[Post originally published on substack on February 27, 2023.]
Welcome to a world where women rule. Where handsome young men serve as toy boys, middle-aged men just exist to be ripped off, and schools’ golf coaches are either drunkards or into high school girls. Step into a world where 75% of the executives are women and business negotiations are conducted with ‘betting golf,’ where death threats are ‘business as usual’ and people actually do die. Welcome to a world of strong, independent catwalk beauties in designer outfits. Welcome to the world of Birdie Wing.
We are in Nafres, a European looking, English speaking, corrupt, and mafia infested country. The underworld bosses starve for entertainment to such a degree that they conclude their bloody business wars based on the outcome of golf matches played in a huge, high-tech subterranean golf course. While the top brass indulges in careless wildlife pet keeping, the unfortunate live in a well-off-looking ‘slum’. This is also the home of Eve, a strong-willed teenage girl with blue eyes and a lion’s mane of untamable blond hair, and her all-girl (unrelated) family of five. None of them possess a residence permit and are therefore forced to live in a bar, which is run illegally by the oldest, Clara. Alas, no customers frequent the bar, so it’s up to Eve to support the girls. And what better way to make money in a golf-crazy nation like Nafres, other than by playing golf?
The Deadly Rainbow
Eve’s main occupation is ‘betting golf’. That is, she plays against anyone who is willing to pay money to be ‘pierced’ by her Rainbow Bullets, usually old dudes with protruding bellies and too much money on their hands. Eve, herself, is excessively humble when it comes to her golfing skills, as she says: “I’m not a pro. Not even a golfer. All I do is hit a ball with a stick to make money.” But in fact, no one in Nafres can match her. With her outstanding skills, she accomplishes unimaginable feats that you can otherwise only see in the Fast and Furious franchise. I watched in disbelief when Eve shot a golf ball in between fast-moving train wagons, before it bounced off a randomly placed rake on the ground and then flew onto the green, right before the hole—all of this in the darkest of nights.
To carry out such precision work, Eve has an arsenal of bullets dyed in the colors of the rainbow at her disposal, hence her nickname, Rainbow Bullet Eve. But make no mistake! Just as the constant bright blue sky and blazing sun in Nafres hide its dark and corrupt underbelly, the name Rainbow belies a murderous truth behind Eve’s skill. She doesn’t use it to play picturesque golf but to ‘get rid’ of someone. Despite her innocent Barbie look, she is out to break, shoot, or kill anybody who gets in her way or whom she deems a worthy opponent.
The one who nurtured this ferocious side of hers was a mysterious, heavily scarred man called Leo. He appeared out of the blue and offered to pay for her family’s living expenses, provided he could teach her golf. What a generous man! Yet he vanished once he had taught her everything he knew. Eve, standing in the tee box, can still hear his voice, fittingly accompanied by the image of a gun, a real gun: “Shoot through your opponents’ heart with a single shot. Destroy them mentally so that they won’t ever think of fighting you again. Load the bullet. Cock the hammer. Take aim. Pull the trigger. And fire it from the barrel!” Announcing her color of choice and skill at the top of her voice, Eve takes a full swing at the ball and blasts it off into the sky.
The Innocent Princess
Despite being in the same line of work—betting golf—Eve has avoided any contact or conflicts with the mafia bosses. This changed after she met another amazing golf player, Amawashi Aoi of Japan. Aoi visited Nafres to partake in the U15 Women’s Golf World Championship and chanced upon Eve on her way to some pre-tournament practice, and they clicked instantly. But Aoi had to return to Japan. And thus, this encounter set forces into motion that pulled Eve into the depths of the mafia’s betting golf games, doing everything she could to be reunited with Aoi.
Aoi is the daughter of two former professional golfers and has been trained in this sport since early childhood. Her mother, Amawashi Seira, is the CEO of the Amawashi Group, which owns the golf brand Athena. She puts every effort into nurturing her daughter’s golfing success and crafting the perfect public image with the aim that, one day, Aoi can be used as a billboard to transform Athena into the number 1 golf brand worldwide. Amawashi even created a tournament to promote her daughter and thus her brand, the All-Japan Girls High School Golf Doubles Championship.
