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Yakusoku no Neverland or also known as The Promised Neverland show us various characters throughout the two seasons, yet how are the relationships between those characters?
Simple enemies and siblings?
No, there is much more to each dynamic represented in the anime and in today’s blogpost we want to present you some of those core dynamics that make the anime so wonderful yet sad.
Disclaimer: This blogpost contains spoilers for both season one and two, read at your own risk.
Starting with our main trio Emma, Norman and Ray we clearly see a well-balanced relationship here.
Emma is more the emotional and caring person in this trio, while Ray is ultimately the cunning and calculating type, in which Norman fits in-between as he possesses both the emotional kindness of Emma and the calculating nature of Ray that makes him a good judge when both of them propose different ideas.
As we clearly see Emma’s traits in the series where she puts other people first all the time and even goes to lengths to do dangerous things in order to protect them, not valuing her own life, we also can see that in Norman as well shows that very trait- others have priority.
While Ray also is like that there are times he shows that it’s more of a personal wish than actually being about other people, as his only concern is his own family but he was willing to leave the younger kids behind as smart decision which would have played out differently if it came to either Norman or Emma.
Since they were young children they were always seen around each other, supporting the sickly Norman as they kept him company and never left him behind. Also becoming a warm safe place for Ray as he was the only one with the burden of knowing what was beyond the fences due to him not having infantile amnesia.
Emma as well, who is physically stronger yet lacks immediate strategy compared to Norman and Ray, becomes stubborn often as she persists in her idealistic ways and ideas that could have led her more than often into situations with big consequences.
Yet united those three are not for nothing the top three of the Grace Field farm, as they compensate each what the other lacks and have a widened perspective through the emotional and tactical intelligence combined.
As mentioned Emma and Norman are so alike yet so different when it comes to the way they think.
Both of them are always sacrificing their own for others, but for Norman that sacrifice limits itself to the people close to him and who are more important.
Emma, who we especially see with higher empathy than Norman in season one and two, will never be fully happy if even one other person is sad or in distress. Her own happiness doesn’t stem from the happiness of only her family but also every person that she keeps in mind.
As we see her not forgiving herself when it came to Norman and always blaming herself while they still thought he was dead, burdening herself with much more than needed and being very harsh on herself for even the most trivial reasons until someone snaps her out of it.
While Norman seems to be just like that which makes him also prone to be the only one who is willing to take more sacrifice due to Emma’s nature.
As he was ready to die and become someone seen as evil for her and the others sake, only for them to live in a better place, he happily takes that role despite that he would take many lives which actually goes against the gentleness and kindness that Emma always points out.
Therefore Emma is the one who understands Norman the best next to Ray, but unlike the former meddles in much more to protect her beloved family she is the only one who can snap Norman out of his mental crisis.
And vice versa, Norman is the one who encourages Emma and always points out that she is also very kind and overly optimistic, which could be something that he lacks but also admires about her.
Almost like opposites, those two clash when it comes to their thought process yet they always can come on terms.
Ray, who is more of an analytical type and thinks much more ahead before acting upon a situation differs from Emma who cannot hold back when it comes to it, especially her own idealistic ways of countering things.
When Norman proposed his plan Ray was not against the idea of killing off the entire demon race, but without saying anything he immediately knew that Emma was against it and called her out on it.
On the contrary he is familiar with his peer’s antics which he funnily points out and we see him despite his cautious and calculating nature that he is willing to also take sacrifices when it comes to Emma and Norman.
Yet we can see he is not emotionally attached to the all and all well-being of anyone who goes beyond that (besides his other siblings), as we also saw that Ray was even more willing to kill/hurt his own mother Isabella than Emma would have been in his place.
The special relationship we also see between those two like in the trio in general is that Emma values Ray’s life more than he could himself, as he learns to value himself more but also those around him.
Gaining hope again and leaving his grudge aside, while also being the one who becomes the hope of others.
On the intellectual side those two are competitors but also trust and rely on each other when they cannot reveal certain things to Emma as she is too gentle and kind for her own good.
As Ray is impressed by Norman’s quick-wittedness and being revealed as the spy, Norman gains Ray’s trust even more and also entrusts him with his plan before being shipped out.
While Norman is more gentle and sociable compared to Ray, the latter’s distanced stance towards others let’s him view things a little more realistic.
We discussed that Norman may differ compared to Emma but he is also very idealistic when compared to Ray.
Since Norman was willing to not give up on Ray as he considered him his dear brother, he was going to lengths while fully aware that he wanted to sacrifice his own life for the escape plan. Norman forcefully included Ray in a plan that gave a hopeful future for everyone as he mentioned he didn’t want Ray to die.
