Birdy the Mighty: Decode 2 - Reviews

Alt title: Tetsuwan Birdy: Decode 2

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ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
Apr 14, 2012

This review covers the original OVAs and both the remade seasons of the show. I’m too bored to write three different ones.

So Birdy is one of the thousands of “simple conceived, nicely made” stories of the 80’s. Back then all you needed were two lines of a plot and three lines of a backdrop. All the rest were up to presentation, which since there was no internet around yet, meant trying hard to make it look good without taking pointers by the rabid fandom. And here is Birdy, the simple tale of an intergalactic bounty hunter chick living inside a dork, searching for alien threats on Earth.

Being the annoying prick I am, I constantly try to find comparisons to every show I watch. Birdy felt to me like Men in Black meets Cutey Honey and throwing a few Urusei Yatsura aesthetics in the pot. If you like any of those three shows, it will make this one a better watch.

I will begin with a warning about the overall feeling. It is not a show for children or the weak hearted. It has a rather high amount of nude and occasionally really gory and bloody scenes, children are brutally beaten, heads are ripped off and hundreds of innocents are wiped out in an instant. Sadistic in an entertaining way but not something for everyone. It is a show full of talking about death and sadness so if it ain’t your cup, don’t even bother.

… Still here? Ok, let’s move on.

Animation and music are quite good in this one. The characters look and talk lively and backgrounds have a high amount of detail. Alien sceneries are marvelous to stare at and fighting scenes have a wonderful choreography. Voice acting and soundtrack are great, especially in the second season.

If I am to be negative here, that would be in the quality drops throughout the series. In the original OVA show, the animation was throughout the duration quite solid and the action scenes equally good. What felt bad there were the hand colored graphics and the fake visual effects, all caused by technology restraints of that time. The first season of the remake has far better visuals and special effects but on the other hand the amount of still frames is much higher and the artwork more blubbery. That becomes even more of an issue in the major battles of the second season, where everything loses drawing detail in favor of frenetic speed. From time to time the characters will look weird, with distorted facial features and bulky hands. The result is like watching a different show, way minimalistic. Some may see this as an artistic overtone but I don’t; it’s clearly an attempt to cut down expenses during the fights.

These are the reasons I can’t give more than 8 in any of the three segments. Otherwise the visual part is overall great. Birdy looks sexy and dynamic enough to win you over, the aliens are creepy, the battles are great.

The sound part is clearly improving with each segment. The OVA show had mediocre and passable pop/midi BGM and soundtrack. The first season of the remake had more funky beats, while the second season has a wonderful set of tunes, worthy of even buying the cd. Adding to that the much more serious story and heavy dialogues of the second season and you got an easy winner.
The scores for music are OVA: 6, S1: 7, S2: 9

The story part is, um, well, a messy one. It has many nice ideas but most are hardly presented properly. If you don’t mind huge bulks of naivety in your scenarios, this will be ok. But if (like me) you do then it’s mostly bad news.

The story and the cast are about a bounty hunter girl accidentally killing an indecisive dork while hunting aliens on Earth. She decides to share her body with him, switching forms every time it is necessary. So our blunt male archetype needs to study for exams as a guy during the day and hunt alien freaks as a girl during the nights… well that was the plan but the switch can happen without time restrictions. As funny or weird as it sounds, it is shown in a very light and superficial way.

The OVA show was too short to try being too complicating. It focused a lot on the action and the main cooperation of sexy Birdy and that blunt idiot that is Tsutomu. It hardly had any interesting plot twists and it was mostly Tsutomu trying to pass the exams and deal with a possible romantic relationship while Birdy is taking out generic villains who want to take over the galaxy TM. The first season improved a lot the story by giving the villains a more defined personality and a doomsday devise that is NOT prevented in time. Another nice touch is how Birdy is now having a secret identity as a teen idol (and a thing or erotic fascination by teen males) while Tsutomu, still blunt as always, has a lot more friends with personality to affect the actions of his messy school life. Unfortunately, the pacing was way too slow and the key events too few to deserve 13 episodes, resulting to a more interesting story-wise but more boring plot-wise watch. The second season again did leaps to improve the formula by offering an in-depth look into Birdy’s past, where we get to see a lot of her troubled life on her alien planet … which was full of animal-like aliens and girls wearing skimpy outfits, so it strongly reminded me of Urusei Yatsura. Also, more of her old friends and enemies appear which help to colorize her personality to great heights, while that archetype that is Tsutomu has slight development while his friends need to get over the tragedy of the first season’s finale. Also, the dementia, action and gore aspects of this season are high enough to get a 15+ age advisory.

