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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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