Heaven Official's Blessing

Alt title: Tian Guan Ci Fu

Web (11 eps x 26 min)
2020 - 2021
4.444 out of 5 from 6,702 votes
Rank #35
Heaven Official's Blessing

Xie Lian is a kind, gentle deity who just can't seem to catch a break. The crown prince of a long-destroyed kingdom, he's endured centuries of plagues, violence, poverty, and multiple demotions that have gotten him kicked out of heaven. Now a god with no followers, he's reduced to collecting scrap in the mortal realm. When his banishment is finally lifted and he is allowed to ascend to heaven for a third time, his rotten luck holds true when his ascension causes the destruction of a heavenly palace; sending the long-suffering immortal right back to the mortal realm to make up for his misdeed by exorcising a malicious ghost. Xie Lian soon meets a mysterious man in red who is clearly more than he seems, and the two grow ever closer as they begin to uncover dark secrets the heavenly realm would have much preferred to keep hidden...

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Eh, to be honest, it isn't that great. Don't get me wrong, it's good, but not gonna lie here, it's not that great, at least not as great as everyone is raving about. I was never a huge fan of the original novel, but some of the problems of the original are exemplified even more here.  Let's start with the good stuff: the animation is really pretty. I love the art style, and the animation is super smooth and the subtle clues included in the animation is enough to make these kinda bland characters feel a lot more 3 dimensional. Sometimes the CG is pretty shaky and worryingly bad, but at other times it's included almost as well as MDZS is. The music and soundtrack is also impeccable. The songs are all beautiful in their own right, and the vocals and instrumentals haunt my dreams. There's not a huge variety, as most of the songs are romance songs, but they're all so good that I can ignore it. Some characters and plot points I love a ton. The lady in green and black that show up in episode 7 and 8 are mysterious and may lead to some great character development. Nan Feng and Fu Yao are amazing support characters, as well as being funny, cute, and integral to the plot as well. The monsters are really well animated, and some of the themes of this novel also run through the donghua too quite well, arguably better than the original because the original really didn't flesh out the themes that much. Sometimes, I really do like Xie Lian and San Lang. They're cute at times, charming even, and sometimes the things they say and their actions have genuine emotional impact. I really don't care for their characters most of the time, but at some points, the jokes they make or the sequences they do really hit me Now onto the stuff I don't like. First of all, the story is very "monster of the week." In MDZS, the story has a natural flow and progresses in a natural way, but that can't be said for Heaven Official's Blessing. In between arcs, we get these really fan service and pointless scenes of XL and SL at Puqi Shrine essentially doing nothing. It's like they go on a mission, solve a random mystery, fight some monsters, and then they return to XL's home/shrine and everything returns to the status quo. It doesn't have that same tension and flow as MDZS, because we kind of already know that XL is going to get out of the situation and return back to his shrine for more domestic fan service and trash collecting. Now, because I’ve read the novel, I know everything that is going on, but for those that have not read the novel, the storytelling would be atrocious. None of the xianxia/fantasy elements are explored or explained. The settings are hardly developed on after the arc is over, and the character development is pretty much nonexistent. Although I loved Nan Feng and Fu Yao from the novel, and still enjoy them here, their constant use as comic relief and only that gets really grating pretty quickly. XL and San Lang have some character development, but not enough to convince me worthy of an entire 1st season.  And info dumps everywhere. I usually don’t have as much of a problem with info dumps, but this anime/donghua does it ALL THE TIME. Explanation needed? Flashback/exposition dialogue info dump. Backstory needed? Flashback/exposition dialogue info dump. Literally the only way this show knows how to explain is by flashback info dumping, which is what the novel does too, and it gets kinda annoying. There's a lot of fan service in this anime/donghua. It's not as rampant as the novel, but it really is there. There are fans out there that don't mind it, but it really serves to show how much this donghua puts romance over plot and characters, at points neglecting the plot for more fan service, which feels really jarring to me. MDZS had some hugging and implicit fan service, but at the same time, those are sort of afterthoughts from the main plot. In Heaven Official's Blessing, the romance is the main plot, and considering how much I don't care for the main pair, is an issue for me. Others may not have that issue though And also I have a ton of issues with the main pair. San Lang is probably the worst out of the two, as he is not only shallow and one dimensional, but also a Mary Sue. His entire life revolves around XL, and besides loving XL and being a total asshole, he has no other character traits. No other character traits besides being a Mary Sue. He is all knowing, all powerful, and good at literally everything but handwriting. This really deflates the tension as you know he'll have the answers to everything, and he's also capable of scaring ghosts away with just a single glance, and you really just begin to wonder "why are we going on these missions anyways if San Lang can just beat everyone up and that's it?" Also, he falls in love with XL enough to live 800 years for him, despite only being caught by him once and barely ever interacting. The logic feels kinda shaky to me... Xie Lian is slightly better. He has some character depth, but none of the forms of media have made me convinced that he loathes himself and he's really that deep. I enjoy his inner conflict about putting himself in danger, but he again feels like a Mary Sue. He has no weaknesses besides being "too nice" and "not valuing himself enough." He has this solve all problems pet ribbon, Ruoye, and is also very smart, strong, and kind. He is literally a flawless human being and besides being "kinda insecure", he has no moral wrongs. I wish we got more internal dialogue/monologue of him thinking about how he deserved to be alone for 800 years and the self loathing the novel really wants you to believe, but it really isn't there most of the time. Let's end on a positive note though, the side characters are super endearing. The emotional arcs that truly hit the hardest are still yet to come (no I'm not talking about book 4, I'm talking about Qingxuan's arc), and more and more amazing characters will continue to be introduced. While I didn't like the original novel, I think the donghua has potential, and I hope it realizes that potential by toning down the fan service from the novel and using better characterization.

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