For us anime-only viewers, where might the story go in the future? How can the kids survive?
The Promised Neverland sets up a world where the main characters need to escape, but are fully aware of both how difficult escape will be and how little they know of the outside world.
For anyone who has not seen the show’s first two episodes yet, here’s a quick, spoilery breakdown:
Emma, Norman and Rey are 12-year-olds living in an orphanage with over 30 other kids under the watch of Isabella. When one of the orphans, Conny, leaves to go to a new family, Emma and Norman follow to bring her favorite plush bunny. They find Conny’s body in a car, and quickly realize that their orphanage is a farm where humans are grown to be fed to monsters. With some later deduction, they realize that they likely have a few months before they, along with Rey, become a part the next shipment, and so start trying to figure out a way to escape from Isabella and bring the other children along so that no one else needs to die.
Complicating matters, they realized that Isabella has a pocketwatch that appears to be able to track down any orphan in the forest near the orphanage, and a new adult, Sister Krone, just showed up to help Isabella. Meanwhile, Emma and Norman let Rey in on what they know, and the three have begun working together to figure out some kind of plan.
For people watching the anime and not reading ahead via the manga, like myself, that it the current state of the story. With such a bleak situation and so few options for how to proceed, what direction might the story go? Whether the main characters succeed or not, how might they go about at least trying to survive?
Here are a few ideas for how the story could progress.
1. Everything goes as planned
When Emma looked out over the wall, the audience was able to see that in the immediate vicinity is just more forest. Getting over the wall is likely not going to be a problem, but as Rey pointed out, outside of the wall is probably an entire world of monsters. For most any other place, that is a serious problem. In the forest immediately surrounding the orphanage though, the kids would still be familiar enough with the terrain and vegetation that they might be able to survive off the land while avoiding anyone looking for them.
There are two large problems with this idea though. First, Isabella can track the kids with her pocket watch, so the kids need to either steal the watch or find a way to remove their tracking devices. Second, even if everything goes perfectly, they need to learn how to hunt and survive off the land both for themselves and an extra 34 mouths.
While the first problem is at least potentially solvable, it is almost imposslbe to feed and care for so many people without at least a village-like central meeting area that the monsters would be able to find.
2. They live in the machinery
This plan is virtually impossible for the full group of 37 orphans, but for just the core three it might be possible. If they could figure out either the monsters’ routines or determine safe areas, then they would only need to get past the gate and be silent to remain safe. Even if they get caught once or twice, as long as they know the corridors better than their pursuer or can get to areas too small to be pursued, then they may be able to stay safe. This also might thwart the pocket watch, since we do not know its range or limitations, but depending on how winding and labyrinthine the tunnels its usefulness might be reduced. The biggest issue is that Emma has shown that she is adament about not letting anyone else die, so saying that only the three 12-year-olds have a hope of living is almost certainly not going to work.
3. They stay
With such overwhelming odds and so many unknowns on the outside, it may make the most sense for the orphans to stay where they are. Hold a coup or assassination to get rid of their caretakers, then turn the orphanage into a fort. If the monsters come looking for them, flee to the forest to evade detection. The biggest problem with the plan is the same as living in the forest: how to get food for almost 40 people when the oldest person is 12. Also, there would likely be a lot of problems that arise from a plan to kill the woman they’ve all referred to as “Mother” for their entire lives, especially since Sister Krone showed up and there are now two adults to kill for the plan to work.
4. They don’t
For as bleak as the story is and as few options as the orphans have, it is entirely possible that they simple won’t survive to the end. Whether they are caught off guard one night, are implementing their escape and something goes wrong, or are completely successful but realize that they underestimated the monsters, any number of things can kill the kids with little more than a thought. The only thing stopping this from happening is how the original creator wants the story to play out. Given that the source manga is still publishing and is creator Kaiu Shirai’s first work outside of a one-shot, it is difficult to say whether he is the kind of author to kill off characters unexpectedly or keep the entire cast alive to the end.
Of the above options, the most interesting would likely be a combination of the last two. Since at least some of the orphans are almost guaranteed to die if the group leaves, they stay in place and go full Attack on Titan, with the wall surrounding the orphanage becoming their only defense against the monsters.
However, unlike the Titans, the monsters are organized, intelligent and would likely want to retake their farm, so the kids start getting picked off a few at a time. However, this might open up an interesting narrative as the main three grow a bit older.
For whatever reason, all of the kids are sent away to be eaten before they turn 13, despite Norman’s current hypothesis that the size of a human’s brain has some value, hence the testing and why he, Emma and Rey have survived for so long.
But the human brain keeps growing in to their early 20's, so that hypothesis doesn't entirely hold. However, around age 13 is when many humans start puberty. Killing humans before then might indicated that the changes caused by puberty make humans either less appealing or outright unpalatable for the monsters.
If the orphans take the orphanage and survive long enough that one of them reaches that point, the monsters may offer to let whoever is too old the option of surviving and becoming the new head of the orphanage, effectively replacing Isabella and starting the cycle over again. As with the idea of all of the orphans dying as the ending, this depends on what kind of writer Shirai is and if any of the main three kids would sacrifice their ideals to survive, so it is difficult to say how likely this outcome is.
Those were my ideas for where the story of The Promised Neverland may be heading in the future. With how many factors are against the orphans, there aren’t many ways for them to survive, but I feel like there are a few avenues where at least the main three might make it to the end. Do you have any angles for survival that I missed? Did I miss any problems or openings in the ones I thought of? Let me know in the comments!
Kevin Matyi is a freelance features writer for Crunchyroll. He's been watching anime for as long as he can remember, and his favorite shows tend to be shonen and other action series.