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Double-backed anime & Birdy The Mighty Decode

Tuesday 17th April 2012

Andrew Osmond gets his head around cut-up anime chronologies

Birdy The Mighty DecodeHere’s a handy tip for anyone embarking on the SF action show Birdy the Mighty Decode. The last episode in the collection – part 26, called “Between You and Me” – is not really the last episode. In fact, it should be part 14, as it bridges the two main story-arcs that make up the show. Even more confusingly, part 25 – which is the real final episode, with a terrifically animated skyscraper-smashing punch-up – has a “next episode” ad for part 26 tagged on at the end. The advert shows rough unfinished animation, suggesting it was only in early production when part 25 was broadcast.

In fact, the “Between You and Me” episode wasn’t shown when Birdy the Mighty Decode ran on Japanese television. Rather, it’s a video release, put out on Japanese DVD a few months after the TV series had ended. It extends the story of a character who’s central to the show’s first arc, and gives more of an introduction to some characters in the second. However, the episode isn’t vital to follow the series.

Darker than Black: Twilight of the GeminiThere was a different situation with another SF action series, Darker than Black: Twilight of the Gemini, which was released in Britain a few months ago. This was a sequel to the previous Darker than Black, with both anime set in a post-catastrophe world where people have developed lethal superpowers. However, viewers who watched Gemini straight after Darker than Black would likely be bewildered. A great many things have happened off-screen between the shows, including one of the main characters somehow attaining a deadly divinity.

Luckily, there’s a simple way for British viewers to avoid confusion; watch the third disc of the Twilight of the Gemini DVD first. The third disc, you see, contains a four-part video series, which was called Darker than Black: Gaiden in Japan. Like Birdy’s bonus episode, this spinoff was released in Japan after the TV show had finished. The story is set between the first Darker than Black and the Gemini sequel, and it explains exactly what happened in the interim, making Gemini far easier to follow. Perhaps the Japanese marketers set out deliberately to confuse the Japanese TV viewers, so they would invest in the video to learn what on earth had happened to the Darker the Black characters.

Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Demon WombBirdy and Darker than Black are far from the only anime with double-backed chronologies. Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Demon Womb, for example, is often called a sequel to Legend of the Overfiend when it actually seems to be a “midquel”; that is, it’s set during the events of the previous film. Then again, Womb curiously relocates the main characters from Tokyo to Osaka, which could be a continuity goof or proof that Demon Womb is set in a parallel universe to Overfiend.

The series She the Ultimate Weapon – Another Love Song fills in an elaborate “untold story” missed out of the TV She the Ultimate Weapon, spanning the first ten episodes. Anime spinoff movies can be midquels, telling “untold” adventures from characters’ pasts when their stories have ended (apparently) for good on TV. See the Cowboy Bebop movie, for example, or this year’s Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos.

Wolfs RainOne more example of story confusion caused by a crossover from TV to video is the fantasy lupine epic, Wolf’s Rain. On its TV run, the show was subject to production delays and wandering timeslots, leading to no less than four redundant recap episodes (parts 15 to 18). The TV run finished with a stirring finale to part 26, which viewers might well mistake for the ending. In fact, the real end was made as a four-part video, released on the seventh Wolf’s Rain disc in Britain and included in the collected editions. The video ends the story on a very different, tragic-yet-cathartic, note to the TV series, so be warned; if you only watch anime on Japanese TV, you can miss the best bit of the story.

Birdy the Mighty Decode: The Complete Collection, is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment. Sometimes we count ourselves lucky we can watch it all in one go…

Double-backed anime & Birdy The Mighty Decode


Birdy The Mighty: Complete Series Collection

was £39.99
The entire season! Collecting Decode 1 and Decode 2 for the first time!
Birdy is an interstellar space agent sent to Earth to investigate the appearance of aliens under the secret identity of a popular Idol. A frantic late night mission causes her to catch an innocent schoolboy in her deadly line of fire. Thanks to a special space technology, Birdy knows a way to restore his life by joining their two bodies into one. Now Tsutomu and Birdy must share the same body, mind and adventures while his broken flesh slowly heals.



