There’s something mysterious happening in two completely different places in Heavenly Delusion. We first meet a number of unknown kids with certain types of powers at a pristine school where they’ve been told to remain inside; we then shift the story to two people trudging along a post-apocalyptic Tokyo. What seems clear is an unknown calamity took place 15 years ago, and that has spawned a number of abnormal irregularities, ranging from beasts called different names (they can be called man-eaters or Hiruko) to kids who display inhuman traits, such as someone who’s essentially a freak athlete that can even survive falling from a long distance.
We first are introduced to Tokio and Mimihime. Tokio seems to be an inquisitive, curious boy while Mimihime comes across as some sort of seer. Tokio’s curiosity encourages Mimihime to tell him that she wants to go outside, despite them being told they can’t, and she believes she will be saved by two people from the outside, one of which looks like Tokio. Meanwhile on said outside, Maru is looking for what he knows as “Tomato Heaven”, alongside his bodyguard, Kiruko. We know immediately from the first few pages — I mean we see tomatoes — it is something that exists…but these two don’t seem like they’re that close to getting there, so their journey is just beginning.
We also might be following two people on the outside that just so happen to have more complex pasts than usual.
Masakazu Ishiguro’s Heavenly Delusion is an intriguing debut volume that packs a lot of information for anyone to guess what it could all mean. While “Tomato Heaven” is the unofficial name for the mysterious school housing the children, it comes across as a place few should actually know about, but Maru does. Whether that’s because of his past — he originally was with someone else, but that person died, with said person only asking Kiruko to be his bodyguard — or he learned of this information afterwards, it’s clear the place he wants to go to isn’t something ordinary, but there’s something he has to do there. And whether that’s going into a ravaged home to eat and sleep or use his own powers to fight, he’ll do whatever he can.
Meanwhile, it’s funny that we technically know more about Kiruko’s past than Maru, yet her place in the story remains the most interesting…and that was before how this volume ended! Although it’s probably because her past is known more that opens itself up to more questions. Like she ultimately says she had a reason to take on protecting Maru — she’s trying to find two guys she knew — but we don’t know why she’s looking for them. On the journey she ends up running into someone who believed she was a top Electrocart racer in the world, and she emphatically denies she is. So we have lots of intrigue regarding her backstory, and then we get the reveal at the end…which leads to more questions! Which I can only assume will be confirmed in volume 2.
But ok, that’s one side of the world, and that one side of the world basically had the apocalypse happen to them, with less people, ugly creatures, damage everywhere, etc. We then have that juxtaposed to a school that has robots and kids with mysterious powers filled in it, romance between two girls to suggest at least it’s very open, and the place all clean and modern-looking. All in all it comes across as a place of learning, but this place also has restrictions — you can’t go outside (the director calls the outside world hell), which Mimihime eventually wants to do. You have kids who look normal but have mysterious quirks (we have a kid who draws the weirdest art — possibly of the outside creatures? — , and another who can maybe get pictures from the outside somehow?).
You learn of this and then go back to Maru — did he come from that place? Or, as the story mentions, is there someone who looks like him that exists in this world? Is this some sort of cell thing? Doppelganger? Surely there’s no time elements in play here, right? It’s sometimes not good to have so many questions off the bat, but that’s only if they’re poor. Most of the questions here are very much worth exploring, worth thinking about, and even moreso when there’s two sides that each hold intriguing paths.
All of that said, I wonder if it’s leaning too heavily on that aspect, aka, having too many ingredients in one pot. It’s giving us some really fleshed out characters, and having two different worlds to go back to breaks up potential monotony, but is this going to be cohesive by the time we see if either of the group’s goals — Maru gets to Tomato Heaven, or the kids, not just Tokio and Mimihime, escape and go outside — are accomplished? And there’s certainly going to be a few more twists and turns to shake things up, and it will certainly involve the ones running the school.
But for now, all of the questions Heavenly Delusion is raising is not a big turn off. It does help that the art is appealing and even some comedy bits are well timed. The manga does continue to expand on how these man-eaters are pretty dangerous, and how much the world has changed thanks to the calamity. So in short, there are way too many unique storylines and elements set-up that are fascinating to read, and it only begs for me to learn more. If you’re in need of a sci-fi manga, you won’t be making a mistake checking this one out.