This week, a show about murder, gore, and the "other"; a show about ... more murder and gore, and one about luck.
Birdy the Mighty
VHS 1 - Double Trouble
It is a mystery to me how a company that can produce such horrible dubs as Utena can manage to produce one single, solitary dub that is nearly flawless. The good news is that the entire thing is just as good as the dubbed audio track!
Tsutomu is your typical loser middle school student in the middle of what's commonly known as "Examination Hell," in which a student's very being is consumed with the entrance exams to the high school of their preference. So here's this kid wandering around town mumbling formulas and history dates when he gets mixed up in the pursuit of a space criminal. Due to a mishap, he's killed.
Weeell, this doesn't go over to well with HQ, who puts their officer (her name's "Birdy") into his body. What follows is a nice combination of the Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin movie "All of Me" and... well... for lack of a better comparison, Armitage III. The two of them (sharing one body) run all over town trying to balance catching the bad guys and Tsutomu's normal school life. While not nearly as wacky and funny as the promotional material lets on (not to mention that this is about as far from Ninja Scroll as you can get, despite being directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri), Birdy the Mighty has an enjoyable quality all its own. Calm and yet still interesting, the feeling of the OAV is actually enhanced by the dub, which is incredibly low-key and well-acted throughout.
This isn't to say that the series is totally without humor: the scenes involving Tsutomu's family are a scream (mostly his sister). The dub does put a damper on some of the humor, as some of the characters needed to sound a LOT more sarcastic, but the entire thing is well acted to the point of sounding like it was directed by Jack Fletcher (Kiki's Delivery Service, everything from Urban Vision). Names are even well pronounced, with the U in "Tsutomu" being silent.
Overall, I was pretty impressed. U.S. Manga Corps hasn't put together a dubbed package this well-done since their partnership with Manga Entertainment, Ltd. (UK). Birdy the Mighty is some excellent work from everyone involved... certainly worth being released on DVD! (hint hint)
Overall (dub) : A-
Story : A-
Animation : A
Music : B-
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