The surprise spring 2022 anime Birdie Wing -Golf Girls Story- is…not about golf. Realized by Takayuki Inagaki and produced by Pictures of Bandai Namco, anime is more about making the best of bad situations, finding ways to enjoy the things you’re passionate about while continuing to engage with them on your own terms, and most importantly, lesbian camp romance. Golf is the means by which Bird wing explores these ideas, however, so it’s fair to examine what the original anime series is right and wrong about its namesake sport.
As someone who started playing golf shortly after learning to walk, I was immediately drawn to Bird wing. Luckily, I also acquired an affinity for ostentatious drama as I got older, because Bird wing makes it clear from the start that he is not interested in exploring what makes golf such a tense and challenging sport. From the technical aspects of the game to the mental toll of every shot, other media do a much better job of grounding themselves in the nuances of golf than Bird wing. Where Bird wing stays below par – which is good in golf – that’s how it showcases players’ idiosyncrasies and mindsets. Speaking of the titular Golf Girls, while more over the top than a hard shot recounting their game in a clubhouse, the anime successfully conveys the passionate feelings you’ll have for another player during a game. So during Bird wingPar golf’s representation is a mixed bag, you can keep fourteen clubs in a golf bag during regulation play and you don’t have to be a master with all of them to have a great time on the course.
Birdie Wing -Golf Girls Story- opens with a golfer competing in a non-WPGA open, then snatching a Impossible mission-style face mask to reveal that she is the series protagonist Eve (rotating surname). Eve is an underground golfer whom the professional player hired to preserve her public image following an injury. While this opening manages to immediately hook viewers with a penchant for the ridiculous, it also shows just how much this show cares about fully understanding the ins and outs of golf — it just doesn’t.
Golf is a deeply repetitive sport where a serious player will tweak a number of swings for different situations to mirror shine and then burn that process into muscle memory. Professional golfers train to ensure their foot placement, weight distribution, posture, grip, backswing and tracking are exactly what they need to hit the exact shot they want from any lie (i.e. the position of the golf ball relative to the golfer) imaginable. Because the process of swinging a golf club is so closely tied to a player’s physique and preferences, it would be impossible for someone to lie about their identity and impersonate another golfer.
Anyone whose job it is to pay attention to these players would be able to tell from a practice swing that the person in the tee box is not who they say they are. Now it might be possible that Bird wing makes a kind of comment here and subtly draws attention to the long-standing issues of underfunding and underreporting of women’s sports, implying that there aren’t enough people paying attention to catch this fraud or take care of remedying it. However, the anime goes on to portray women’s golf as the lifeblood of every society in its world, so it’s more likely that the team behind the series just isn’t interested in basing its lesbian golf drama on the realities of the world. sport.
Or even reality in general, given the assassinations by rocket launchers, squishy prosthetic arms, and Eve who started out wearing no collared shirt! I can’t stress how the basic dress code is imposed on a youngster learning to golf. As someone who saw half a dozen kids kicked out of high school golf practice for wearing jeans instead of khakis, my eye twitched every time Eve took the course when she was dressed like a valley girl on a summer vacation in Big Bear.
Bird wing avoiding the finer elements of golf to tell a more accessible and engaging story is forgivable. It’s disappointing, however, that the anime doesn’t capitalize on the organic tension of the sport. Like most golf courses played in computer is a kind of modified match play where the first player to have more strokes on a hole than the other loses the match, the anime misses what makes golf such a challenging and rewarding sport.
I’m far from the first person to write this, but golf is a game of mistakes. While a quarterback can finish a game with a perfect passer rating or a basketball center can hit all three points they attempt, there is no such thing as a perfect game of golf. Technically, the best possible score in a game of golf is 18, but since it is physically impossible to get a hole in one on every hole, golf is more of a balancing act where a player tries to hit a ball as close to the spindle as possible. possible while knowing that every inch, foot and meter they muscle on a shot comes at the cost of a little precision.
This turns a round of the most common move-based game, where each move counts towards a total score and the lowest score at the end of a round wins, into an emotional rollercoaster. Here, a player’s mistake will not cost him a single point or end a match, but instead every extra hit will be taken with him for the rest of the match. There’s nothing more humiliating in any sport than being ahead in a golf match, having to tack on a few extra strokes because of a stupid mistake, and then, maybe because your opponent has seen a weakness and played their best hole of the match, you suddenly find yourself down one or more strokes with a finite number of opportunities to make up for it.
It’s so frustrating because a player knows it’s his fault that he’s in this situation and he knows he can play better than that. Bird wing doesn’t care about the emotions or narratives that arise in a game of golf. The focus on sports often feels more like a novelty than an integral part of the story the people behind it want to tell. Luckily, there are a good number of golf-focused series that are steeped in this hobby!
Tadatoshi Fujimakiit is Robot × Laser Beam is about a neurodivergent high school student, Hatohara Robato, who discovers he has a gift for golf and slowly dedicates his life to the sport. This manga is at its best when it conveys moments like the joy of mastering a new type of shot or the devastation of suddenly losing because your opponent made an incredible chip in Eagle. The 62 chapters are available digitally on Shounen jump and, although the layouts are a bit bland and some of the jokes have aged like milk, seeing the reserved protagonist cry victory after making a clutch hit conveys the highs of golf better than any other media I’ve seen. have seen.
Then there’s the more typical shonen sports fare, King Golf by Ken Sasaki. This series follows brash delinquent Sōsuke Yūki as he takes up golf to impress a pretty girl and a snobby boy, but falls in love with the game as he practices mastering its intricacies over hundreds of chapters. While some of the character designs and motivations raise eyebrows, it has a fun 2000s retro look and guides a reader through everything from basic practice drills to high-level minutiae. Good luck finding where to read it, though!
In fairness to Bird wing, he succeeds in finding truths in the personal and social dimensions of golf. Concrete example, Bird wing knows exactly how superstitious, anal and pretentious professional golfers can be. The anime prominently features characters painting meaningful symbols, including Pac-Man, on their golf balls. While this is a fun character detail for most anime actors, it’s also a real thing gamers do! My dad hasn’t played a meaningful game of golf without using a Titleist Pro V with one of two sets of markings in twenty-one years. I don’t think he’s physically capable of it! Anyone who puts enough time, effort and passion into a game to make it a key part of their identity or their job is a weirdo on some level and this show knows it.
Bird wing also discusses the types of relationships that can be formed through golf. While most people won’t have a love-rival relationship with their golf buddies, some passionate feelings can arise. Indeed, outside of very high level play, a golfer competes with or against a very small group of people for hours without a break. With how stressful the game can be, people will show their true selves to the rest of a foursome. If someone is the type of person who will cheat to get ahead, they’ll do it on the links, even if they’re not rocking a serpent and a vampire pattern simultaneously. If two people are capable of being friends or more, chances are they’ll figure it out in five hours of play and conversation. If a person cares about golf and improving it, they really are themselves on a golf course and it’s a slow enough, intimate game that other players really get a sense of who that person is.
If it wasn’t obvious in the opening of this piece, I hope it’s clear now that Birdie Wing -Golf Girls Story- is a lot. Some of what happens in this bold and weird mishmash is about golf, but most of the time it isn’t, and that’s okay! Although I am personally disappointed that Bird wing doesn’t appreciate the sport at the heart of his story, he’s so happily himself every minute of every episode that it doesn’t bother me too much. So what if that doesn’t highlight the good sides of a sport that’s been largely co-opted by the disconnected wealthy? Bird wing is a wild and refreshing lesbian camp sports anime that succeeds without having to fall in love fan service or shameless merchandising efforts, and that’s worth celebrating.