Book Review: The Promised Neverland Volume 8

The Promised Neverland Volume 8 cover

I hope that everyone is having a good week, even if it is more of the same monotonous work week as it has always been.

Things have been going pretty well here, as I can still do what I like.

Recently, I was taking a look at what I had neglected while I was busy with my class at the end of last, and found out that I did not really miss too much, so I placed an order for the few titles I needed to catch up, and the first two titles of the month arrived.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called The Promised Neverland Volume 8 by Kaiu Shirai.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.

Emma, Ray, and the mysterious man they met at the shelter have headed out the their next destination, in hopes of finding William Minerva, and Emma and Ray have found themselves in a rough spot, as planned by the mysterious stranger.

However, the dangers from the man that is trying to chase away the children of Grace Field are not the only ones that have to be dealt with, as Emma finds out first hand what her destination really is when she gets entangled in the same mess that haunts the mysterious man to this day.

While The Promised Neverland has been able to stay pretty good so far, I know that things will eventually grow stale or boring, which is why I try not to give things a pass just because I like the series.

And after reading this, I have to say that I really enjoyed it.

From the moment that I opened up this volume and started reading it, I found myself so engrossed that I did not want to stop reading for any reason.

As I have said numerous times already, one of the most important things in a work of fiction is how things begin, because readers seek a temporary escape from the stresses of every day life, and if they can feel pulled in enough, the readers might be willing to overlook even the most minor of flaws.

While this can be done in numerous way, depending on the kind of story and the medium, manga is usually published in serial publications, which means that each successive installment needs to pick up at a good point, compared to where the last chapter, or in this case, the last installment left off.

In the previous volume, the unnamed man, who was forced to guide Emma and Ray to Goldy Pond, decided to purposely lure out demons, in order to kill at least one of the kids giving him troubles, and said, “So let this hellish journey begin. Your lives are in my hands,” then transitioned to the frightened expressions of Emma and Ray, with the final panel concluding the chapter with the man saying, “Try surviving this, you brats.”

This volume picks up right around that time, with Emma and Ray not being to happy and taking on the demons, which helped to pull me into what was going on and bring me back into the world of the series.

If Kaiu Shirai had not started this chapter off right at this moment, I would have been a lot more disappointed than I was with volume 15 of Yona of the Dawn‘s beginning pages, because the final chapter of the previous volume had promised me that I would see some action, and neither Kaiu Shirai nor Posuka Demizu, who is responsible for the artwork in this series, have done anything to make things feel rushed, at least at this point in the series.

Thankfully, Kaiu Shirai remembered that the audience was expecting to see some action, creating a great place to start off this volume, and that makes me want to give both Kaiu Shirai and Shueisha, or whoever they had put this volume together, a good round of applause for being able to create and choose such a great place to start things off.

Hopefully, future releases will be able to start off just as well as this one did, because that is going to help people see why this series has so many fans, other than the horror and psychological feel from when the series began, which is the part that is the focus of the anime adaptation that is being streamed on Crunchyroll and a few other legal streaming services, but I would not be surprised if things go down hill in this area, since the people working to bring this series to the masses are only human.

I also liked Emma did not delude herself with her empathy and how the nameless man fell into despair was revealed.

In my life, I have encountered quite a few people that believe wholeheartedly that empathy, the act of putting oneself in another person’s shoes, and optimism can solve everything in this world, and it really makes me sick to my stomach that people do not understand that both have their limits, as well as why they can end up hurting others, rather than help them.

Even though Emma is one of those people that I do not care for, due to her level of optimism being the kind that will ultimately lead her to despair, as described in a post that I originally linked in a post talking about my thoughts on the matter, she talks with the nameless man and tells him that even though she cannot understand his pain, she understands what he is going through and why he did what he did.

By doing something like this, it helps to show that Emma really does understand what empathy is, as well as its limits, thus making it easier for me to see why she is one of the three smartest kids.

Now, this might not be exactly what happened in this chapter, because Mangastream, who is posting the latest chapters online, like Viz Media is doing, makes it seem like Emma use a flawed form of empathy because she equates the nameless man’s lost of his entire group to her loss of Norman, which does make sense with her being a child, whereas Viz actually makes her come across as smarter, but seeing as things mostly play out the same, it still shows powerful her exchange with the man was, along with the flashback moments, especially with the things that she noticed that let her infer the truth.

If Kaiu Shirai had not added this into the pages found within this volume, I would have been probably been able to accept it, as the nameless character did come across as a jerk, but something would have felt like it was missing because Emma is usually the one concerned about other people, and it would have been really out of character for her.

Fortunately, Kaiu Shirai decided to include this moment in the volume, and that makes me want to give them a good round of applause, though Satsuki Yamashita, who is credited for the translation in this book, does deserve some credit too, for making Emma’s word come off as more impactful in the translation.

