As far as I can tell, no one expected Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story. A yuri anime? Sure, there are plenty out there. An over-the-top sports series? That’s a well-established subgenre. A world run by powerful underworld forces? Organized crime is not an uncommon subject matter for Japanese media. To have all three and unexplained deep-cut Gundam references, and to put it all in an intensely bright package is to approach the schlocky majesty of Birdie Wing.
The heroine is a blonde teen named Eve, who lives in the fictional country of Nafrece. She’s a career golfer, but not in the traditional Tiger Woods sense. Rather, she plays high-stakes gambles where risk and reward are intense, and she does so by breaking almost every textbook convention possible. To Eve, golf is but a tool for psychologically attacking her opponents through her signature “bullets”—swings that embody the gunshot-like style taught to her by a mysterious mentor who sounds a lot like Char Aznable.
However, when Eve meets Amawashi Aoi, an elite legitimate high school golfer whose skills are different yet similarly mindblowing, the gambler’s world begins to change. Eve begins to think that playing with Aoi would be the ultimate thrill, but what would it take for the two to meet? Is she willing to stake her livelihood, or perhaps even more?
Eve, Aoi, and everyone else’s golf is sheer absurdity. It takes from the fine tradition of exaggerated competition like Star of the Giants, Saki, and Prince of Tennis—but just as much from gambling series like Kaiji and One Outs. In fact, Eve’s use of only a handful of golf clubs is reminiscent of the One Outs protagonist using only fastballs thrown at different rotational speeds. Yet, as ridiculous as the golfing is, I realized what makes Birdie Wing transcend even further is that the world surrounding the golf is even more mind-boggling.
While a series like Yu-Gi-Oh! revolves around card games as the premier form of entertainment, this doesn’t seem to be the case in Birdie Wing. Sure, golf is a common sport used for illegal gambling, and there are entire high schools in Japan with elite golf teams, but the setting of the series is such that it would be a haven of bizarre world where sometimes a public figure just gets murdered by rocket launcher.
I don’t think anyone could have predicted the places Birdie Wing has gone. For me, the peak so far might be the moment you think that the series is going for a powerful visual metaphor, only for it to be REAL. Even the de-escalation of hijinks that happens in the second half of this first season feels like a challenge to expectations. And yet, I can’t shake the feeling that the monster is still there, like they stapled Aim for the Ace! to the Mutant League cartoon. When the series comes back, there’s a 50/50 chance the girls are going to end up putting in outer space, and I’m all for it.
Is Birdie Wing about golf? The sport does play a prominent role. Does it feature girls? Yes, they are the stars. Is it a story? Boy, is it ever.