Episode 5 – Birdie Wing -Golf Girls’ Story-

Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but does it make the golf balls fly yonder? Birdie Wing seeks to answer that question in its fifth chapter, which sees our star-crossed golfers visibly and verbally aching with the pangs of longing. It’s a tamer episode than last week’s—almost by necessity—but what it lacks in links-related extravagance it more than makes up for with old-fashioned angst and new-fashioned virtual reality catgirls. In other words, it is indubitably still Birdie Wingand that’s a very good thing.

Aoi’s return home is marked by two things: the heat of her fiery zeal for Eve, and how much everyone else wants her to shut up about Eve. Her interactions with Shinjo, her classmates, and her mother all reinforce the idea that Aoi is golf royalty, reared to rule the game with an iron fist wrapped around a nine iron. To Aoi’s peers and caretakers, Eve is just an obstacle in the way of that—either a pebble underneath the red carpet, or a criminal lowlife not even fit to lick Aoi’s cleats. I didn’t use the term “star-crossed” lightly in the introductory paragraph, because Birdie Wing is absolutely setting up some Shakespearean drama around the concept of “marrying” outside golf nobility. In terms of, Aoi’s fervor for her boisterous blonde rival remains unfazed and stalwartly romantic.

Eve, on the other hand, is in much worse spirits. She believes she’s lost her chance to ever again cross clubs with Aoi’s 48-inch ball whacker. While her rematch against Kevin lacks the pizzazz of last week’s duel with Vipére, Birdie Wing doesn’t let the melodrama dull a single iota. This is where the show’s deliberateness really shines. Unintentional absurdity can be fun, but direct, weaponized absurdity can be the most powerful tool in any anime’s toolbox. For example, look at how much this scene ramps up the Dezaki postcard memories. We get like three in the span of a minute. Also, consider the way Eve recapitulates her infamous “I’m just hitting a ball with a stick” line from the premiere. The first time around, it was a hilariously deadpan encapsulation of the show’s schtick, but this time, its tone is infused with the pathos of longing. And it works! That doesn’t happen by accident. Birdie Wing is an intentional barrage of high-octane girl-on-girl golf ridiculousness, and it owns.

Here, I’ll give you another example of the show’s writing being genuinely clever. Given the episode title/preview, I was wondering when and how VR would factor in, and sure enough, Clara brings it up with a left-field mid-dialogue interjection. It was awkward enough that I made to note to comment on it as another example of Birdie Wing being weird (in an enjoyable way, of course). However, we then find out that Rose paid her to plant the VR seed in Eve’s head, so the length and awkwardness of the conversation is fully explained by Clara’s uneasiness regarding Rose’s motivations. Not only that, Rose’s game of 4D illegal golf chess is a far weirder and more delightful explanation than clumsy writing. It’s controlled chaos.

Unsurprisingly, Birdie Wing becomes more playful once it enters virtual reality. Again, it’s difficult to top last week’s roguelike course, but this situation makes use of similar charms. Eve is once again surly and uninterested in any of the technological advances or accoutrement. She only has two braincells, to be fair; one is devoted to smacking a tiny dimpled resin-coated sphere as far as humanly possible, while the other watches memories of Aoi’s smile on repeat. This, however, leaves her open to the VR attendant’s passive-aggressive payback, decking her uncooperative patron out in priceless catgirl maid drip, complete with a working tail. The gap moe is real. Eve’s look is only outdone by Aoi’s incognito masquerade-style Char cosplay. Because if Zeta Gundam taught us anything, it’s that Char is a role model when it comes to adeptly concealing one’s identity.

Eve and Aoi’s reunion is a short putt when it comes to the golf hijinks, but it’s a 400-yard drive when it comes to the golf yuri. There’s no need to dig into the dialogue. Just look at the literally glowing framing of Aoi as she turns to reveal herself to her estranged partner. I mean, every romance film has the shot where the protagonist identifies their lover by the unnatural length of their driver. Then there’s the speed with which Aoi forgives Eve so the two can get down to hole business. They don’t even care that they were set up by a shady third party, because they’re that excited to see each other. There’s also the hilarious juxtaposition of Aoi’s mom convincing herself that some lowly mafia-affiliated golfer could never corrupt her daughter, while the anime immediately cuts to the girls in the throes of golf ecstasy. The cherry on top is the post-credits scene, with the two lying panting on the fairground like they just had a roll in the rough. The series’ tongue has gone completely through its cheek at this point, and I’m happy for these little golfing lesbians. There’s still not much depth to either of them as characters, but Birdie Wing has managed to make their against-all-odds relationship/rivlary a core part of its appeal.

I could write another several paragraphs on the next episode preview alone, but I’ll just save that material for the following week. Suffice to say, I am beyond delighted that Vipére will be a returning character. It’s everything she deserves. There are plenty of other things big and small in this episode that I could wax on about too. For instance, not only do we learn that Lily is the one who’s been painting the rainbow wings on Eve’s custom balls, but this revelation also comes alongside a cameo from Turn A Gundam‘s very own mustachioed mech. Birdie Wing didn’t have to use its blatant Bandai Nameco branding to reference my favorite Gundam series, but it did, and I thank it for that.

Oh, and I’m going to start rating these episodes with golf scores, because you can’t stop me. I’ll also keep a running tally, assuming every episode is a par 4. So retroactively, episode 1 is an eagle, episode 2 is a birdie, episode 3 is a birdie, and episode 4 is a hole in one.

Rating: Birdie

Cumulative score: -8

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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