Birdie Wing -Golf Girls' Story-
by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Birdie Wing -Golf Girls' Story- ?
Community score: 4.1
First things first, if you happened to miss this week's post-credits scene, may I highly encourage you to go watch it now. I would not dream of spoiling it for anybody. It's peak Birdie Wing, and as I write these words, I'm still reeling from it.
Eve's showdown against Rose proves there's no such thing as a straight line in Birdie Wing. This is the most focused episode of the series so far, revolving entirely around their golf bout to the death, yet it also contains some of its wildest twists and most flagrant disregard for the tenets of the sport. It's wonderful. I could do a play-by-play breakdown of nearly every scene and highlight some specific decision in the writing and/or direction that elevates the material into the deliriously delightful. I'll only highlight a select handful here, but I just want to emphasize that there's a careful craft that goes into the construction of the absurd, and this anime is oozing with it.
The character fundamentals of this match are strong. Both Eve and Rose are hardheaded assholes who don't flinch easily, so their venomous rapport supports a solid foundation of smug trash talk on which the rest of the competition can build itself. To this point, the revelation that both golf girls studied under the brutal tutelage of Leo fits snugly around this conflict. Eve's the promising yet less polished young upstart, and Rose is the experienced and tempered pro who's a little out of practice. They're on scarily equal ground, and it's fun to see Birdie Wing play in that space. Eve has gone toe to toe with talented peers before, but this is the first time she's essentially golfing against herself.
Rounding out this episode's cast is Vipére, who has completed her metamorphosis from two-bit villain into Eve's Speedwagon. She basically spends the whole match acting like a normal sidekick and providing color commentary to the audience. While in a different show, this could have felt like a disappointing softening of her character, here in Birdie Wing, the sheer dissonance between her current behavior and her past extravagance only makes the contrast that much funnier. It helps, too, that she still looks toe to tip like a snake pervert. On the other side of the roguelike golf course, Catherine and Nicholas' childlike yelps of delight and horror provide further knee-slapping contrast with the game's deadly stakes. Constructing a universe in which golf is the single most important activity for the elite and the underground alike is an inherently ridiculous thing, and it's beautiful to see Birdie Wing embrace that.
Out of all the characters, though, Rose steals the show here. After all the buildup from her mysterious machinations over the first half of the season, the revelation that she herself is a golfer who just wants to destroy someone else on her level is too good. It's so petty. It's pure shonen silliness. It's literally the exact relationship between Hisoka and Gon. And it makes the match that much more fun, because we have this sexily smoldering capo in a tightly tailored suit toying with a teenager like a cat with a mouse. Eve bonks her ball right on the tip of the flagpole—already a great bit of souped-up anime golf—and Rose just follows it up with the sheer disrespect of aiming for and bonking Eve's ball farther away from the hole. Not that it matters at all in the wild world of Birdie Wing, but I don't think you're even allowed to do that! This is golf, not billiards. And that's why it owns so hard.
Eve, however, has tricks up her sleeve too. Just when you thought things couldn't get any gayer, here's Aoi literally teaching Eve how not to shoot straight. There's absolutely no way that wasn't intentional. Eve, in turn, pays homage to her girlfriend by naming her new slice shot after her. The subtitles, helpfully, clue the audience into that, but there's some neat Japanese wordplay going on here that I'd like to elucidate a bit further. We know Eve's bullets are named after the color of the rainbow, and she calls this one purple, or 葵, which is the same kanji used for Aoi's name. But that kanji specifically means hollyhock, so more precisely, she's calling the bullet hollyhock-colored. Hollyhocks can be different shades, though, so normally you'd use 紫 or the English word purple (which Eve later does) to describe that color. Point being, Eve deliberately names it weird as an expression of her love. Furthermore, the word “aoi” is more typically associated with the pronunciation of blue, 青い, which exploits an additional syntactic synergy between Aoi's name and Eve's patented Blue Bullet. In other words, they're lesbians, Harold.
And if you need further proof that Birdie Wing is written by and for geniuses, let's dig into the post-credits scene. With her Purple Bullet, Eve finally manages to rattle Rose's confidence, and this manifests physically as an old injury flaring up. This is logical—surely there was some reason that Rose retired from illegal golf—and it's shown metaphorically as a crack beginning to weave its way through a pane of glass. At this point, this makes perfect sense as a way to build to the match's conclusion and our heroine's eventual victory.
Then Rose's hand flies off.
I should have known better. Why would I expect Birdie Wing to reach for visual symbolism when the better, smarter decision is to give Rose an actual Crystal Bowie arm? Given that these women are currently playing in a secret underground roguelike golf course that cost billions to construct, why should I be surprised by the existence of high-tech golf cyborg prosthetics that are also inexplicably made out of a material notorious for shattering? I mean, the answer to both those questions is that it's insane, and there's literally no possible universe in which I could have anticipated this development. And that's the brilliance of Birdie Wing. After seven weeks of psycho-golf, it still finds ways to stupefy me.
Cumulative Score: -10
Post-script: I don't know where else to put this, but I only just noticed this week that Leo's voice actor is Shūichi Ikeda, a.k.a. Char Aznable. So that's both him and Toru Furuya (a.k.a. Amuro Ray in Gundam and Reiya Amuro in Birdie Wing) voicing two of the paltry few male characters of import in this show. Apparently, they're also golf buddies in real life, so chalk that up as yet another way in which Birdie Wing's existence is wholly and wonderfully inexplicable.
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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