When Promised Neverland was published, most fans quickly realized that it was not a typical Shonen series. However, there are no fixed characteristics that make a series Shonen other than its target demographic. But the Shonen series do have common tropes:- a one-on-one final showdown between the antagonist and protagonist, a battle focused storyline, and a naive protagonist. Promised Neverland is different since it does not feature any of the typical tropes. Some might say that its departure from the typical Shonen storyline and tropes is the very reason for its success.
Promised Neverland follows a group of orphans who live in an orphanage. However, it appears at first that the orphans live in an ideal world where all their needs are met, but soon it becomes clear that the truth is much darker than that. The idyllic Green Field House that they live in turns out to be a farm for demons. Most of these children are being raised just to be devoured by them. With tension always lingering in the background, the series combines horror and psychological elements to intrigue fans from beginning to end. Promised Neverland is not a typical Shonen series, and today why that is so.
Most Shonen series prefer to begin with an epic battle that excites the viewers and gives them an idea of what is in store for them. Since Promised Neverland is unlike most Shonen series, it does something completely out of the ordinary. While most fans would have expected action, Promised Neverland gives them long and detailed planning, which sounds depressing. However, it would be naive to presume that planning in the series is not exciting. In fact, with Isabella always one step ahead of the protagonists, the trio are pushed to fight a long psychological war that is just as exciting as an epic fight from any other Shonen series.
While Emma is determined to save everyone from the horrors of the Green Field House, she is well-aware that there is no margin for error. Everyone is killed indiscriminately, so if a plan to escape is exposed, it is certain that the one’s behind, it will soon face a terrible punishment. So, the trio has to put their heads together to come up with plans that take every factor into account. They can’t afford to make a mistake and the constant struggle to account for every possibility creates tension that leaves fans with a sense of wonderment.
The first season of the series focuses on the conflict between Isabella and the orphans of the Green Field House. With their completely unexpected and horrifying twists, the first episodes set the tone for the psychological warfare that is about to take place. Once the trio realizes the truth, they know they have to do something about it. However, they soon notice the trustworthy atmosphere created by Isabella is so good that it would be almost impossible to convince children of the truth. Isabella is always one step ahead and knows what the trio might be planning. Her omniscience adds an element of horror and panic that always lurks in the background. Despite having Isabella’s spy Ray on their side, it appears that they would still be unable to outsmart her.
The series is quite similar to Death Note since both of them avoid the stereotypical Shonen tropes for a psychological thriller that leaves fans mesmerized. The heroes in both the series know the truth, but they struggle to prove it. They give a false impression that one side is about to win, but the tables are turned at the last moment.
Although there is a growing trend of grotesque horror in the Shonen genre, Promised Neverland is an anomaly since it portrays the demons with a subdued sense of horror. Although the first episode/chapter might make one think that more gore awaits in future episodes, surprisingly, nothing of that sort happens. The horror in the series comes from the omniscience of Isabella, who seems to be aware of every plan that the trio might come up with. Despite having a warm and friendly demeanor, the truth is she is raising children just to be devoured by demons. The type of trust that she has instilled in other children would be tough to imagine for anyone that she is raising the children in the Green Field House to be cattle.
Isabella is a unique character who has embraced the dichotomy of a mother and an instigator of the children’s trauma. In a way, she is a paradox for the children at Green Field House for who represents safety and danger. Isabella creates an atmosphere of horror and unease as more and more details of her are revealed. It is surprising that with all the details that they have, Norman, Ray, and Isabella fail to understand the true extent of her evil. The uncertainty created by the failure and the consistent pursuit of the children develop an atmosphere of horror and doubt that leaves a lasting impression on the fans. So, despite not being a typical Shonen, Promised Neverland is a great series that one must not miss out on.