Recently I had the opportunity to check out the first half of Birdy the Mighty: Decode. The series blew me away with its action, style, and personality. There were so many things the show did right that they easily overshadowed the weaker points. I was on the edge of my seat with anticipation for the second half. Now that I've watched it, how does it stack up?
Well, before I get into the second part, let's head back to the first.
The show follows the exploits of Birdy the Berserker Killer. She's a badass agent from a federation of galactic intelligence and comes from a race known as Altans, who just so happen to resemble humans in nearly every way. In the first season she accidentally killed a high school boy and saved his consciousness within her. While Tsutomo's body was being resurrected with alien technology the two work together to find a powerful alien weapon known as the Ryunka. Here's the catch: It's on Earth and it could destroy the planet.
The second half picks up shortly after the first ended. I won't get into the details of what happens, but let's just say that Tsutomo is still in Birdy's body and a decent sized chunk of Tokyo has been decimated. This story arc begins with some prisoners escaping custody and finding refuge on Earth. These escapees are the ones responsible for bringing the Ryunka to Earth in the first place, so naturally Birdy is assigned to take them down.
Along the way a figure from Birdy's past comes back around and we get to see several flashbacks to events referenced in the first part of the show and in this one. A personality merger happens at some point and Tsutomo delves into Birdy's memories as he tries to save her, and himself in the process. The story in this second half winds up being a success, but it's not as great as what we saw in the first.
The reasons this second part isn't as impressive comes down to a few things. For starters there's no worthy antagonist, but then again that was a problem the first half had. Another thing that doesn't quite work this time around is the pacing, which is much slower than the first. It ramps up a bit towards the halfway point, but the sluggish start doesn't help matters; especially after coming down from the climactic high of the first half. On the flipside, the one thing I really enjoyed about these episodes was the character development that went down. There was a lot of time spent on Birdy's past and that was a good thing, in my opinion.
Overall the second half of Birdy the Mighty: Decode is a success, but it's one of a different sort. It's not a balls-to-the-wall save-the-planet kind of affair, but rather a "now we've established the characters and world, let's look at Birdy's history". It's good, but not quite as powerful as the first half. Just measure your expectations when picking up this second half after watching the first.
Birdy the Mighty: Decode Part 2 is presented on DVD with its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show looks vibrant with colors that pop from the screen and clean details all around. Sometimes the design is gorgeous, and at other times it's a little looser than I would like, but it's all part of the lively style the series was given. The DVD transfer has a bit of grain and is a touch softer than we'd like to see, but altogether it's not a bad presentation by any means.
Birdy comes with English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround and Japanese 2.0 Stereo for its audio output. Both are adequate in terms of what they offer, but the English cast doesn't hold a candle to the Japanese, in my opinion. Where the English does have the upper hand, is with its technical merits. The soundstage is a little more robust during the action sequences, and that counts for something. Otherwise both tracks are rather front-centric.
Bonus features for Birdy the Mighty: Decode Part One include clean animations and trailers.
The first release for Birdy the Mighty: Decode blew me away. It basically had everything I was looking for in one neat little package. It ended on a perfect note as well and frankly it didn't need more episodes, but it got them anyways. The producers did a fine job with the second season, though one does get the impression that it was an afterthought in a way. The story isn't as interesting or dynamic, but the development is there in spades. It's a good follow-up and anyone who enjoyed the first half will definitely want to pick it up. Just know that it's a little slower in terms of pacing. Strongly Recommended.
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