‘The Promised Neverland’: Finding Freedom In A Demon-Haunted World

Life looks good for the children of Grace Field House, but then two children see behind the curtains.
Audie Thacker | Jun 18, 2019 | 10 comments |

Life is good for the nearly forty orphans of Grace Field House.

They have a large, nice house to live in. They have plenty of good food to eat. Their clothes are nice—though all of the same white color—and they all get along like one big happy family!

Of course, they’ve not left the grounds since coming there when they were infants. And they have a few rules, such as to never go near the gate, and never cross over the low wall that surrounds the property. But the grounds are large and give them lots of room to run around in the woods, playing games like tag. Above all, their caregiver Isabella, whom they lovingly call Momma, clearly loves all of them and does all she can to make sure they are happy and healthy.

They don’t even have to worry about school! Still, they do have tests they must take. But they have plenty of books to help them study. And Momma is very happy that the house has three older children who consistently make perfect scores on these test: Norman, a calm and very intelligent boy; Ray, a boy who reads a lot and is quieter personality than most of the other children; and Emma, whose warm and bright personality makes her like a big sister to the younger children.

Every few months, one of the children gets adopted. On the day this story begins, a little girl named Connie is leaving in the evening to meet her new family. Her departure is filled with happiness for her getting a family and sadness that she’s leaving. After Momma has walked Connie to the gate, Emma finds she’s left behind her much-beloved stuffed bunny toy, so she and Norman decide to bend the rules a little and go to the gate to return her toy before she leaves. They find the gate open, go into the gateway, and . . .

And what looks to be a happy, cheerful little show about carefree children turns into something much, much, very much different.

How bad do you really, really want it?1

After learning what’s really going on at Grace Field House, Norman, Emma, and Ray begin making plans to escape. Though this part of the story offers a lot of tension, their plans seems to coming along.

Then, things go very wrong, very quickly.

One thing the story does well is challenge the main characters. How badly do they want to be free? As escape looks impossible and their opponents appear to be in total control. These kids who have lived essentially soft and cushy lives must put half-baked plans and half-measures behind them. Otherwise, they must resign their hope of escape and accept their fate.

Finding freedom

Grace Field House is not a nightmare orphanage from a Dickens story. It’s a bright and cheerful place where the children live carefree lives together, almost as a family. They have few worries, all their needs are met, though they take tests no one is bothering them about getting to school and doing their homework. In short, they live lives that would be the envy of many people in the real world.

There is just the one little problem: instead of being adopted, they will be killed and eaten by demons. (But we should note that these “demons” are not spiritual beings.)

Here’s a bit of an excerpt from Christless Christianity that may be helpful here:

What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over a half century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia, all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday … where Christ is not preached.2

The manga for The Promised Neverland is well past were the anime has ended. Without spoiling the story, we can note that the main characters have learned there are other place where humans are being raised as food for the demons—and many of those places are much worse than Grace Field House.

We may think about places in this world where life is difficult, with poverty, war, oppression, or corruption. We may think of those places as being something like “hell on earth.” That may not be an unfair evaluation. But we still find warnings in the Bible, in such places as Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus, or his parable of the farmer who built barns to hold all his crops. Here, Jesus warns that there is also danger in the life of ease and plenty.

Because, whether any individual’s road is rough or smooth, those roads would lead to the same outcome—Hell.

In our demon-haunted world, we cannot escape our condition on our own, no matter how drastic the measures any of us may take. Only God can rescue us, only Christ could die as the sacrifice for our sins, and where our own efforts are worthless, only faith in Christ is required for this rescue.

Conclusion

This is a series worth giving a shot. If you do give it a try, though, you may want to keep your RPG dice at hand. That’s because, as you watch it, there will be times you will need to roll for damage.

So far, there’s been only one season, but it’s been announced that the series will continue in 2020. Just be ready for a wild ride.

  1. Apologies for the title of this section, which is rather like a mad scientist’s mutation of Don Henley and The Spice Girls.
  2. Michael Horton, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church, page 15.
Audie Thacker likes to think of himself as a writer, and so far his word processor hasn't been able to convince him otherwise, though one can't fault its efforts. He is the author of the fantasy novels Shifters: Manipulations and Shifters: Judgments.

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Autumn Grayson
Guest

Sounds interesting. And the ‘demons’ are probably more like yokai, or some other thing from Japanese legends. People insist on calling yokai demons, and it bugs me a bit since they’re very different.

Brennan S. McPherson
Member

My parents still can’t think of Pokémon as anything but literal spiritual demons.

Autumn Grayson
Guest

I guess we can thank the translators for that. Yokai and other such things do have to do with Japanese religion, though, so it can be a spiritual matter, just not the one they’re thinking. But most people probably don’t research into Pokémon enough to learn of and be affected by the yokai part.

notleia
Guest
notleia

I think the actual word used was “oni,” which translates more like “ogre.”

SPOILERS: They look like they came off the set of the Aliens franchise. But no in-universe explanation yet, but I’m leaning towards aliens, because the rest of this is sci-fi flavored.

But this show is actually pretty good at keeping you guessing.

Autumn Grayson
Guest

Shrek made it harder for me to take the idea of ogres seriously in this context 😛 I probably need to do more research on the actual ogre legends to fix that. Along with what the differences between yokai and oni are.

It’s so much nicer when translators use the actual Japanese words for these creatures, though, since these creatures are different than the Western comparisons that are made. And, it’s just more educational to use the actual Japanese word.

Zachary Holbrook
Guest

Is the line about RPG dice a metaphor? Or does the show break the fourth wall and tell viewers to roll for damage? I’m confused.