so the mangaka does have quite a few storylines to wrap up. Unfortunately, that made the pacing of this volume feel a bit rushed in some parts and dragged out during other parts. I felt some storylines and characters deserved a little more time and development, but unfortunately, they were rushed or put aside to fit a convenient conclusion for the series.

This volume does a great job of tackling the topics of resolution and forgiveness, particularly during Emma’s confrontation with a major villain in the series. In The Promised Neverland Volume 20, Emma corners Peter Ratri, the man responsible for much of the misfortune she and her family has faced. Instead of taking Peter’s life out of revenge, she proposes they talk with one another. Emma says that she wants to find a resolution for her and the other humans to be free that doesn’t involve killing anyone else.

I loved this interaction because it shows another path to resolution where forgiveness is not required to obtain it. I found this to be a very refreshing take on resolution. Too often in media, victims are made to feel like they are incapable of moving forward without letting go of their grudges or forgiving their enemies. I applaud the mangaka for taking the story in a different direction than what I have seen before. Emma and the other humans held captive in the demon world have every right to be vengeful against the Ratri Family. After everything Emma and her family have lost and been through, they should not have to forgive their enemies to be free.

Lastly, while the ending of this volume felt bittersweet, it also felt very fitting for this series, given the dark premise of The Promised Neverland, a series where children are literally raised as cattle to be slaughtered for demon food. Hoping for a happy ending that would be absent of any struggles or obstacles might be asking for a lot.

Overall, as the final installment in The Promised Neverland series, Volume 20 conveniently wraps up the story. I applaud the creators for tackling the topics of resolution and forgiveness in a refreshing and nuanced way in this volume. Granted, there are moments where the pacing felt a bit rushed, as some storylines and characters could have benefitted from more development. As a long-time fan of this series, I wish there could have been more time for those to be explored. However, the mangaka still manages to craft a bittersweet yet beautiful ending that befits the series.

The Promised Neverland Volume 20 is available at bookstores and online on August 3, 2021.

The Promised Neverland Volume 20
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TL;DR

I applaud the creators for tackling the topics of resolution and forgiveness in a refreshing and nuanced way in this volume. Granted, there are moments where the pacing felt a bit rushed, as some storylines and characters could have benefitted from more development. As a long-time fan of this series, I wish there could have been more time for those to be explored. However, the mangaka still manages to craft a bittersweet yet beautiful ending that befits the series.