Up Close With Emma

The Promised Neverland Episode 5 Emma

She’s one of a trio of precocious eleven year olds who learn her whole life is a lie. Emma from The Promised Neverland shines and today I want to take a closer look at her. I am however only looking at the first season of the anime and what we’ve seen of Emma so far there.

There will however be some spoilers for the anime.

The Promised Neverland Episode 9

Fortunately, Emma is one shining character who carries every scene she is in. She’s the glue that holds the central trio together and drives the narrative in The Promised Neverland, and while she might not be as smart as Ray or Norman it is safe to say that without Emma the story would have been dead in the water. While they think and plan, Emma is the one puts things into action.

What is so great about Emma?

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Emma and friends

Right from episode one, we see that Emma is a character who nurtures those around her. She is fiercely protective of her ‘family’ and when she learns they are in danger and that the world they are in is a lie she is driven to take action. Only, escape isn’t her only goal. She wants to save everyone.

Norman knows this is foolish. Ray doesn’t just know it to be foolish, he openly opposes the idea of trying to save everyone and makes his own deal with Norman behind Emma’s back. But, Emma is resolute.

The Promised Neverland Episode 7 Emma and Norman

That is what makes the ending of season one of The Promised Neverland so incredibly surprising. Emma doesn’t get all of the kids out of the orphanage but not because Ray tricked her or she failed. She makes her own decision that it isn’t time. After refusing to compromise or to give in, Emma makes the only compromise she can and that is to not save everyone just now. She’ll save those she can now, those who are in danger, and resolve to finish the job later.

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It is such an unusual move for a protagonist in this kind of story. They normally take an all or nothing approach sacrificing life and limb for their ideals.

Emma is idealistic. She has a goal so big it will change her whole world. But she won’t lay down her life, or anyone else’s to achieve it, because that defeats the purpose of achieving it.

Emma is a protagonist the likes of which we have never really seen before. She lies at times but feels guilty. She isn’t above underhanded actions or leaning on others, but Emma ultimately is the strength that props everyone else up and encourages them to be more than they thought they could. All of those kids believed in her and helped with the plan because of Emma.

The Promised Neverland Episode 12 - Morning

It was a real joy to spend time with Emma during season one of The Promised Neverland and I look forward to seeing her in action during season two next year.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
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Karandi James

12 thoughts on “Up Close With Emma

  1. Agreed, Emma’s awesome! Definitely a unique protagonist and her decision at the end was definitely smart. She’s stubborn, but not in a “We all leave now or die together” kind of way that would have doomed them all. This way at least they can save the others eventually

    1. It seemed like she was going to be an all or nothing protagonist early in the series and that was causing some conflict within the group, but I’m really impressed with how she managed to objectively look at her situation and make the hard decision.

  2. This amazing show had the trio shine in their own way, but Emma’s light was really what took everyone aback. She is very steadfast and straightforward with her feelings and she’s not dumb either. The same way there are multiple types of intelligence I believe Emma is just as intelligent as both Ray or Norman, that intelligence is just manifested differently, and that was a powerful asset in accomplishing what she did. I admired how she could constantly change her plans at every setback she encountered and keep going, despite these setbacks being harsh enough to crush anybody’s spirit.

    This show is amazing, and its characters are as well, I’m really looking forward to more from Emma in season 2.

    1. Yes, season two is definitely a sequel I am anticipating and I’m glad they’ve announced it for next year. Hopefully it doesn’t get delayed because I’ve really loved the story so far.

  3. I’m a huge fan of Emma as a shounen hero done right. Hugely positive, never gives up, but as you noted is flexible enough to change her goals when she has to. Also intelligent and empathetic. And she doesn’t yell!

    1. Yes, she did give Ray a message from Norman to shut up, but she never just stood and shouted at the world. Loving the no shout approach to shounen protagonists.

  4. She definitely bounced off of Norman and Ray. If Ray is the realist, Norman is the idealist then Emma is the optimist. I enjoyed her as well.

    1. The three characters all definitely brought something to the group and it was a great case where they all complimented one another’s strengths so everything just worked really well.

  5. Yeah, Emma changing her mind and focusing on saving those that were in immediate danger was really surprising and a part of what made the ending so powerful. She probably grew more in twelve episodes than some shounen protagonist do in an entire show.

    1. Totally. She learned compromise without giving up on her overall goal. That is something most shounen protagonists never take on board. Admittedly, that makes them a bit more larger than life, but I kind of respect Emma more for being strong enough to make that kind of tough call.

    1. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the show but Emma was a close second reason as to why I found it really enjoyable. While she is an optimistic and upbeat protagonist, I found her much more grounded than a lot of positive female characters.

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