Dec 9, 2011
Nilvius (All reviews)
[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.

Personal Overall Rating: 8.5