In the distant future, humanity has taken to the skies and colonized many planets throughout the universe. An agency known as the Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs (GOTT) has been formed to maintain order. Within GOTT, a secret squad of enhanced human beings—known as the ES Unit—carry out secret missions to put a stop to major galactic crimes. Two such operatives are the lowly C-ranked Éclair and Lumière.
Despite being on the bottom of the totem pole, the pair wield formidable powers: Éclair’s superhuman strength and lipstick whip and Lumière’s ability to take control of any computer. Together, they can take on any mission that GOTT throws at them. But as they complete more and more missions, the duo begin to uncover a major conspiracy that leaves them questioning everything they know about themselves and the entire galaxy.
Kiddy Grade is an action/ fanservice laden anime that I thought would be good if I wanted to turn off my brain and marathon something. However, even with this low standard I set, it still didn’t fare as well as I hoped. This is primarily due to the first third and the last third of the series.
To avoid any spoilers I’ll split Kiddy Grade in 3 parts, first third, middle, and last third. The first third consisted of standalone episodes that were designed to let the viewer get familiar/learn about the characters. This is a pretty standard format that many 2
kour series follow. First, have an episodic beginning to get to know the characters while giving clues to the bigger story that would start later. Many times series wait too long to get on with the story. In this case, I though that the first third was simply mediocre and it really didn’t get me interested in the characters. Also, there was way too much fanservice… Ok, let me rephrase that, too much loli fanservice. Even the action scenes were kind of boring to me. In fact, right now I have trouble remembering anything during the first third of Kiddy Grade.
Much to my surprise during the middle it actually got good. The main story starts to move and the action scenes were quite exciting/good. Let me just say, here is where we find about the past of our two heroines. Éclair especially, has become more interesting. However, I wouldn’t say there was character development, rather they showed us what was already there. Sadly the third arc simply isn’t as good as the middle. While there was lots of intense action, much of which is very well animated, there were way too many dues ex machina and poor writing in general. The writers seemed to want to put in as many twists as humanly possible. Many times I said to myself “you can’t expect us to believe that!” In short, the last third was a complete mess (hmm Gonzo messing up the end of a series, surprise surprise).
As I said before the animation is quite good. As it should as the 2 main draws of Kiddy Grade are the action scenes and fanservice. Not much to say about the action scenes as this seems to be one of Gonzo’s big budget titles. Expect lots of well choreographed fight scenes with plenty of flash. Character designs are quite nice however, I’m not too fond of Éclair and Lumiere “current” look…
Oh, as for the characters, there isn’t much in terms of character development. Instead we learn what was already there via flashbacks. The most interesting character is Éclair and since it featured such a huge cast we don’t really get to know the other characters very well.
Anyway, was Kiddy Grade the action packed, fanservicey anime I expected? Yes, there was plenty of action and fanservice and it is especially suited for mindless watching. However, at the same time it had a poor beginning that makes it hard to start. Furthermore, the last third was completely garbled and even with my brain turned off I had a hard to accepting many of the events. There was quite a bit of potential shown in the middle, sadly it was never realized. Who knows maybe Kiddy Grade 2 will actually utilize this potential.
Some of the stuff I mention is already touched upon in other reviews, however I watched Kiddy Grade dubbed, so in case you are wondering what that was like...
There were some things I liked about this show, but also a lot of things I did not. I wouldn't say don't watch this show, but if I had to give someone a list of recommendations, it probably wouldn't come to mind. I'll give it credit, at least the series has AN ending, which in my experience is a feat in of itself when it comes to anime. It's a fun show to watch if you can
tolerate some iffy writing (and a great show if you're really into ecchi). Kiddy Grade was surprisingly well on its way to being a "good" anime. The way the quarter end is handled however makes it an average anime at best, and wank material for homo/pedo fetishists at worst.
The first episode was a real challenge to sit through. It gave an uneasy impression of a cheap show with overwhelming amounts of pandering and fanservice. There were also a couple of obnoxious things, like the random use of french (to add some much needed class?) and unnecessary slashes in the episode titles. Fortunately, a story eventually does manage to emerge inbetween the gratuitous panty shots and cleavage closeups (oh ho ho!). Unfortunately, Kiddy Grade is another entry on the long list of anime suffering from "Cancerous Writing Syndrome." They build up this background and plot that almost looks as if it'll be unique and interesting, and then they unleash a beast of such fierce banality (episode 19) that everything gets defenestrated. Why do so many shows do this? Just when you think there might be something you can take seriously, they either make it redundant or just outright contradict it.
