First Look: Heavenly Delusion

Alternative title: Tengoku Daimakyo
Manga Adaptation by Production IG
Streaming on Disney+


A child named Tokio lives in an isolated facility along with their classmates, overseen by their seemingly benevolent overseers desperate to protect them from the “hell” that lies beyond their walls. One day Tokio is offered a chance to “see the outside.” Parallel to this story, teenage duo Maru and Kiruko explore a post apocalyptic Japan in search of something called “Heaven.”

Gee’s verdict: Eye-catching

Cross Heavenly Delusion off the list of manga I thought would never get an anime adaptation, no less one as lavish as this one. Production IG has seemingly thrown the weight of their technical resources and talent behind the adaptation of Masakazu Ishuguro’s post apocalyptic Seinen follow up to Soremachi. The debut episode boasts some really impressive hand drawn backgrounds that do an admirable job of emulating the look and feel of the watercolor anime backgrounds of yesteryear. I suspect they’re still digital, or a hybrid product at most, but it’s really slick nonetheless.

Heavenly Delusion take confidence that the allure of its mystery will be enough to paper over any pressing requests for more context. For now, all you need to know is that Maru and Kiruko are a very likeable duo of wasteland explorers. Despite Kiruko’s seniority and ostensible position as Maru’s hired ward, it’s obvious the two share a close bond in the time they’ve spent traveling through post apocalyptic Japan. There’s a lightheartedness to their dynamic that contrasts well with the creeping tension of both a lawless society and the monsters that haunt the abandoned streets. Tokio’s section is a bit more sparse at the moment, but you can feel the sense of mystery and dread bubbling beneath its initially less threatening framework.

It’s upon the strength of these mysteries that Heavenly Delusion hopes to draw you in. What is this “Heaven” Maru and Kiruko are looking for? For what purpose are these children being raised in this facility? What happened to Kiruko in the past? Why are there headless bird monsters? If you’re hoping for a more straightforward explanation of just what the hell is going on, this isn’t the work that’s going to provide that. If you can accept being intentionally left in the dark however, there’s quite an adventure in store.

Artemis’ verdict: Heaven Is Not the Promised Neverland

If you like post-apocalyptic stories that go for more mystery than “dark” and “edgy” action, you’re in for a treat with Heavenly Delusion. While I suspect this episode may have been too slow-paced for some, I much prefer a quieter build-up that grows into something more intense further down the line, and the storytelling here is subtle enough that the mystery aspect feels genuinely intriguing rather than tiresome.

If the school part of the show gives you some Promised Neverland vibes, not to worry – Heavenly Delusion is very much its own beast, and in any case, the larger piece of the story seems centered around its two older characters, who are “outside the outside” in search of the eponymous heaven. Granted, I probably would have been even happier if the series had stuck to the initial post-apocalyptic sci-fi material instead of also introducing a more supernatural-like element toward the end of the episode – i.e. something that looks like a monstrous, zombie-fied emu – but other than this (and some thankfully not-too-egregious fanservice), I was fairly impressed by what I saw and will be sticking around to see where things go.

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