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Birdy the Mighty: Decode – Part One (A J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

December 4, 2010 by  



A long time coming…  Many fans of the original “Birdy the Mighty” have been waiting for a full-length anime TV series based on Masami Yuuki’s popular manga series.  “Birdy the Mighty: Decode – Part One” definitely delivers with its addictive storyline.  Definitely a series worth catching!

Image courtesy of © Yuuki Masami/SHOGAKUKAN. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Birdy the Mighty: Decode – Part One

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (300 minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: 17+

Release Date: November 30, 2010

Originally created by Masami Yuuki

Directed by Kazuki Akane

Series Composition: Hiroshi Ohnogi

Music by Yuugo Kanno

Character Design by Rousuke Sawa

Art Director: Takeshi Satou

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures Inc.

Featuring the following voice talent:

Miyu Irino as Tsutomu Senkawa

Saeko Chiba/Lucy Christian as Birdy Cephon Altera

Kanae Itō/Cherami Leigh as Natsumi Hayamiya

Kaori Nazuka/Trina Nishimura as Capella Titis

Keiji Fujiwara/Robert McCollum as Keisuke Muroto

Kenichi Suzumura/Todd Haberkorn as Satyajit Shyamalan

Yasuhiro Mamiya/Chris Ayres as Bascillus

Shinji Kawada/J. Michael Tatum as Tuto

Ako Mayama as Irma

Anthony Bowling as Kimura

Maaya Sakamoto/Brina Palencia as Sayaka Nakasugi

Michiko Neya/Caitlin Glass as Weegie Gahhaw

Chris Burnett as Kazuyoshi Chigira

Takashi Oohara/Chris Cason as Masakubo

Christopher Bevins as Kashu Geeze

Christopher R. Sabat as Skeletso

Chuck Huber as Sasaki

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Kaori Sanada

Birdy is a jaw-dropping, pin-up sensation with a secret. Under the cover of darkness, this dream girl becomes a bad guy’s worst nightmare. Birdy dons her crime-fighting costume and hits the street as a lethal, interstellar federation agent charged with nailing the most dangerous criminals in the galaxy.

Her latest case involves a gang of extraterrestrial terrorists and a stolen space weapon that could nuke every living thing on Earth. Birdy’s got the moves to stop them dead in their tracks, but there’s one big problem: she’s got a nasty habit of going berserk, and somebody always gets hurt. Yeah, Birdy may be dreamy, but she’s also the only thing more dangerous than the bad guys.

An anime series that has a good amount of action and dramatic elements to make “Birdy the Mighty: Decode” an enjoyable series worth catching!

It all began with mangaka Masami Yuuki.   Well-known for his longtime police anime manga series “Mobile Police Patlabor”,  and although he abruptly stopped writing the series, “Patlabor” would receive life during its multi-year run on television via an anime adaption (which would also lead to three full length animated films). But because of his name of being the man who created “Patlabor”, Masami Yuki has received his distinction for creating one of the most entertaining stories of all time.

Around the time that “Patlabor” came out on television, Masami also began working on the series “Birdy the Mighty” for “Shonen Sunday Super” which was adapted into a 2-episode OVA series by MadHouse Studios and eventually released in the US back in 1996 (courtesy of U.S. Manga Corps).

As for Masami Yuuki, he would go on to work on other short-lived manga series but it wasn’t until 2003 when he began focusing on a reboot of his “Birdy” anime series.  The manga would have the same title “Birdy the Mighty” which is serialized in “Weekly Young Sunday”.

Five years later, a TV anime adaptation known as “Birdy the Mighty: Decode” received its anime adaptation courtesy of A-1 Pictures and would be directed by Kazuaki Akane (“Escaflowne: The Movie”, “Heat Guy J”, “Noein – to your other self”) and feature a screenplay by Hiroshi Ohnogi (“God Mazinger”, “Heat Guy J”, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”).  The series would feature character designs by Ryousuke Sawa, art direction by Takeshi Satou (“Ghost Slayers Ayashi”, “Please Twins!”, “Utawarerumono”) and feature music by Yuugo Kano (“D.C. ~Da Capo~” and “Lamune”).

And now, both seasons of “Birdy the Mighty” will be released in the US courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

The concept of “Birdy the Mighty: Decode” revolves around a Federation police officer named Birdy Cephon Altera and her robot Tuta who are chasing two alien criminals named Bacillus and Geea on the planet Earth.  While on Earth, she uses the disguise of a Japanese pop star.

