Following the Ryunka disaster, Tokyo is left in a period of social turmoil. To make matters worse, the group of aliens directly responsible for the catastrophic event have escaped from the Space Federation and are hiding on Earth.
Still sharing a body, Space Federation officer Birdy Cephon Altera, and high schooler, Tsutomu Senkawa, are tasked with capturing the fugitives and bringing them to justice. However, an unexpected crisis develops when the outlaws become targets of an unknown assassin with a vendetta. Now Birdy must deal with the chaos of everyday life and also uncover the identity of the assassin before more escapees fall victim.
The original is always better than the sequel. Or is it.........?
Being a long time fan of the original Birdy the Mighty OVA from 1997, it goes without saying that I was definitely looking forward to the new series of Tetsuwan Birdy Decode. Unfortunately the first season of Decode, whilst being good and great in some areas, was lacklustre in others - especially where the pacing of the story was concerned.
Thankfully, A-1 Pictures have changed the whole ball game with the release of Tetsuwan Birdy Decode: 02.
The second season picks up directly after the end of the first. Tsutomu and Birdy are still sharing a body
for the time being whilst the world tries to make sense of the Ryunka incident. Meanwhile, a prison transport belonging the the Intergalactic Police is attacked by an unknown assailant. The escaped convicts take shelter on earth, and Birdy is ordered to find and capture them. During the course of her investigation though, Birdy runs into an old friend...
The story seems pretty straightforward on the whole, and there are some predictable events that occur, however don't be fooled by the failings of the first season as Decode: 02 is a completely different beast. The story is much tighter this time around, and is very much focused on Birdy rather than Tsutomu. One irony is that, whilst the first season looked at Tsutomu's love life, the second season is very clearly about Birdy's relationships, and I found that this aspect was far more engaging than the sci-fi school romance that was season one.
One of the main problems I had with the first season was the inconsistent, and often slow, pacing of the series. I just wanted the show to get on with the story rather than beat around the bush. As with any story, no matter how good, unless the pacing is correct the audience will lose interest, and season two is no slouch is this department. The tighter storyline, combined with some excellent pacing and some great (even with the predictable bits), plot development, allows the audience to become far more engaged in the story. The added bonus of this season being mainly about Birdy makes her character far more accessible,and endearing, as well.
Oh, and we also get to find out why she's called "Berserker Killer Birdy".
The animation for Decode: 02 is easily on par with that of the first season. The incorporation of CG is almost seamless, and the character movements, especially during the action sequences, are exceptional. One thing that may have detractors though, is that some sequences have a decidedly "rough and ready" look to them. This isn't due to a lack of time or skill on the part of the animators though, as it is very much intentional. The aim of these sequences is to direct the viewers attention to the characters and their struggles, allows the animators greater freedom and flexibility when it comes to character movements, and promotes a greater degree of emotion than a clean, clinical finish could everallow. The reason they chose to do this is purely because Birdy is an Ixion Altairan, a genetically engineered "super-soldier", and when you watch those scens, you'll begin to understand why they work on several levels. Fans of the awesome Casshern: Sins will recognise this technique as it is used heavily in that show as well.
Sound has been improved in the second series, with the characters themselves expressing a greater degree of emotion through their respective seiyuu (more on this in a bit). One of the high points of the voice acting occurs when Chiba Saeko (Birdy), and Irino Miyu (Tsutomu), speak exactly the same lines at exactly the same time. I won't say why this happens, however the degree of emotion expressed by both is extremely well synchronised.
Music is also a step up from season one. The OP and ED are just as good as the first series, however I did find myself preferring the OP to Decode: 02. The thematic music used throughout the series follows the same trend as season one, however it seems to work better here. This may be due to the tighter storyline, however it may also be due to the fact that there have been some changes to the tracklist, so some thought looks to have gone into what works where.