Hopefully, things will be able to remain like this in future releases, seeing as the series is nearing completion, according to post by Crystalyn Hodgkins on Anime News Network, which was posted back in September of last year, because I would like to see this series end on a high note, just like the people that consider themselves fans of the series, but because many titles targeting the same age group as this series have ended on a rather horrible note, I would not be surprised if I end up feeling disgusted later on.

Another thing that I kind of liked was how Goldy Pond was not introduced as a safe haven.

One of the things that I was really annoyed with about this series and its characters was how they thought that each destination was going to be somewhere where they can live out their lives, under the care and tutelage of William Minerva, or find a way back to the human world, because they were not aware of all the possibilities.

Yes, the protagonists are all children, so it would be more realistic for them to always think that things will turn out how the hope it would, but these children have also had to contend with the dangers of nature, demons, and other humans to the point where they need to play things cautiously, and Emma and Ray seemingly forgot why they left the others behind, not to mention how Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu seem to always to present things as a paradise, before showing the hell it really was.

However, in this volume, when Emma found herself in Goldy Pond, she noticed a sign with three words that gave a hint that things were not quite right and then immediately involved herself in the game, which present the horrors that these children had to live through.

If Kaiu Shirai had approached things like how Grace Field House was portrayed in the beginning, before the big twist was revealed, or the situation at B06-32, I might have been okay with things, but I probably will not be too excited, because it would have given off the feeling that it had been done before, as well as turn what was supposed to be a quick trip into a series of tedious events.

Thankfully, Kaiu Shirai decided to show the hell that was Goldy Pond, instead of making me wade through what I expected to be a long investigation, and that makes me feel like giving them some more applause.

Hopefully, Kaiu Shirai will continue to make great decisions of when to present twists in this series, whether those twists are revealed immediate only after what feel like a lot of time had passed, but seeing as this series no longer involves a psychological game of cat and mouse, I am prepared for the boredom of having to deal with twists cropping up suddenly.

The thing that I liked the most though was how Emma came into contact with her next big challenge.

While there was quite of bit of interesting stuff that occurred in this volume, and the ending felt perfect, the thing that this series seems to have been lacking was a real enemy that could challenge the kids, like Isabella did when Emma, Norman, and Ray all decided to escape from Grace Field with everyone in tow, which really hurt the series and made things seemingly dull.

However, when Emma hears some screams at Goldy Pond and runs to the rescue, attacking a demon that found some prey, another demon snatches the weapon Emma hurled and becomes excited, because he found the prey he desired in Emma, only moments after lamenting how boring things had become for him and making small observations.

Not only did he notice Emma’s intent to kill and the fact that she knew how to slay them, as well as the kinds of tactics she employed, but also relayed a message to her through one of the children she tried to save, after massacring the other two, to incite rage in both Emma and the child he spared so that they will come charging at him.

Now, I am not too sure how brilliant this demon is, even though Kaiu Shirai is trying to build him up to be the big bad, but seeing as this demon enjoys the thrill of a hunt and will do whatever it takes to bring out the full potential of his prey, I am so excited in what will happen next that I want to read the next volume right now, even though it does not come out until April, according to the product page on Amazon, and much more so than the kind of feelings that the ending itself gave me.

If Kaiu Shirai had not introduced this guy into the series, I do not think I would have been able to enjoy myself as much, because the threat of the demons had seemed to take a back seat to the mystery of the world as of late, and there really was not much of a challenge posed by the nameless man, who got fleshed out a little in this volume.

Fortunately, Kaiu Shirai remembered that demons were supposed to be a big threat in this series and that Emma needed an enemy that would prove to be touch, and the fact that all of this made me more excited to read the next volume than the ending itself makes me want to give Kaiu Shirai another good round of applause.

Hopefully, things will get even more challenging as the series gets closer to its conclusion, because that was one of the things that I really enjoyed seeing in the series prior to the escape from Grace Field, but I am prepared to tear into the people working on the series if things end terribly.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could stand out as much as what I already talked about.

Because my attention was captured quickly and held right up to the end, because things picked up where the last volume left off, the exchange between Emma and the nameless man felt like it had a lot of impact, thanks to Satsuki Yamashita’s translation for Viz Media, which made Emma appear to be a little smaller, Goldy Pond’s hell was not hidden, and a demon that could possibly give Emma and the gang a real run for their money finally appeared, which ended up being the highlight of the volume, this was a pretty decent read.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, nothing seemed to bother me too much.

As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.

Considering that there was quite a bit to like, and nothing to really hate, unless you want to be really nitpicky, this was definitely worth reading.

I mainly recommend this to fans of The Promised Neverland, as they will be able to enjoy this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but I would recommend reading the previous volumes first, so that this can be fully enjoyed.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or if you would like a copy of the reviewed title, buy The Promised Neverland Volume 8 from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so that I can continue following this series and possibly find more worthwhile reads for you guys to check out.

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