• Titles: Tendebu, Tenchi Souzou Design-bu, Heaven’s Design Team
  • Genre: Comedy, educational, supernatural, Slice of Whatever it is Divine Beings Have Instead of Life
  • Episodes: 12 + 1 ONA
  • Studio: Asahi Production

In the beginning God created the earth. But then he needed to fill it up with all kinds of creatures. All with their specific quirks, strengths and weaknesses. It’s not that easy to create an organism that can survive on earth for generations and not mess it up for everyone else you know. And that gets even more challenging when you need to put in a ton of diversity and variations. So any reasonable God is going to want a bit f help for that. And that’s where Heaven’s Design Team comes in. Tasked with creating the myriad of animals that walk on the earth, swim in the sea or fly in the sky, all according to their client’s hmmm… creative requests. It may be challenging, or even a real headache at times, but you know what the say. The customer is God!

Do you guys remember when Cells at Work came out and we were all kind of blown away with an anime that was entertaining and also an educational children’s program? I wonder why that seemed so novel to us. Well, Heaven’s Design Team is essentially the same thing, only with animal biology!

How does it do it?

Production

I wouldn’t say Heaven’s Design Team is a masterwork or anything like that. The animation is modest and although the backgrounds are nice, there are very few of them and can be occasionally spartan. And the majority of the creatures are in fact real animals that exist so it’s not like there’s anything unexpected in those visuals although it’s occasionally very interesting to see the early drafts of those creatures. That’s more of a story aspect so I’ll get back to it later.

I would say all in all Heaven’s Design Team is a competent but not very flashy production with two exceptions. First, everything is patterned. World Conquest Zvezda did something similar. It adds a lot of dimension and texture to the image and it’s a simple visual add-on that I tend to appreciate a lot. Second, would be the character designs. These come straight from the manga and they are filled with little touches and Easter eggs. My favourite is that the angels have scalloped collars. I love that detail. And there are little things like that for every member of the team, that connect back to their Roman pantheon roots.

see! Great collars

Story & Characters

Like I said, Heaven’s Design Team is essentially a children’s educational program. It’s very much like Cells at Work in that regard but I liked Heaven’s Design Team better. Mostly because I’m pretty familiar with medicine and human biology but I know much less about zoology and I find it fascinating. The naked mole-rat episode is one of my favourite things I learned this year.

And because the subject matter spoke to me so much, I frequently found myself googling the animals featured in one episode to learn more and fact-check the crazier-sounding stuff. Some things were simplified but all in all, I couldn’t catch Heaven’s Design Team in any unfactual statements.

At its core, what this show is trying to do is teach us fun and little-known facts about everyday animals. The story, such as it is, is contained in only weekly episodal events that string this information together. There are no arcs, no deep character development to speak of and no real story structure. Much less so that Cells at Work, this Sesame Street or something of the kind.

I didn’t even know there were giant otters!!!

However, it uses all the time that would have been devoted to these storytelling elements, to bulk up the educational aspects. Early drafts of creatures walk us through biological evolution in an interesting way. Not the simple creature A becomes creature B stuff but the basic traits that living organism develop depending on their environment and the odd paths they take to get there. It’s really a pretty solid foundation on evolutionary biology livened up with some crazy animal fact.

I figure if you are not interested in this type of stuff, there’s not too much else to be found in Heaven’s Design Team. But if you are, then it’s one of the best educational shows I have seen in a long time.

You might like this anime if:

You liked the notion of anime edutainment. You enjoy learning about animals.

I have some issues

My favourite character:

Jupiter, for reasons that will be obvious to anyone that watched the series.

Suggested drink:

Evolutionary Margarita

  • Every time Shinoda-kun comes in – Hi
  • Every time there’s a message from God – pay attention
  • Every time Puto thinks something is cute – gasp!
  • Every time Venus is proud – take a sip
  • Every time the designers gripe about their client – take a sip
  • Every time  a design gets rejected – pour some out
  • Every time Mercury and Venus bicker – take a sip
  • Every time Saturn comes up with a new horse – take a sip
  • Every time Jupiter wants to eat the animals – get a snack
  • Every time we see the angel’s wings – take a sip
  • Every time Ueda saves the day – cheers!
  • Every time anything actually is cute – take a sip
  • Every time anyone has a drink – join them
  • Every time Neptune is topless – take a sip
  • Every time Jupiter dies – take a sip
  • Every time the team has to make it work – take a sip

I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.

10 thoughts

  1. Aww, I liked this one. It was fun guessing the animal; I often didn’t, but I was always happy when I got it right (unless it was obvious). I was very into zoology as a child; I still have a 12 volume animal encyclopedia from the early 80ies (some of it must be outdated now – that was before DNA sequencing…). I wanted to work in a zoo for a while.

    I also really liked the cast. They were fun. I tended to feel bad for the respective animal when the ideas didn’t work out…

    I, too, preferred it to Cells at Work, but with me it’s that the show’s feel is more my thing. I was looking forward to the show, then at episode one I was slightly disappointed and felt it was a little pedestrian, and then it grew on me, and then I had tons of fun. Now I’m quite fond of it.

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