A Pretentious Anime Review: Tetsuwan Birdy Decode: 01 & 02
What's Birdy About?
Tetsuwan Birdy is the tale of an average high school student, Tsutomu, who is killed during a battle between a federation investigator and an intergalactic criminal. In an attempt to save him, this federation investigator, Birdy, inserts the conscience of Tsutomu into her. Essentially, the two merge into one, switching on and off between Tsutomu and Birdy in order to keep a steady life balance. The two have to remain trapped together until the federation Birdy works for can rebuild Tsutomu's body. During this time, Tsutomu assists Birdy on her cases as often as possible, and, Birdy tries to assist Tsutomu with his life problems, too.
It's a simple premise, and it doesn't try to be complex or thought provoking. This wouldn't be a bad thing, if it was done right. Unfortunately, it starts out boring and for the most of the time, it is boring. It does get interesting towards the end, but, for the most part it's a drag.
Firsts Things First
Okay, let us get something out of the way. Birdy's art and animation is extremely low quality. Is it bad? No, not necessarily. If anything, it added a lot of charm to the series, but, in a lot of scenes, it seemed more like a collection of rough sketches rather than full-blown animation.
Although it is low quality animation, it is lovable. The style is a mix between comicality and silliness. Sure, this feeling could have been replicated using more professional artists, but, Birdy's style is fine the way it is. Low quality or not, it was charming and unique (especially in 02). Sort of similar to how Ookami to Koushinryou is often considered to have very low quality animation, but, that art is part of what allowed us to fall in love with each and every character.
Now that I've made that clear, let us proceed onto the reasons why Birdy sucked.
Decode felt like it would never end. Whenever you click next episode, you might as well sign a contract with the devil and condemn yourself to a hell of boredom. It is unbelievably hard to watch, and even harder to enjoy. Very rarely did Decode produce any semblance of a good time. The show would drag certain scenes on for no reason and it started pulling stupid plot points out of its ass. For the most part, excluding the final two episodes, Decode was extremely tedious to watch. It's not necessarily because what happens in the show is boring, but, more that the characters that are doing those things aren't very interesting. Decode didn't introduce a single good character or even a likable one. At first, it was more because these characters were uninteresting, annoying, and/or stupid. However, it soon turned into something completely unexpected.
Dissatisfaction Turns Into Contempt... or Respect?
Decode did a good job of providing characters that were difficult to like, and for the most part, it seemed like it would be simple action series with absolutely no depth. However, as the conclusion approached, Decode put the viewer in a difficult position. It forces you to make a choice, and that choice is one that amazes me, even today.
We had no reason to like Tsutomu. He was a typical main character with almost no redeeming qualities besides from the fact that he shares a body with a woman. Even then, that's not a redeeming quality as much as it is a way to pander to the otaku mindset. However, Decode wants us to hate Tsutomu. Towards the end, he makes a decision, one that still makes me wonder. Is Tsutomu a good character even though the show forces you to hate him? At some point along the way, it hit me. Birdy doesn't seem to have the intention of making you like Tsutomu, because lets face it, there's no way anyone could like someone who makes a decision that freakishly human. Yes, human. The choice Tsutomu makes is one that you could expect any person to make. Selfishness is what drove Tsutomu. He wasn't driven by his need to save everyone or by his need to be a good person, instead, love drove Tsutomu to do things that would kill millions of people. You slowly start to realize that he was never an awful character, it was more that the studio never intended on him being liked by anyone. Instead of being a typical anime character who wants to save everyone, Tsutomu was more human, and in turn, selfish, than we had expected.
So, the question is... is Tsutomu a good character even though we want to hate him? How do we balance quality with subjective thinking? There's no way to say for sure, but even though Tsutomu made a surprisingly real series of choices, he is still a despicable human being.
The previous capsule might make you think that this show is actually good, however, don't be deceived. Sure, it had one notable moment, but that's all. There is almost nothing to this series besides from fan-service, bad writing, and annoying characters. Okay, sure... the show presented an interesting conflict, but that's all you can come to expect from the series.
Decode is an idiotic and boring action series with almost nothing to take away from it. Perhaps the art-style and a single moment is notable, but other than that, you can expect typical blood boiling elements within the series.
