In the beginning of Episode 1 of anime Heaven’s Design Team (Tenchi Souzou Design-bu), God created the Heavens and Earth and all of life that inhabited it. But one day, he got fed up with all the effort that was required and decided to outsource the work to a dedicated group of individuals. Now tasked to help their biggest client yet, Heaven’s Animal Design Department team will help God create and actualize concepts for animals to populate on Earth, no matter how unreasonable His demands are.
The concept of God hiring a team of UX marketing designers to do work for him is hilarious enough on its own. I really have to wonder how the contracts work and how much he is paying this team to help make his creations come true. Judging from the title, you can tell this will be a lighthearted comedy anime that edutains about the wonders of the animal kingdom.
The debut episode is split into three segments that focus on one of the design team members workshopping different animals to test out. Each character has their own quirks and eccentricities that translate to their work. Their unique personalities and interactions with one another drive the comedy in the premiere and sets the tone for future episodes.
Right off from the start, the anime excels at establishing its core cast and delivering quick punchlines and gags. One running joke I really like is when God tries to contact them: the chosen character blanks out for a brief second to receive His approval for animals. It’s things like that that make up the humor in the series, and I guarantee you’ll remember each of their faces and personalities.
The angels who serve as God’s messengers and primary point of contact to the team include both Shimoda and newcomer Ueda, who are often at the mercy of everyone’s animal showcase. Leading the team in particular is veteran Tsuchiya, whose success with inventing the horse has created an obsession to create a new type of steed. Then you have the effeminate Kanamori and a Steve Jobs lookalike named Mizushima, who are involved in a competition throughout the episode to determine a battle between birds and snakes.
Another person on the team is a woman named Meido, who is fixated on creating cute animals with dark, grotesque features. You also have the soft-spoken giant Unabara featured in this episode, who creates new varieties of anteaters. Much to his chagrin, a colleague named Kimura wants to taste every animal the team creates, including Unabara’s. Helping them make their designs a reality is resident engineer Higuchi, who brings concepts to life to successful (and not-so successful) results. As I mentioned before, you get to know these characters pretty well in the first episode alone and I believe we’ll get to know more about them as the show goes on.
I’m also impressed by the level of detail in discussing the practicality of certain animal functions. Important information like how an animal will eat, swim, or live a day-to-day life give this show a small air of authenticity to it and I appreciate how it doesn’t treat this as a joke. Despite that, there are some moments where I giggled at some nonsensical suggestions they made for each animal.
Of course, in addition to the comedy, another feature of Heaven’s Design Team is the animals and how the team attempts to troubleshoot their design issues. For example, things like making sure giraffes don’t have too long of a neck or making sure armadillos shells are hard to shield them from predators. They also cover the creation of secretary bird, the red-eyed tree frog, and the anteater among others.
All this material is crammed into one episode, but each segment is spaced out enough that it’s not overwhelming. Heaven’s Design Team smoothly balances comedic entertainment and education. While it may push its limits with the 20+ minute running time and reliance on familiar gags, each segment doesn’t overstay its welcome and offers just enough fresh material to work with.
If you’re a fan of animals and want an easy to digest comedy show that teaches you a few things, then Heaven’s Design Team is a great choice to kick off the Winter 2021 anime season. I can’t wait to see more hilarious takes on God’s messengers creating His entire animal kingdom.
You can watch Episode 1 of anime Heaven’s Design Team exclusively on Crunchyroll.