In real-world Japan, the Japan High School Golf Associationorganizes events for junior high and high school students, one of which is the National Junior High and High School Golf Championship, or the Green Kōshien. The name Kōshien refers to the famous National High School Baseball Championship and is probably used to evoke similar sentiments for its athletes and spectators.
Robin Hood and Maid Marian
Let’s get back to Aoi and her new acquaintance. In Nafres, Eve takes on the role of the rebellious and heroic outlaw, fighting against bad corporate and mafia bosses to save and protect the weak—her family. She always speaks her mind, which, at times, also reflects a rather ungrateful nature, and is not willing to bow to anyone. Once in Japan, with no bad guys to fight, she transforms into a tough delinquent to set herself apart from the high society of which she has now become a part of.
Aoi is the total opposite of Eve. She is the embodiment of an innocent high society girl. Amane, her chaperone and caddy, accompanies the prodigy on and off the golf course to ensure that nothing besmirches her purity or reputation or distracts Aoi from the path her mother has mapped out for her. But, as destiny would have it, Eve entered Aoi’s life. The underground golfer is blown away by Aoi’s skill and vows to “pierce through her heart” by winning a game against the Japanese athlete. Even though Eve didn’t succeed, she nonetheless captivated Aoi’s heart, and she never tires of making it clear that Eve is essential to her. “I want to play golf with Eve forever. I need her… for my golf.”
No matter how different their upbringing, financial means, or social standing, the two girls are of one mind when it comes to golf. Enraptured by each other’s skills, they long for the emotional fulfillment they enjoyed during their first game. When together, the two girls are so infatuated with each other, talking golf or making promises, that it slips their minds again and again to exchange phone numbers. Consequently, once physically separated, they had no way of contacting one another. Thus, Aoi spends her days playing golf listlessly and staring absent-mindedly at the green turf while she waits patiently for Eve to chase after her. In Nafres, under a dismal sky and pouring rain, accompanied by the wistful melody of the insert song Honey days (gone too soon), Eve mopes around in the bar and half-heartedly goes about her day-to-day job of emptying the wallets of middle-aged men.
This might have been the end of the series if it hadn’t been for Rose Aleon, the mastermind behind Eve and Aoi’s relationship. She contrived several opportunities for the girls to be reunited with each other. Rose is also Eve’s puppet master, who pulls the teenager’s strings to get her to participate in ‘betting golf’ games between Catherine, the head of a real estate company, and the mafia boss, Mr. Nicolas. The stakes are the rights to a patch of land and the future earnings of the casino that is to be built on it. Playing first for Catherine with Rose, then due to an (un)surprising development for Mr. Nicolas against Rose, Eve wins both matches and is awarded a fraction of the casino’s future income by the new landowner, Mr. Nicolas. She immediately shares the money with her family members, who throw it around in a moving convertible.
Rose is an inscrutable character. Her scheming was the origin of Eve’s newly acquired wealth, but her true intentions remain a mystery. She is the ‘good-bad’ guy, full of contradictions in words and actions; an unfortunate soul, tempted by easy money, and striving for revenge or redemption—this is unclear. Same as Eve, she was taught by Leo who left her after she got involved with the mafia. With the casino betting golf game now concluded, Eve was off to a fresh start in Japan, while Rose’s life came to a bitter end. Heartlessly abandoned by her former coach, deserted by her caddy, and left behind by Eve without a second thought, she was killed by order of the losing party.
Tragic as it may be, her death does not linger long in hearts and minds. Her sunset-colored death scene is followed by a bright morning in Japan, with happily chirping birds and the introduction of a new, lovable, and quirky female character, Saotome Ichina. When Saotome tumbles clumsily out of bed and welcomes us viewers to the Raiō Girls Academy all the bad stuff that happened in Nafres is already long forgotten.
A New Life
With a single glistening teardrop on her eyelashes, Eve leaves her life in Nafres behind to begin a new adventure at Aoi’s side in Japan. To do so, she enrolls at Aoi’s high school, Raiō Girls Academy, a school for the daughters of the upper echelons.
Her brand-new passport now identifies her as the Nafresian Evangeline F. Kimishima—quite the Japanese-sounding surname, if you ask me. Despite her new identity in a new environment and a new chance in life at a prestigious school, Eve continues on the same path as before. She seeks out the strongest opponents she can find and goes for the kill. Obviously, the rise in social rank didn’t affect her murderous inclinations.