Still, in both versions the finale is not concrete as there are clearly openings for a sequel. The main villain or key characters are still roaming around and the issue of living separately is still at large.
The scores I give for Story and Characters are OVA: 6, S1: 6, S2: 8

Overall, Birdy is an entertaining watch if your expectations are not too high. The OVA version has a smooth yet simple plot with a lot of action and some comedy. The series version is definitely complicating and multi-layered, yet the first season is so boring, it will be hard to appreciate the greatness of the sequel. If the pacing was faster right away and the story was not left incomplete, we would have a masterpiece in our hands.

Scores by category:
OVA: 8 6 6 6 3 6 (5.8)
S1: 8 7 6 6 4 5 (6.0)
S2: 8 9 8 8 7 8 (8.0)

8/10 story
8/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
PlatapusSpasmAK47's avatar
Nov 22, 2009

Plot:

Usually sequals tend to be worse than the originals, but, Birdy the second season manages to flip that theory compeletly upside down.

The sequal focuses much more on Birdy. Tsutomu probably appeared for a full fifteen minutes (or less) if you combined all the scenes where he was in. The main focus is probably Birdy's relationship with Nataru and their pasts, and this time, there is no "saving the world" thing going on. It's on a much smaller scale when it comes to that. Of course, there still are "bad guys" although, you start having doubts on how evil they are as the series progresses.

What I really liked about this series was that action moments were interwoven with slice of life elements. They both complemented each other. Their purpose for fighting expanded their character dementions and left you on the edge of your seat. Characters were shown that had little to do with the series, but still showed how they were living on after the drastic destruction that took place in the first series.

Animation:

It can get weird at points, but other than that, it is nothing short of astounding. The fight sequences, the scenery, all of it is breath taking. You should definitely watch at least a trailer of Birdy, just to see how amazing the animation is.

Sound:

The soundtrack is significantly better in the second season of Birdy, even though it was also very good in the last one. I actually have the soundtrack on my iPod, that's how amazing it is. It fits very nice with the story and scenery and sets the right tone that evokes emotions more powerfully.

Characters:

Birdy really comes out in this series. A lot is revealed about her and her personality, and the relationship she establishes with Nataru, is a delight to watch. Almost all of the characters you meet are memorable, and sometimes confusing (you'll see what I mean if you watch the series). There are twists on the characters personalities that lead you to second guess them.

Overall:

Watch it. It's another one of my favorite series, and I'll probably go back and watch it in the future. It's series like these that don't make me lose faith in anime. It gives me hope that there are still gems amidst the over abundant modern crap, wating to be found.

9/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
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Grospoliner's avatar
Feb 12, 2014

Decode 2 is a direct continuation the first season and picks up after the events in the Tokyo Bay area that resulted in widespread death and destruction. The series opens with the capture and subsequent breakout of the terrorist group responsible for the Ryunka's theft. After a violent escape by the terrorists, Birdy is contacted by the Federation and informed that the terrorists are now in hiding on Earth and is ordered to apprehend them.

The second series delves more Birdy's past and the geopolitics of an interstellar community, as members of the Altaran species have been discriminated against for supposed terrorist actions they comitted against the Federation. Matters are complicated when one of the terrorists turns up dead, setting her on a course that will bring her face to face with her past.

Despite the violence of the opening and the mature overtones of the subject matter, Decode 2 tries to maintain light harted appeal, interspersing action and intrigue while mainting the comedy and drama of an everyday life of two very different individuals. While not a major hindrence to the overall story, some of the transitions between segments give the series something of a disjointed feel in its tone and bogs down the progression of the story.

The animation in the second season suffers in both detail and quality, with some action sequences becoming colorful smears of surrealist art and confusion.

The story preceeds rather predictibly throughout the second and third acts, with the original plot thread carried over from the first season (namely that of Segawa returning to normalcy) ultimately becoming buried in favor of the pursuit of examining Birdy's past and the hunt for the terrorists. The unfortunately leaves the ending completely open, with what we can only assume will be a third season.

