Tengoku Dai Makyō

Title:Tengoku Dai Makyō
Heavenly Delusion
Keywords: , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Production I.G.
Tokio lives with other children inside a world surrounded by a beautiful wall, but one day he receives a message asking him if he wants to go outside. Meanwhile, a boy named Maru travels with an older woman, eking out a meager existence in a ruined world as they search for "paradise."
(Summary Courtesy of Anime News Network)

13-episode TV anime that premiered on April 1, 2023.
Animated by Production I.G.
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 9 9 8 7 9 9 Ggultra2764 [series:4632#1552]
Heavenly Delusion explores two separate stories with the "heaven" side of the story involving a group of children with supernatural abilities being raised at a nursery and the "hell" side set in a post-apocalyptic world where a mercenary named Kiruko and a teenage boy with supernatural abilities named Maru journeying together to find a mysterious place called Heaven and having to deal with monstrous beings called "man-eaters." There is quite a bit to piece together from this series. But limiting spoilers where I can, I'll just say that there are hints dropped that both of these stories are more entwined than what can be assumed on the surface.

Both stories have their connections in that they have elements of mystery and psychological suspense involving their major characters coming to deal with shocking truths involving their situations. The "heaven" story features the children within the nursery not knowing of the full reality of their situation due to their isolation from the outside world and not knowing of certain facets of being human. The "hell" side explores Maru and Kiruko having to deal with "man-eaters" threatening human villages and occasionally dealing with the corruption within them, as some have taken advantage of the limited resources available to others in this environment for their personal gain. Some of the "man-eater" cases also can hit close to home as they effect those with close connections to those impacted by them, adding an element of tragedy to some of the conflicts faced by Maru and Kiruko.

A unique direction for the series also involves characters coming to grips with their gender identity within their different environments. This element is a bit tricky to dabble into without risking spoilers. But to make things short and sweet, characters within both the "heaven" and "hell" stories find themselves having to mentally cope with their gender identities due to the varying circumstances of their situations. This angle adds more to the "heaven" story with the children in the nursery not being fully aware of the reality of their living situation. The "hell" story dabbles a bit more into how this affects one of the characters psychologically within the post-apocalyptic environment, as the harsh environment has forced them into having to come to terms with accepting their circumstances in a particular way to avoid being exploited because of it.

Both stories also share an overall moral within the series in regards of trusting others. Trust can be a powerful element to a relationship that allows people to persevere through the harsh realities of life. At the same time though, this trust can be exploited by those with nefarious motives if the person at the other end of the relationship blindly trusts them or isn't aware of potential negative hints that there is more going on with someone they think they can trust. Heavenly Delusion explores different elements of the concept of trust through both its "heaven" and "hell" stories as the series explores the joys and pains that trust offers up to many of the character relationships seen throughout the series.

Just as a fair warning, Heavenly Delusion isn't afraid to get rather intense with its content to show just how harsh and merciless the realities of both the "heaven" and "hell" stories can be. It can get quite violent and also sexually-charged when exploring its themes and how the different environments that the characters are living in affect them to varying degrees. One particular scene for later in the series is easily among the more disturbing and uncomfortable scenes I've witnessed among recent anime titles with how it depicts one character's sense of self-identity being cruelly exploited. As a result, I wouldn't recommend this series to younger viewers or those who can't stomach intense levels of objectionable content.

The only major gripe I have with Heavenly Delusion is, as typical of a series based on ongoing source material, that the series ends inconclusively. There is still uncertainty to elements of both the "heaven" and "hell" storylines of the series that the series doesn't fully focus on. As of the time I prepare this review, there isn't any news of a second anime season to Heavenly Delusion being in development.

Still in spite of this, I am quite amazed with how tight and complex Heavenly Delusion's story as a whole was throughout its 13-episode run in exploring two separate story arcs that are quite connected in their themes and overall developments for their story and characters. A lesser series could have easily stumbled in properly conveying its tones, themes, story, and character elements that would impact its overall quality. But Heavenly Delusion manages to carefully juggle its rather complicated story, themes, and characters rather nicely and made it a rather engaging series to follow throughout the Spring 2023 season. A definite recommendation if you can handle the title's intense content and themes.

Last updated Sunday, June 25 2023. Created Saturday, June 24 2023.

Other Sites
Official Japanese Series Web Site https://tdm-anime.com/

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