「旅の続き・旅の始まり」 (Tabi no Tsuzuki Tabi no Hajimari)
“The Journey Continues and Begins”
I’ve spent a fair bit of ink speculating on the anime future of Tengoku Daimakyou. Frankly, the obviously lavish amount of time and money spent on this adaptation has surprised me. The manga is reasonably popular, and Ishiguro Masakazu an extremely well-respected mangaka. But I’d never seen any evidence that the series was popular enough to win one of the better anime adaptations I’ve seen in years. Seriously, this thing has been simply great on ever level. Was Heavenly Delusion just that big and I didn’t realize it or was this a passion project (an endangered species in the production committee era) for Production I.G.?
Well, somewhat surprisingly (to me) it was reliably leaked that Tengoku will be getting a second season. So I guess there must be some of the first option in the answer, because while one splashy season might be explained away by the second, there’s no way a sequel could. Mind you it won’t be happening for a while – this season used 37 of the manga’s roughly 56 chapters. As it’s a monthly you can figure two years minimum before another season could be in full production unless they go original (which I doubt), and that would be an aggressive timetable. I’m thrilled it’s happening and okay with waiting however long it takes – production this sublime is well worth waiting for.
I can see where this finale is not going to leave everyone feeling satisfied, but having read this far in the manga I pretty much expected what we got. Inazaki Robin raping Kiruko is a bitter pill for viewers to swallow, and the way that situation was resolved won’t be a crowd pleaser. There are also more questions than answers, even now. I think some puzzle pieces can be pretty safely put together at this point, but even if they wouldn’t technically be spoilers as they’re unconfirmed, I won’t address any points not specifically nailed on by the anime. That said though, there are a lot of unconfirmed things I feel pretty close to a 100% certainty about (which is down to very good writing).
On the school front, some of the kids have finally discovered the outside of the outside (of the outside), a prospect for which they’ve obviously totally unprepared. Is this all part of the test? Why is it so hot? Anzu and Taka press on, while Mimihime and Shiro head back to check on the rest of the kids. They get hopelessly lost, which isn’t surprising given their (literally) ultra-sheltered upbringing – Shiro doesn’t even realize that he can’t just keep walking in a straight line and eventually hit the fence again. After a tumble down a bluff leaves him battered and bloodied, Shiro confesses his love to Mimihime – something I think was already apparent to both of them, but a sort of statement of rebellion against that upbringing they share.
Meanwhile, Sawatori-san is determined to give Tokio back her baby – one of them, anyway. He’s clearly mixed the two up, and that’s obviously a big problem for reasons that aren’t entirely made clear. Aoshima-san supports this plan, and mentions that she plans to implement “Noah Project” (she’s just come up with the name). But the bloodied director returns and demands to have the baby handed over to her, ordering Mina to execute her order. Tokio’s instincts kick in, and she acts to protect the baby she had no idea was even part of her until moments earlier. More than her instincts kick in, however (and of Kona there’s no sign).
Maru, meanwhile, has given Kiruko two days before he decides to follow them to the large filtration plant. It’s now obvious that Robin was abusing Kiriko back in the day, which Kiruko realizes either through some sort of shared memory, or through putting the pieces together. This time around it’s Maru Kiruko calls on to save them, and so he does – quietly and menacingly. Surely Maru would have killed Robin if Kiruko hadn’t stopped him, and there will be many who wish they hadn’t. It’s a grim and very important moment and I think its meaning hinges on one crucial question – did Kiruko stop him for Robin’s benefit, or for Maru’s own?
When these events happened in the manga I was in the former camp. But this time around it struck me that it was the latter – having seen what having to kill Hoshino did to Maru, Kiruko was trying to spare him from the regrets he would surely feel later. But I think we can believe Maru when he says if he ever sees Robin again, he will kill him. And that’s not even knowing what else Robin might have been up to in the plant, which appears to have been some very unsavory stuff indeed…
To say that Kiruko is suffering an identity crisis in an obvious understatement. They have no idea who they really are – the only constant is Maru, but Maru’s feelings (which he confesses here) only serve to confuse Kiruko further. Maru is confused too, though with the more literal worldview of a 15 year-old boy he’s categorized his feelings in a way he can understand. I think when he says if he’d met Hiroki the two of them would have friends, this is key – it’s a vital component of why he developed feelings for Kiruko. Nothing is straightforward about this relationship, but in its way it’s the most straightforward relationship in Tengoku Daimakyou.
And with that, the wait begins – 2025 or 2026 most likely, and that’s a long way off. But Tengoku puts me in mind of Made in Abyss in that way – you can see the ridiculous levels of talent and commitment that went into every molecule of their adaptations. Anime this good can’t be rushed – it’s no coincidence that Tengoku Daimakyou was completely finished before the first episode aired (an extreme rarity in anime). This is a great manga, no question, but great manga do get adapted relatively often. What’s so rare here is how flawless the adaptation was – it did Ishiguro’s words justice and then some. However long it takes, it takes – for this sort of quality the wait is a small price to pay.