Ray has an intellect comparable only to Norman, and his physical abilities on par with Emma. His seemingly dubious motives set up a must-watch conflict for either of his companions in the first season of the anime.
So, we finally answer the question: “Who is Ray?” He is one of the main characters in The Promised Neverland and dubbed as the Walking Encyclopedia for his knowledge. The hit anime made by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu has placed Ray, together with Emma and Norman, on a quest to save themselves, and later all humans, from demons.
Let this be your first and last warning. The following will contain spoilers that might not be disclosed from the manga and during the first season of the anime.
1. Ray Loved Emma, For Real
Ray loved Emma, but as a friend, not in the way Norman did. As we all know by now, Ray loves both Norman and Emma just the same. He treasures his time with them and when Norman has left the orphanage, he has primarily supported Emma. Together they lead the Grace Field orphans with help from Don and Gilda.
Ray started out as a spy for Isabella, his mother. He initially thought escaping the Grace Field house was impossible. This explains why he was not as cooperative as first. After Norman leaves Grace Field, Ray thought he lost one of his friends. It made him so set in making sure Emma escapes, he was willing to set himself on fire to make sure it happens.
Ray’s concern for Emma is at the level that her safety comes first, regardless of what he believes or thinks. After the fight with Leuvis, Emma came out seriously wounded before they took the demon down. Ray asked Mister to take care of Emma. He had to trust in the older man’s judgment and skills and since he can’t do it himself. He entrusted Emma to Mister despite Ray not really liking or trusting Mister. Prioritizing Emma over his pride.
In our opinion, Ray’s best part as a foil and support for Emma comes when he explains to Emma what her plan is as well as Norman’s. He was honest in the repercussions of Emma’s idealistic plan, as well as Norman’s attempt to kill them all. It did leave Emma confused about what to do next. Then, Ray gives one of the best pieces of dialogue in the series.
“You make your choice. I will be by your side. Whatever path you take, I trust your judgment. After all, defying the impossible is what you do best!” Norman to Emma (The promised neverland manga, chapter 123).
2. Ray Discovered How to Kill the Demons
Maybe one of Ray’s underrated moments of glory comes from his ability to remain calm under pressure. Even in the middle of life-threatening situations, Ray can still analyze and come up with strategies for survival.
In Chapter 62 of the manga while trying to escape, Ray figured out that demons wear masks to protect their eyes, which are their weak spots. In that situation, Ray was the first to discover how to kill these creatures. He might be the first human in the series, perhaps aside from those who actually work under demons. It proved important to the rest of their journey.
He was also perceptive and quick to read the situation. He demonstrated this when he immediately understood Norman’s plan to exterminate the demons soon after they reunited. Ray was also the first to realize that the orphanage is a farm without having to see the reality. His experience contrasts with Norman and Emma, who had to saw Connie.
3. Ray Was Supposed to Die in TPN
He was supposed to die, no really. His life was not easier than anyone else. He actually made a few brushes with death over the series. Ray first attempted to burn himself, together with the Grace Field House, to allow Emma and the others to escape. Fortunately, Emma talked him out of it. Also, while they were following Mister to the Goldy Pond, Mister left them to a pack of demons. A demon pounced on top of Ray when he realized how to kill them, with Emma saving him again.
Despite all these experiences, Ray survives up until the very end, just like his two best friends.
However, as we mentioned, Ray was actually supposed to die. As a bit of a fun fact: an interview included in Volume 13 Special Edition, dropped this shocking scenario. Kaiu Shirai said that Ray was meant to die in her original vision of the story. However, as their work progressed, they ultimately scrapped the grim idea. Thank you! For those who read the manga, it would’ve felt weird if we lost any one of the TPN trio.
4. Ray’s Name Means “Advisor”
Ray, as a boy’s name, means “counsel” or “advisor,” a role he perfectly plays with Emma in the series.
In The Promised Neverland, the origin of Ray’s name also revealed itself in the same way as Emma’s name and Norman’s name. A mini-game on the TPN website explains this origin. High-scoring players got access to additional panels of manga.
Isabella named Ray after the African-American music legend Ray Charles. She explained that she was listening to Charles’ music. Furthermore, Isabella thinks that the name “Ray,” is unisex and not exclusive to any nationality.
For non-music fans out there, “Brother” Ray is a blind musician known as a pioneer of the soul music genre in the 1950s – more than seven decades before Ray was born!
5. Ray Is A Good Cook
It has not been discussed in the anime (and we seriously hope so!). And for people uninterested in this small, easy-to-miss bit, who doesn’t love a bit of dark humor? In a series where the cute AF kids are the food, it’s oddly satisfying to have one of them be a great cook. And the catch? A demon taught him how to do so.
An interesting part to see in the anime would be Ray’s cooking skills! In their survival outside the Grace Field Home, he usually cooks for the rest of the orphans, and the kids love his food! While in the manga it was a small tidbit about Ray, it actually connects him to the rest of the orphans and shows a unique skill that he has. The demon Mujika taught him how to cook. In fact, a special page after Chapter 97 of the manga showed him and Pepe helping Mister make Yakisoba. Ray showed speed and proficiency in doing so.
6. Ray Has Severe Hyperthymesia
His perfect recall is because of his hyperthymesia or superior memory. When asked by Norman and Emma, Ray explained that he did not experience infantile amnesia. This is the tendency of babies and kids to forget most memories growing up.
He remembers the nature of the orphanage and the details around it. It includes the fact that Isabella is his mother. It also works as his trump card. He remembers the books he read and even their precise location from where he found them. It allowed him to have a headstart against everyone else, since he knew the truth from the beginning, and has been planning against it all along.
