Welcome to This Week in Shonen Jump, our weekly check in on Viz’s various Shonen Jump series. Viz has recently changed their release format, but our format will mostly remain the same. We will still review the newest chapters of two titles a week, now with even more options at our disposal. The big change for our readers is that, even without a Shonen Jump subscription, you can read these most recent chapters for free at Viz.com or using their app.
This week, Walter checks in on “The Promised Neverland.” If you have thoughts on this or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
The Promised Neverland Chapter 172
Written by Kaiu Shirai
Illustrated by Posuka Demizu
Review by Walt Richardson
We’ve all seen variations on this scene before, especially in shonen action manga. The big bad is seemingly defeated, though they’ve perhaps got one last trick on their sleeve. The hero is faced with the ultimate decision: kill the villainous fiend, or show them mercy (usually after giving some kind of monologue explaining how they’ve come to their decision). In some ways, the latest chapter of “The Promised Neverland” is very familiar. And yet, there’s enough going on here to make an otherwise common trope feel emotionally fulfilling.
Shonen fighting manga fans and superhero comic enthusiast alike are probably all sick of reading variations on “killing you would make me no better than you!” Kaiu Shirai instead uses Emma’s ultimatum to Ratri to probe at how harming other harms one’s self, and how classes are inherently in conflict with one another, while also painting the picture of a better world defined by mutual aid. It’s all well and good to have the conflict between protagonist and antagonist be intensely personal in nature, and the final confrontation to mirror that, but “The Promised Neverland” has always had the bigger picture in mind. Hell, Ratri is a relatively recent addition to the cast — it wouldn’t be narratively satisfying for Emma to spout off on how much she hates him. Instead this latest chapter gives us a more global scale approach to this common narrative beat, while offering a compelling vision of a brighter future (both within and outside the fiction of the series).
Perhaps the biggest fault of this chapter, like a lot of chapters of “The Promised Neverland,” is it’s very dialogue heavy, but Posuka Demizu is able to keep things visually interesting. This may not have been one of Demizu’s best opportunities to show off, but he takes what opportunities Shari gives him. In particular Demizu clearly loves drawing Ratri, as every single panel of him clearly conveys that he is constantly in a state of having a normal one (for those of you who aren’t as internet poisoned as me, that means he’s nuts). The flashback panels (including a COVID-19 reference that incredibly manages to feel not in the slightest bit contrived) complement Emma’s speech well, and as always his expression game is on point.
If you listen to the Multiversity Manga Club (you do, don’t you?) you know that me guessing that “The Promised Neverland” is reaching its end has become a recurring joke. This chapter also has major “nearing the climax” vibes to it, and I’m once again willing to bet that it will have wrapped up in a few months. But even if the series continues on for twice as long, I will continue to remember this chapter as one of the highlights of the series.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – A fantastic (maybe) climax.