Tian Guan Ci Fu (or, it’s English name, Heaven’s Official Blessing) is a fantasy story that follows a disgraced ex-god of 3 times who has been given yet another chance at godhood, who crosses paths with a demon king who is in love with him. The original story is a Chinese web novel by the author Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, however, it has gained so much popularity in the 2 years it has been published that it has also been adapted into a donghua (Chinese animation, the Chinese equivalent of a Japanese anime),a manhua (a comic, also known more popularly as manga), and will soon have a live action adaptation.This review will focus specifically on the manhua.
The story behind Tian Guan Ci Fu is already exceptional on its own. As mentioned above, it is a fantasy story with roots in Chinese mythology and traditions, including references to Taoism and Buddhism, which are major religions in China, and also features gods, ghosts, demons and a kind of magic known as cultivation. For those unfamiliar with Chinese culture, religion, and mythology, it can admittedly be a little overwhelming at first, but deep understanding of this is not at all necessary to understanding the story itself. The story successfully weaves together these themes of fantasy with other elements including lots of action and romance and comedy, which makes for a refreshing story that is not too monotonous, which is especially a plus because the story is on the longer side. The fact that it is a BL (“boy love”) also makes this story more groundbreaking, because it represents the gradual acceptance in Chinese society of the LGBTQ+ community.
What makes the manhua stand out among all these other adaptations of Tian Guan Ci Fu, however, is its breathtaking art style. It’s illustrated by StarEMBER, whose delicate and divinely dreamlike style recalls that of traditional Chinese ink paintings, and fully absorbs the reader into the beautiful world Mo Xiang Tong Xiu created. The art style also stands out among more typical manhua art styles, and there is just so much detail in each individual panel that reading this manhua is comparable to taking in painting after painting in a world class art museum.
I would personally give the manhua for Heaven’s Official Blessing the highest possible rating I could give, the story behind it is one of the best I have read in the recent years and the art style of the manhua only deepens and personifies that experience in the most exquisite way. The only negative things I could say about it are that it can be difficult to understand at first, especially if it’s the first time you’ve ever delved into this genre, and also that finding the official English translations online can be a bit difficult. However, that doesn’t really affect the story itself as a whole, and anyone who is willing to give this “series” a chance is sure to deeply enjoy it and fall in love with the characters and story as well.