This Week in Anime
Birdie Wing Has Big Camp Energy

by Nicholas Dupree & Steve Jones,

From the crazed mind of Madlax and Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid comes a women's sports story with mafiosos, snake women, high-energy trickshots, and oh yeah, golf! Just when you think you know where Birdie Wing is going, the course changes again.

This series is streaming on Crunchyroll

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @mouse_inhouse @NickyEnchilada @vestenet


Steve
I don't know about you, Nick, but there's nothing I love more than a round of totally vanilla, extremely heteronormative, and 100% legal golf. There's a reason why they call it the king's game, after all. Now let me adjust my visor, pull up my plaid pants, take a big sip of sports drink, and look at this season's anime lineup.

Oops I'm dead.
Nick
They gave you plenty of warning man. You can't have any unregistered clowns on the fairway.

Registered clowns are fine though.
And let's not stop at clowns! The whole Halloween store cast is invited to the tournament when we're talking about golf as interpreted through the, let's say, generous lens of Birdie Wing -Golf Girls' Story-. No rules, just right. It's tee time, baby.
When I first heard we were getting a full-length golf anime, I was worried it would be a repeat of the incredibly dull Robot × Laserbeam manga from a few years ago, which was sadly nowhere near as interesting as that name suggests. But then I actually sat down to watch the premiere of this thing and literally every new scene of that episode found some way to take me by surprise. And it starts off with this Lupin-esque nonsense.

I too avoided getting my hopes up. Like, I thought Pride Orange was gonna be the ridiculous girls hockey anime I've been waiting my whole life for. And to be fair, it was pretty ridiculous, but not quite in the way I wanted. Birdie Wing, on the other hand, is sports anime with both the sports knob and anime knob turned all the way to 11.
It really is. It's not just that there's underground high-stakes golf matches. Nor is it just that our heroine plays those matches at midnight, or against masked clowns. But she does all that on an illegal golf course built on top of active train tracks. Just so she can be super cool and hit her golf ball through the gaps in a speeding train. This is the kind of bullshit Sk8 the Infinity took multiple episodes to build up to, but we're here right off the bat.
Yeah, turns out, the thing you needed to do to make golf interesting was tie it to the mafia. Just the supposition of an underground golfing scene, with thousands to millions of dollars on the line, is gargantuan in stature, but this show rolls with it as naturally as putting on a flat section of green. And most immediately, it helps define our heroine Eve, who relies on golfing in the shadows of society in order to support a gaggle of adorable orphans. It's a perfect marriage of archetypal protagonism in an absolutely insane setting.
But what really sold me was, midway through the episode, with 0 prompting, we got a moody music video of Eve walking around the mean streets of Madeupcountryville. Why? Who know? Who cares!
Blew my mind. There's zero transition either. Just bam, here's sepia-tone Eve brooding like she's an indie band frontwoman being featured in a magazine.

Not to completely inundate this column with golfing terms (which we're going to do anyway), but good technique is all about the follow-through, and Birdie Wing is perhaps best defined by its determination to follow through its ideas to their most beautifully absurd end.
Oh yeah. Any show can slap together a mundane sport with wacky settings, but that's not enough on its own to make it interesting. What makes this show work is that it fully believes in its own nonsense, and throws every trick in the book behind it. The result is some kind of bizarre midpoint between The New Prince of Tennis and Dear Brother. It's great.
Know your roots, people! There's not an anime out there that can't be improved by properly placed Dezaki postcard memories. Especially when the scene in question is about mentally stunlocking a haughty prep school girl.


In her defense, I don't know what Eve is saying either. But I love it.
I mean there are a million amazing lines in this show.

Again: this is her reaction to seeing another girl golf real good.
It's true. Birdie Wing is written by a genius well beyond my ken.

I'm just constantly hooting with delight at the screen, like a monkey waving around a nine iron.
There are legit points where my brain refused to accept this was a real show. Like when we find out Eve's sidekick bet her most prized possession on a match:

It made more sense once I found out this show is made by Bandai Namco, but in the moment I thought I was hallucinating the perfect show to pander to my Twitter mutuals.
And that's not even the best Gundam cameo we've gotten yet.