7/10 story
3/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
6/10 overall
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ReviewBonfire's avatar
Sep 30, 2021

Tetsuwan Birdy Decode:02


As time goes by, you notice more and more which anime "Darling in the Franxx" was inspired by. And this is another one of them, as far as the second season is concerned.

This season hangs right on the heels of the last episode, including the Ova and follows the new events from season 1 with a pretty fast pace, especially at the beginning.

Honestly, I had high hopes for this season as it got off to a pretty solid start and possessed a pretty interesting implementation and portrayal of the vigilante theme.
Together with the new third protagonist of this season around which the story revolved, this was on the whole an interesting plot. Unfortunately, until about episode 8, everything after that was boring, stretched out, and covered with an absurdly stupid finale. Seriously? Of all the things you could have done, you chose this paradoxical decision? And then with such a bad implementation and explanation? That was even more of a failure at the end than "Mirai Nikki".
Of course, this spoiled the whole positive build-up of the season, although I would have liked to say that this season was better than the first. It was superior in terms of faster pacing, better writing, and characters.

Story [5]

And here's where another problem has been. The entire story arc was only connected to revenge, on the masterminds of the first season. Otherwise, it dealt with nothing more than the various ambitions of the characters. But thanks to the much better execution than in season 1, this had been presented very creatively.

Unfortunately, the finale to which everything boiled down was quite a disappointment. "Time" is a dangerous topic, especially if you can't properly implement it in the plot. Because of this poor approach, everything that was built up for this finale was naturally ruined.

Characters [6]

Honestly, this surprises me, but I couldn't give this season fewer points. Not only did we see a very understandable presentation of revenge and vigilante justice. But also many character conflicts and developments, especially between the finale of the first season and the transition to this one.

The protagonist learned and developed through his mistakes so he could help Birdy with the same problems. Kind of ironic, isn't it? First, he was the problem child who couldn't accept the truth and wasn't aware of his feelings and now the roles have reversed.

The antagonists this season have unfortunately been very empty and had almost no screentime nor real ambition. The only thing they had was a hateful personality so that you would feel a "good feeling" as soon as their karma reached them.

My favorite this season, however, was a new character that everything revolved around. His calm yet impulsive personality and a strong quest for justice made him completely understandable and relatable.

Animation [6]

Predominantly subtle in the day-to-day and increasing in the action. This dynamic style of animation is atrocious in terms of detail, all you see are stone blocks flying around and characters playing Twister. However, they have been very suitable for larger stage changes in the battle scenario, as well as the choreography of the fights.


Music [6]

The intro...I kept having Darling in the Franxx flashbacks, help?
It was musically satisfying, as well as visually. On the whole, neither an earworm nor a major recognition value is present, just as with the outro.

Only a few osts have been stimulating and interesting.

Conclusion

I don't know the manga, but after a quick check, I noticed that there are significant differences between the manga and the anime already at the beginning. Therefore, it could be that the flaws in the work are "Anime Only". Unfortunately, I won't know and since this season has an open and unfinished ending, it will probably be the same for many.

It was a decent anime for in between, which had good approach but failed in a meaningful implementation.


Enjoyment - 5]

5/10 story
6/10 animation
6/10 sound
6/10 characters
5.5/10 overall
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TheAnimeGuardians's avatar
Jan 6, 2012


A name carries a lot of weight. The proper name to this second season is in fact Birdy the Mighty: Decode 02 and not Birdy the Mighty: Decode, Season Two, as if to suggest that this is a newer model, a better version than the last. That is exactly what Decode 02 is. If the first season did a decent job of introducing us to the Birdy the Mighty universe at large, Decode 02 zooms in on the personal affairs of our female protagonist Birdy and creates a visual vignette where memories are as vicarious for the viewer as they are for the show's characters. Decode 02 pushed the series to a TV-MA rating, in contrast to the first season's TV-14 rating, but does so because every act of violence aids in expressing the ruthlessness of the villains and the agony felt by our central characters. This season is an entirely different animal from its predecessor.

Some of Decode 02's many cast members.