Ray realized the efforts and his own mistakes in thinking that his own sacrifice was the only way to escape or leaving more children behind to heighten the chance of survival, he learned that actual facts and his own cynical behaviour didn’t bear fruit in the end.
In season 2 we see the change when it was Ray’s turn to save Norman as well, not wanting him to die and even slapping him as they reunited, Ray developed into a person who deeply care about those around him and his own life remembering how Norman’s effort and sacrifice was the reason he was alive at that time.
Unlike the Norman we see around the Grace Field kids, the Norman described by the Lambda Escapees plays a totally different role when it comes to their constellation.
As the Grace Field children see Norman as either their equal or sibling, who may be smart but still kind, gentle and someone who is warm, the Norman who is called “Boss” by the Escapees is someone who rarely smiles, is very cold and a leading person.
While they do see Norman as someone kind, they do not see him as a warm person as Emma or Ray does, because they saw his coldness and scary assertiveness at Lambda which made him their “Savior”.
Still they are utterly loyal and truthful towards their “Boss” as they see him as someone kind yet someone who is their only hope in the ordeal they were put through. For Norman they are not only important core members for his plans but also people he could rely on when nobody was around, especially Vincent who understands Norman on an intellectual level is a big support for him but also Babara and the others who compensate for Norman’s lacking physical abilities when it comes to strength.
Norman and the Escapees have the special bond of people who were already facing their death but escaped together and are dedicating their shortened life for a greater cause.
As they went through the same hardships at Lambda and saw one of the cruelest places in the world, their shared pain is something that bonds them close together.
Gilda is also a character that cares a lot about others, stepping and sacrificing herself when needed. Compared to Emma though Gilda is a bit more cautious and reluctant when it comes to the extremes of it, yet scolds her when it is needed.
Since Emma more or less brings herself into dangerous situations by justifying she needs to save and protect everybody, Gilda is one of the few people who actually get mad at her.
One of the few who are able to scare Emma and bring her back to her mind when she is about to become reckless or trying to take all the burden.
Especially in season 2 we see that Gilda doesn’t hold back anymore and even screams at Emma when she is getting to her antics again even for the slightest bit. Also Gilda acts next Emma as the sisterly role that Emma more or less plays for all the others, making her one of the few who actually take care of Emma personally and forcefully when needed.
That’s why Emma is able to trust Gilda with taking care of the children and therefore can be a bit more reckless since she knows Gilda is there. She also appreciates the fact that Gilda cares so much about her which leads the usually reserved girl with a calm attitude to become violent and threatening to ensure the safety of her sister and best friend.
As we saw that Gilda is just as motherly and caring as Emma, even becoming angry and violent when needed, she softens and calms down when Don is the one who cannot hold his emotions.
Whenever Don is angered or sad she is the one to calm him down and does not show any signs that could lead his trust away from her.
Also as Norman, Emma and Ray are inseparable, while usually keeping some secrets between each other, Gilda and Don are also seen to be very close and trusting towards each other.
They can rely on each other and know the other very well, which can calm their frustration towards the others’ reckless act sometimes knowing that they are just as needed as everyone else despite that they are sometimes not considered in their plans.
When Don gets ahead of himself it’s Gilda who tries to be the peaceful mind for him and hears him out whatever it may be, fears and hopes alike.
Unlike how it seems, Isabella and Emma share a lot of similarities despite the various things that happened in both seasons.
As especially in the beginning we see the relationship between Emma and Isabella being truly the one of a daughter and mother, even later on Emma considers Isabella her own mother despite all the things that happened.
Weirdly one could think Isabella is a heartless person shipping out children and being strict towards them, but if we consider that Isabella truly cares for the children and raises them with utmost care, love and all a child needs that a mother can give despite them not being her own children in the first place.
Isabella also was one of the children at the orphan and resembled Emma a lot in her young years. In the anime we also get to realize that Isabella sees herself in Emma as she behaves the way she used to and also tries to escape with all the kids like Emma wanted too.
Yet through her cruel experiences and hopelessness Isabella wished to give those children as much love and happiness before they meet their end at least, since she saw no other way for them to become happy in the world outside.
Emma also realized that after escaping they had a warm home and food, the love of Isabella and that the world outside truly was unbearable if it wasn’t for the wills and goals to get through with it. One thing Isabella in the end wished for them – to escape and make it through, to survive and live something she couldn’t do but hoped to replace with the kindness of a mother she gave the children.
Therefore Emma ultimately was Isabella’s substitute for a while, she became a big sister but also the motherly figure that was lacking in the outside world for the younger ones.