Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu's The Promised Neverland quickly became one of the most popular series in Weekly Shonen Jump ever since its debut in 2016. Part of the reason why is not only on the series' focus on children, but with its young female hero, Emma.
When asked about the inspiration behind choosing a young girl to focus the series around during the series' panel at Jump Festa 2019, Shirai revealed it was to draw a focus to mother-daughter dynamic in the series.
Quick translation from TPN's Jump Super-Stage author Q&A~ pic.twitter.com/MfgEzbUjvO— OrganicDinosaur (@OrganicDinosaur) December 22, 2018
As translated by @OrganicDinosaur on Twitter, when asked why Shirai decided to make the main character a girl, Shirai stated, "Because from the beginning, the enemy boss was Mama. It's taken from the perspective of a girl, but interrupted in the composition as a mother-daughter showdown....'Actually, since the mother is the enemy of the siblings, Emma [equals to] a little mother who protects her siblings...' It would deepen the contrast between her and Mama."
The Promised Neverland instantly grabbed fans due to the nature of its extremely young protagonists compared to other heroes in Weekly Shonen Jump, and a thematic through line in the series was the strength of familial ties. Having a female protagonist at the center of the series gives the theme another layer of intrigue as Emma becomes a maternal figure of her own as she grows through the strife in the series in order to better protect her siblings.
Emma, of course, isn't the only one trying to do such a thing, but the series definitely gets an edge up on its neighbors for unique choices such as this. Originally created by Kaiu Shirai with illustrations provided by Posuka Demizu, The Promised Neverland joined Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 2016. It's been a key series ever since its debut, leading to selling over 4.2 million copies in such a short time.
The Promised Neverland is licensed by VIZ Media for an English language release and is described as such, "Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest kids at the Grace Field House orphanage. And under the care of the woman they refer to as “Mom,” all the kids have enjoyed a comfortable life. Good food, clean clothes and the perfect environment to learn—what more could an orphan ask for? One day, though, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth of the outside world they are forbidden from seeing."