Damn straight, that's my guy with the mustache.
Also from what I understand this somehow a spiritual successor to something called Madlax. No idea if that's true or not, but I'm also not convinced Madlax is an anime rather than an xtreme 90's stool softener.
So I can give the quick explanation: this show's writer, Yousuke Kuroda, also wrote the girls-with-guns extravaganza Madlax, and both shows happen to mention the fictional country of Nafrece, which is where the big tournament in Birdie Wing takes place.

Now where this REALLY gets interesting is that Kuroda also wrote a sleazy little gem about super orgasm powers called Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid, and guess what:
So what you're saying is somebody's going to have a gun that fires golf balls so they can take down a 40-foot-tall lesbian golfer. Got it.
In the MCU (Madlax Cinematic Universe), it's not only possible; it's guaranteed.
Well that's one mystery solved. My next question is why Eve's golf girlfriend has personalized Pacman golf balls.
Because she's a golf genius, duh. Everyone knows Pacman balls fly farther. Any besides, I'm with Eve, in that I'm much more interested in the club she's packing.
You know it's not the first time I've seen the Obari Pose pulled out for a dick metaphor. But usually they're not quite that up front about it.
And Birdie Wing in general possesses all the subtlety of a 48-inch driver, so it's fitting.
Ah come on, it's plenty subtle.

Side note: I'm like 90% sure "Rainbow Bullet" is a model of vibrator that I've seen advertised underneath viral tweets.
As much as we may joke about it, the budding rivalry/romance between Eve and Aoi is legit one of the more compelling angles of the series. It's basically set them up as star-crossed lovers from two opposing walks of golf life, brought together by their compatible talents and desire to push both themselves and each other to greater heights. Plus, they're also like super gay.
Episode 5 is literally them having a zoom date playing Wii Sports Resort where one's a cyber catgirl maid and the other's Golf Char. If that's not modern romance I don't know what is.
It's also just super entertaining to watch Eve in particular practically writhe with lesbian angst whenever they're separated. Like she's cool and distant about everything else, but one thought of Aoi and she's all "hrrrnngggh girls."

Y'all ever spend twilight by the sea thinking about golf?

Literally the only thing straight about Eve is her putting style.
Incidentally, the second episode features this hole, and I'll let the readers figure out how Eve decides to tackle it.
Pour one out for Aoi's caddy. The only poor soul who hasn't realized what kind of show she's in.
If there's such a thing as golf sin, then Birdie Wing is definitely hell. In a good way tho.
There's also just a lot of regular sin here, as exemplified when Eve joins the Golf Mafia in order to play in the same tournament with Aoi.

Forgot to mention there's a good bit of Kakegurui DNA in here, what with the gambling and the faces and the tribadism.
Extremely. If you love terrible women, we've got 'em by the boatload here. Conniving capos, ruthless bosses, lackeys who shop at Hot Topic, snakes...

I especially love how we're introduced to Rose via her polishing her golf club like it's a pistol. She just really buys into the Golf-based Crime Family energy.
And if you're wondering what a Golf Crime is—besides the series en masse—it's shining a laser pointer in someone's eye and then posing like this. That's Golf Crime.
It also looks like this. I was always under the assumption golf tournaments had stuffy dress codes but apparently you can go right from a Lacuna Coil concert to the Back Nine with no hassle.
Well, it's not really about the clothes, in the end. It's the integrity of the game that's so important. Which is why Eve immediately gets dragged after the tournament to fix up a deadly mafia family feud. With golf.
Please, you're making it sound silly. This is a very serious underground golf game, which is why it's played on a giant modal course that can procedurally generate landscapes like something out of Tokyo-3.
Roguelike golf honestly sounds sick as hell, and I'm so pissed our stupid billionaires are obsessed with boring shit like hyperloops and tax fraud instead of making this real. Golf is already classist as hell, you guys might as well go all in and really burn some dough.
Seriously. I tried watching real-life golf with my grandfather when the Masters was happening last month. It was boring as shit. Just a bunch of guys in collard shirts doing fist pumps in a park. There wasn't a single snake-themed dominatrix there to spice things up.
That's fucking right. The episode with the literally underground golf hangar is the same episode that introduces Vipére, subtitled The Reaper. It's the crown jewel of the anime so far. Perhaps the crown jewel of the entire spring season.
It seriously is just a lost Kakegurui episode. The entire conflict hinges around Eve figuring out the trick to how Vipére is throwing her off her game, and the answer is, well:
It is a profound mystery, to be sure. Eve is really in hot water if she can't suss this out.
To be fair to Eve, she hasn't had her brain rotted by anime, so it's understandable she doesn't immediately jump to "weaponized coochie stank."
That's also why this episode rules so hard. Because it turns out that Vipére, despite the menacing mien, is actually a huge loser who everyone hates. Look at the expression on Rose's face the minute she walks her snake ass through the door, accompanied by loud thermin music. She is just immediately and utterly done with her shit.
I get it. It's fine to have your kinks but you've gotta be able to have a conversation that doesn't involve debt-enforced BDSM, lady.

