What They Say:
ES Members Éclair and Lumiere of the original Kiddy Grade series once rescued the galaxy from destruction’s doorstep. Twenty-five years later, they continue to be the primary law enforcers of the galaxy. Two new heroines, Ascoeur and Q-feuille, work as waitresses at the headquarters of the galactic government while they complete training to become full-fledged ES Members.
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. This is fairly disappointing, even if encoded well, because the original series was one of the first things Funimation released in getting past the Dragon Ball Z franchise and it was pretty well-received back then. This series was passed over for a long time before getting picked up and brought out like this so the stereo mix in Japanese is all we get. It’s fairly standard space opera material with some nice touches with thought getting more of a looser placement as it works that side of the powers but otherwise being something fairly standard. Dialogue has some good placement and the action carries things nicely, but it’s nothing that will stand out in a big way. The plus is that the lossless encoding here gives us a clean and problem-free mix that brings the intent of the mixing team to life well.
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twenty-four episodes are spread across three discs in a nine/nine/six format with plenty of room to work, particularly as a monolingual release and no real extras of note. Animated by Satelight, the show largely has the same design and feel of the original series with some obvious and expected improvements coming several years later. It’s easy to imagine that the two could be watched back to back without much problem and that’s a good thing. The designs here are clean with bright colors and it avoids a lot of details in the classic space opera sense of design and the encoding captures it all well. It’s not a show that’ll catch a lot of attention for its details and design work but it’s all going to look its best here.
The packaging for this release comes in an oversized Blu-ray case to hold the seven discs for the two formats that the show is presented in. The set comes with an o-card that replicates the case artwork and it’s an appealing image of the two leads bounding along with planets and stars in the background to make it clear it’s a space opera show. The logo works well even if it just feels a little weird sometimes, especially in its smaller size here, but the name of the show alone just makes the whole thing weird. The back cover continues the same kind of background and has a couple of nice larger visuals from the show that are filled with fanservice while the rest has the summary of the premise and a breakdown of the extras. The rest is the usual breakdown of the technical information for both sets and we do get a reversible cover that showcases the episodes on one side while the other has a nice pairing of our leads.
The menus for this release are pretty nice with static images done across them of the main cast that’s set against some very appeal star filled backgrounds with some creative elements to it. They’ve got some really striking colors that work well, both in background and in character designs, and with the bold and expressive logo kept to the upper right it fills things nicely without seeming to be too busy. The interesting one is the navigation menu itself, kept to the lower left, where it’s something you can “see through” to the background inside the wrapper of the science fiction elements. Funimation doesn’t do this kind of menu too often but it works well for this and lets the menu backgrounds add a little more when expanded.
The only extras included are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The 2001 anime series Kiddy Girl was a lot of fun and it has some nostalgia points for me simply because it represented a change/growth in the domestic anime market at the time. Eight years later, Satelight went back for a sequel series with Kiddy Girl-and which ran for two seasons and twenty-four episodes total. It was surprising that it wasn’t licensed at the time, and took years to finally get picked up, and that combined with a less than stellar reputation added to a certain kind odd feeling about it. This set brings the show out in full, sans dub, and it’s definitely an interesting kind of continuation that you do see anime properties working from time to time. It ties into the original just enough so that fans will want to at least see parts of it but it feels disconnected enough to be its own thing. Which works for and against it.
Taking place some twenty-five years after the events of the first series, GOTT is gone and we have the GTO instead that’s out there keeping the peace and dealing with the issues of a galaxy. The problem is that a segment of those from the defeated side, the nobles and the like of years ago, are orchestrating a quiet takeover through the G Society. Masterminded by Geacht’er, they’ve seeded support within GTO in order to become independent and then eventually replace the GTO itself to handle the issues of the galaxy. It’s an easy takeover over the course of the series that happens mostly in the background but serves as the problems throughout it. The problem is that the G Society folks feel a little ill-formed at times and their motivations not exactly consistent. It’s also a familiar problem where all the key details that would give the actions weight aren’t revealed until the last three or four episodes.
While that serves as the backdrop and the final act material, the main focus of much of the series is on Ascoeur and Q-feuille, two of the hardest to type names I’ve had to deal with yet. The pair aren’t ES Members but they work in the building where GTO operates out of as waitresses in a restaurant. But both have massively secret pasts and twists and turns about who they are, hence why they have the attention of Chief Hiver of the GTO and slowly move up -secretly so as to not annoy the boss of the restaurant – as associate ES members along the way. They even get to train an eight-year-old not-human girl named Di-Air that serves as a massive power boost to their own abilities when they smooch. Ascoeur has the ability to bend space to teleport, which she grows well with here while Q-feuille is the precog that uses it to enhance everything she does. Shades of Eclair and Lumiere between the two which is a nice link but also keeps them from really being their own characters.
A lot of the show works through how these two struggle to handle the basic work of the restaurant while also slowly but surely coming together as partners and taking on big and secret jobs, which includes their own ship and robot as well. It’s the kind of surreal arc that works only in shows like this. The pair get into all kinds of simple but wacky situations that are largely forgettable because their only intent is to bring these two closer together as partners. The downside is that their stories are told alongside the ones of the pairings that operate under Geacht’er as well. While we do get nods toward other ES Members and their missions, including some time spent with them, we also see the three main pairings that Geacht’er has working for him in G Society. So with seven pairs or so of characters plus all the “adults” in the room, it’s a big mess of stories where nobody really gets the time that they need in order to feel well realized.
There are fun stories along the way in the one-off variety and I’ll easily admit I enjoyed the vacation world under siege where only women could go there but something happened to cause it to not let anyone leave. Yeah, it’s filled with bikinis and fanservice of all kinds but it had the kind of fun that a lot of the other episodes didn’t have. And a large part of that is that most of the episodes are done in a way where you’re still trying to figure out what they’re trying to do because so many basic things needed to really grasp what’s going on aren’t revealed until toward the end. It’s a familiar practice to keep all that information for the final batch of episodes so that the viewer is just as unaware as the characters, but that’s making for some very bad storytelling techniques that leaves the viewer, at least ones like me, with a mixture of frustration and boredom. Particularly for a show like this where it would have worked a lot better with half the episodes.
Fans of Eclair and Lumiere will get a little bit out of this series as the place where things went down is brought into the story a few times and we get some decent flashback material along the way and some other interactions. Part of me wished that we just had a series about them instead of all this new stuff, dealing more with the ramifications of the event from the past in a new light – even a fish out of water thing if they really wanted to stick to the twenty-five years later concept. They essentially mothball most everything from the original series while giving us a pale shadow of it with a glossy coat of paint but no heart. There are things that I definitely like about it and over the twenty-four episodes I had some fun with it, but it was all just more than it needed to be and suffered because of that.
I haven’t watched Kiddy Grade in years but I have fond memories of it while also remembering its weaknesses. I didn’t go into Kiddy Girl-and with high expectations and I had a decent enough time with it in marathon form because there are fun moments and space opera shows are really few and far between these days. I really dig the kind of plastic-like feeling of the character designs and colors that stands out from other shows, especially all of those engaging in hyper-realism backgrounds and coloring, so there’s a kind of light and fun aspect to this. But it falters heavily with story setup that it only gives us at the end (angry man wants revenge for brutal wrongs done to him by destroying the galaxy) and that undercuts us really connecting with the anger in a meaningful way throughout. It’s a reminder of the frustration of how bad anime storytelling and plotting has been for the past decade.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 28th, 2017
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.