One of the driving forces of the Tetsuwan Birdy Decode series has been it's characters. In season one both Tsutomu and Birdy were engaging, yet both lacked a certain polish. In Decode: 02 however, Tsutomu is far more composed and mature (the Ryunka event and it's aftermath having been a rite of passage of sorts). Birdy has also undergone some improvement, and is far more endearing than she was in the first season. The fact that this season delves more into Birdy's past also helps to round out her character a lot, as the audience can begin to understand her motivations and goals.
I absolutely adored this season, and it is easily one of the best follow-ups I have seen in anime - period. This show has something for everyone, from human interest and romance, to mystery and major ass-kicking (super-soldier style).
Decode: 02 proves once again what we all know already. With a little care and thought, the sequel can easily surpass the original.
This is the second part of the new Birdy Decode series, but you wouldn't realise it. The first season was good, but the sequel comes along and totally blows it away in almost every department.
Most notably would be the animation - 02 exhibits some of the most incredible animation in a 13-episode series for a long, long time. Where other shows might shell out for a good fight scene here and there, 02 provides stunningly kinetic action scenes throughout the entire run, most notably in its incredible finale. If you like good animation, it's a must.
But it's not just the animation that dominates
over the first season. The characterisation and setting also prevails - the plot gives a more Birdy-centric view, and Tsutomu loses any annoying qualities he once had. Their chemistry is quite nice to watch, and other characters also receive some good development.
Nataru, a new character, is an excellent addition and forms a large part of the plot, fitting in well with the setting and providing some great development for Birdy. The new antagonists are also worthy, and the colourful villain cast makes a nice change to the vague enemies of the first season.
The music is nothing particularly amazing, but it serves its purpose well. The OP and ED are just as good as the previous ones, and the Main theme that plays here and there is a joy to listen to.
If there is one obvious complaint, then it would have to be the art. In some places, it really suffers, looking lazily drawn and messy - however, this is all intentional in providing some high-quality animation and making an otherwise bland enviroment or dramatic scene come alive. For once, it's nice to see a studio favour the movement and action that you would expect from an animated piece of work, rather than focus on static close-ups and un-necessary amounts of shading.
And, an extra added difference to the second series is that it heavily ramps up the Gore-factor. This is good or bad depending on your persuasion, but the series certainly does not take shortcuts when it comes to brutality. In my opinion, this makes everything even more refreshing, but opinions may differ.
Overall, Birdy Decode: 02 is a rarity in that it's much, much, much better than its predecessor - which is almost a shame, as people who disliked the first season would be put off by the second, despite it's many corrections and improvements. Overall, I recommend this anime to ANYONE. Whether you saw the first season, whether you didn't, or whether you liked it or not, you should give this show a try.
[Story:8.5] After how mediocre the first season was, I initially had no intention to continue with the sequel – that is, until seeing several screenshots and raves about it on the net, which prompted me to give it another go. Thank goodness I decided to give it a chance as the second season is fantastic, to say the least.
The first season was insipid because the focus is on the school life aspect while the more appealing intergalactic setting and aliens in masquerade get demoted to the background for a relatively large part of the series. The whole ordinary kid stuck in extraordinary events
premise is overshadowed by the fact said extraordinary events are way more interesting that the ordinary kid. Naturally, the reverse is what made the sequel so much better. In addition, season 2 deals with alien fugitives taking cover on Earth, allowing the introduction of Birdy’s childhood friend, thus giving the opportunity to explore Birdy’s back-story. To put it simply, the sequel did practically everything that I complained was lacking in its first season.
As such, it can be argued that the real reason that season 1 is mediocre is because the real 'story' have not occurred. And it makes sense when one consider the case of the so-called standard 26-episode series. The alien they fought at the end of the first season? It's not the so-called ‘real’ Final Boss. It was not the actual climax. The secret project and experiments was just the set up, merely to prepare the stage for this sequel. Indeed, this one is when it’s finally ready to deliver what it has been building up previously. This is when things finally start to get serious, hence why the pace in season 2 is much faster and with more events occurring.
[Characters:8.0] As said, the character of focus is one of the key reasons defining Birdy Decode on the whole. Previously, the side characters doesn't really contribute much to the story. For all intent and purpose, the only relevant characters were mainly just Birdy, Tsutomu and Natsume who got caught in the event. Now, apart from the protagonists, the main antagonist too gets the fair share of back story and other minor character also get their share of the limelight.
