Anime Review: Heavenly Delusion

Of the heavier anime series from the Spring 2023 season that I watched, probably the heaviest of them all was Heavenly Delusion (released on Hulu in the US and Disney+ abroad under its untranslated Japanese title of Tengoku Daimakyo). The series was one of the two from this past season that sought to build a couple of mysteries over the course of the season, with a varying degree of success. Also, a content warning for this series – it contains imagery of sexual assault.

From Left - Haru & Kiruko from Heavenly Delusion

The series is set in an apocalyptic future, where much of human civilization has been crushed by an unspecified disaster (at least as shown in the anime thus far), with humanity in the process of picking up the pieces with varying degrees of success. This is complicated by creatures known as Hiruko – mysterious man-eating monsters with various powers. In this world we follow two teenagers – Maru and Kiruko. Kiruko is transgender, but not in the normal sense – he was born Haruki, and tried to save his go-kart racing sister, Kiriko, from a Hiruko attack, ultimately leading to an accident that nearly killed both of them, and leading to a mysterious doctor putting Haruki’s brain into Kiriko body.

The other is Maru, a young man with increased physical abilities, and the power to telekinetically sense the “core” of a Hiruko and destroy it if he makes physical contact with the entity. Maru’s adoptive mother (who was dying) hired Kiruko to take Maru to “Heaven” – and intrusts her with a weapon to help with defense and serve as a clue – a ray gun with the logo of the facility Maru needs to be taken to. However, this is only half the story.

The other half involves a mysterious medical facility where a bunch of teenagers with various special powers are being raised – they, like the clones from Parts: The Clonus Horror, have no knowledge of sex, sexuality, or intimacy. The people running this facility have some sort of secret, unclear agenda, but we don’t get a clear explanation of what that agenda is as yet, but that it is not entirely altruistic, and that there are forces outside of the organization that seek to stop them (but not quite at a “Send the JSDF to storm the Geofront and kill literally everyone” level of stop them). This sets up the mystery of what this organization is up to.

Over the course of the series various clues are dropped for mystery number three – various clues dropped over the course of the series that these two plots are not only not simultaneous, but that there is a considerable time gap between the two. This leads to the question of how the two link to each other, and how far apart the two are – and what’s the catastrophe that happens between the two.

The animation in the show is absolutely gorgeous – Production I.G. absolutely brought their A-game with this show. Researching the show’s staff, makes it more impressive that this is the first series directorial outing for Hirotaka Mori, as this is a very visually and narratively complex series.

This is, frankly, one of my serious contenders for my top Anime of the Year, and I really hope this gets a second season. I’m certainly also going to put the manga on my to-read list.

Heavenly Delusion is available for streaming in the US through Hulu and through Disney+ outside the US.

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