If you're into fan-service, mindless action, and aliens, then perhaps Decode is for you. However, in the grand scheme of things, it's nothing worth mentioning.
I give Tetsuwan Birdy Decode a 2 out of 10
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We're clearly not done here. This article is barely long enough to be over, so what else is there to say? Well, sure, Decode was really damn bad... but don't forget that in 2009, A-1 Pictures aired a second season titled Decode:02. Your first thought might be "Well, if season one sucked, season two can't possibly be good... right?'.
Well, if you're anything like me, you would have expected season two to be just as bad if not worse than season one. However, this surprisingly isn't the case. Decode:02 is a huge improvement over the original and most certainly gave me some faith for the series. It made me go from a hater to a fan, and I'm sure that doesn't happen very often with any of us, so it was a surprising occurrence.
I'm going to skip the "What's It About" capsule this time since giving any information would be a massive spoiler.
Engaging and Thrilling
The biggest problem Decode had was that it was extremely boring and tedious to watch. The show itself could have been a lot more, but, the fact that it had the same side effects as diphenhydramine made it impossible to enjoy. However, Decode:02 completely solves this problem and it's a huge part of the reason as to why it's so much better. The overall tone is much darker and in some cases, horrifying. Action scenes are incredibly engaging and character interactions are thrilling in itself. Watching the aftermath of Decode unveil and unfold is insanely interesting. Birdy, Tsutomu and even the villain from season one all become lovable characters, including the new ones they introduce. The plot became extremely interesting and Birdy's backstory is compelling, along with the backstory of another great character they introduce. Decode:02 focuses entirely on morals and how our selfishness can cause conflict and controversy. The one reason why I gave Decode props (the infamous Tsutomu choice) becomes the entire theme of Decode:02, and, not only does it become the theme, but it is done extremely well.
Decode:02 had all of the set pieces for being a great anime and it almost did. Unfortunately, however, it failed in one massive aspect.
Endings are PARAMOUNT
If something releases and it starts out good, there's always an aching fear that it won't end well and keep you in a loop of hellish emotion. Endings are endings, without any form of canon continuation. This means that if you don't end your story well, you might as well be sticking a middle finger at all of your fans. Since Decode:02 isn't too popular, imagine how Boku Dake ga Inai Machi ended. Not only did it slowly go down hill throughout the episodes, but the ending was so bad that many fans of the series started hating it. This is essentially why it went from a 9.15 to an 8.7 on myanimelist. That was probably a bad example, so, If you're someone who liked Boku Dake ga Inai Machi's ending, how about Deadman Wonderland? It's hard to imagine any living soul that could enjoy an ending as retarded as that, so it would be safe to assume that you understand my point by now, correct?
Decode:02 was pretty much what fans wanted from the series, until the ending. The conclusion is so lame and so inconsistent that it feels like we were betrayed. It's pretty obvious what had happened, they didn't want to work on a whole new episode, so they just rushed 10-15 minutes of possible content into 3-4 minutes of airtime. It was beyond rushed, arguably the most rushed ending I've ever seen. They didn't care to make any attention to detail and screwed a potentially good series by ruining it with such a stale conclusion. Yes, there is a manga, however, we're talking about the series here, not where it originated from.
Wait a second, isn't Boku Dake ga Inai Machi made by A-1 Pictures? The same studio behind Decode? Wow, what a crazy coincidence. Do you idiots not know how to adapt a series? It's as simple as translating it from manga/novel to anime form. Don't edit it as you please, you're not smart enough to do so.
If you were curious, these "geniuses" are the same people behind Sword Art Online.
Decode:02 is a huge improvement over season one, and, with a better ending, it could have been a pretty good series. However, A-1 Pictures strikes again with their inability to do anything right. Unfortunately, great characters, interesting plot, decent writing, and engaging action go down the drain when you put A-1 Pictures in charge of your project. The show was semi-good but was very much ruined by that really shitty conclusion. It's very unlikely, but let us hope that we get a Decode:03.
I give Tetsuwan Birdy Decode:02 a 6 out of 10
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© 2016 Tabari
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