The Promised Neverland Vol. 14 blends high stakes action, emotional revelation, and engaging lore into a series of chapters that propel the series into a new major conflict central to Emma and the kids’ survival. Writer Kaiu Shirai and artist Posuka Demizu are answering huge questions in this volume that have hung over the series from the start. This makes for a second-half nearly overwhelmed with lore, but as someone who is always down for more worldbuilding, the latter chapters balance the action-packed opening into a well-rounded volume. We’re deep enough into the story at this point that I can’t safely suggest any chapter from here on out as a jumping on point, but fans of the series have a lot to dig into with Vol. 14.
The volume opens with Emma and a small group of kids infiltrating a demon farm to procure medicine for one of the children injured in the skirmish with the Ratri clan covered in the volume previous. Though the heist only takes a couple chapters, they are tense, allowing the reader just enough time to feel stressed for the kids without belaboring the conflict into another Goldy Pond-level arc. These chapters also give Anna a chance to shine again after she came in clutch way back in the children’s initial escape from Grace Field House. I appreciate that Shirai and Demizu were able to give us a brief, high-stakes moment that let me feel a bit of adrenaline before transitioning into the plot and lore revelations which excite for a different reason.
As the gorgeous cover art suggests, William Minerva plays into the story of this volume in a major way and in dancing around the spoilers, I’ll say the revelations his inclusion brings are emotional and satisfying in a way that feels completely earned. Demizu’s distinct style is employed in rendering stunning facial expressions on Emma and the kids as said revelations are made, resulting in some of the strongest panels and page spreads of the series. From here we dive into a lot of lore with regards to the demons and their world, which answer big questions that reframe elements of the series in ways both broad and specific. The series risked dipping into territory which was almost a bit conventional for my taste, but manages to stop just short of cliche and hold fast to its key ideas of consumption and systemic oppression.
Out from the lore dump emerges what will be one of the key questions of the series. To describe exactly what that question is would veer too hard into spoiler territory, but it really brings those underlying ideas about systemic oppression to the forefront. What can an oppressed group of people do to extricate themselves from that state? What tactics can they employ without ending up using the same methods as their oppressors? Is it enough for the children to seek only survival, or are they entitled to some justice as well? These questions aren’t answered in this volume, but they emerge in ways that delighted me and made me very excited for where the series will go from here.
Fans of the series know by now that Posuka Demizu’s art is nothing short of iconic and as I said earlier, there is stunning work in this volume. Besides the evocative face work, the heist in the first couple chapters as well as the later lore dump both allow for some gnarly artwork of demons in all shapes and sizes. Demizu is flexing her talent in creature design in this volume as we see monstrous demons with drool-soaked fangs and leering eyes. There are a number of group shots in this volume that were probably fairly labor intensive for Demizu and her assistants, but they pull them off swimmingly. I’m consistently impressed that the team can keep track of so many different children’s designs, but pouring over the group shots confirms that each child retains their own personality and flavor.
Overall, Vol. 14 of The Promised Neverland gives readers a little bit of everything at which the series excels. From action, to worldbuilding, to emotional catharsis, Shirai and Demizu exhibit their strengths while bringing key themes of the series to the forefront in the process. Some readers looking for more action may be turned off by all the worldbuilding, but readers looking for answers and more details about the world of The Promised Neverland are sure to gorge on this volume like a demon after a bountiful harvest.