The Promised Neverland Chapter 120 Review by Tux - Formless MonstersChapter Summary
Chapter 120 leads the reader with an in-depth look into the Demon physiology and history. Norman explains that the demons were originally bacterial lifeforms that naturally multiplied and copied themselves, as bacteria naturally does. The biological evolution separates from the norm when it is revealed that these bacteria began evolving by combining its DNA with that of other species in a process called 'Horizontal Gene Propagation'. Demons are not born through natural reproduction. In fact, the Demons as we know them attain their forms by consuming other species where its form and other biological traits are absorbed along with the body. Thanks to this information, the kids now know the truth behind the farms, and the promise. Norman then goes on to explain the plight of Demon society in terms of the procurement of High Quality human produce. He states that the demons became greedy with the form and intelligence acquired from consuming human beings. Demons will eventually degrade into more primeval and primitive beings if not enough High Quality humans are consumed in 6 months. This weakness of the demonic biology, Norman says, is the reason behind the existence of the experimental farm Lambda where he was imprisoned and subsequently escaped from. Norman states that his plan and philosophy is to bring about the "end of the Neverland" (a world where children can't become adults) by destroying the farms and annihilating the intelligent demon population as a result. The chapter ends with Norman stating these intentions, and Emma looking torn between happy and deeply troubled...
My ThoughtsThe Lore:
Chapter 120 has massive implications for the overall world building and lore, obviously. The whole mystery behind the demon world is dispelled in many aspects. We know how they originated, how they evolved and why they eat humans. We still don't know how Demons reproduce, or how the humanoid demons are so strong even though according to Norman's explanation they should have traits comparable to that which they consume. The heart of the matter to me however is that despite the massive lore info dump, none of this information really relates to what Emma has seen. Cuvitidala. That strange demon who appeared in her visions. The necklace. The pieces of this puzzle are nearly all in place, but we just don't know how they fit together yet.
I've personally always loved the appearance of the demons in this series. Their masks that hid the true grotesque nature of their forms, in an attempt to mimic human behaviours of arrogance and to put oneself above their own peers. Chapter 120 was a pleasure to look at thanks to the presence of so many images of the demons. They are like a kind of virus, powerful enough to take down the mightiest of nature's creations and steal away their grace and beauty for themselves. Posuka really showed her stuff on the last panel where Emma and co. reacts to Norman's declaration of war against the demons. It stuns me to see an artist bring a still image to life in the way that she does. Don't know what I mean? Just take a look at Emma's expression specifically. In the first panel she looks surprised. But next she quickly transitions to an almost terrified expression. Not obviously. It's subtle. The stress lines under her eyes, the single sweat droplet. The open gaping mouth. Emma is so deeply disturbed at what Norman has become. She knows that he is not the same boy who left the orphanage that day.
Norman wants to take the war path. Does he even have any idea about the Promise and the potential for a peaceful solution? He is a changed person, so Emma and her naivety might not warm his heart as it once did before. While he says that he wants to save everyone, so much blood will be spilled in the process. Sad as it may sound, I don't think Emma, Ray and Norman will be able to see this endgame out together. I may well be wrong and Shirai will turn what we know (and what we think we know) on its head again where the whole story ends happily ever after. But this is a darker tale than that, so probably not. Emma and Ray will continue to work towards reforging the Promise, and Norman will destroy the plantations. It may come down to who can get to the endgame first. I believe that Norman will return to Emma's side properly in the end, but first they will need to clash in order for both their character arcs to move forward.
What happens next?
I predict that chapter 121 will show how Emma will face the hardest decision she's ever had to make: whether or not to follow Norman. We will be shown the darker aspects of Norman's psyche. Something that we always suspected was there in the first place. I think that Ray won't play a very major part in the outcome of this clash of ideologies. While he most likely holds a form of brotherly love for Norman, he's also the most rational of the trio, and always has been. He will likely attempt to make Norman see the futility of war, but hearing Emma disagree may hit Norman harder than anything Ray will ever say. Or... 121 might take another route entirely and have the whole chapter dedicated to Emma and Ray mulling over Norman's transformation among themselves. To me, either scenario is likely.To discuss and share your thoughts on the manga, you can visit our Yakusoku no Neverland section.