What HEAVEN'S DESIGN TEAM Vol. 1 lacks in heavy plot, it makes up for in witty humor and memorable characters. A simple read if you're looking for some casual fun.
83 %
Simple fun!

No matter your religion or culture, most people believe in some sort of higher power. But with all there is to work on out there, like answering prayers and performing miracles, that higher power is bound to get tired, right? Enter HEAVEN’S DESIGN TEAM Vol. 1. The Heaven’s Animal Design Team is responsible for creating all the animals on earth. The first volume seems to take place during early creation when not that many animals walked the planet. With God as their client, they work hard every day to fulfill his requests. Whether it’s inventing the giraffe or something “adorably uncute,” the members of Heaven’s Animal Design Team always have something up their sleeves.

Written by Hebi-Zou and Tsuta Suzuki with art by Tarako, HEAVEN’S DESIGN TEAM Vol. 1 offers a smooth introduction to this rambunctious team. Though not plot heavy, the manga’s first volume prioritizes establishing each character’s personality and how they contribute to the team. “The Encyclopedia of Real Animals” at the end of each chapter also presents a learning opportunity for readers, making this an enjoyable manga for all ages.

Meet the Team!

Like I mentioned earlier, HEAVEN’S DESIGN TEAM Vol. 1 isn’t very plot heavy. Each short chapter tackles a new client request. For now, the manga settles for reappearing jokes and character quirks. This is one of the manga’s strengths. While it can be argued that Shimoda is the series’ protagonist as the newest liaison on the design team, the first volume gives characters equal time in the spotlight.

Pluto discussing the poison dart frog's cannibalism in Heaven's Design Team Vol. 1
Um…Pluto? You’re scaring us. | Image: Kodansha Comics

The idiosyncrasies of each character are where the manga’s humor shines the most. For example, the head of the design team, Mr. Saturn, bases all his designs off of his masterpiece, the horse. This leads to hilarious, horse-like fails. When he tries to invent the unicorn, we quickly learn that the amount of energy needed to grow horns is unsustainable on horses. But when placed on elk, we learn that these animals have a way to counterbalance the horn’s needs by having a strong digestive system. And, as if to add insult to Mr. Saturn’s injured self-esteem, at the end of the chapter, we see Neptune place the horn on one of his whale designs, instantly getting God’s approval for the narwhal.

Also adding to each character’s uniqueness is their individual designs. Shimoda and Ueda, the angels in this manga, both have subtle angel wings on their person; typically, it’s on their shirt collars and folders. But their overall design also tends to offset their personalities. Jupiter’s ikemen status is starkly turned on its head when we learn that he likes to create tasty animals (such as the cow, his masterpiece). There’s also Pluto, who’s always dressed in a lolita outfit, but turns out to be the most sadistic out of all of them. These little details create memorable and highly enjoyable characters.


Making Learning Fun

If you’ve ever looked at an animal and thought, “Who made you like that?” then HEAVEN’S DESIGN TEAM Vol. 1 is definitely for you. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this tweet collection from Buzzfeed. HEAVEN’S DESIGN TEAM takes a hilarious spin on something everyone is familiar with: animals. How did the giant squid come to be so giant? Why do giraffe’s have long necks and spots? Why do male seahorses get pregnant? HEAVEN’S DESIGN TEAM answers all these questions and then some. But really, the way real life facts are inserted is what makes this manga all the more enjoyable.

Shimoda finds out that God doesn't invent the world's animals in Heaven's Design Team Vol. 1
God can be lazy too sometimes. | Image: Kodansha Comics

One of the best parts of this manga is the way it doesn’t shy away from the not-so-cute aspects of these animals. Usually, it’s Pluto dropping these facts, such as when she discusses how acorn barnacles reproduce or the way koala joey eat their mother’s poop. Yet these gross facts aren’t crass by any means. Instead, Pluto presents them as an unavoidable part of these animals’ lives. They’re also never dwelled upon for longer than a panel, giving their short appearance a stronger, more humorous impact.

HEAVEN’S DESIGN TEAM Vol. 1 is Fun for Everyone

HEAVEN’S DESIGN TEAM Vol. 1 is uncomplicated. At most, it’s a pure introduction to the setting, the team, and the concept of creation itself. Though relying on the Christian belief that God invented everything, the manga swaps all religious subtext for something simple and enjoyable for people of all backgrounds. Its characters are very memorable and well-rounded. And while it isn’t very plot-heavy, the end of the manga shows a major problem has just arrived on the design team’s door, giving readers something to look forward to in the next volume.

HEAVEN’S DESIGN TEAM Vol. 1 is now available on ComiXology!

Featured image via Kodansha Comics.

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One Comment

  1. Kris

    July 31, 2018 at 3:49 am

    This seems like a really interesting idea for a manga! I love that it’s a lighthearted series that people from multiple backgrounds can enjoy. I definitely need to check it out, because it seems like it would be a nice break from all the serious series that I’ve been reading lately, lol.
    I’m not sure if you read BL/yaoi series, but this series kind of reminded me of one of my favorite BL series, H&H Roman Company. It’s a series about a company that God starts after he notices that humans don’t need him or his angels as much anymore. It’s definitely one of the more interesting BL series that I’ve read, and if you’re a fan of the genre, I definitely recommend checking it out.


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