Episode 13 – Birdie Wing -Golf Girls’ Story-

In case you missed the sole morsel of good news to grace our society this past week, Birdie Wing will indeed be returning in January with a second season. I mention this up front for two reasons: it’s a blessing deserving of the most joyous of canticles, and it helps calibrate expectations for this week’s episode. It’s a season finale in name only, going about its typically bonkers Birdie Wing business without any concern for placing a punctuation mark on the end of part one. In a sense, it’s relieving. This means the showrunners always planned to have a second courses and thus wrote the show with that in mind. We even get a normal episode preview despite the incoming six-month gap. But it also means there’s no heart-racing cliffhanger or explosive developments to whet our appetite for part two—unless, of course, you count Aoi and Eve flirting harder than ever before.

Birdie Wing He tells the opening act of the doubles tournament in an intelligently truncated fashion. We already know who the big players are thanks to the past several weeks of buildup, so there’s no need to focus too much attention on the early fodder. Rather, the show uses this time to show us that, despite their reality-bending level of talent, Eve and Aoi are far from infallible. They’re winning handily, but they’re making mistakes that will cost them if they play that way against Koran or Nada. While that’s typical tournament arc fare, it’s made that much better with the knowledge that these rival high school girls are even scarier golfers than the mafia-affiliated ones. That’s the correct way to scale power levels.

This episode is most intriguing, however, when it steps away from the young pups in the competition and starts peeling layers away from the adults’ backstory and motivations. They’re every bit as melodramatic as anything else in Birdie Wing, with impending deaths, power-hungry CEOs, legendary golfers, and drunkard coaches peppering the cast. Eve and Aoi’s story right now is an extension of these past conflicts and current grudges. Eve’s carrying on Golf Char’s frightful legacy whether she wants to or not, while Aoi sees her father in Mizuho’s carefully prepared form. Winning this tournament will require both of them to confront the specters of the father figures, who each remain veiled by a thick curtain of mystery. This tiered, multi-generational storytelling tack is a smart, time-tested way to flesh out characters and their narrative (Evangelion is a great example), and it’ll help set up whatever’s in store for the next arc as well.

But that’s enough about stodgy old fogies and the problems they inexorably foist upon the next generation. Let’s talk about what really matters: Eve and Aoi being cute idiots together. The opening is a perfect example, with Eve planting a peck on Aoi’s cheek and playing it off like it’s a normal Nafrecian custom (Nafrece, recall, is a stand-in for France). In truth, Eve knows exactly what she’s doing, and she’s just a demon who loves watching Aoi squirm. What is that if not the definition of true love? Their rapport on the green is similarly great, as they drive each other to golf better and goof off in equal measure, much to consternation of their caddies. These growing pains, however, are the whole reason for tournament arcs. They’re learning how to be partners. If it takes wagering hamburgers and kisses, then that’s just the cost of doing business, and by business, I mean flustering your golf girlfriend to high heaven.

There’s not much else to comment on this week, aside from taking a moment to appreciate the individual things Birdie Wing has done consistently well throughout the season. The writing is obviously the star here. Yosuke Kuroda lovingly embraces all the absurdities of these characters and their world, and he embroils them in deceptively complicated conflicts while peppering the proceedings with plenty of snappy humor and playful genre affects. Both he and the entire cast have a lot of fun with the script, and it shows. Director Takayuki Inagaki deserves a lot of credit too, stretching the modest production values ​​with eye-catching (and sometimes hilarious) postcard memories and enough dynamism in framing to complement the over-the-top flair of the writing. He also storyboarded all but the last two episodes by himself, which is no small feat. The soundtrack by Hironori Anazawa and Kotaro Nakagawa, meanwhile, is probably the most unsung hero, or at least I wish I had taken more time to highlight it previously. Those bright, jazzy horns have become iconic. The character design from Kei Ajiki works extremely well too, from the gaudy serpentine clownshow that is my beloved Vipère, to the more mundane yet all the more frightening menace that emanates from Mizuho. Sometimes, Birdie Wing Feels like an anime displaced by a few decades, but if so, that only means it has sturdy bones that have weathered the slings and arrows of the industry.

Before the spring season commenced, I certainly didn’t foresee being blown away by a cult classic in the making about high tension aboveboard and under-the-table golf girl shenanigans, yet here I am, thirteen weeks of slack-jawed disbelief later. While the premiere alone convinced me of Birdie Wing‘s quality and potential, there was no way to know whether or not that opening drive would sustain enough momentum to carry an entire courses‘ worth of fairway fracases. Well, now I know, and I can’t wait to see how high Eve’s Blue Bullet takes us in six months. See you on the back nine! Or back thirteen. Or however many more episodes we’re blessed with.

Rating: Birdie

Cumulative score: -15


Birdie Wing -Golf Girls’ Story- is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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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