Genre: Dark Fantasy Shonen
Year Release in English: 2017-2018
Source: Viz Media Shonen Jump Subscription
Click here to read my review of Volumes 1-3. Major spoilers for the anime. General spoilers for the manga.
Content warnings: Child abuse
Correction: this is the chapter that ends with the explosion.
There’s still a bit of a lull as the kids plan their escape. But the mortal chess game they’re playing against Mom tightens its deadline as Norman is the next kid to be sent out for “adoption.”
What I really enjoyed was the way the reveal was handled about the greater structure of the world. Shirai definitely trusts the readers a lot more, much like in the previous volume. It’s also fun as a reader to learn details as the kids discover them.
Content warnings: Attempted self-immolating, arson, corpses
This volume is an absolute delight. From the pacing to the planning to the world-building.
We finally see the world on the other side of the wall around Grace Field House and, ho boy, is it a forest full of terrors. It’s not just demons, but also man-eating carnivorous plants and a brief glimpse into the hierarchy of the demons.
The art in this volume is just so dynamic. And I really liked how the stakes don’t just end at whether or not they will escape. It’s not even as simple the group of older kids who escaped surviving. At some point, they’ll have to go back for the younger kids, and I’m reading more to see how that unfolds.
I am thoroughly enjoying the demons’ complexity. We have our main villain set, but in this volume, the kids are rescued from a feral demon by two pious demons who reveal that the world was actually split in two. It gives me major Tales Of vibes, which was a treat.
This throws another wrench in the plan to rejoin the human world in a twist that couldn’t wholly be predicted. It does work, and it’s great that Emma proves to use her powers of endearment to learn additional secrets.
The volume ends with them arriving at B06-32 which looks like a temporary reprieve.
Content warnings: Attempted murder, guns, body horror
Of course the kids wouldn’t be alone at B06-32. Why would they be? They’re met with a formidable deuteragonist in the form of Mister. He too has a brand like the kids, and he reveals that Mr. Minerva, a figure who left clues in the kids’ books that led them to the shelter, has not been found.
Ray and Emma elect to go out with the man to find the next destination. The reveals here reminded me of certain moments in Attack on Titan where we get glimpses of the human world outside the context of the farms. Emma and Ray discover a cache of weapons and have to do battle against symbiotic demons. The battle is fierce and the body horror is exquisite.
Content warnings: Hunting children, gore, dismemberment, child death
The next destination, Goldy Pond, is nothing what it seems to be. It’s a secret hunting ground for demons called Poachers, who are not affiliated with the farms.
Emma, of course, true to character, wants to save the other kids trapped there. But the dangers are on a whole other level. The Poachers are on the same level of villainy as Mom, with Emma on her own facing off against this new enemy.
She’s not alone, though. There’s another group of escapees and their adult leader, Lucas, knew the man from the bunker. It’s emotional and gives an uncomfortable cyclical nature of the orphans’ plight, and I fear it’s only going to get worse.