We begin in the far future, in the foyer of the G.U, the Galactic Union created when earth’s inhabitants had found interstellar travel and many new worlds are found and colonised. