Kiddy Grade: The Complete Series

UK Distributor:  MVM

BBFC Certificate:  12

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  £29.99

Episodes:  1-26 (of 26)

Audio Options:  English 5.1, Japanese 2.0

Subtitles:  English

Release Date:  7th May 2012

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)

Anime fans have insatiable appetites for the latest series.  We always want to be on the cutting edge, we want to watch what fans in Japan and America are watching and discussing, and anime companies sometimes struggle to keep up.  The sad side effect of this is that relatively recent series often fall by the wayside, classic series like Serial Experiments Lain and Neon Genesis Evangelion are now out of print in the UK and quite hard to get hold of.  However, MVM have done a lot to keep their older series alive, re-licensing the likes of Samurai Champloo, Fruits Basket and now Kiddy Grade.

Kiddy Grade follows Éclair and Lumiere, two cybernetically enhanced ‘ES’ agents who work for the Galactic Organisation for Trade and Tariffs, or GOTT for short.  The pair alternate between reception duty at GOTT headquarters and missions in which they use their special abilities – Éclair’s enhanced strength and Lumiere’s ability to interface with computer networks and machines – to resolve trade disputes, apprehend smugglers and stop hijackers.  Accompanying them and monitoring their activities is the auditor Armblast, an enigmatic man who seems to be working to his own agenda.  However. not everything is as it seems at GOTT, the director Eclipse seems to have something against Éclair and Lumiere and keeps giving increasingly dangerous assignments which they barely survive.  Not only that but some of their assignments appear to have different goals to what they have been told, with other agents running missions parallel to theirs.  There's a darker side to the galaxy that they're not aware of, a side which is manipulated from the shadows by an Earth-dwelling elite known as the Nouvlesse.  The Nouvlesse are the new nobility, ruling the Galactic Council and therefore GOTT, they consider the colonies beneath them and are responsible for issuing most of the missions GOTT undertakes.  Éclair has a strong sense of justice, and its not long before some of the missions she is assigned begin to test her principles, but more worrying for Lumiere is that the missions are beginning to unlock memories Éclair has decided to keep hidden.  What are the secrets of Éclair's past?  And what are the real goals of the missions they undertake?

Kiddy Grade was one of a host of titles released several years ago that were relatively big at the time, but is now pretty much unknown.  However, the difference with Kiddy Grade is that the franchise has been resurrected in Japan with a sequel series Kiddy GiRL-AND, making this re-issue quite timely.  It's also interesting that when the series was originally released sci-fi actioners featuring nubile young women with special powers were quite common, with Kiddy Grade sharing shelf space with the likes of Divergence Eve, Martian Successor Nadesico and Bubblegum Crisis.  However, nowadays fantasy and modern day stories are the norm, which makes a space-set sci-fi series like Kiddy Grade

welcome blast from the past.  The series stands up well to modern scrutiny too, in fairness it's not that old and both the animation and design are easily up to current standards.  However, a series' strength lies in its story and characters, and in that regard Kiddy Grade does not disappoint.

The series starts with several seemingly unrelated action-packed missions which see Éclair and Lumiere taking down smugglers, saving kidnapped children, foiling robberies and escorting diplomats through contested space.  These stories are entertaining enough, but its a few episodes in when the real storyline kicks in that things get really interesting.  A mission to a planet where the population is being brainwashed triggers something deep in Éclair's psyche, buried memories that she has deliberately erased start to surface and this sets alarm bells ringing both with her partner Lumiere and GOTT itself.  But it's a mission to subdue innocent people who are fighting back against Nouvlesse oppression which really begins to test her resolve and loyalties, and it's at this point where the series goes from a knockabout space cowboy story to something all the more intriguing.  The drama really ramps up as the series slowly begins to reveal more about the Kiddy Grade universe and GOTT itself, the story moves in unexpected directions with more than a few twists as Éclair becomes central to the plot.  There's a lot of soul searching as Éclair learns more about herself and her past, but despite the change of emphasis the action doesn't relent and the series remains hugely entertaining.

If I have a real criticism its that sometimes things do get a little bit too convoluted and sometimes a bit too convenient, with some characters displaying new powers or equipment just at the opportune moment.  It's also a bit silly at the start, especially Éclair's pointless habit of dressing up in disguises to apprehend criminals when it's not necessary and revealing herself with a 'ta-da!', which becomes annoying quite quickly.  As the story progresses it can be a tad confusing, as political machinations and past tragedies combine into a grand scheme with the characters caught squarely in the middle.  However, its to the series credit that it always managed to keep a focus on the characters

and keeps its small cast at the centre of the story even as its scope increases exponentially.  There is quite a lot of fanservice, which can be a positive or a negative depending on your point of view, and the story can get a bit dark at times which is at odds with the fun plotlines the series starts with.

All in all though Kiddy Grade is a pretty good series which changes direction in an interesting way.  The storyline keeps you intrigued throughout and there are plenty of unexpected plot twists which keep you guessing as to where the plot is leading.  It does lose its way a little towards the end and it can be a bit convoluted at times, but its mix of action, drama and fanservice is well balanced.  The series starts off by seeming fun but unremarkable but as it progresses it becomes increasingly intriguing with a plot which is both darker and more intelligent than it at first seems.  It sometimes doesn't know whether it wants to be straight sci-fi or fan-pleasing actioner, but there's plenty to like in both camps and a 26 episode series for under £30 (and probably even cheaper online) it offers great value for money, particularly for those who missed it the first time round.  Recommended.


Textless opening and closing sequences and character profiles grace every disc in the collection, not bad, but a shame there isn't a bit more variety.


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