What They Say:
In Star Century Zero-One-Sixty-Five, the Global Union was born. To provide an impartial mediator to the various planetary governments of the G.U., the Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs, or G.O.T.T. was simultaneously formed to settle economic disputes amongst the member planets. Existing in the shadows of the G.O.T.T., the ES Force serves as the G.O.T.T.’s primary law enforcement organization. ES Force members Eclair and Lumiere are on the front line, pursuing all manner of criminals and bringing them to justice. This is their story.
Audio was overall excellent – your selection is of a Dolby Surround Sound 5.1 English Track, a Stereo 2.0 English Track and a Japanese Stereo 2.0 track. There were no audio issues overall, and the 5.1 was excellent (though in contrast, the 2.0 was comparatively weak, obviously it was going to be weaker but this was the first review in a while that it was really obvious) as one of the more powerful outputs I’ve heard in a while. No problems matching with the languages or synching in with the subtitles, no timing issues and overall a solid audio release.
The video has a few issues – in terms of colour and quality, there were no problems, able to be viewed in either full or wide screen – it also had two selection of subtitles, both for the original Japanese and for the hearing impaired (or dubtitles as it’s sometimes called). However, there were instances from Disc 3 onwards where there was slowdown and even the disc freezing which was not expected, especially as it happened on both my DVD players AND PC Player as well. This is concerning and hopefully only reflects the test product and not the finished release. In terms of clarity, it was excellent and no transition or distortion issues, bar the slowdown – but of course that was a major problem.
There was no packaging for this release.
Each menu on the 8 discs is set on a computerized blue background, with a selection of 4 options (Play All, Episodes, Extras and Set Up) each with several characters on the lower right of the menu, which also happens in the extras screens as well – usually being one of the main pairs. The menus are easy to navigate, and no issues with selections as very straight forward. With the episode select, there was so scene selection in any of the discs and selects subtitles/dubtitles on the set up isn’t shown and you have to navigate it from when you watch the episodes, plus at times when selecting English 5.1 with subtitles/dubtitles, it doesn’t change when you watch the episode so you have to change it whilst watching it – again, some technical issues which suggest this was a bit of a rush job or simply using the original releases and putting them in a collection without checking for any issues.
Extras throughout the 8 discs were mostly similar – there was a different selection of images from each disc during the image gallery segments, the textless videos were either the opening or ending which was basically the same until the last two discs when the opening/ending animation changed because of the changes in Éclair/Lumiere.
The first two discs had promotional videos, a promotional slide show with art work from the shows in sketch and line pencil format, Japanese commercials (which didn’t have subtitles unless you selected it whilst watching them), character profiles (which always included the same one for Éclair and Lumiere, and alternated between the other characters throughout) and the last disc had the Kiddy Grade Specials, introduced by certain characters (Lumiere, Mercredi and Eclipse) which included artwork from Aya Hirano (Lumiere – her first major role). Most of the extras were overall quite short and due to the many repeat information again, it feels kind of lazy.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kiddy Grade first came out nearly a decade ago, and was not only one of the first series that introduced me to one of my favourite seiyuu (Aya Hirano) but also one of my favourite American Vas (Monica Rial – both as Lumiere ironically). I remember really enjoying the series when I got it back in 2005 I think so with this new collection, it was nice to see if I still enjoyed it and how well it’s aged over the years. Overall, it’s definitely still a lot of fun at the very least, even though I can definitely see a few problems with it as a show too.
The show really splits itself into three arcs – the first arc I call the introductory arc, where pretty much you are introduced to each of the teams and how they interact with our leads. The leads in question are Éclair and Lumiere, two front officers of the G.O.T.T (Galactic Organization of Trade and Tarriffs) and work as an international police force. Set in the future, where planet terraforming is common, Éclair and Lumiere are a duo that work together basically handling jobs for the GOTT under their boss Eclipse. Whether it’s disputes with military, investigating illegal trading, being bodyguards for the needy or the rich, or just arresting criminals, these two are two young ladies with unique abilities that allow them to do their job well – Éclair being someone with superhuman strength and agility, and Lumiere with the ability to control technology, also seemingly polar opposites – Éclair being a happy go lucky energetic girl, whilst Lumiere is an elegant ‘proper’ lady who always chides (in a nice way) Éclair that a ‘lady should be more elegant’. The first 10 episodes pretty much are episodic, showcasing a) what type of cases they do and b) the other teams of the GOTT and how they get along. It’s quite fun seeing how they interact with other team members especially as the second arc gets underway, whether it is the annoyance at the superiority of the older members Divergr and Alv, the rivalry between A-ou and Un-ou, the playful nature between the child Viola who has nicknames for the girls whilst her partner Cesario is silent, and my favourite – how Lumiere interacts with Tweedledee as two friends who want to become better friends, almost flirtatious at times…which does annoy both Éclair and Tweedledee’s partner and brother Tweedledum to a minor extent.
