Testsuwan Birdy Decode: Birdy the Mighty

Birdy the mighty; saluting to American culture. Birdy Cephon is an officer from another planet trying to track down a dangerous weapon (she knows nothing about) and gets caught up with an American boy; Birdy accidently kills him while trying to round up her target. After losing her target to the shock of killing a human; Birdy quickly takes the boy to her planet where they basically extract his consciousness and put it alongside Birdy’s in her body. From here on out we’re going on an adventure to figure out what this Ryunka device is, follow the hilarity of an adult woman and high school boy share the same body, and see if the world withstands “natural” selection. I swear this anime tributes to a lot of classic American movies; the bad guy’s last name is Shyamalan… M. Night Shyamalan is known for his horror, psychological movies; Satyajit Shyamalan was a child that survived a mass homicide and grew up to believe he was a “chosen” one! Coincidence?! I think not!

There is also a sneaking suspicion that this anime inspired Kill La Kill’s wardrobe designs… Birdy the Mighty, 2008: Kill La Kill, 2013; coincidence?! I don’t think so to all those fan theoriest out there! Take a good look at the solid evidence.

Side Effects from Sharing a Body: Character Development

I know I keep referring to the new voice in Birdy’s head as “the boy” but he has a name and it’s Senkawa. These two at first, have a really hard time bonding with each other; they’re both stubborn and extremely opinionated. Nothing spells out trouble faster than the opposite sex sharing a body and not getting along; at least not in the beginning. Senkawa is very adamant with Birdy about not switching without telling him first; which makes sense, he was the guy who enjoyed exploring abandoned buildings (which got him killed in the first place) and had (a) friend(s) that harassed him to death if he didn’t answer his phone. Birdy; of course, was on a mission to gain custody of an item she knew nothing about and to make matters worse she was being watched by a unit within her federation. During the first few days Birdy and Senkawa are fused; Birdy’s best friend dies. He was a robot squid given to her at a young age; Tuto was his name.

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Because Tuto was the closest relationship she’d had for a long time, him dying devastated Birdy; both the federation and Tuto warned Birdy about sharing a mind with someone, if the person stays too long or becomes hard to switch with; Birdy stands the chance of losing her body forever to the other mind; Senkawa. I think after Tuto’s death Birdy cared significantly about whether body was taken over or not, but over time Senkawa curbs her self destruction.

Birdy had been called to a court in front of her federation for capturing the bad guy; Geega; as a witness. During this session a woman steps in and grills Birdy on her competency; Senkawa kindly asks Birdy if he could come out to speak with the council. Senkawa wanted to make it clear to everyone that Birdy wasn’t a bad being for what happened and that it was an accident. The woman; Geeza acknowledges Senkawa’s efforts to defend Birdy and then begins to grill Senkawa about what he knows. Unfortunately neither Birdy or Senkawa knows why the Ryunka was so bad and why Geega having it was such a big deal. Geeze uses her powers to give both Senkawa and Birdy a glimpse of what this Ryunka could do.

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Once the duo are aware of how serious the Ryunka is; these two had to go through some rough changes to become friends, and you can definitely start to see just how deep the affection went after this.  The federation gives Birdy a phone made out of Tuto’s remains and she claims Senkawa as her new ‘buddy’. After the court session; Birdy sometimes helped Senkawa with his love life and made an active effort to make sure he kept contact with his friends; Senkawa does his part by allowing Birdy more executive decision making on when they can switch. It turns out Senkawa’s love interest; Nagasuki; is the Ryunka and this complicates Birdy’s and Senkawa’s relationship for a short time; Birdy had a hard time telling her best friend his girlfriend has to die and Senkawa just plain refuses to accept that his girlfriend may have to die. The entire time these two were bonding, the federation was working on Senkawa’s original body; as soon as Birdy breaks the news to Senkawa about Nagasuki; he overpowers Birdy’s mind and takes over. Senkawa and Birdy is immediately transported to Alteria and Senkawa is transferred back into his own body. Even after the split, Birdy tried to go out of her to save Nagasuki from being killed. Without hesitation we see Senkawa take the risk and withdraw the Ryunka from Nagasuki’s body and request Birdy kill him before it’s too late; the very thing Birdy was going to ask Senkawa to do to save both him and Nagasuki.

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I truly felt the way Birdy and Senkawa developed throughout the show; it was a pleasant surprise that it made sense the entire time. I didn’t think either personalities were over the top, I saw both of their weaknesses, and could determine what could strengthen them as the story progressed… Well into season two.