    

Story

     Nataru, an old friend of Birdy's, has been hiding on Earth for fourteen years with his father; they fled their home planet after an Altan terrorist group bombed the Central Tower government building, elevating an already present hatred for Altans to an all-time high. But life on Earth was lovely; humans look like Altans, so there was no fear of discrimination. When the Ryunka attack occurred, Nataru was dining with a close friend. While Nataru managed to survive the blast, everyone else around him, including his friend, dissolved into crystalline dust.


Birdy, meanwhile, has been recently assigned to a special mission. It seems that the group responsible for sending the Ryunka to Earth with Geega has escaped their prison transport ship and fled for Earth themselves. Birdy must apprehend these escapees and return them to the Federation Police. At this point she isn't aware of Nataru's presence on Earth; even worse is the fact that Nataru's father has been blackmailed into aiding the escapees, lest his history with the terrorist group that bombed the Central Tower be exposed.

Once Nataru catches wind of his father's aiding the escapees, he is confused and enraged. But Nataru has recently discovered that he's a special class of Altan, bred for combat as Birdy was. This was why he survived the Ryunka blast, and with such new found power, he has but one goal on his mind: to avenge those that were lost...

 Evidence of the Ryunka's power.

The first season ends with Tsutomu and Birdy eliminating the Ryunka threat and saving the planet from extinction. The second season has no such cataclysm in store for us. Instead, we are shown the after-effects of the tragedy, from the view of the many homeless refugees and our central cast.  It's an interesting alternative to what could have been another save-the-world scenario, which isn't a bad model in any way but would have certainly been expected . The writers surely realized that a science-fiction fantasy shouldn't be exempt from real-world consequences. When cataclysms occur people are scarred, some more than others. Cities don't revert to pre-tragedy status overnight, and some cities take forever to recover. The decision to show people going on with their lives in spite of hardships is a very mature and humble one on the part of the writers, vaguely harkening back to an old Italian Neo-Realist film tradition.

    

 Characters

     Its not easy having two protagonists occupy the same body. The first season was clearly about Tsutomu's life being interrupted by Birdy's need to find the Ryunka. He found it difficult to cope with her insensitivity to his needs; his feelings were justified considering she ripped his original body to shreds and had to let him borrow hers. Decode 02 reverses this entirely and makes Tsutomu almost obsolete. He is reduced to an annoying voice inside of Birdy's head who constantly reminds the viewing audience of things we already know, such as, "You're in love with Nataru, aren't you, Birdy?" or, "I think Nataru might have something to do with the murder of the escapees." In general, Tsutomu was a pretty normal teenager, and such 'ordinary-ness' is why he couldn't be of much use in a story that wasn't about him at all. He did have his moments, of course, but they existed only when Birdy was in distress and Tsutomu's sole role was to restore her centrality.

Birdy, on the other hand, proves to be more complex than the first season suggested. For much of Decode 02 she is haunted by the Central Tower incident because that is when she lost her caretaker, an android named Violin. Birdy remembers Violin as a child remembers a loving mother, but we are told that her memories are contrived and that Violin couldn't have been too nurturing because of the simple fact that she was not designed that way. But isn't that how memory truly works? We believe what we want to believe. As Birdy remembers the Central Tower incident, she asks Tsutomu if it is foolish to believe Violet gave her life to protect her that day. As a viewer, it is hard to disagree with that notion.

  Nataru and Birdy.

As far as central characters go, Nataru was handled pretty well. His motivations are clear and multi-faceted. The escapees, who are technically the villains in this story, are instead Nataru's victims as he brutally murders them one by one. He is surely an improvement from last season's Shyamalan, who developed the absurd notion that because he was the sole survivor of a terrorist bombing, his mission was to cleanse the Earth of those who were not part of a predestined elite fit for survival. Nataru is less ambitious. His best friend is dead because the escapees stole the Ryunka and sent it to Earth. The Federation (the government of his home world) hesitated to stop the Ryunka, curious as to how its destructive potential truly worked. This same Federation engineered the Ixiorans, a race of Altans bred specially for combat; both he and Birdy are Ixiorans, and ideally they are raised to be Federation Police special forces. Eventually, the escapees assume that Nataru's father is leaking information about them to the murderer and they kill him. Nataru, at the end of the day, has every reason to be upset. How Birdy interacts with Nataru as a result of his actions becomes the definitive conflict for the second half of this season.

