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.
Having a somewhat lackluster ending from the prequel I’ve never expected the quality difference between the prequel and sequel of the anime. I’ve watched the OVA (the Cipher) before this sequel. I recommend you should too as it is a liaison between the two parts.
*I will note that this sequel is more violent than its prequel. There is a reason why it’s rated R while the other is P-13. It follows a more mature subject matter and there are decapitations and yanking limbs.*
However it’s not violence and edgy scenes is what makes a better sequel.
*I will also note that it is mostly spoiler-free and
this is based on 5 as the mean instead of 7 in standard grading*.
The story doesn’t become a magical reset and begins a month after the events of the prequel. The dynamic duo of Birdy and Tsutomu now must hunt down escapees that came down to Earth who have ties to the consequences in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Natsumi Hayamiya and Tsutomu’s other friends decided to address those effects for the upcoming cultural festival in their school.
From then on, Birdy is the focus, unlike the prequel (which was Tsutomu). It explores her past with the various villains and people (Altans and aliens technically) that she reencounters. It has its share of geopolitics, slice of life moments, action, and drama. Fortunately, it often jumps scenarios and helps encompass its tones better as the comedy doesn’t hamper the following serious atmosphere. Anymore than that and it would be spoiler territory.
This is a much more focused story with better pacing and structure. It follows the same formula of a mystery from the prequel with bits and pieces that come together, but this time it helps flesh out a character. Though more linear (quite predictable actually) and not entirely complicated, it is well articulated and more detailed, making use of the world-building better than before. The ending resolves many of the asked questions in the prequel, but lends subplots and foreshadowing to be expounded for a third part (which unfortunately is never made).
I do have to say it may require a more myopic focus and a rewatch to help piece everything together for it to make much more sense and appreciate it. Things may appear superficially simple, but its execution is key.
Watching it casually or an episode weekly will probably keep you scratching your head or lose interest in this anime.
As stated, Birdy becomes a highlight of the show and being the much more interesting character, the story becomes more character driven. It also brings up the persona, Shion Arita, and makes well use for its comedic purposes. Her childhood people are complex enough to have some depth and the various escapees as well as Tsutomu help colorize and develop her personality.
These escapees have enough screen time to have characterization and their interactions prevent them from being the “I’m an evil villain trope”. Each can have different enough personalities that help me distinguish the characters (though they’re hard to recall their names due to the short time span) without being one-sided as a whole. Best of all, the main antagonist is a much more complicated villain with better motives than the cardboard cut-out of Shyamalan. However, I can’t spoil anymore, but I can say that they explain why she is “Birdy the Berserker Killer.”
Unfortunately, Tsutomu loses most of his screen time, but he does have his fair share and he develops more maturity based on his experiences on the prequel. Irma and Capella have more comedic interactions. In addition, Muroto and Tsutomu’s friends while lacking in development; helps bring a different perspective of the world to make it more realistic and less about the melodrama or light-heartedness of the vantage point. I can say the same by bringing Megius and Skeletso to the story even if it is a minor one.
My biggest complaint would be some of the other characters. However, it could be a good thing that they dropped the weird cameo villain Gomez, (the blond dude with sun glasses) and the even bigger villain as well as Nechla (the space pontiff) as it can foreshadow another part and keeps the focus better to the set of character it mainly brings out.
The music is much more orchestral and helps build that engaging tension while having some more dramatic portions. At some points it reminds me of music similar to various blockbuster super-heroes movies and tragic drama. It has some cool rock music and the opening of it is a much more appealing J-pop sound. Overall it's quite well rounded in style made by Yugo Kanno (Psycho-Pass and Jojo's Bizzare Adventure Stardust Crusaders)... fitting for this anime. While I still do notice the repetition and a lack in memorability in music; however, it is much more emotionally moving and greatly captures the mood and atmosphere well when required.
Art/ Animation- 8/10
It’s either a LOVE/HATE kind of style
**By the style, I mean that of the low detail, yet hyper fluid rotoscoping it often uses. That form is outside of the cel animation and really puts off many people. I saw it very similar to the well-known Naruto vs. Pain fight animation and the fights of Noein: to your other self. Otherwise it looks similar to K-On, minus the moe elements.**
Various facial expressions may seem jarring and it appears to look like the expressionist painting, the Scream, along with the sketchy animation similar to TTGL which not everyone will appreciate. However, this shouldn’t be judged solely based on its appearance, but what it does with it.
Ep 7 and 12 are the episodes that follow this to the fullest of this aspect. Although Ep 7 has been fixed after the DVD release and cleaned it with more solid figures.
Now I should get back on track. Unfortunately, this show is starting to lose its budgeting. It was made well into the global recession of 2008 and the quality shows here (unlike the prequel.)
The fights are still very well choreographed and much more numerous than the prequel. Most fights are now bloody and don't last very long as it's usually more plot centered. Character designs are quite simple and the interactions are still very well made that provide some of the best body movements done with hand-to-hand combat. However, it's the art style that attempts to evoke the emotional aspects of catharsis.This would be a first priority and making it look badass as a second priority. In other words, you shouldn't be expecting dazzling polished spectacles, but rather, the dynamic, visceral conveyance of characters and their efforts (similar to Ping Pong the Animation.)
I wouldn’t call the art style lazy as it requires more movement and doesn’t have a lot of repeated frames (except with one scene with the walking motion in the hospital). It's quite different from other shows that have minimalistic movement, yet has some eye-candy detail, but I personally adore this animation style.
I’m quite surprised it surpassed my expectations, often maturing its story and become slowly well-rounded and well executed as each episode passed. It fixed the issues for me for a disjointed story and the violence was done with reasonable sense and defined motives (with some moral ambiguity) with never becoming too gratuitous for me.
It makes tighter use of characters and the genre-bending (not to be confused with gender-bending) that makes me appreciate the usage of children and adults to tell such a story in a fictional world with depth.
It's quite a shame not many would have seen this anime made by A-1 Pictures nor is this anime fully completed. Definitely a more underrated masterpiece that improve greatly compared to its prequel. Finishing it made me wish there were more episodes and more anime like it.
Without becoming an over-hyped fan boy, however, I can see why people may not like this show. The mix genres it has would make others have a mixed reaction towards their entertainment. Some would be really put off by the jarring art style or gruesome violence and others would not like the lack of central themes and linearity(although it is heavily nuanced) of the sequel.
Overall- a very high 8/10 (sorry I don't round up)
This is an exceptionally well-done show that I believe is much better than its prequel.
More avid fans would definitely like the more engaging story. It’s quite a shame that many would drop the prequel and not realizing the difference between the two.
I recommend it for those who prefer more on a story-focused anime with fight scenes only as a plot device (not the plot itself, unlike in most shounen anime.) Don't expect stylishly badass characters with the over the top rule-of-cool factors, as most of the time, this anime's strengths are the space opera in this setting and surprisingly human problems.
However, I still have to recommend you watch the prequel before in order to appreciate the latter, especially since the two are tied together and not a standalone 12 episode series.
[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.