DRAWN & QUARTERED
‘Kiddy Grade’ is not kid stuff
'Kiddy Grade" is the type of series with which reviewers like myself have a love-hate relationship.
That's not to say that this series is bad. To the contrary, if you consider yourself an anime fan and haven't seen "Kiddy Grade" yet, then get to your favorite anime retailer and buy it immediately. (After you've read this entire review, of course.)
Why it's worth watching, though, is the very reason that reviewers hate to discuss the thing in the first place: the Big Plot Twist that, if revealed, will spoil the fun that could exist otherwise.
You could call it the "Ye GODS, I didn't expect that" factor. Movies like "The Crying Game" and "The Sixth Sense" had this element of surprise, and both movies were much more enjoyable on the first viewing than on subsequent viewings as a result of it.
So it is with "Kiddy Grade," which sets itself up as yet another sci-fi series with voluptuous butt-kicking babes and an overarching conspiracy that threatens the galaxy's existence but twists and turns enough to make it so much more than that.
Here's what can be safely said about the series: It is Star Century 0167 and humanity has spread out across the galaxy, making it necessary for a governing body to regulate inhabited planets.
This body, the Global Union, in turn created the Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs to supervise universal commerce -- even to the point of using spiffy spaceships equipped with sophisticated weaponry and agents with superhuman powers to resolve disputes between member planets.
This is where our heroines, GOTT ES Force agents Eclair and Lumiere, come in. Eclair is the buxom firecracker of the pair, dishing out wisecracks and a hearty "Ta-DAAAAAAH!" with the same skill as her acrobatic fighting style and her lipstick whip. Lumiere, who has the ability to communicate with and manipulate technology merely by touching it, is a quieter gal who preaches the importance of elegance in everything she does.
Gradually, we are introduced to the other ES Force agents, all of whom work in two-person teams and possess their own unique powers that complement each other's abilities.
Most of the first half of the series appears rather routine -- Eclair and Lumiere are dispatched on a mission by GOTT chief Eclipse; bad people show up; Eclair and Lumiere dispense with said bad people, sometimes with the help of other agent teams.
Yet, subtle seeds are planted for the Big Plot Twist -- the fact that the man whom the girls are asked to escort in the first episode, inspector/auditor Armblast, keeps reappearing in the show even after their mission is completed successfully, for instance.
Also, for all the noble purposes that GOTT advocates, it seems as if the universe is uneasy about the agency's presence, with different factions -- some of which even represent innocent interests -- lining up to attack.
And then there is the line uttered by Eclipse in the first episode as Eclair and Lumiere leave on a mission: "I don't want to lose either one of you again." Indeed, there is an overarching secret about the ES agents that factors into the Big Plot Twist, and the truth is rather startling once it reveals itself.
If there is any fault here, it's in how the animators seem to want to emphasize Eclair's, umm, assets, even in the most inopportune of times. Intense action sequences are sometimes cheapened because someone, somewhere, decided that it would be a good idea to throw in a quick flash of underwear.
Funimation, after releasing the 24-episode series on seven DVDs, is now in the process of re-releasing it in four budget-priced collections.