In this month of June decidedly rich in volumes 1 for them (Rokudenashi Blue, Marry me Atsumori!, No Longer Rangers, Drink to flee my loneliness, I will go kill you in your dreams …), Pika editions also offer us to discover the first volume of a pure comedy, already a little known in our country thanks to its animated adaptation which was broadcast in France in simulcast on the Crunchyroll platform during the winter of 2021.
From its original name Tenchi Sôzô Design-bu, Heaven’s Design Team (the international name of the work) is a manga which has been pre-published in Japan since 2017 in the Morning Two magazine of Kôdansha editions, the magazine from which the series L’ Sorcerer’s Workshop, Moyasimon and The Holidays of Jesus and Buddha among others. In the script, we find two names already known in our country, namely Hebi-zou, author of the manga The Japanese don’t know how to speak Japanese, which was formerly published by Clair de Lune, and Tsuta Suzuki, who is best known for his various yaoi such as Barbarities, Your story I have known or My demon and me. As for the visual part, it was entrusted to Tarako, mangaka for whom this is the second series after Mousou no Aki (unpublished in France), and who first worked in doujinshi from 2009 before launching professionally. end 2012.
Here, everything begins when Shimoda, a young man with the appearance of a classic Japanese employee (short black hair, suit with tie…) but who is in reality an angel (the “winged” collar of his shirt reminds us good), is recruited in a company that turns out to be a bit special, since he will have to mediate between this company and… God in person?! It turns out that the creator of the Earth, the sky and the elements (according to the Catholic religion, anyway), once he arrived at the 6th day of Creation, got lazy and decided to sub- treat animal design to a design agency, the design section of heaven! The angels employed in this section therefore have the role of imagining animals by following the few vague directives of God (“an animal that can eat super tall leaves”, “which eats in very small doses”, “which is equipped with a cool weapon”… Do you feel it, divine laxity?), to imagine living beings from there, before entrusting them to the engineer Mars to make them and see if they are feasible, then to send them to God who approves or rejects them.
A bit like Hikaru Nakamura with his often so funny manga The Holidays of Jesus and Buddha, the mangaka trio therefore takes the basic bias of exploiting a religious myth (the Creation myth of the Catholic religion) in order to offer us a comedy rich in diversions. And beyond the little parody of a Japanese company, what we will obviously remember is what takes on the most importance, namely the design of animals! And on this side, the authors want to be full of inventiveness, imagining in their own way how different species of all types were born (giraffes, anteaters, sea creatures, etc.), but also by appropriating mythical creatures (want to know why pegasi and unicorns can’t exist? No? You’ll know anyway, scientifically), or by simply imagining wacky and absurd critters that aren’t viable at all (RIP to you, the improbable long-necked fallow deer).
To carry this very joyful and colorful humor, the work can count on a small gallery of employees who, all in their own way, have their specificities, like the dean Saturn recognized by all for his best creation, the horse (so much so that it has become his hobby and he tries to decline it at all costs), or the gothic lolita Pluto who, behind her very cute appearance, nevertheless has the most deviant spirit and ideas the most disturbing (a great way to explain how some weird animals in our reality can exist).
However, the greatest merit of the series is surely not to limit itself at all to a simple comic spring, because a number of small truthful and rather scientific information very often come to slip on the animals, an aspect for which the mangakas are strive to document themselves richly, as evidenced by their long list of references at the end of the volume. In addition, each independent 18-page chapter is then accompanied by two bonus pages presenting, in dedicated sheets, the animals mentioned in the chapter in question, these sheets being able to do as well in well-known animals (the giraffe, the elk , the sperm whale, the giant squid or the narwhal, for example) than in less common and surprising living beings (such as the cloverleaf fisherman or the giant siphonophore).
An ingenious concept, a gallery of colorful characters, humor as offbeat as it is wacky and inventive, all sprinkled with true anecdotes about the animals inhabiting our planet, and served by a design that is quite simple, light and very expressive. . That’s all it takes to make this first volume of Heaven’s Design Team a reading full of freshness, both full of cheerful humor and clever in its slightly more documentary part.
On the edition side, we are dealing with a correct copy with a flexible paper and without transparency, an impression of honest quality, the presence of four color pages on glossy paper, neat lettering, a pleasant and lively translation by Emeline Cablé , and a jacket remaining close to the Japanese original and benefiting from a fairly well-worked title logo.
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Review Vol.1 Heaven’s Design Team – Manga
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