Eve makes death threats against almost any opponent who dares raise their voice against her. To Rose’s challenge in Nafres, she replied: “I’ll shoot you with my Rainbow Bullets. I’ll pierce a hole right through your chest.” Being told that there are many skilled players in Japan whom she has to overcome, Eve answers, “I’ll blast right through that wall with my bullets.” And the top amateur high school golfer, Mizuho Himekawa, has received two death threats. The last one shows Eve smiling happily to herself as she thinks of Mizuho’s coming demise: “I’ll kill her! I’ll kill her in golf. With my Rainbow Bullets!” This girl really has some serious issues! Leo channeled her desire to kill towards golf, but just imagine if she had been raised by a mobster instead… . No wonder Leo was so generous about teaching her golf!
Contrary to Moonland, that had me searching desperately for yet another nook in my brain where I could squeeze in all the sports-related knowledge, Birdie Wing left me underwhelmed. While the part of my brain I prepared for information storage slowly gathered dust as the season progressed, I realized this story is not about the technical intricacies of golf, but about making it look attractive (we’ll get to that!), cool, and exciting. Even though the technical details of the sport are still a mystery to me, I now know that it’s a battlefield out there.
But the golfers don’t fight alone! Their adjutants—in golf terms, caddies—are right by their sides. Caddies are such a central part of this sport that the high school arc starts off with introducing Saotome Ichina, who dreams of becoming a professional caddy. Why so? Because according to her, good caddies make tons of money. This also depends on the success of the player, though, because a caddy’s pay consists of a base salary plus a percentage of his golfer’s prize money. After seeing one of Eve’s deadly shots, Saotome is convinced that this mad and beautiful foreign girl will be her cash cow. Thus, ignoring the physical violence, humiliation, and abuse she is continuously afflicted with by her prospective golf partner, Saotome follows Eve’s every step to get her to accept the proposal. As is clear by now, Eve will do anything that guarantees her a kill. So, when the aspiring caddy promises her that together they will gain certain victory, Eve concedes.
Caddy’s sure don’t have it easy and what you can see in the anime only scratched the surface of their responsibilities. They have to be a jack of all trades. The golfers possess a single superpower like “Rainbow Bullets,” “Read the line,” or “In the zone.” But the caddies must master many things: get their golfer to trust them; check their emotional and physical state; be aware of the weather conditions; know the terrain; prepare a strategy; offer advice; provide emotional support. Psychiatrists, physicians, tacticians, meteorologist, geologists; they have to be experts in many fields in order to lead their golfers to success.
Golf Is Attractive
I promise you, I really did my best to concentrate on the plot, not to miss a tiny yet important detail, but the skintight clothes, hot pants, short skirts, and deep cleavages kept distracting me. It’s a matter of taste (and stance), I suppose, whether you find these visualizations attractive or offensive. Either way, they are impossible to ignore and thus get your undivided attention. No matter what the characters did, be it lounging listlessly on the couch, enjoying a VR session of golf, or working out, they performed all tasks in perfect attire, most of which highlighted feminine features. More than once, the camera moves along the incredibly long legs of the female characters or zooms in on parts not covered by pieces of cloth. Seeing all this, I could only draw one conclusion: Nafres and Japan are the strongholds of perfectly dressed, perfectly shaped, firm female bodies with unblemished skin.
One moment, I stared wide-eyed at the skintight and quite revealing spandex outfit of a lady who looked like she stepped onto the wrong film set. The next moment, I was blinded by the ever-glaring sunbeams. So, whether you like it or not, scanty outfits and ample sunlight are your constant companions throughout the series.
Apart from two rainy days, one in Nafres and one in Japan, the weather is always blindingly bright, reflecting the colors’ full saturation and creating an invigorating feeling. Therefore, I was perplexed by Rose’s dying words: “Go, Eve. To a place where the sun shines,” because the sun was constantly shining with unwavering intensity! The sunbeams claimed their place in almost every single frame. And even on the subterranean or indoor golf courses, lens flares kept blinding me. At some point, I felt as if I had gone back in time to 2009, when I squinted my way through the Star Trek movie. (You can check for yourself in the honest trailer.) Anyhow, for those of you with sensitive eyes, some eye protection might be advisable to make it through this sunny anime unharmed.
