Emma’s Choice: The gender-norm nightmare at the heart of The Promised Neverland

Some monsters aren’t just under our beds.

A sketch of two girls, Emma and Isabella. Emma is crouched and facing the left, looking determined. Isabella is standing and facing the right, looking sorrowful.

Since it began serialization in Viz’s Shonen JUMP, The Promised Neverland has garnered well-deserved praise for its twisting narrative, tense story beats, and compelling characters. But this series is more than a page-turning thriller. What begins as a sharply crafted horror story soon reveals itself to be a sophisticated critique on restrictive social practices—including the hellishly limited roles expected of girls.

CONTENT WARNING: Discussions of sexism and violence against children; disturbing imagery. SPOILERS for The Promised Neverland, Volumes 1-5 (Chapters 1-38).

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