It’s relatively common knowledge that the second season of Birdy the Mighty: Decode is better than the first. When I’d finished the first season I found that claim odd because although I echoed the sentiment of many people that it was good but not outstanding, I wondered how the second season could improve on the formula.
sees Birdy fight in a ruined city, bursting through crumbling buildings and trickling water mains with destructive abandon
Boy meets girl, boy ends up cohabiting girl’s body. It certainly feels familiar in the same way that any gender-bending situation is - Kokoro Connect, Ranma ½, Kämpfer et. al. - but here there is the quirk of the girl being an absurdly strong intergalactic investigator on the hunt for dangerous criminals on the “backwater” planet Earth. I thought I knew what to expect from that sort of introduction which perhaps explains why I stopped watching it when it first aired in 2008. It’s fair to say then that my expectations were challenged in the first season, then totally surpassed by the second.
It’s an intractable problem with converting a book to another medium: your outlook of the franchise as a whole is almost entirely dependant upon which media you consume first. It’s perhaps not such an issue with light novels translated into anime given that the two are, structurally and narratively at least, very close. For a novel like Yukikaze though? A novel that is often mentioned in the same breath as Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and George Orwell’s 1984. In this instance I read the first novel - simply Yukikaze - before seeing the 2002, five episode OVA series - Sentou Yousei Yukikaze (Battle Fairy Yukikaze) - and though I obviously can’t say for sure, I’m fairly certain had I seen the latter first, I would be disinclined to read the former.
the book questions humanity in an inhuman war, the OVAs postulate a kind of quiet insurgency by our own machines
Starting this argument with “It’s not that bad, but” is tantamount to starting a conversation with “I’m not racist, but” - the justification invariably ends up contradicting your opening statement. The OVAs are extraordinarily gorgeous, and especially so for their time, it’s no wonder that Gonzo - then at the height of their creative power - twice won awards for it’s visual work on the series. Unfortunately however they take the plot of book, smash it into jagged pieces and disjointedly try and fit them back together in the hope that they make some kind of sense. They don’t. Coming out several years after it, I can’t rule out that the second novel (that I haven’t read), Good Luck Yukikaze, somehow contextualises the direction the series stakes including the wholly original final episode; my gut feeling though is that the OVAs will remain as inscrutable as they’re perhaps intended to be.
The formula is all too familar: alien lands on earth, befriends local youth and romantic hijinks ensue. The opening episodes of Asobi ni iku yo! do nothing to tweak this formula beyond adding cat-ears and a tail to the buxom interplanetary interloper. The recent Ano Natsu de Materu at least kept things clean, here the feline Eris is disrobed and in the protagonist's bed within minutes. Seconds later and the domineering childhood friend arrives (how inconvenient!) and the quiet and traditional Japanese beauty follows shortly afterwards.
Those who, somewhat rightly, switch off after those episodes though would be missing what turns out to be a surprisingly entertaining romp through science fiction of old and a locale less travelled: Okinawa.