Naruto: Now & Then

Matt Kamen weighs the difference between the original series and the newer Shippuden episodes of Naruto.
With hundreds of episodes under Naruto’s belt, it can be easy to forget just how far the world’s favourite orange ninja cadet and friends have come since their first days at school. The release of the complete first season of Naruto Shippuden seems the perfect time to look back at some of the key players in the saga, and see where the new series finds them – and haven’t they grown…?

Naruto music: NICO Touches the Walls

Tom Smith dives in to the band behind Naruto Shippuden Box 15
Who’s NICO, and what’s their obsession with walls? It’s a question you may ask yourself upon discovering the artist name behind Naruto Shippuden’s eighth opening theme. They call themselves NICO Touches the Walls and, despite the ridiculous name, they are a pretty big deal in Japan right now.

Out Now: Naruto Shippuden 16

Ninja action sneaking to a store near you
Naruto Shippuden box 16 is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

Time Travel in Anime

Paul Browne rewinds from Naruto Shippuden: The Lost Tower into the past
In the latest Naruto film The Lost Tower, the title character and his comrades embark on a mission to capture Mukade – a missing ninja who has the ability to travel through time. Mukade’s plan is to travel into the past and take control of the Five Great Shinobi Countries. During the battle with Mukade, Naruto and Yamato find themselves hurled back twenty years in time. Will Naruto and his friends be able to return to his own time? And will their actions in the past save the future?


Mechademia 8: Tezuka's Manga Life

Jasper Sharp reviews a book-length collection on the “God of Manga”
Tezuka’s Manga Life is a scholarly and much-needed attempt to sort out the wheat from the chaff of the Tezuka myth, with its 22 contributors spread over 300+ pages attempting to put the vast output of the prodigious manga artist into context.

Cosplay: One Piece

Paul Jacques rounds up the best dressed fans
With a tip of the hat to the best-selling One Piece, Fayyaz Dawda cosplays as the bendy-limbed hero Luffy.

Wrinkles vs Roujin Z

Animation for the old... there's only one way to settle this... FIGHT!
Wrinkles is a new grown-up Spanish animated film about elderly people in a care home. Hang on a bit, that can’t be right. Animation and the elderly; they’re two things which have nothing to do with each other. Well, except for...

Dragon Ball UK DVD Release Details

Clarification of a few details
Since our announcement we have had it confirmed by TOEI Animation (The Licensor) that the masters being used for our release will be those used in Australia by Madman Entertainment. At the time of our announcement this had not been confirmed to us.

Eureka Seven Ao

Kicking it old-school, with giant robots
Pacific Rim opened a new gateway to ’bot sagas for youngsters, and for oldsters too. They’ll see del Toro’s film, learn how much he was inspired by Japanese cartoons, and then check out the originals. If they choose Eureka Seven Ao, they’ll find elements also seen in Pacific Rim, embedded in a very different show.

Keiichi Hara Interview

Andrew Osmond talks to the director of Shin-chan and Colorful
As the eleventh Japan Touring Film Programme heads through Britain (see here for venues and here for our write-up), we took the opportunity to speak to the director of the anime entry, the feature film Colorful. Keiichi Hara has been working in anime for thirty-odd years, gaining experience through working with two of Japan’s most popular kids’ characters, Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan. He then graduated to his own projects, and is now a freelancer who pushes at the boundaries of what anime can be.

Blood C: The Last Dark

Director Naoyoshi Shiotani on getting the darkness right
“In every theatre you have different light, so you can never be sure what it’s going to look like. So you have to think; will this be okay, will you lose details in that kind of darkness? It was hard to calculate all that.”

Sir Run Run Shaw (1907-2014)

Remembering a giant of Asian cinema
At their production peak, Shaw Studios sanded down some of the historical elements in their epics, concentrating on acrobatics and heavier violence. This, in turn, made them more palatable or at least accessible to non-Chinese audiences, and inadvertently stoked the fires of the Kung Fu Boom.
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