7. Ray is a Walking Encyclopedia
A “Walking Encyclopedia” is a person who has a lot of knowledge, often encompassing different subjects, most due to their extensive reading habits. Ray, for example, has read every book in the Grace Field House which led to his moniker. Owing to his great memory, he can recall all the books he has read without looking, even their location in the bookshelves.
Ray does not actually like reading and studying, despite being smart and being tagged as a walking encyclopedia. He admits working hard to be one of the “top quality” meats from the Grace Field orphanage. Why you ask? In discussing the escape plan with Emma in Chapter 32, he revealed he figured that topping the tests is the only way to survive. In the author’s notes for Volume 4 of the manga, it said that the book he was holding in the same chapter was the last book in the house he has just finished reading. Ray intended to read all the books before he turned 12 years old.
As a testament to his vast knowledge, he has developed the Transmitter-crippling device, which disabled the transmitter installed in their ears. He even devised the collection of lighting fuel in a radical attempt to burn himself, serving as a distraction and denying the demons the chance to eat him.
His knowledge of the books has been referenced, and used, in their later adventures. After Emma explains the contents of “The Adventure Log of Ugo,” Ray remembers how to deal with the dangerous forest after they successfully escaped the orphanage (Chapter 40).
8. Ray is the Middle Ground Between Emma and Norman
There are a number of works with three main characters. Usually, one of them falls behind the other two. This happens either in strength or in character development. In The Promised Neverland, the three of them balance each other out. In my opinion, Ray stands in the middle of the other two.
While Norman fully supports Emma, Ray questions Emma more, which leads to their disagreements. His realistic perspective of the reality around them contrasts with Emma’s wide-eyed naivete, leading him to see possible failures and consequences in their plans along the way. We think, as Emma is the idealist, Ray is the realist. Later in the story, Norman takes the role of the nihilist – believing in nothing else but his goal of eliminating all demons once and for all – to allow humans to survive.
The series shows early on that Ray is Norman’s equal in terms of intelligence, who is also physically weaker than Ray. Although Norman ‘defeated’ Ray with the trap meant to find who is the impostor, Ray assisted Emma as they led the travel to Shelter B06-32, and later, followed Mister through the forest. Their ability to keep up with the older survivor creates a bond between them, staying awake and moving for three days. Had it been Norman in that position, it would’ve been impossible to get it done.
As the middle ground of the TPN Trio, Ray is the most knowledgeable (not the smartest, though) and the most realistic of the three. He is between Norman and Emma in terms of mental capabilities, as shown by their exams in the orphanage. Then, he is also between Emma (1st) and Norman (3rd) in terms of physical capabilities.
9. Ray’s Voice (JP & EN) Are From Veteran Actresses
The first season of The Promised Neverland was animated by CloverWorks (Fairy Tail final season, The Millionaire Detective Balance: Unlimited) under the direction of Mamoru Kanbe. In the hit adaptation, veteran voice actress (seiyuu) and narrator Mariya Ise voiced Ray. The Kanagawa Prefecture native is known for her other popular character roles such as:
- Levy McGarden and Romeo Conbolt from Fairy Tail
- Erika from Kaichou wa Maid-sama!
- Sen Yarizui from Ben-To
- Princess Lenessia from Log Horizon
- Yuuko Nishigori from Yuri on Ice
- Midari Ikishima from Kakegurui
- Killua Zoldyck from Hunter x Hunter
- Dorothy Unsworth from Black Clover
- Kiku from One Piece (Wano Arc)
In the English dub, courtesy of Aniplex of America, Laura Megan Stahl voices Ray. The voice actor has worked as a staff and a voice talent in a number of English dubbed anime over the years, including:
- Young Serpico from Berserk
- Kite from Hunter x Hunter
- Hayato Kawajiri from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
- Mami Nanami from Rent-A-Girlfriend
- Gerheade from Seven Deadly Sins
- Iruma Suzuki from Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun
10. Live-Action Ray Is The Most Manga-Accurate (See for yourself!)
As The Promised Neverland franchise will be releasing its first live-action adaptation later this year, fans are excited to gather any information they can. In this film version of Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu’s hit series, Ray will be portrayed by Jyo Kairi. The young actor has already landed roles in hit TV series such as the Japanese version of “The Good Doctor,” “Prescription Police,” “Shoplifters,” and “Erased.”
Also, we have mentioned the pattern between the ages of the actors and the characters who will be playing them. In the manga and anime, Ray is the oldest among them (slightly), being born on January 15. Norman (March 21) and Emma (August 22) follow him. The youngest actor, Kairi, will portray the “oldest” Ray, followed by Rihito Itagaki (18) as Norman and Minami Hamabe (20) as Emma.
Also, they will start out 14 years old in the live-action series, instead of being 11 like in the manga and anime.
Owing to his exceptional memory, Ray was the first to realize the true nature of the Grace Field house. Learning the truth about the orphanage, he lived a life believing that it was their destiny and there was nothing he could do. Being faced with seemingly insurmountable odds perhaps pushed him towards cooperation with the authority figure and his own mother.
Ray, I believe, is the most underrated among the three, which makes him my favorite in the TPN trio. Hyperthymesia is a real, recorded medical condition. Next, his ability to cook underscores Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu’s efforts to recognize the small survival skills to give humans the edge in this fight against the demons – not to mention Ray discovered how to eliminate enemies. He’s not the token genius (L, Light, Shikamaru, etc) and the naive heroine (Naruto, Asta, Deku, etc), making him a mix of friend and foe – a gray character indeed.