Colors and characters alike convey a cheerful and energetic spirit. But the bright blue skies, verdant grasslands, and perfect outfits hide the grim reality, consisting of corruption, murder, prostitution, pawn sacrifices, social stratification, economic inequality, and the problems refugees face. I suppose the use of such topics should give the story more depth and dramatize the plot. At the same time, they are touched upon only superficially, which enables us viewers to overlook these grave issues (should we choose to do so) and enjoy the story as a light-hearted way of entertainment.
So, now that we have checked out the plot, the fashion, and the weather conditions, let’s have a closer look at the underrepresented minority, the men.
Besides some minor male characters and background actors, there are a few men that are given a little more screen time, some of whom wield decisive influence over the (lead) female characters. In Nafres, apart from Mr. Nicolas, who is the origin of Eve’s excellent financial situation, there was also Leo, Eve’s former coach. He taught Eve to ‘shoot bullets’ and directed her sanguine desires in such a way so that she wouldn’t become a threat to society. Before Eve, Rose was his student, until she fell from his grace for getting involved with the mafia, whereupon he unceremoniously abandoned her.
Eve’s present coach in Japan is Raiō’s golf club advisor, Amuro Reiya, a cunning young man who knows exactly how to motivate the teenager. He tricked Eve into joining the golf club by baiting her with potential future rivals. Although he rather calls it “sowing the seed” of motivation. Aoi, too, is under the formative influence of male figures. Her grandfather bribes her with her favorite cake to gain her obedience and uses his ties with the media to promote his granddaughter’s success. Aoi’s late father taught her golf already at an early age, and he is also the reason she found joy in the sport. But that’s not his only legacy. Mizuho, the ace player of another girls’ school and Eve’s new archenemy, has some kind of connection with Aoi’s father, too. Season 2 might reveal some details about their mysterious relationship.
So, while the women fight each other on the front lines, the men are pulling the strings in the background, financing, teaching, and directing them. Women who went against their male counterparts met a bitter end. Rose disregarded her mentor’s wishes not to get involved with the mafia and, as a result, lost her forearm, her mentor, and her life. Catherine took on the mafioso, Mr. Nicolas, and lost to him politically and militarily, and in the end, she also lost the land rights. So far, the only woman unaffected by men’s scheming seems to be Aoi’s mother.
Yet, apart from Mr. Nicolas, none of the men openly challenged their female counterpart. He was the only one daring enough to duel his female rival, Catherine, face-to-face, and he did so successfully. He is also the only man who didn’t get his own character description on the Birdie Wing website. This a little unfair. After all, he is the one who upheld his end of the deal and thereby enabled Eve to chase after Aoi all the way to Japan.
To recap, Birdie Wing is a treasure trove of things you could talk about (and pick on) if you really wanted to dissect the story. There are also several scenes that just made me chuckle because of their absurdity. Nonetheless, it’s an entertaining story that depicts confident women who don’t shy away from providing some fan service.
On the other hand, I had a hard time placing this anime in the sports genre. Apart from ‘women hitting a ball with a stick’ and the most common trope in sports anime and manga of ‘not giving up no matter what’ I found little to no specifics about golf as such. Ultimately, golf only serves to transport the main characters’ story and could have easily been replaced by any other sport whose apparel allows for tight outfits and whose equipment could serve as a weapon.
What’s To Come?
Despite all that, by the end of the series, I enjoyed the endless succession of sunny days, the banter between the two dissimilar main characters and their equally dissimilar caddies. The abrupt end of this season made me wonder if I somehow missed an episode, and I had to double check that episode 13 really was the last one. There are many open questions, like: will Aoi’s mom find out that Eve in Nafres, whom she so decidedly disapproved of, is the same as Evangeline F. Kimishima in Japan? Will this endanger the girls’ relationship? What about coach Amuro’s health issues, and how are they connected to the Amawashi conglomerate? What is the connection between Mizuho and Aoi’s father? Who are Eve’s parents, who seem to have passed on their golf and Japanese language genes to their daughter? Curious as I am, I might watch the second season after all.
- Original post published on sportsbaka.substack.com
- Birdie Wing official site
- Regarding the Green Kōshien: just like the ‘real’ Kōshien, there is a spring tournament (in March) and a summer tournament, which takes place in August.
- Check out the Birdie Wing fandom website for more information on the anime.
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