I mention this not as an illustration of my disdain for the show so much as my genuine disappointment in it. The use of mystery and sci-fi elements were entertaining enough to keep my interest. I was also fairly amused by the creative use of things like nanobots, lipstick whips and overpowered suitcases. For all their creativity however there was an equal amount (if not more) of ridiculous dialogue, cheesy moments, cliche exposition and other eye-rolling exercises. Still, it's the suicidal deus ex machina towards the end that really ushers in the catastrophic nosedive. The story gets simultaneously insipid and convoluted, and yet despite this dichotomy, it still somehow manages to resolve things in the most generic of fashions. To top this off, the shameless exploitation returns with a perverted vengeance. So... if you don't like the way this show begins, you probably won't like the way it ends either.
There wasn't really much there in terms of characters, they're all kind of cycled through hastily, but I expected as much. I didn't have a problem with any of the characters per se, other than they're all pretty recycled. Here's a rough breakdown: a main character who is the greatest [whatever], a trusty and crafty sidekick, rivalrous friends (or frienemies), a hard-nosed yet kind-at-heart boss, a mysterious yet conveniently helpful guy, and of course the meddling antics of characters who are as good at concealing their alignments as they are at not revealing their diabolical plans.
The animation was pretty good. Very similar to Full Metal Panic, which would make sense, since they shared the same animation studio. There were some cool character designs as well. I really liked Eclairs first costume, Tweedle-Dee's china dress was also very nice.
The opening/ending songs actually grew on me O_O
And I thought the bg music was fine (though perhaps a little too much use of the suspense horn).
I have no idea if this show is any better subbed, but here's a sample of the wonderful dialogue from Kiddy Grade (ep. 19):
[Two villains are giving chase to the heroines]
Villain 1: Where do they think they're going?
Villain 2: Nowhere. We're coming up on a dead end
Villain 1: A dead end? How appropriate it will be for them... in more ways than one.
A "diverse" series that manages to accomplish far more than one might expect.
As always, my reviews are spoiler free.
When you look at the cover of Kiddy Grade, your first thought might be, "Oh look, scantily clad women with super powers fighting bad guys. I think I've seen this one before." You might laugh at the mecha, ecchi, and sci-fi tags and never watch it. The title might even scare you away.
To some degree, you would be correct in your thought. Kiddy Grade is about scantily clad women with super powers fighting bad guys, after all. There are robots, space
ships, pseudo-science, super powers, guns, and panty shots. I have no idea what Gonzo was thinking when they titled it. The first episode throws it all out on the table in one big mess, and anyone would be taken aback. But slowly, it finds a way to tie it all together into a series that deserves a lot more praise than it normally gets.
Story - 6/10
With a mix of episodic plots making up several different arcs, Kiddy Grade tries to tell a lot of stories at once. Give me just a moment to compare it to a crowd's favorite action series, Black Lagoon.
Like Black Lagoon, it relies on action to keep you watching. Neither show is character driven, and neither is driven by a deep and complex plot. Both series accomplish their goal of sucking you in with action, albeit in different ways. Black Lagoon is about guns, and while there are more than a few times that you have to suspend disbelief, it has its feet firmly planted in the world of reality. Kiddy Grade, on the other hand, is not bound to our reality in any way. It takes full liberty with this, as you can see by all the tags. The first episode really hits it hard. Receptionists fighting robots, then boarding a spaceship for a fight with a gang of criminals, posing a pizza delivery girls? You read right, and I think a lot of people would close MPC or turn off their DVD player right about now. I wouldn't blame you. But give it a little time and things drop into place.
In a nutshell:
Éclair and Lumière are agents for the Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs (GOTT) and they go on a number of different missions, escorting officials and keeping order on problematic planets. They regularly interact with other agents of the GOTT, with whom they are on mixed terms. Eventually, however, a mission goes wrong and the GOTT is after them. During these arcs, there are sometime single episodic plots.