Tsutomu's classmates continue to be the comic relief for this show. They spend most of their time fulfilling Hayamiya's desire to report on the effects of the Ryunka trajedy on the Roppongi refugees. We are also introduced to Shoko, the younger sister of Nataru's deceased best friend. She lost the use of her legs at some point and Nataru cares for her as she recovers in the hospital. She has quite the crush on Nataru, and burns with jealousy whenever Nataru is with Shion Arita, Birdy's public persona. Shoko runs away from the hospital one episode, and every time Shion/Birdy tries to bring her back, Shoko outlandishly screams, " Help, she's kidnapping me!" And Irma and Cappella, who help Birdy manage her work schedule with her police duties, are able to dominate scenes without Birdy's help. One comes to dearly appreciate the show's supporting characters.


 

Animation and Sound

     The animation is similar to last season. It grows looser in style when there are prolonged fight scenes. In this season's case, the fight animation is reduced to only what is conceptually necessary; details become merely blurs and resemble some form of extreme rotoscoping. The same Kazuto Nakazawa style is extremely prevalent in Birdy's memories of when she lost Violin, and in the final fight sequence between the remaining escapee, Nataru and Birdy. Faces are drawn in violent and bold lines, expressing a psychological agony comparable to Edvard Munch's The Scream. As Birdy is forced to confront Nataru, their fight becomes a blend of rectangular squares that brings to mind Mondrian's Broadway Boogie-Woogie, mixed with the color scheme of Picasso's Guernica. It's truly a wonder to behold.


The OST to both seasons of Birdy the Mighty: Decode is absolutely beautiful. Many of the songs consist of classical string and piano instruments, particularly when there are sentimental and tragic scenes. While the first season played many upbeat tunes, including the jazzy main theme for Birdy that seemed perfect for telling the tale of an intergalactic cop, the second season was mostly somber and dramatic. I've included a link to one of my favorite themes here.


There are times when it seems like the same track is being re-used for scenes with similar moods. This would be the only disappointment with the songs as they are used within the episodes. Otherwise, the OST on its own is solid.

Tsutomu uncomfortably poses as Shion while Birdy is comatose.


 

To Be Continued?

      It should be said that reviewing a show is never an entirely objective process. I really enjoyed Birdy the Mighty: Decode 02. With that being said, there are a few unanswered questions at the end of the show, some of which are more easily forgiven than others.

At some point the escapees confront Birdy with a weapon that appears to dissolve objects into nothingness. A shot barely grazes her, but she soon becomes comatose. Either as a result of the shot or due to inevitability, Tsutomu and Birdy have begun to fuse minds, a process that would eventually result in the loss of Birdy's persona altogether. Somehow Tsutomu must vicariously experience Birdy's memories and objectify them as knowledge in order to return Birdy to consciousness. While the potential for mind-fusion was a serious threat during the first season, it never carried the same weight in the second season. The ambiguity as to what triggered the progression of mind-fusion in the first place seems like, at its best, an excuse for Tsutomu to reveal Birdy's past to the audience. Her history is beautifully depicted, but there could have been sounder reasoning as to why it was shown.

The question of who the true threats are is still an issue in this season. It's easy to see that Christella Revi, a rogue Altan scientist, and her lackey Gomez are pulling invisible strings that control all of the show's villains. It's a shame that she never comes to the fore in this anime. Reducing her to some secret mastermind reminds the viewer that Birdy the Mighty was originally a manga, as if reading the manga is a prerequisite for watching the show. Creating a third season, or perhaps a film that explains what she's trying to do with the Ryunka, would bring closure to any unanswered questions. For now, she remains the mysterious architect of the Central Tower incident and the Ryunka experiment.

As stated earlier in this review, Birdy the Mighty: Decode 02 is a visual vignette revolving around Birdy and Nataru. The story is intimate and gut-wrenchingly sad. Watching Violin being crushed brings to mind images of the suicidal gynoids in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and the violent android killings in The Animatrix's "The Second Renaissance;" Birdy's animation is equally as stunning. Its an anime like this one that really inspires me to keep searching for good shows, shows with a good mix of brevity and ambition. Decode 02 lacks for neither one, and proves that such a formula always has spectacular results. I hope a third installment isn't too much to ask for.

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8/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
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