In the end, it turns out that participating in the anime Secret Santa project – now in it’s 14th year, started at Reverse Thieves and continued on the AGC podcast site – is the one thing that will pull me back, dust off the cobwebs, oil the gears a bit, and get me to write something here for my mostly anime with a little SF thrown-in blog The Null Set. I first participated 11 years ago in 2011 and I don’t know which part I enjoy more, the picking of anime for someone else to watch or discovering what new anime someone has chosen for me to watch. Over the years I’ve discovered a number of great anime from participating and I still haven’t been handed a lemon yet – will this year continue the trend?
Let’s find out.
Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story is a story about a young women, Eve, forced by circumstances to use her immense golfing talents to earn money in the underground golf scene until a chance meeting with a young female golf prodigy, Aoi, being groomed by her mother to take the professional golfing scene by storm changes both of their paths.
Thoughts and Impressions
As you probably know, each person that participates in the Secret Santa project is given three choices of what to watch and they are asked to review just one for this Secret Santa project. I like to start these reviews with a short explanation of how I picked what I picked to watch.
My three choices were:
Dirty Pair (TV)
Belladonna of Sadness
This was a very interesting set of choices. My eyes were immediately drawn to the first anime on the list. Birdie Wing was a 13 episode series from the Spring 2022 season. At one point, it would have been almost impossible to pick a show from the current year for me since I would watch a significant amount of the currently airing anime. Receiving a PS4 as a Christmas gift from Santa in time to play Kingdom Hearts 3 slowly reignited my love of console gaming which gradually ate more and more of the time I would have spent watching and blogging anime and now it’s pretty easy to find a recent series that I probably should have watched. Lycoris Recoil? Yeah, that’s one from summer that got away; but, I was in the middle of playing Yakuza: Like a Dragon and couldn’t tear myself away. I remember hearing some buzz about Birdy Wing when it aired, but, I wasn’t intrigued at the time enough to make the time. I considered Birdy Wing to be the safe choice of my choices.
Next is Dirty Pair, a 26 episode series from Summer 1985. I have seen short clips of this show used in the past for AMVs. I felt this would be a good time to watch it and would match the spirit of the Secret Santa project. And the last choice was a name that meant absolutely nothing to me – Belladonna of Sadness. It turns out to be an avant-garde anime film from 1973. I looked over my options, in early November, and decided I’d go with Dirty Pair and Belladonna of Sadness. Time passed as time does and suddenly it was the fourth week of Advent and in a panic I shifted to Birdie Wing.
So how was it?
That turns out to be more of a complicated question than I expected.
There are always outside factors that make an impact when watching a show. Watching Birdy Wing as it aired in the spring would have been a different experience than watching it over the course of a few days in December 2022. For starters, the shorter time spent means I have less time to reflect on each episode individually and to pick it apart in my head over the days as I wait for the next episode. Watching it in December meant it had to struggle for room against the strongest season of anime in years. One show in particular that never left my mind while watching Birdy Wing was the just finished airing Akiba Meido Sensou (Akiba Maid War). That anime took its unique premise and its female-heavy cast and went all out, pedal to the metal, and didn’t let up on the laughs, tears, and twists until the very end. In comparison, Birdy Wing felt too tame and timid to fully reach it’s potential.
Another complication is what I watched was really the first 13 episodes chopped off a longer series. There is no indication of this in the show’s title – I added the part 1 at the top for a more accurate title of the show. Birdy Wing makes no effort to pace the series and give even the slightest bit of closure or conclusion at episode 13; it stops just as the current story arc has begun to gain steam. It even ran the preview for episode 14 like it was going to air the following week and not in nine months. In the future, this won’t be a problem, people will be able to watch the complete story, for now, though, its awkward.
That said, yes, I liked Birdy Wing (Part 1). Eve’s no nonsense attitude and confidence keeps the character side of the show interesting and the golf action is fast-paced and interesting. This has been enough for 13 episodes.
The story being so incomplete makes it difficult to say if this show can continue to be a good show when the second half is shown. There are a few mysteries surrounding Eve that will need to be resolved. She’s only got a few years of memories, was able to pick up golf way too rapidly after her amnesia, was randomly trained by some super famous golf player, and she knows Japanese even though she lived in a slum in a foreign country. (The reveal that she knew Japanese was unintentionally funny because the anime showed her speaking Japanese while living in the slum, but, in world, that Japanese was actually English. When Eve got to Japan, she suddenly was talking English before realizing she understood the Japanese that was being spoken.)
I liked the original setting – the slum in the foreign country – and wish it had been extended to the full 13 episodes to give the people she was living with, the people she was playing underground golf for, some depth to their personalities. I’m also unsure about the move to Japan. On one hand, that will help explain how Eve and Aoi can stay together and be golf besties; on the other hand, moving the setting to Japan and putting Eve with Aoi in a special golf academy high school is kinda generic. On the other other hand, they spend like 15 minutes in actual school before the two of them start playing in this super important tournament.
The production values have been excellent; the animation, animation style and character design, music, backgrounds, OP/ED have all helped improve the enjoyment of the show. Eve’s voice actress is perfect for the role and I love that two of my favorite long time voice actresses have parts: Rina Satou and Yuu Kobayashi.
I am glad Birdy Wing was one of my picks and that I watched it. Thank you, Secret Santa. I know this review is a bit more negative sounding then how I felt about the show overall, but, the lack off a complete story stuck out to me since it was unexpected. Also, I feel like the show toned down the absurdities inherit in it’s premise because it still wanted to be taken seriously. This is a common mistake; it’s possible to be absurd and serious. Akiba Maid War is an anime example of this and the video game franchise Yakuza/Like a Dragon is another example.
Final Score: 8/12 B+
MAL Score: 7/10 – Good
Ending: -1/3 – Below Average
Production Values: 1/3 – Above Average
Rewatchablity: to be determined
Recommended? – Yes … tentatively. As long as the second half of the season doesn’t implode, I would recommend this.
You Might Also Like: Taishou Yakyuu Musume. (Taisho Baseball Girls), Bamboo Blade, Girls & Panzer, Chihayafuru, Carole & Tuesday, Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru (Run with the Wind), Princess Principal, Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight, Senki Zesshou Symphogear, Paripi Koumei (Ya Boy Kongming! ), Akiba Meido Sensou (Akiba Maid War)
And to all my readers, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!