The other character that the series would focus on is high school teenager Tsutomu Senkawa who is joining a friend/student to do some investigation work.  Unfortunately, Tsutomu happens to be in an area where Birdy is chasing an alien criminal.  The criminal throws Tsutomu towards Birdy who mistakes it as a weapon and thus obliterates him.

The federation police officer has created a major offense by accidentally killing a human being and in order to keep him alive, she merges her body with his, so his living body can receive medical attention and literally be rebuilt by alien technology.

So, now the two must share the same body and work together as Birdy goes after the alien criminals on Earth and Tsutomu tries to continue his human life as a teenager.  But being in the same body, Tsutomu starts to understand more about Birdy and the challenges and pressure she has to face to catch criminals all over the galaxy. Meanwhile, Tsutomu falls for a fellow classmate named Sayaka Nakasugi and she starts to fall for him.

As Birdy continues to catch criminals, murders are taking place throughout the city but to make matters worse, these murders may be connected to the girl that Tsutomu has fallen for.

The first season of “Birdy the Mighty: Decode” shows us how both Birdy and Tsutomu try to cope with each other after the fusing and both trying to understand each other despite them being quite different.  But most of all, developing a respect and friendship towards each other despite in the same body.

VIDEO :

“Birdy the Mighty: Decode – Part One” is presented in 16:9 widescreen.  For the most part, it’s a television series and the animation is OK but not the most detailed.  To be truthful, having owned the original OVA series, I was hoping to see some similarities in character designs and quality but for the most part, “Birdy the Mighty: Decode” is a series that emphasizes story over design.  Artistic backgrounds sometimes show a sketchy type of look to some scenes having more detail than others.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Birdy the Mighty: Decode – Part One” is presented in English 5.1 Stereo Surround and Japanese stereo.  The series features good utilization of the surround channels during explosions and crowd ambiance but for the most part, the series is front and center channel-driven.  The Japanese audio is stereo and I opted to selected stereo on all channels on my receiver for a more immersive soundscape.  But dialogue is clear and more robust in the English dub considering it is 5.1.  As the Japanese soundtrack is well-done, I actually enjoyed the English dub for “Birdy the Mighty: Decode”.  Well-acted on both soundtracks and anime fans should not be disappointed with the voice acting of the main protagonists.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Birdy the Mighty: Decode – Part One” comes with no special features but trailers for upcoming FUNimation Entertainment releases.

I have to admit that the first episode didn’t win me over because I did enjoy the original OVA series and how the storyline of how Tsutomu and Birdy became fused and having to deal with each other’s presence.  But where “Birdy the Mighty: Decode” does much better than its OVA predecessor is storyline, building upon the relationship of Birdy and Tsutomu and how they grow, respect each other and encounter various challenges.

Also, the series has a dramatic boost instead of focusing on the action and exploring Birdy’s planet and also giving us a glimpse that life was not easy for her when she was younger.  As for Tsutomu, the character is dealing with relationships. From being fused with Birdy and having to share a body and then his growing love for Sayaka, it was a very good diversion for the writers because “Birdy the Mighty: Decode” could have easily been stuck with the cliche of a bounty hunter style of storyline, cat vs. mouse, as we follow Birdy and Tsutomu chasing the bad guys episode after episode.

Also, another plus was incorporating other characters such as Tsutomu’s friends being involved with investigating mysterious occurrences to Birdy having to deal with others in the Federation and for the most part, you get a pretty interesting, enjoyable anime series.  The first season is pretty much character establishing episodes with plenty of action and humor, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens in season two (which was released simultaneously with the first season).

Overall, “Birdy the Mighty: Decode” was a pretty entertaining series and I found myself glued to the screen watching how things would develop with Birdy/Tsutomu taking on a killer marionette, one of their friends gone bad, mysterious murders in the city and seeing how everything was connected.  If there was one thing that I wished the DVD would have is special features.  Other than that, you do get a full seasons worth on two DVD’s but I feel that too many anime releases are being devoid of special features of late and “Birdy the Mighty: Decode” is one of those titles.

But still, on its strong storyline alone, “Birdy the Mighty: Decode – Part One” is definitely a series worth catching!

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