Also for as fun and trashy this is, it does get a tiiiiny bit questionable when Eve is supposedly 15 at the oldest.
That is technically true, but like Kakegurui, the conceit of the show is far enough removed from anything resembling our reality that you probably won't have a problem taking it with a healthy dose of salt. It helps, too, that despite Vipére's inappropriate flirtations, Eve remains unfazed thanks to her colossal crush on Aoi.


Vipére simply does just suck at everything, and that's why I love her.
I hate it when I lose an underground yakuza golf competition and have to chauffeur a teenager to her date in my classic car. It sucks and happens far too often.
To draw yet another parallel with Sk8 the Infinity, she's basically the show's Shadow now, a two-bit antagonist now presumably doomed to escort the rest of the cast around for the rest of the runtime. And I couldn't be happier.
Sadly her tiddy sweat shenanigans wasted just enough time for Eve to miss her fated tee time with Aoi. Who responds with the most dramatic and passive aggressive message possible.
Nick, you can't show that and NOT the crying Pacman on the other side.
Just imagine Aoi drawing that little teardrop. "This'll show that hussy for playing with my heart!"
Again, an anime made by geniuses. Also, you know that scene where someone futilely chases after a train that's taking away somebody they care about? Well here's an infinitely better version of it.
On the one hand it's a beautifully stupid and romantic gesture on Eve's part. On the other, imagine that golf ball curving right into one of the engines and causing an emergency landing.
And that still wouldn't have been the most ridiculous thing to happen in that episode.
Maybe that'd be too dark, but something about the insanity of this show really encourages intrusive thoughts. Like how I can never hear the OP without thinking the opening line is saying "Penis Life."
Was about to call the OP a slapper but now I'm reconsidering my wording.
A banger, perhaps with mash.
I, for one, am very excited to see the limits of this show's insanity, if it has any. Like, I can't in good faith deny the possibility that Eve will have to pull an Alan Shepard and whack some tees on the moon. It's not that much of a leap from VR catgirl maid antics.
As amazing as the VR episode is, I am vaguely suspicious it's a backdoor advertisement for Bandai Namco's stupid(ly expensive) "Gundam Metaverse" project. Like, sorry guys. I'll buy gunpla but I'm not sinking a dime into doomed tech company pipe dreams no matter how many catgirls you say are in there.
Honestly I keep forgetting it's Bandai Namco because the opening credits trick me into thinking that B stands for something else.
I remember because they keep sneaking Gundam references in there. Like this guy who gets two lines but is named in the credits as "Amuro Reiya."

You'll never guess which famous Gundam VA they got for him.
Lol that owns. Guess I'll also have to look out for a future gimmick golf opponent who can hit a drive three times faster than Eve can. Assuming Eve survives the next episode, that is.
She IS still neck deep in the Golf Mob, so it's possible she'll have to disarm gangsters by hitting golf balls at their trigger fingers. At this point nothing's off the table for this show.
And I'd expect nothing less from the Madlax guy. Which isn't a sentence I would have typed a month ago, but here we are, and a golf anime is now my favorite show of the season. I love surprises, and especially when they're so deliriously, delectably dumb.
It's an extremely fun watch, and my only major concern is that it'll eventually run out of crazy ideas to make golf interesting. It's done a great job so far, but man can only fight entropy for so long. But so long as we keep up these postcard memories, I think we'll be good.
And if entropy does end up being a concern, then I think I can trust Birdie Wing to continue to pay the laws of physics no mind.
If there's anyone powerful enough to do it...

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