With Funimation announcing, one day before the show’s premiere, that they are dipping into the world of Chinese animation to simulcast the eagerly anticipated donghua series of Heaven Official’s Blessing, North American danmei (Chinese BL) fans are breathing a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, as some have pointed out on Twitter, the official Funimation description was a little underwhelming!
So, as Fanbyte’s resident danmei devotee, I thought I’d give a quick rundown of what this story is about:
Terminally unlucky, irrepressibly optimistic Xie Lian attains godhood for the third time after having been fired and banished twice (yes you can be fired from being a god) and finds himself caught up in unraveling a web of intrigue and secrets that haunt the seemingly idyllic halls of heaven. Xie Lian isn’t quite sure what the deal is with notoriously terrifying— but also sexy— ghost king Hua Cheng being so nice to him all the time, but he’s sure he’ll figure it out eventually.
Heaven Official’s Blessing is adapted from a 2017 webnovel of the same name by Mo Xian Tong Xiu (she also wrote the novel that 2019’s live action drama The Untamed is adapted from). Like The Untamed, the BL elements in Heaven Official’s Blessing will probably be toned down for television, but I can’t imagine how they’d be able to keep Hua Cheng and Xie Lian’s narrative from reading as a romance. I mean look at this trailer, it’s romantic. Don’t let anyone gaslight you into thinking it’s not romantic.
What do you need to know going into Heaven Official’s Blessing? One aspect of the premise that Western audiences might not be prepared for is the whole “godhood” thing. So I’ll break it down. Basically all these gods used to be regular people, but they became so powerful that now they’re gods. The simplified process in Heaven Official’s Blessing (as far as I can tell) goes more or less like this:
- Step One: Get really, really good at taoism and martial arts.
- Step Two: Cultivate immortality.
- Step Three: Become more impressive than all the other immortals.
- Step Four: Ascend to heaven and accept your new job as a god.
- Step Five: Get lots of worshippers and answer their prayers to gain political power in heaven.
- Step Six: A surprising amount of paperwork.
Aside from that? Xie Lian has a lot of names and titles. Don’t worry about those. Just call him “dianxia” or “his highness.” And have fun! If you’re in North America, the UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand, you can stream the first two episodes October 31 on Funimation. It’s on BiliBili if you’re anywhere else.
Upcoming episodes will be released Saturday nights at 8 PM Pacific Time.