Episode 9 – Birdie Wing -Golf Girls’ Story-

As Eve narrowly slips through the sharp talons of the underground golf mafia, Birdie Wing Its gaze turns into another equally distressing drama unfolding on the opposite side of the planet: an aspiring caddy sleeping through her alarm. This episode is, by necessity, a recalibration of the series’ golf antics, because we now have to transition into a completely different setting with new characters and new ambitions. In a sense, this is the first major hazard on the show’s course—the gaping, sandy maw of a bunker threatening to stymie all of Birdie Wing‘s madcap momentum. And to continue the insufferable golf metaphor, the anime gracefully soars over it and lands on the fairway, ready for the next stroke to come.

Centering the episode around Ichina turns out to be a smart move. We’ve caught some scant glances of Raoui Girls Academy before, but we really needed someone to guide us (and Eve) through it, assuming we’re going to be spending most of the upcoming arc here. To that end, Birdie Wing does a neat and economical job of acclimating us to the basics and laying the foundation for these characters. Ichina is a caddy-in-training whose ambitions outweigh her status (and sleep schedule). Haruka is a hot-headed upstart with a chip on her shoulder and something to prove. Kinue is the cool club president currently held back by an arm injury. Reiya Amuro is the guy with Amuro Ray’s voice. These are all archetypal character outlines, but that familiarity frees Birdie Wing from some of the burdens of exposition and allows it to devote more time to what really matters: freaky golf.

I’m also personally very amused that Ichina’s life plan is attending a prestigious private girls’ golf academy NOT to learn how to golf, but in order to become a world-class professional caddy. My ignorance may be showing here (I don’t know anything about the profession that wasn’t covered by the documentary Caddyshack), because while I genuinely have no idea how one even becomes a professional caddy, I don’t think caddying is a major you can choose in university. And I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a kid who wanted nothing more but to grow up holding a heavy bag on a sun-soaked field all hours of the day. Kids usually want to be astronauts and stuff. That, however, is what makes Birdie Wing so fun to watch, and that’s why Ichina fits right in with the rest of this motley crew of golf fanatics.

It makes Ichina’s interactions with Eve a lot more fun too. Here we have a serious student about her caddy studies—serious enough to criticize Amane’s decisions—and she pairs herself up with a golfer who barely acknowledges that there are more than three clubs you can use in regulated play. They’re oil and water. Girls, however, just can’t seem to keep their hands off Eve, and Ichina is no exception, immediately falling visor over cleats for the blonde bombshell and her Blue Bullets. And since this arc will presumably be about Eve further honing her game in order to approach the apocalyptic levels alluded to by Golf Char, Ichina seems like the perfect partner to guide her there. If Eve’s been able to get this far with brute strength alone, imagine what a modicum of tactical thinking will do for her.

Eve and Ichina are also responsible for my favorite scene in the whole episode, when Eve suddenly realizes she can speak and understand Japanese perfectly. Every part of this conversation adds up to quintessential Birdie Wing. Obviously, this has something to do with Eve’s ~mysterious amnesia~, and more obviously, this is just a convenient narrative handwave so the rest of the arc can proceed without worrying about a language barrier. But the way this conversation unfolds is peak Birdie Wing. It’s so quick and so deadpan, and it’s perfectly attuned to the precise weirdness of these characters. A normal person would question the instantaneous acquisition of fluency in a foreign language. However, because this has nothing to do with golf, these people simply do not care enough to interrogate it any further. This isn’t stupid or lazy writing; this is ideal worldbuilding, and I’m not joking. If the characters in the story don’t have a reason to care about it, then it doesn’t matter. That’s why Birdie Wing has the biggest brain out of all currently airing anime.

What does matter, of course, is psychologically steamrolling your opponent by hitting a tiny dimpled resin ball with all your strength. And after all the illegal and roguelike shenanigans, it’s refreshing to see Eve go up against a normal golfer on a normal course again and utterly destroy her. Not to harp on this point too much, but this only works because Birdie Wing has established a universe that lives and breathes nothing but golf, so Eve’s Rainbow Bullet techniques are not just unusual; they’re blasphemy. Haruka is like an ant trying to comprehend Finnegans Wake. She doesn’t even a single rung to hold onto, let alone an entire ladder to climb. It’s both hilarious and a little haunting to witness, and I can’t wait to see the more formidable challenges Raou Academy will surely throw at Eve’s feet next.

For now, the episode ends on a joyous note, with Eve and Aoi finally reunited and ready to exchange their vows at the 18th hole. Aoi’s lovesick giddiness and Eve’s stiff awkwardness make for a very cute and funny combination. These golf girlfriends aren’t exactly what you’d call normal people, so neither of them really knows what to do now that they’re actually together. Eve still has a lot on her mind too, with Klein, Lily, and the adorable orphans never far from her thoughts. It’s enough to make a person propose a sports showdown in the nude and then officially matriculate into an esteemed private academy despite having no educational history beyond an intense golf crucible overseen by a mysterious scarred gentleman. I’m sure it’ll be fine, though. If Birdie Wing has taught me anything, it’s that all things are possible if you whack a ball hard enough.

Rating: Par

Cumulative score: -12

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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