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 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 a
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
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.