Like Black Lagoon, it is not very strong in the plot department. So why a 6, and not a 4 or 5? Black Lagoon uses the bounty hunter roll to tie the gunfights together, with the crew encountering events and people who drive the short mini-arcs. Kiddy Grade does the same thing, but with the tie of being agents, then criminals, of the the GOTT. Black Lagoon is more relatable, but in my opinion Kiddy Grade is more interesting and creative if you are at all a fan of science fiction.
After the first episode, things quiet down a bit. There are no more absurd pizza delivery outfits. The fights have better explanation and follow-through. You are exposed to a massive, diverse world of science fiction throughout the series, but it comes in much more manageable doses.
It can get a bit dark and serious, but it carries itself lightly throughout most of the series.
Animation - 7/10
Released in 2002, the series looks good even today. The action scenes are all fluid, and the character designs are very nice. I enjoyed all the uniforms and costumes you encounter throughout the series. If I was to have one complaint, it would be the minimum amount of effort put in the backgrounds.
On fanservice... yes, it's there, no doubt about it. There are a few times it's a little too blatant (like that terrible first episode), but it doesn't really detract from the series overall. I would go as far as to say many action series have more.
Sound - 6/10
It's really nothing too special, good or bad. The sub and dub have equally good casts (early Hirano Aya and Monica Rial). I'll push it from a 5 to a 6 since it has a great voice cast for both languages.
Characters - 8/10
The heroines are Éclair and Lumière, who are given a surprising amount of back story for a series of this nature. Éclair's power is pretty basic: super strength, reflexes, etc. She's a tank. She is enthusiastic, short tempered, and excitable. Lumière has the power to take control of electronics, which has some cool applications in the series. She has a strong love of grape juice and serves as the level headed partner. They really make a great pair, with a lot of chemistry between them as partners (and maybe more, if your yuri goggles are on tight enough).
There is great arc explaining their pasts and how being an agent for the GOTT works. This is more than can be said for most action driven shows, expecting you to swallow a one dimensional character. It takes awhile, but the pair becomes well developed. The same cannot be said of the side cast, but they are interesting enough and perform their roles adequately. The main pair of villains (who I will not mention due to spoilers) are fleshed out quite a bit as well.
Enjoyment - 9/10
I feel as though I gradually explained it throughout this longer-than-expected review. To sum it up:
-Great pair of heroines who are well developed and work very well together
-Interesting setting once you absorb it
-Fun plot that smooths out over time
-Creative story tying good action scenes together.
I've really been rambling long enough, but...
Give it a few episodes before making a call. The first one is pretty over the top, but the series really does deserve a chance.
Thanks for reading (this longer than intended) review.
A Space-Opera in 3 acts, "Kiddy Grade" in my (humble) oppinion should rightfully be regarded as a Classic of the Genre.
Although, as many are quick to point-out, the show is off to a "Slow Start" [spoiler]Which apparently involves fighting five armed Cyborgs bare-handed and foregoing an inter-Planetary War[/spoiler], somehow it manages to never seem boring, if maybe a bit easy-going at times.
To that i have to attribute the copious doses of fanservice, splendid mecha graphics, and to a lesser extent the Classical Victorian style implemented in the artwork, from balroom-dances to Lumiére's schoolgirl *ahem* I mean work-uniform, which help to give the Series
a distinguished look and feel.
In the Second Chapter of the Series however, the atmosphere shifts radically as things take a turn for the worst, and thus the actual Plotline is Born. From then-on things seem increasingly bleak, as you watch what you once regarded a light-hearted-comedy unfold into Drama , also there is less Fanservice :(
The culminal point of the series leaves much to be desired, with the writhers probably exhausted form all the plot-twists in the previous chapter, they resolve to use an unprecedented number of deus-ex-machina plotpoints [spoiler]The Show itself kinda' ends with one[/spoiler], but at least they didn't forget the Fanservice this time :D
All-in all Kiddy-Grade is definetly worth watching, and not just for the Eye-Candy, but also for the morally-enriching, if poorly-presented Story, and a Universe so vast and exotic, it would make many an RPG's pale in Comparison.
...If only they hadn't gone with Gonzo :(