Many of the manga series I used to follow from long ago have since ended, the only ones still running now are One Piece and Hajime no Ippo. So I thought I’d follow some newer ones. Here are some short reviews:
The Promised Neverland
I picked up this one due to a strong recommendation from someone I follow on social media. The premise starts out with some super smart kids who grew up in an orphanage without any knowledge of an outside world. Suddenly they find out that not all is as it seems and that they are actually captives in some kind of human farm for strange “demons” to consume. The first arc consists of the oldest kids trying to figure out a way to outsmart their captors and escape and find out the truth of what is happening in the outside world. (The previous two sentences aren’t too spoiler-y, this setup is pretty much established in the first issue.) The 3 oldest kids are supersmart, so much of the tension lies in them trying to stay two steps ahead of their captors who suspect they know the secret, and at the same time trying to figure out a way to escape with more than 30 kids, some of them toddlers.
Some spoilers for the second arc follow:
(Spoilers)The second arc after they manage to escape involves them trying to survive in a world that they find to be mostly populated by demons, some of them cunning like humans, and some wild and savage, all of them much stronger than humans. Sometimes writers won’t know what to do after their initial premise, but The Promised Neverland handles it well; after the initial “Prison Break” story arc they successfully transitioned into a “Wilderness Survival” arc that reminds me a lot of Claymore. During the course of their journey to find a safe haven they learn the truth of why the world is like it is which eventually leads to a “Revolution” arc (currently ongoing) where the protagonists are trying to change the nature of this world. There were some fantastic battle scenes against overwhelming odds in the second arc as well, especially against Lewis and the other demons at Goldy Pond.
The Promised Neverland is currently at 130 issues and I enjoyed it a lot. The writing is good, the artwork is not too complicated yet dynamic and flowing.
I remember reading about this one a couple of years ago about promising new series in Shonen Jump, but at that time I chose to start Robot x Laserbeam instead, which didn’t last too long. I didn’t start this one back then because I honestly wasn’t a fan of the art style, but I gave it another shot last week.
The premise is that sometime in 2015 (?), a mysterious petrification beam turned every human being (and swallow) on earth into stone. The protagonist Senku is a genius-level science nerd who manages to keep his consciousness alive for the 3,700 years that it takes until he is freed from his petrification by a mysterious liquid. By this time, human civilization has collapsed, and all that remains is the preserved stone statues of the humans (and swallows). A firm believer in science, Senku resolves to use his analytical skills to restore human civilization, his first task being to study the mysterious liquid that freed him and use it to free some other nearby humans - the first one being his friend Taiju, who has unnaturally high endurance making him suitable for doing the hard labor neded to support Senku’s science. While they are in the process of attempting to free a third human, they are beset upon by wild animals and have to run. They have no choice but to use their depetrification formula to free a nearby human who turns out to be a super-strong and athletic fighter who can defeat wild animals with his bare hands, Tsukasa. (All of this happens in the first three issues.)
After things settle down, Senku finds out that Tsukasa hates the modern world and does not want to bring everyone back, and he starts smashing statues of older people. Fundamentally disagreeing on the way forward, this sets up the first major arc for the series, with Tsukasa taking control of the depetrification formula to establish his own empire, and Senku vowing to start a Kingdom of Science to advance human civilization and overcome Tsukasa.
The interesting thing about this series is how focused it is on science, detailing the steps needed to do complicated things like formulating chemicals or building complicated devices like a crossbow or a battery. The series is only 100 issues long so far, but thanks to Senku being ridiculously knowledgable, science advances quickly even in this “Stone” age.
(Spoilers)By the 100th issue, Senku has advanced the cause of science enough to be able to create (with the help of a whole village of people) such advanced devices as mobile communicators, a steam engine-powered boat, and even a carbon-fiber tank.
I must admit I can’t follow the science myself too closely (since I’m not that well-versed in chemistry), so I can’t vouch for its accuracy, but I enjoy how it is presented and how Senku explains things.
Both of these series feature superoptimistic protagonists who are hypercompetent and very resolved to save everyone (sometimes even their enemies), no matter the ridiculous odds. A bit trope-y, but I enjoyed both series nonetheless, and both are still ongoing, so I have new manga to look forward to every week!