Birdie Wing -Golf Girls' Story-
by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Birdie Wing -Golf Girls' Story- ?
Community score: 4.6
This episode ends with Eve declaring her intent to kill someone. In golf. If that moment doesn't perfectly encapsulate the appeal of Birdie Wing, then I don't know what does. The preceding twenty minutes are no slouch either, serving us our most heaping helping yet of Eve and Aoi's chaotically flirtatious dynamic together. This show has been building momentum towards this team up since their meeting in the premiere, so now that they are finally whacking balls as one unit, the narrative takes an appropriately looser tack. Birdie Wing has always prioritized fun above all else, but it's especially evident here.
The episode title asks the question, “are Aoi and Eve okay together?”, and the answer is a definitive “absolutely not, but in a good way.” In terms of personality and background, they're polar opposites, and their dialogue on the fairway is barbed with sass and braggadocio whenever they compare their performances. That, however, is proof of how close they've grown together. Even their most fiery exchanges happen under a veil of mutual admiration and affection—a veil that inexorably turns every one of their conversations into a romantically charged mating ritual on the links. And off the links, a backwards-brimmed Eve provides a headpat that nearly sets Aoi's ears on fire. I'd tell them to get a room, but it looks like that's exactly what the next episode is going to be about.
The show accentuates the golf girls' flirting in a lot of fun ways, too. They're reflected, for instance, in Shinjo and Ichina, who can't help but disagree on their caddying techniques now that they've been forced to work together. While theirs is a more begrudging and professional relationship, we can start to see their walls crack through a shared high five. Eve and Aoi's competition also help on this front. It's funny to see these girls decked out in golf gear all gawk awkwardly at the tall blonde foreigner with a bad attitude, but it's even funnier to see them all melt down when they realize that she's partnered with the golden child Aoi. Eve's psychological impact on and off the green is her most formidable weapon, and this is why Coach Amuro gives her leeway to do pretty much whatever.
Eve, however, seems to be just a means to an end for Amuro. She and her Rainbow Bullets are there to push Aoi to greater heights, but he doesn't appear to care as much about her own prospects as a pro. If I had to guess, this attitude may indicate where this school/tournament arc will eventually lead. Everything's hunky-dory right now, with Eve and Aoi more or less neck and neck—Aoi's more consistent, and Eve takes more risks, but they're both golfing and improving at a comparable rate. On the other hand, what if it starts to look like Eve might overtake Aoi? This episode reiterates that this whole tournament is a means of coronating the Amawashi scion and rocketing her to the professional league, which is a costly manipulation at least on par with what we've seen from the golf mafia. If Eve inadvertently gets on the bad side of that, then Nafrecian hitmen might not be the only thing she has to look out for.
But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. We've only seen the qualifying round of the tournament so far, which was so minor that the girls had to be given a separate objective to make it interesting for them. Presentation-wise, however, Birdie Wing's over the top flair still makes this a blast to watch. The rival golfer du jour, a tall slab of beef who looks like she walked off the pages of Dorohedoro, never stood a chance, but the anime nevertheless has fun animating the power behind her drive and the terrifying certainty behind Eve's subsequent trash talk. Bulging muscles, shattered glass, and a demonic vision of Eve all help tip a low stakes qualifier into a melodramatic gauntlet throw.
I also love all the ways the show refuses to take itself too seriously. Perhaps the best example is how blatant the Gundam pandering has become this late into the season. Even if you haven't watched a single second of the franchise, whenever Ichina says something weird, you can reasonably infer that it has to be a Gundam quote. Eve's conversation with Lily is similarly inured with details that only Gunpla diehards are going to appreciate. It's like the show is being as cheeky as possible about being produced by Bandai Namco, and that alone could be endearing, but in a weird way it also complements the mecha DNA buried in the series. While it might now have any giant robots per se, Birdie Wing treats golf with the same gravity, drama, and penchant for the absurd that can be found in many mecha forerunners. Or, to put it another way, Eve and Aoi are basically golf Newtypes.
The other important thing this episode provides is a proper introduction to Eve and Aoi's toughest rivals in the upcoming tournament, Mizuho and Kaede. We've seen them before, but their interactions here lean heavily into the genre conventions of school dramas like Dear Brother. Mizuho is the reserved and refined girl (the kind of person Shinjo wishes Aoi acted like), while Kaede has more hot-headed bluster. It's a classic hot-and-cold pairing that accentuates Mizuho's ruthless iciness. Akin to Amuro, she sees this competition only as a way of honing her own abilities against the best of the best. She's every bit as looming a figure as Rose was in the first arc, and while I don't know how much we'll get to see of her game with only one episode in the season remaining, her trash talk stare down with Eve already makes for an incredible scene.
I want to wrap up on an anecdotal note. That little peck Eve plants on Aoi's cheek in the season finale preview is not only super adorable, but it also seems to have been a marketing hole-in-one. I've seen several people in and around my circle pick up Birdie Wing in the past two days. Now, this might just be a consequence of maniacs like me finally shredding the last of the anime community's willpower after nearly three months of us screaming about golf girls. But I don't think we can dismiss the power of blatant acts of queer romantic affection. While I've joked about the inevitability of Eve and Aoi being sisters, I'm starting to be convinced that this twist would be too normal for Birdie Wing. There's a real possibility that Eve and Aoi will end up as canonical golf wives (after all the canonical golf murder), and even though I like to downplay the paramountcy of explicit textuality, I think that's also worth getting a little excited about.
Cumulative Score: -14
Steve is a world-renowned golf expert and commentator, but if you just want to read his thoughts on anime and good eyebrows, then there's always Twitter. Otherwise, catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.
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