Heaven Official’s Blessing Episode 1 had me hooked already that I was compelled to subscribe to BiliBili, and it was worth it. Comprising of 12 episodes, it’s a Chinese animation (manhua) that deals with romance (BL in a subtle presentation), political intrigues and conspiracy, war and violence, magic, ghosts and spirits, and relationships.
Heaven Official’s Blessing is also known as Tian Guan Ci Fu (天官赐福). The Chinese anime is written by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu (the same author who created Mo Dao Zu Shi). The anime is 12 episodes long and produced by Bilibili and Haoliners Animation League.
Xie Lian is the Crown Prince of the Xian le kingdom. He ruled with love and compassion and is beloved by the people. However, some suspicious events took over and he was banished. 800 years passed and he ascended from heaven – without much of a reputation. In order to redeem himself, he has to gain merits, thus he’s given tasks to fulfill. These tasks involved solving problems for the people, including investigating and hunting ghosts and benevolent spirits. Little did he know, there was someone watching over him. [Synopsis © Psycho-Weird]
Being aware of the strict censorship in mainland China, I am expecting plenty of edits, yet the animation took an ingenious way to present the romantic relationship between the main protagonists Xie Lian and Hua Cheng. Heaven Official’s Blessing is divided into 2 Arcs, which are radically different in their look and feel:
- The Ransom bride Arc is spooky, mysterious, and deliciously wicked. This Arc gives viewers a glimpse into Xie Lian as a god with magical powers. It also shows his personality;
- The visuals are exotic and breathtaking, to say the least. The hunt for the ghost groom who is supposed to be kidnapping brides serves as both a tease and introduction to deeper events that are related to the main characters;
- Plenty of scenes to gush over, especially the hypnotic red umbrella where a mysterious guy in red, flowing clothes escorts Xie Lian while he’s pretending to be a bride;
- The white translucent butterflies complement the Red flowing clothes of the supposed ghost groom, this illustration is magical;
- The OST is hypnotic as well. It’s very sentimental and it can move emotions, used appropriately to highlight scenes;
- The Banyue Kingdom Arc is all red, due to the violence and conspiracy. It somehow deviated from the romance established in the first Arc and focused on the conspiracy part of why Xie Lian was banished in the first place;
- The final episode of Heaven Official’s Blessing offers a return to the subtle yet obvious relationship between our two protagonists. The teasing, the gestures, and the dialogue are worth praising. This anime is done in such good taste, that any censor may find it hard to edit any scenes. While I’m not privy to the behind-the-scenes wrangling, I thought the final product succeeds in delivering a BL from a country that is tough on the genre.
Heaven Official’s Blessing: Second Season Updates
In late 2021, Funimation made an announcement that Heaven Official’s Blessing will have a second season. There is no definite date. Even BiliBili, which is directly related to the anime, has made no date posting yet. There are reports that it may have the same number of episodes. Further, the exploration of the relationship between Xie Lian and Hua Cheng is expected to be a major centerpiece of Season 2. It may also feature the characters of Generals Xuan Zhen and Nan Yang. Reports have it that it may focus on the Ghost Town as the third arc (following the Ghost bride and the Banyue Kingdom in Season 1).
It is also in the news that Hua Cheng’s real appearance will be revealed. Note that one of the major cliffhangers in Season 1 is the boy who fell from a building, rescued by Xie Lian, with his real identity still under speculation.
Live Action Adaptation
The LA is entitled ‘Eternal Faith’.
The live-action drama is under production since late 2021. This drama will be directed by Hong Kong-born Chen Jialin (he helmed The Untamed) and produced by iQiyi, Huace/Croton, and Syndication Film & TV.
Zhai Xiao Wen is attached to the production and will play Xie Lian and Zhang Ling He as Hua Cheng. Other cast includes Xiao Kai Zhong as General Nan Yang, Cai Yao as General Xuan Zhen, Li Fan Cheng as Fu Yao, Vin Zheng as Nan Feng, Chang Hua Sen as the wind master, and Tian Xu Ning as the Earth master. So many supporting cast still! [The LA obviously requires a separate profile page!]
There is conflicting news that the production has come to a halt, while some said it remains a work in progress.
Heaven Official’s Blessing on Social Media
Yu Alexius, an anime portal frontrunner has this to say about the chemistry between the two protagonists:
The chemistry between these two is beyond perfect and among the works of Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, these two radiate the feeling of love and care towards each other. It feels like watching them in the donghua justifies that this series is a real boys-love story. I love the fact that they lived quite like a real couple in that shack.Heaven Official’s Blessing Review: On Intimacy and Conspiracy by Yu Alexius
An old-timer BL fan way back in 2007. I started out loving BL after watching the Takumi-kun series from Japan, went on collecting BL manga, and watched old BL anime such as Junjou Romantica and the likes. Love of Siam allow me to transition into Thai, while Amphetamine gave me glimpses of Taiwanese BL magic. I love to write reviews and I’m one of the administrators of Psycho Weird.