Heaven is an intriguing idea whether or not you believe in any literal variation of it. A boy named Maru and his companion Kiruko are searching for Maru’s twin, and the only clue they were given was, “Find Heaven.” Along the journey, Kiruko asks everyone they meet about Heaven. The warm food and bath they find at the inn in the first episode is one form of “Heaven.” The peaceful commune of farmers from the second episode is another version of “Heaven.” What is Heaven for you, and where can you find it? Is it something you can really pin down? And are you willing to suffer through metaphorical “Hell” to find your personal “Heaven?” These ideas are explored in the new Spring 2023 anime, Heavenly Delusion.
Episode 1: Heaven and Hell
The Collapse was an unknown event that plunged the world into an apocalypse a generation ago. We know that there are otherworldly monsters in this post-apocalyptic world, though we don’t yet know much about them or if they caused The Collapse. The world at large is now a hell-scape of ghost cities, haunted by monsters, and empty but for the few older people who survived starvation. There are also a few youngsters of the next generation who have survived. Our story starts with them.
The interesting pilot episode tells two different tales that are bound to eventually meet: 1) the story of Kiruko and Maru as they travel through post-apocalyptic Japan; and 2) the story of Tokio and the other children living in a dystopian “heaven” run mostly by robots. Since Tokio and Maru have almost identical faces, they are probably fraternal twins separated at birth. Maru hired Kiruko to be his bodyguard while he searched for a place called Heaven. We can assume the “Heaven” he’s talking about is the robotic paradise where Tokio lives. Kiruko agrees to accompany Maru because she’s in search of something too. There are two men she needs to find.
While Maru and Kiruko are exploring a ghost city and looking for food, they are suddenly surrounded by a bunch of old thugs. Kiruko uses a futuristic beam gun to defend herself, while Maru uses his excellent physical fighting skills. Meanwhile, in “Heaven,” a young girl named Mimihime begins to wonder about the outside world. Her friend Tokio also becomes very curious. That night, Tokio sneaks out of the dormitory, but is caught by the elderly Director and her attendants. Tokio asks if there is an outside world, and the old Director says yes. However, the outside world is basically Hell.
After leaving the old thugs, Kiruko and Maru find an inn that’s still open. The innkeeper is a kind and tough middle-aged lady who offers them baths and food for a low price. She mentions that a monster is in the area, and Kiruko says she can kill it. The innkeeper apparently didn’t like this idea, because she drugged the guests’ food to put them to sleep early. With her shotgun loaded, the innkeeper is ready to defend against the grotesque monster that appears just outside. It seems like that old Director of “Heaven” his correct about the hellish nature of the outside world.
Although the storytelling and dialogue were a little quirky, this first episode was impressive and entertaining. The starting concepts are good, especially since I love the sci-fi and post-apocalyptic genres. The quality of music and visuals are refined, and Kiruko seems like a promising female protagonist. Plus, the ending song sounds amazing. I’m excited to continue Heaven’s Delusion.
Episode 2: Two Confessions
Despite being drugged, Kiruko and Maru manage to wake up. They go outside to hunt the monster, which they call a Maneater. Kiruko weakens the huge beast with her beam gun, but when she tries to finish it off, the innkeeper interferes. She defends the Maneater, saying that it is her son. She believes that after it ate her son, it became him.
Kiruko tries to make the innkeeper see reason. Maneaters do not become their victims. Maru is in favor of leaving the Maneater alone. However, just when he’s convinced, the monster slices the innkeeper to shreds and eats her. Saddened and enraged, Maru charges in to kill the Maneater. He seems to have some kind of psychic power. I’m not exactly sure how he did it, but he crushed the Maneater’s heart with his ability. The creature died.
After leaving the inn behind, Maru and Kiruko make their way to a farming community that they previously heard about it. They refer to it as “Tomato Heaven.” The people of the settlement welcome the youngsters and happily offer them food. They seem like a peaceful commune of farmers and their families. While she ate dinner, Kiruko was interrupted by one of the men, who insists that she is a famous racer named Kiriko. He even has a picture of that racer girl, and she looks identical to Kiruko except for her hair color. Despite seeing that picture, Maru says that Kiruko is not the same person the man knows. The man leaves them alone.
