The thing about first episodes is that, they are premieres; animation studios are more liable to put loads of work into the first episode because it is the one that they need to get their hooks into the audience. An unfortunate side effect of this practice is that what comes after the first episode sometimes (often) doesn’t live up to what the first episode promises.
Tetsuwan Birdy unfortunately suffers from this. While the animation in episode two isn’t exactly bad, it doesn’t live up to the animation in episode one, which is disappointing because, to me, consistency is key. In any field, in any medium, how can you be considered good if you only ever produce one piece of value? You also have the movement itself which, even without considering the technical execution of the animation, is pretty boring. All of this comes together to create a boring episode with a dull fight scene trying to act as the centerpiece — only to fail.
Another point of contention that I have is with the plot of this episode. I feel that the episodic aspects — the villain of the week — were not put together well; there doesn’t seem to be any sort of depth or meaning to what happened plot-wise and that makes for a passive viewing experience. Things are happening, not events; and that’s boring anime. The serial features of the episode are weaker than those of the first episode as well. The first episode introduced a set of devices: a variety of alien species, your main characters, different world-building concepts, etc. — and the second episode is meant to expound upon this, but not quite in the way that Birdy did. The key to science fiction is in the world-building, it’s in the development of the serial elements of the show, but Birdy — rather than explore what they introduced in the first episode like aliens, Birdy’s life in space, or Geega’s purpose in coming to Earth — chose to introduce new characters, conflicts, and ideas. Birdy chose to expand it’s mythology at a fast pace that it simply cannot support, unbalancing the pacing of the show; just because it is an action anime doesn’t mean that basic things like plot progression and world-building need to be fast-paced as well, just that there needs to be a sense of excitement.
Saving the episode though is how it works as a further set-up for character interaction and development. The first episode, with it’s introduction of the mythology, plot, characters, and conflicts, didn’t leave much room for more meaty characterization and development. The relationships between Tsutomu and his classmates is really given a bit of life here, especially his relationship with Hayamiya.
What surprised me most though was the relationship between Tsutomu and Birdy. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the certain callousness that Birdy has towards Tsutomu certainly wasn’t it. Birdy easily went off and did her own thing without any regard for the important social events Tsutomu had in his life, which certainly flies in the face of my first impression of her as a gender-bent version of a typical shounen protagonist. Instead of a happy-go-lucky girl galavanting around the galaxy bringing justice Birdy appears to be a very serious, by-the-books cop; certainly the inverse of what I have been lead to believe by the opening and some of the events of the first episode. Birdy even appears to be callous about the lives of humans as we see when she tries to leave the movie set even though there was a man pinned under some rubble, which is strange considering the lengths that she appears to go to in order to save Tsutomu from lying. I can forgive Tetsuwan for this seemingly out-of-character moment though, as the subsequent moment in which Tsutomu points the man out to Birdy and convinces her that she needs to help him sets up their relationship to have a dynamic give-and-take.
While the second episode of Tetuswan Birdy has many things that it needs to work on, the show is shaping up to be rather enjoyable!