Central Park Media // 1996 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // September 9th, 2004
The ultimate body-sharing caper!
Birdy is a member of an intergalactic police force, sent to Earth to capture a dangerous criminal. Tsutomu is a nerdy high school student just trying to survive. Birdy accidentally kills Tsutomu while trying to apprehend her quarry. In an attempt to make amends, Birdy's supervisors fuse her body with Tsutomu's, allowing them to switch identities as the situation warrants. Together they fight the forces of evil, including an alien vixen and her human scientist comrade, all the while trying to keep their true nature a secret.
That's pretty much the long and the short of it. This disc contains the third and fourth episodes of the Birdy the Mighty series; hopefully these are the only episodes I will ever see. What we have here is a pointless story, a whiny hero, a heroine with dubious powers, and villains who don't seem to do anything. There is some nonsense about a plot to taint the city's water supply with a serum capable of mutating humans into creatures with deadly psionic powers, but most of the running time is concerned with the same old clichéd situations portrayed in every other body-sharing tale. Tsutomu complains about having to wear his sister's clothes while Birdy is in control. Birdy taunts Tsutomu for becoming aroused after he looks at semi-pornographic playing cards his friend has brought to school. Tsutomu's girlfriend wonders why he's behaving so strangely. Then a villainous henchman shows up and there's a fight.
Where are Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin when you need them?
The intended audience of this series is a mystery. The feeble attempts at bawdy humor aren't appropriate for younger viewers, but anyone old enough to understand the jokes will be bored silly by the plot. Director Yoshiaki Kawajiri (responsible for the excellent Ninja Scroll) is more associated with stylized, kinetic, adult-oriented anime; I imagine here he was having an off day.
The quality of the presentation is on par with the quality of the material. The video, for the most part, is washed-out and dingy. The brighter areas of the picture are often blown-out, and it appears the source elements were a bit dirty. Jagged lines appear throughout the picture; halfway through I switched the disc to another player, but the results were the same, so I would suggest watching in interlaced mode...if you decide to punish yourself by watching, that is. Both the English stereo dub and the original Japanese stereo track are thin and pinched, with very little channel separation. Each episode concludes with the most annoying example of Japanese synth pop I've ever heard; the theme song is the worst Spice Girls song the Spice Girls never recorded. Extras consist of previews for other Central Park releases and a series of animation cells being passed off as an art gallery. All in all, there is no reason to purchase this disc.
Central Park Media is ordered to choose its products more wisely. Yoshiaki Kawajiri is ordered to put his talents to better use. Birdy is ordered to leave the planet. Court is adjourned.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Central Park Media
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Art Gallery