Faced with the daunting task of living up to the absurdly fun standard set by its opening salvo of souped-up shots against good taste, Birdie Wing‘s fourth episode follows through with the most unhinged exultation of trashy lesbian camp I’ve seen from an anime in years. Not since Kakegurui have such weird women preened and pined for each other with such open abandon amidst such spectacularly convoluted competitions. Eve drives her Blue Bullet straight through my skyscraper-sized expectations, and all I can do is watch that ball disappear into the stratosphere. I have no grasp on what Birdie Wing‘s ceiling for ridiculousness is anymore, and I’m okay with that. I am free, unladen, and head over heels for this stupid anime.
Where do I even start? I’d need to do a meticulous play-by-play to detail everything about this episode that whips ass, so I have to limit myself to highlighting certain key factors. And the biggest one, volume-wise, is our venue of the week: a mob-operated subterranean modular golf course used by Catherine to resolve mafia disputes. Just let that sentence soak into your brain’s crevices for a moment. It’s literally underground golf. Through concept alone, it’s an exquisite escalation of Birdie Wing‘s absurdity, but the presentation pushes it ever further over the edge. Rose escorts the blindfolded Eve down via a long, gawdy elevator ride. The anime then spends a lot of time on the transformation process, detailing it with the scale and mechanical precision of a giant robot launchpad. And meanwhile, an unfazed Eve just keeps quipping about the excesses of the filthy rich. Her no-nonsense and cavalier attitude are so integral to the series’ success. She’s its deadpan face, and she only makes every situation even funnier. She couldn’t care less about the multi-billion-dollar engineering marvel in front of her. She just wants to golf, goddammit.
Her opponent, Vipére (subtitled “The Reaper” for extra extraness), is perfect. Zero notes. She looks like she should be hosting a public access Halloween special. She walks through the door and a theremin starts playing. She comes onto every single woman in line of sight, and they all instinctively groan at her shit. She has a custom ball with a snake printed on it. She speaks like she’s constantly on the verge of orgasming. She’s the terror of the illegal golf scene, and she’s the biggest loser we’ve seen yet. I love Vipére. I half-expected her to start wriggling on the ground and hissing at people. If Birdie Wing leaned any sillier or any more serious, then she could have easily been too insufferable or yucky. However, because the anime hits this sweet spot of perpetually po-faced audacity, Vipére’s over-the-top villain shtick wraps around to endearing. It’s only episode four, after all; she’s just here to ogle hilariously at Eve and put a few stumbling blocks in her way.
Granted, they’re strange and very silly stumbling blocks. The high stakes of the outcome melt away in the face of the match itself, which progresses from head-scratching to absolute, beautiful nonsense. The world’s first roguelike golf course is one thing, but Vipére’s gimmick is an entirely different beast. Birdie Wing makes it easy to tell that Vipére unzipping her jacket has something to do with Eve’s sudden case of the yips, which is enough to let the audience’s imagination run wild with possibilities. I considered everything up to and including magic crotch stank, but the answer still surprised me with its stupidity. I mean, I wasn’t far off—a mysterious poison inhalant that does nothing but throw you a little bit off your golf game might as well be magic. The pièce de resistance, though, is the narrative’s brazen refusal to explain itself further. It’s golf JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. We have no choice but to accept the mystery of Vipére’s smelly belly button.
Eve’s motivating factor through all this is yet another promised rematch with Aoi. We see the explanation for Rose’s supervillain pose at the end of the third episode—she deliberately sabotaged the final putt—but Aoi isn’t upset. Rather, she jumps at the chance to cross clubs with Eve yet again, and Eve returns the affection in kind. These girls have it bad for each other. Eve reminisces wistfully against a stunning seaside sunset. Aoi is too excited to sleep. Hell, Eve dismisses Vipére’s flirtations by explicitly saying that Aoi’s name is already inscribed in her heart, coupled with an immediate cut to her glowing mental image of her rival. These are real disaster lesbian hours. Even if the series is only utilizing these romantic tropes to add further layers onto its sports narrative, that doesn’t make it any less gay.
And those layers are working! Look no further than the sizzling melodrama of the ending. The race against time! The heartbreak! The thought of Aoi pulling out a blue Sharpie to scribble a lone tear on Pac-Man‘s terrifying rictus grin! At every moment, Birdie Wing gives 110% of itself to sell the sincerity of their star-crossed feelings for each other. Eve pours her regret in a golf ball and hits it hard enough to catch up to Aoi’s departing plane. This is feasible if you compare record golf ball speeds (~230 mph) with plane take off speeds (~170mph) and disregard everything else to do with physics, but what is that if not the Birdie Wing way? I can’t wait to see where this show goes from here, because this episode was already basically perfect.
Addendum: Did you know there’s a Madlax cinematic universe, and did you know Birdie Wing takes place in it? Well there is, and it does, because both anime feature the fictional country of Nafrece. Now, boring people might argue the reasonable explanation is that both shows were written by Yousuke Kurodawho also threw a Nafrece mention into Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid at one point, so it’s probably just a go-to fake nation name for him. However, it’s much funnier to imagine all three stories taking place in the same universe, so that’s what I choose to believe. And considering the heights of ridiculousness those other two anime reached (Valkyrie Drive in particular is a fun collection of unhinged yuri sleaze), I think it’s fair to conclude that Kuroda’s writing has a lot to do with what makes Birdie Wing feel so special and stupefying. He may have quite the diverse resume, but his hits sure can hit.
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.