Content Warning: police harassment, sexual menace
What’s it about? Eve plays golf for money… but not in the way you might think. You need someone to be your body double while you recover from a leg injury? Eve will put on a mask and become you for a day. You want to bet you can beat her in a high-octane, underworld tournament? You better hand over your money. She’s not a pro, but she is the best in the biz—and she has to be, to protect her friends and family from the cops.
Yes, that’s what this show is about. If you saw “golf” and “girls” and assumed this was going to be a quiet little sports anime about teenagers learning to putt, rearrange your expectations before going into this one. Or don’t—hitting play totally unprepared and letting this episode hit me upside the head was certainly an experience.
Good lord there’s a lot to unpack here. Things start out ordinarily enough, following pro golfer Chris Christina (yes, that is her name) through a routine tournament. Then Chris Christina pulls her own face and hair off revealing she was, in fact, freelance golf prodigy Eve, doing a wee bit of sanctioned identity theft to preserve Christina’s public image. Eve collects her paycheck and heads out, but things only get wilder from there.
Eve is challenged to the world’s most intense game of mini-golf, which takes place in the dead of night, by a roaring set of train tracks; scene-setting that feels more like the stage for a noir detective’s spying mission or a gangland assassination. When Eve started stoically narrating her process, likening lining up a swing with loading, cocking, and shooting a gun, I started hollering.
The music, the colors, the framing, the vocal performance, the way the animation follows Eve’s ball as it shoots through the air and flies perfectly between two cars of a fast-moving train… the intensity of the scene is overwhelming, baffling, and certainly the most fun I’ve ever had watching golf.
Also, she’s teeing off against an anonymous player who is maintaining her anonymity by wearing a clown mask. You know, just in case the collective imagery of the scene needed to be more bizarre and menacing.
This show is so much. In a rapid-fire scene, Eve squares off with a cop who’s demanding bribes from her friend, implied to be an undocumented immigrant. The middle of the episode features a sepia-toned montage of Eve posing around various gritty-yet-beautiful cityscapes like she’s in her own music video. It’s implied that she regularly tangles with mob bosses. Eve’s gun/bullet motifs, denim cutoffs, and brash attitude give the impression that this is what it might be like to watch Revy from Black Lagoon play golf.
Is BIRDIE WING… good? That is an excellent question. It sure is entertaining, though there are some questionable tropes at play in the middle of all this chaos. As I mentioned above, Eve seems to be working so hard so she can support her caddy Lily, her sister, and her sister’s young children. A brief bit of dialogue with the older sister informs the audience that she “doesn’t have the right to be living here”, implying some sort of undocumented immigrant or refugee status that puts her and her family at risk. Which is a heavy, complex topic I’m not 100% sure this high-octane golf anime has the chops to unpack, but I suppose we’ll have to see.
The portrayal of these characters certainly seems sympathetic, though there is something a little off about a narrative where the very blonde and blue-eyed Eve is positioned as hero and savior to the cast’s only dark-skinned characters (so far, at least). There’s also something off-putting about how Lily is written to treat the show’s major Japanese character, immediately latching onto her and gushing that she’s “from the land of anime”. Is the show… making fun of weebs who fawn over Japan and Japanese people based only on their hobbies? It all happened so fast, there’s little time to process.
All of that is also folded into a… joke?… about implied sex trafficking? I think? Eve tees off against a local mobster, set to earn money if she wins. No one will tell her what’s at stake if she loses, but she’s given reason to believe it’s something to do with Lily—something that makes her uncomfortable. So Eve assumes that Lily will have to do sexual favors for the mobster if she loses, and makes sure to win (which isn’t hard since Eve is the world’s most badass golfer), then makes a joke about Lily “losing the most precious thing a girl has” afterwards, then (deep breath) Lily tells her it was nothing to do with that and she instead bet a Gunpla.
Eve is confused. I am confused. The whole “gag” is so understated and goes by so quickly that I feel like I’m watching racecars and not golf. This show is about GOLF!
If you want a woman-led sports anime that makes you ask “what the hell is going on?” at least once every five minutes, consider checking out BIRDIE WING—though also consider hanging out for content warnings and our three-episode check in, because this series seems to be juggling some touchy subjects with fairly wild abandon.