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A short, pseudo review/informational. As spoiler-free as possible, sorry if otherwise.
Tetsuwan Birdy Decode
Aired Summer 2008
Genre: Should I close my space eyes or my earth eyes when I change?
The short of it:
Decode is a remake of the 1996/1997 OVA: Birdy the Mighty (Tetsuwan Birdy). From what I understand, you don’t need to watch the original, if you can find it legitimately..
When I get my hands on it, I will probably update this to say, “You don’t have to, but, yes! Watch it! Birdy is the best!” (Got my hands on it). So what’s the deal? Ep:1 spoiler warning, I guess, for the following paragraph, but really, it is the same information you would get from reading the back of the box or a general synopsis on any other website.
The iron-fisted, hot-headed, cool-hair-ed space officer, Birdy “The Berserker Killer” Cephon Altera chases down a space criminal to the backwater planet known as Earth and works undercover as a model as she hunts him down. The average-fisted, average-headed, average-hair-ed not-space high schooler, Tsutomo “The Ruin Lover” Senkawa just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and finds himself thrown between a tortoise and a hare. Before Birdy can realize the mistake she is about to make, she throws her mighty Falcon Punch and discovers that Earthlings and Altans are as similar on the inside as they appear on the outside. Using space-technology, she extracts Tsutomo’s consciousness from his lifeless body and places it in her mind in an attempt to save him. Now the two must share a body while fighting inter-galactic criminals, general high schooling around, and working the entertainment biz. Keep in mind Birdy was already living a double-life, so really it’s 3 personas sharing one body. It sounds like a goof of an anime, and it kind of is, but it does get serious as the story develops. In any case, it is certainly enjoyable.
At times, especially in the second season, Birdy clearly suffers from its low budget. While most of the show is nothing to change your pants over, the animation does show more quality and excitement in the fight scenes.
Composed by Kanno Yuugo. I really enjoy this soundtrack. It is a perfect fit in every moment of the series and covers a good range of memorable emotions and events, although, tracks do often get reused. Space-strings, space-piano, and space-horns really bring it back down to Earth as it unfolds.
Keep in mind I don’t speak Japanese, so critical comparison is really limited. I watched both the sub and dub. And assuming the subs are a good translation, I don’t think much of anything gets lost in the transition to dubbing. Performance wise, this is one of the few anime where I can easily switch between sub/dub between episodes and forget that I did. To me, both are on the same level and the voice matching/acting is on point in either direction. The English voice actress for Birdy is Luci Christian. I don’t think you can really go wrong with her. She also voiced Kaname in Full Metal Panic, a character with a similar kind of energy in her voice; if you liked Luci Christian’s performance here, you will like it with Birdy. I dig ’em both.
Birdy: Decode, even with its flaws, has a charm that I have trouble putting into words. I felt a certain nostalgia even during my first watch through that reminded me of the 90’s anime I watched as a kid. Perhaps this is an indicator that it does well by its predecessor.
I’m pumped to one day see the original. If you enjoy Decode, you will likely enjoy the 90’s OVAs.
The entire show is currently available on youtube courtesy of Funimation. All eps available in sub, first 4 in dub. Not sure how long this will stay up, the license has already expired and Birdy is currently out of print in the U.S. at the time of writing this.
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Your Lie in April, Gate, Sound of the Sky, etc.