Props to Yugo Kanno: Music

Yugo Kanno has done music for Psycho Pass, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Kaiji, March comes in like a Lion, and my personal favorite; Ninja Batman. His musical style seems to be intense groove; this man really knows how to make a scene come to life. In Birdy the Mighty; sometimes I felt like I was watching Cowboy Bebop, others I felt Ghost in the Shell. Kanno did such a great job composing pieces that generated an emotional response out of a scene that had no dialogue; he’s definitely a master at implementing different instrument types from different cultures too. This wasn’t primarily a sad anime; the tone was pretty upbeat most of the time which is why I could hear Jojo sometimes while watching (even though Birdy was almost 10 years prior). I highly recommend giving the Birdy the Mighty: Decode soundtrack a good, long listen.

See more Side Effects on Other Side: Directing

Sharing bodies after Birdy basically murdering a teenage boy was a pretty big plot point in this show; she had a huge mission to accomplish and it became more complicated by this major inconvenience. Tetsuwan was only 13 episodes; I think the director did an excellent job translating this manga into a television series. There was so much to Birdy and Senkawa’s personalities, interactions, and story; I don’t read manga and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to the point where I will, but I can tell when an anime brings its source material to life nicely. The director; Kazuki Akane; took two episodes to setup us up with Senkawa and Birdy; the script explains who they are, how they “meet”, and the conflicts they’re going to have together and separately. Akane and his team really captured the humor in a boy and woman sharing bodies without making it sexual; which I must say is impressive. There were a few scenes where we see Birdy in the bathtub and the script between her and Senkawa was mostly about Senkawa’s concern of getting caught. In fact even though Birdy’s “uniform” left little to the imagination, my eyes never really focused on that during battle scenes; I was mesmerized more by the fight between her and an android more than how good her butt looked in a fighting stance. The fanservice; if you can even call it that; was so subtle, but it could also be that I’m used to powerful, drawn women not having much to wear; ex: comic book heroes.

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To add in a opinion; I did feel like this show could have gotten away with being  10-11 episodes long. Episodes 5-7 felt like fillers; for some reason a random bad guy was added into the story instead of expanding on Birdy’s history; and the story was close to expanding a little bit more on how Birdy came to be well… Birdy the Berserker Killer. Birdy’s history could have been a topic of discussion in season two but again I just felt like episode five could’ve at least been set aside for that.

Is that Masaaki Yuasa???: Animation and Artstyle

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Yes, it you’re wondering I’m a huge Masaaki Yuasa fan; his animation style satisfies me in unspeakable ways.

Kazuki Akane is not an animator, as far as I know he’s never been on a storyboard team so for the second to last episode to feel like the animation team slacked, was disappointing. Episode 12 aside, I have to give major props to A-1 on showcasing their fight sequence talents in Birdy the Mighty. I can see where it started and I’m super excited to fast forward a few years to see how far they’ve gotten. Some if not all of Birdy’s fighting sequences were amazing; I really enjoyed how the camera followed where punches, kicks, and grabs were going. When Birdy or whoever she was fighting got knocked back, the camera scaled out and would move with the victim to show us what happened; I think it’s studio Trigger that has impact animation on lock but I see that A-1 has camera positioning down.

Whenever Birdy went between her home planet and Earth, you could see a clear difference. That’s something I really appreciated; the color palette changed according to where they were. Blues, purples, and reds represented Birdy’s planet while blues, yellows, oranges, and greens represented Earth; come to think of it, Birdy herself has a mix of these colors; almost foreshadowing her permanent involvement with both planets. Towards the end of the season I also noticed the color palette for Earth started to change; almost as if the animation team wanted you to think Earth was in a sense, going to become a different planet.

The character designs were extremely appealing; all jokes aside Shyamalan was drawn to perfection. There were a large variety of characters in this anime, granted not the largest but it could have been easy to lose who was who if they all looked generic. Senkawa’s friends had some of the nicest and varying designs; I commented on how in the Big Windup I could tell the characters apart because of their facial features, it seems that early A-1 was big on faces. My favorite character design was Sudou Ryota; Senkawa’s jerk friend. Just based off Ryota’s design alone I knew he was a sarcastic, snarky, debbie downer. I loved that about him because lately it hasn’t been often we see a characters personality be their character design too; well I shouldn’t say just the design, what I mean is their face and features. In my opinion, a lot of anime today seems to copy and paste facial features not really giving them the human like differences we see in the real world. You can argue that’s the point of anime; it’s basically an alternate universe, but I enjoy diversity and Ryota’s design gave that to me.

Push me,

And then just touch me,

So I can get my satisfaction: Conclusion

Man I loved watching this anime, seeing a completely different production from A-1. They literally went from a Slice of life to a Sci-fi and both were adored by the general public; I think that takes guts. Birdy the Mighty seemed like the type of adaptation that if Akane wasn’t hired to be the director, this could have become another bad harem anime. I give Birdy a easy 9.

Birdy Cephon Altera PVC Figure 1/7 Scale

Birdy the Mighty: Fabric Wall Scroll Poster (32 x 31) Inches [A]Birdy-2 (L)

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