Note – VIZ Media provided us with a digital review copy of The Promised Neverland, vol. 8, in exchange for our honest review.
The Promised Neverland, volume 8, checks all the boxes as it moves into one of its more harrowing arcs. With frantically-paced action sequences, heavy-hitting emotional scenes and an ever-expanding wealth of lore, it will surely draw its fans in for the long run as it enters the saga of Goldy Pond.
While the anime continues to pick up steam, and its fans begin to realize the extent of its unsettling nature, the manga has fully embraced its identity – cartwheeling into the night, howling at the moon with child-deaths left and right.
Volume 8 offers a fantastic blend of everything that makes The Promised Neverland great: kicking off with some intense action as Emma and Ray do battle with a herd of ravenous demons. While their genius battle strategies and new weaponry seemingly help to even the battlefield somewhat, Ray seems overwhelmed by the futility of the conflict until he realizes a key vulnerability of the demons: their central eye. When struck there, the demons can’t regenerate, and it seems to result in an almost instantaneous death.
They use this to their advantage as Geezer guides them deeper into the forest, leading them to Goldy Pond.
Along the way, Emma and Ray both get the sense that Geezer is hiding something; that he’s masking his true feelings and ultimately can’t be trusted. Rather than counter-scheme and try to outmatch him, Emma confronts the issue head-on, calling out his distressed emotional state and the pain and suffering he must have endured as being the only survivor from his House.
Emma’s appeal to Geezer highlights her ability to win allies wherever she goes. While Ray would likely chastise her for being overly friendly/trusting, the gamble paid off in the end, as Geezer concedes that he was luring them into a trap. Unfortunately, the revelation comes too late, as Emma’s snatched away before either of them can react.
The next arc of the volume surrounds the disturbing existence of those within Goldy Pond. In a macabre game, monsters are summoned whenever music plays, and the children who live there must flee helplessly or be consumed. Emma quickly comes to terms with the “rules” of Goldy Pond, and does her best to save lives as she goes toe-to-toe with demons in the woods.
This arc is definitely the most emotionally impactful of volume 8, as it covers a brief, but tragic tale around 3 “siblings”: Monica, Theo, and Jake. Emma successfully saves them from a demon attack at the start of the game, but by the time the hunt is over, Emma discovers that Theo is alone, badly wounded. It turns out that a demon known as Leuvis came across the trio later in the hunt, and that Jake sacrificed his life so that Theo could escape. Monica was also slain. Leuvis cruelly spared Theo, asking him if he was filled with rage and/or hate, and if so – to join in the hunt and attempt to exact revenge.
When Emma discovers the tragic end of Jake and Monica, as detailed by Theo in the midst of sobs, she has a look of utter helplessness that we haven’t seen in quite some time. Adding insult to injury, there’s a brief series of scenes that show the demons enjoying their “meal” – which we now know consists of Jake and Monica. Nice little knife-twist there.
The closing chapters introduce us to a new band of survivors: The Resistance. Though cliche sounding, the older survivors (many between 15-17 years old) seem encouraged by Emma’s arrival. As one who knows the “truth”, they quickly work to bring her into their fold before introducing her to an adult named Lucas.
Surprisingly, Lucas belonged to the same house as Geezer – though neither knew the other was still alive. He explains to Emma that the pen she possesses is the key to unlocking a gift from Mr. Minerva in the lower levels of Goldy Pond. Armed with this knowledge, Emma and Lucas forge ahead, eager to discover what lies beyond the locked door.
Overall, this volume is a delight. Plenty of action, superb world-building and a smooth transition into the next arc. Pick it up!