As the two youngsters chill out together later, Maru suddenly changes the mood. He says he wants to give up on Heaven and just live in peace with Kiruko, because he loves her. He then tries to kiss her. Kiruko refuses to kiss the younger boy, and then awkwardly gives her own confession. She says that although her body is female, her mind is male. As a straight male, Kiruko isn’t interested in boys. It seems that we have a transgender character, and I’ve been using the wrong pronouns. The episode ends here.
I forgot to include this in the above recap, but there were also a few scenes in “Heaven.” Tokio sees two girls kissing each other, and one of the boys is able to get his hands on a photo of a naked girl. So, the children seem to be going through perfectly normal sexual/romantic explorations. But something about these kids isn’t normal at all. One of them, a brash young boy, uses mechanical floating devices to ascend high into the air. When the flotation devices stop working, the boy falls all the way down to the ground. He gets up a moment later as if nothing happened. By rights, he should be dead or seriously injured. Something is definitely “off” about these children.
This episode was fascinating and exciting. Visually, the monster fight was excellent. The music was epic. I loved the commune of “Tomato Heaven.” But this episode also left me with a crap ton of new questions. For example, why does Maru have a psychic power, and how many other children have similar abilities? How did that one boy survive the huge fall in “Heaven”? Why does Kiruko look identical to a famous street racer? Finally, and most importantly to me, is Kiruko a trans boy? With regards to the last question, I will give my answer after I see and process the third episode.
Episode 3: Kiriko and Haruki
Five years ago, two siblings lived with a bunch of other children in a dingy orphanage. Kiriko was the elder sister and Haruki was the younger brother. Haruki loved his sister very much. He was also fond of a young adult named Robin who lived at the orphanage. Robin protected Haruki and the other kids from thugs as well as maneaters. Meanwhile, Kiriko made a living for herself in the electro-cart racing industry. She was a good racer and everyone loved her. There was an older doctor who frequented the orphanage. The rumors said he was experimenting on humans. At the same time, several people were reported missing.
One day, a maneater appeared on the racetrack. Haruki approached it alone to try to kill it, but it was too strong. It began to eat him. By the time Kiriko got there, the bottom half of her brother was already eaten. We don’t know exactly what happened after that. When he woke up, Haruki was in his sister’s body. His consciousness had been transplanted by that old doctor, who quickly skipped down. Kiriko’s consciousness was dead.
Nobody believed that Haruki was a boy in his sister’s body. By the time he got out of the town’s hospital care, Haruki found that everyone from the orphanage was gone. Now calling himself Kiruko, a combination of names, the boy set out to find the old doctor and ask him for answers. He also hopes to find Robin, who is like an older brother to him. Kiruko has been searching for the two men for five years. Not long ago, he met Maru and agreed to help him.
Back in the present, Maru is trying to wrap his head around the truth he’s just been told. Suddenly, a maneater is spotted outside the window. This one resembles a huge fish with several bizarre humanoid arms. To be continued.
It’s slightly overwhelming to have this much new information revealed, but I still loved the third episode. Before we get to my thoughts about Kiruko, I want to point out something else. The fish maneater looks very similar to the drawing made by Kona, one of the boys in “Heaven.” I believe that Kona is bringing the monsters into existence by drawing them. The visuals in the outro song suggest this, too. It’s possible that all the children in “Heaven” have supernatural powers, and that they channel all the negative effects to the outside world. On another note, we don’t know exactly what caused “The Great Disaster,” but it seems to have something to do with a disease characterized by black bruises all over one’s body. There’s still a lot to learn about this world.
Now, let’s address the issue of Kiruko. There’s actually no issue at all. It’s incredibly simple. By definition, since his biological sex does not match his gender identity, Kiruko is transgender. Other sources online disagree, but this is rooted in transphobia. Even though Kiruko has no apparent need or desire to transition or change his current body, he is still transgender. Kiruko says he doesn’t mind if Maru keeps calling him “Sis,” since they are both already accustomed to it. That’s totally fine. However, from now on, I’ll be using male pronouns to refer to Kiruko. After all, he’s a man. Now that I understand fully, I guess I can celebrate the fact that there’s an anime that acknowledges that sex and gender are not the same. Awesome! 🙂
Thanks for reading~
2 thoughts on “Heavenly Delusion: Episodes 1 to 3”
Perhaps the drawings are a kind of precognition.