Earlier this year the first volume of the Birdy Saga was released, Decode 1 was much better than expected with very well-developed characters and a compelling story. Decode 2 will have to be very good to improve upon the first volume but is this a job too big for Birdy?
The story begins one month after the events at the end of Decode 1 and Tsutomu and Birdy are still sharing the same body. In the aftermath of the events from the end of Decode 1 Japan is struggling to come to terms with the disaster, with thousand dead and many more homeless things are looking bleak, but when a group of escaped alien prisoners arrive on earth things go from bad to worse as they scheme to destroy the planet. It ends up that Birdy’s childhood friend, who has been living on Earth will take matters into his own hands but by doing so he must confront Birdy. Meanwhile Birdy must come to terms with her tragic past only to find the criminals that have arrived on Earth are the same ones that destroyed her only family. The final episode in the volume could well have been considered and extra as it is a separate OVA that links the story between the two Decodes.
The story is a lot darker than the first volume neither is it told in as grand a scale, Birdy’s childhood plays a large role in the story and there are a good few episodes solely based in the past tense. This is a welcome change, in Decode 1 the story was mainly about Tsutomu and Birdy was left under developed. Tsutomu plays a lesser role in the events but the shared body concept is primarily used for some of the more light hearted scenes. Despite the story being much grittier that Decode 1 it is just as compelling, especially the relationship between Birdy and her childhood friend Nataru.
The animation can be a mixed bag, through out it is very good but during the large fight scenes (that there are plenty of) the animation style shifts to a rougher more fluid style, while this change in animation helps create some of the most dynamic and stupendous fight scenes the difference in animation can be jarring at times, as a whole the animation does not seem to match the polish of Decode 1. The character designs are varied, this is one of the highlights of the show, there are lots of new aliens and machines on show here and Tsutomu and his school friends have new winter school uniforms and the autumnal tones make a nice change from the warmer summer tones of Decode 1 they also fit the darker story too.
The audio mix on our disc seems to suffer from the same balancing issues as the Decode 1 but it is manageable, the dialogue is a lot softer than the sound effect and soundtrack but if you have a decent sound set up it shouldn’t matter too much. I must credit Luci Christian for her performance of Birdy as she clearly proves why she is one of the most used english language voice actors, the sheer amount of stand-out performances and varied emotions and situations she plays in these episodes is fantastic and she does a sterling job. And of course the rest of the english dub is good but this series is Luci’s crowning achievement in my opinion.
Birdy has been a thoroughly exciting adventure and has been a big surprise. Decode 2 addresses many of the flaws with Decode 1 and manages to set a unique tone that works well with the characters despite not seeming as polished it has many memorable moments for all the right reasons.