And of course, there is much drama and development to be had for Birdy herself. From her comedic Arita Shion persona to flashbacks involving her past, the scenes were well executed. The lighter moments are comedic when it needs to, while the heavier and darker scenes are dramatic without being overdone. In particular, the story can get surprisingly quite touching and bittersweet in the latter part of the series.
The choice of voice-acting cast was great too. As with the prequel, I like the voice acting for Birdy, especially when she is in her Arita Shion mode. Special mention goes to Mamiko Noto as Birdy’s caretaker.
[Art:8.5] Another compliment goes to the major improvement in production values. Not only is the story better, even the animation quality is much higher. The action sequences are fantastic, albeit some of them being rather brutal. In short, the art style is excellent and in particular, I like the mix of animation styles - for example, the sketchy style (similar to those of Gainax productions) is highly appropriate for some of the more emotionally chaotic moments.
[Music:7.5] Decode has good soundtracks, but the prequel didn’t quite get to put them to good use. Thankfully, this season rectify that. Furthermore, the choice of opening and closing themes are also much more agreeable.
[Summary] With a classic science-fiction setting, some romance and plenty of cool action sequences, it shall suffice to say that Birdy Decode 02 is definitely worth the watch. Never watched season 1? Just go and read the article off Wikipedia and then jump into season 2. Excellent sci-fi flick.
Tetsuwan Birdy Decode 02 is possibly one of the greatest follow ups to a mediocre first season. It takes all the flaws of the original and simply does away with them while throwing in a much more focused plot and characters. While the first season wasn't bad by any stretch of the word, it was fairly uninspired. It often felt like the series didn't know what it wanted to be, not really striking a balance between the slice of life elements or the science fiction. The pacing was all over the place, often ranging from adequate to mind-numbingly slow. The last couple of episodes felt
very rushed and a lot of plot points that were introduced earlier never really amounted to anything substantial.
A-1 definitely got their act together for the 2nd season, with a far more enjoyable plot. The second season picks up not too long after the first and everyone is dealing with the damage dealt to the city by the Ryunka in the the finale of first season. While the previous season focused on Tsutomu's life and problems, the 2nd season completely focuses on Birdy, leaving Tsutomu (rightfully) in the backseat. A lot of the slice of life elements are cut out in favor for a focused exposition on the plot. Nataru, Birdy's childhood is introduced in this season and plays a very important role to the plot as well as a foil to Birdy. The aliens who were behind the Ryunka in the first season are also introduced and are (ironically) hiding from galactic law on Earth. All these characters come together in a plot of revenge, conspiracy, conflict, relationships and bloody resolution, basically all the elements of a good story. Birdy really becomes a much better in this season. Instead of just being there to kick ass and make the occasional joke, we get an in depth look into her character, explaining the "Berserker Killer" title she has as well as her origin. Her story is much more interesting compared to Tsutomu's anyway, and I'm glad that A-1 went in the direction they did.
The animation and art...where do I begin? The animation is probably the best aspect of the series, and the 2nd season doesn't disappoint. It has a distinctly different style from the first season. Instead of top notch art and smooth animation, they opted for less detailed yet expressive art and jerkier yet stylistic animation. Its not fair to say that the first season had better animation, sure there were more frames but the 2nd season really delivers with its unique animation. The fights are a wonder to behold, truly some of the best in the industry. The last fight is especially incredible and breathtaking, often mimicking cinematic movement.
The music is also a step up from the original, the soundtrack has many more orchestrated pieces and its used wonderfully in context with the animation. It definitely sets the mood whether it be comedic or serious in tone. The opening completely owns the first one, fitting the scenes and context of the story perfectly. All in all, the music is much more memorable this time around.
In conclusion, Decode 02 is how great sequels are done. It improves on all aspects of the original while fixing up issues and tightening up the writing. Its definitely one of my favorite shows and I think everyone should give it a shot. If you stick with it, it'll pay up in spades.