Whilst the first main part of the series is mostly episodic, there are hints of the main plot throughout as Éclair keeps having flashbacks to her past, and there is definitely something not right about her. It really hits the head during a mission where she has to protect the wealthy Nouvlesse, who considering the common people as nothing but slave labour and use their authority as such. Éclair, seeing how they are treated, and despite knowing she will be thrown out of the GOTT by disobeying a direct order, turns against the Nouvlesse, and protects the common people much to their surprise. This in turn, does lead to a further plot involving the Nouvlesse, but here, it basically gets her and Lumiere kicked out of the GOTT and become wanted criminals. This leads to the second arc, where the teams from previous episodes try to stop them. It’s interesting the contrast to say when Un-ou attack them (because they were fierce rivals even beforehand from their past) to when Tweedledee attacks them (she hates the fact she has to fight her friends, and even more so the way she has to, you can feel her pain) – it leads to the build up where their ships are destroyed, who because of their AI the girls have had a good bond with, that it’s time to take action and attack the GOTT. It leads to some great action sequences where Éclair and Lumiere face up against all the teams remaining, up until the point it looks like they have assassinated their boss…
…which leads to the final arc. Éclair and Lumiere have apparently taken over the GOTT and basically act like dictators, using clones of themselves to pull a tyranny over the planet, but some of the clones seem to have emotions which causes Éclair and Lumiere about to destroy them…only it’s not the real Éclair and Lumiere. I won’t spoil who they really are, but it leads to the real Éclair and Lumiere to appear and basically cause hell for the fakes. The remaining part is for the two to basically figure out life in their new bodies, as the truth of Lumiere and Éclair’s relationship from the past is explored in one episode, and the finalise when the initial problems with the Nouvlesse which caused their betrayal in the first place comes full circle when the leader of the Nouvlesse shocks Éclair with his revelation of who he is in relation to her, which leads to the climax of Éclair/Lumiere up against basically the revolution of the Nouvlesse.
My impression overall is that up until the third arc, Kiddy Grade is a really good and fun series. The relationship between the two leads is fun, as it puts the classy young lady with the energetic tomboy. The interaction between the other teams is interesting as it does set up for interesting conflicts later on (Tweedledee and Lumiere in particular is very sweet as they have similar abilities, admire each others skills, and Tweedledee is the only member outside of Éclair who visits Lumiere dragging her brother along when it looks like she could die), and it does have some really funny moments. One character I didn’t mention earlier is Armblast, the auditor who goes along with Éclair and Lumiere with some obvious devious motives, but it’s also obvious he has a real soft spot for the girls, and even when they get labeled as traitors and he is about to leave them, he refuses to let them get killed. His motives are questionable throughout as you know there is something more to him, but he’s a character that develops due to his interactions with the girls, yet never loses that smile on his face, putting him in the smug guy category.
The second arc also is good for action fans, as it brings us also the past of Éclair which is quite dark and you realize all the things that confused you earlier now make sense. The fact she has been ‘reborn’ so many times gives more meaning when we get to the end of the series with the Nouvlesse arc and the big revelation of the main guy of the Nouvlesse. Unfortunately, what does lose this series a bit is after Éclair and Lumiere reveal the fakes, the writing feels a bit rushed. Indeed, there are a few too many deus-ex machinas throughout the end (how Eclipse survived isn’t clearly explained, and Lumiere revealing a last minute power in the last episode to resurrect herself and Éclair being two examples), and the motives of the fake Éclair/Lumiere are also not explored brilliantly, you just have to accept it as they are the villains. Even the revelation of Chevalier, the head of the Nouvlesse, in terms of his relationship with Éclair, whilst touched upon in flashbacks, is ultimately a bit of an anti-climax because it’s barely explored.
The series overall though is a lot of fun, with some great animation and music, with some great characters (Éclair in particular is both very fun and very complex, and you are routing throughout for her despite the writing issues) – I would have liked to see more of the other teams but in the end, it would have interfered with the main plot, and whilst I felt it was weak, it could have been far weaker if they had interacted more – and to be fair, they did their moments both in teams with the leads and in fighting them during the second arc. The action sequences in space are superb, along with some of the general fighting – it’s very fluid, no repeated animation and with all the teams having different powers, all the scenes involving them in battle are very different and unique. Whilst rewatching it I may have caught a lot of stuff that I didn’t notice before and it’s not maybe as brilliant as I first thought, it’s still a lot of fun and definitely a good watch.
Kiddy Grade is a blast from the past that visually still holds up well in today’s markets, whilst the storytelling maybe a little bit weak, it makes up for it with some very fun characters and interaction, some great action sequences, and a spirited, if rushed, finale. Éclair and Lumiere are polar opposites but lovable leads, and whilst the rest of the cast are put to the background a lot, when they get their chance to interact it does bring a lot of fun as well as some excellent action scenes. It holds up pretty well overall, and for 24 episodes at a decent price for anime in the UK, it’s definitely worth a shot. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Image Galleries, Clean opening and closings, Commercials, Promotional Videos
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: C
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: MVM Entertainment
Release Date: May 7th, 2012
Running Time: 576 minutes
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.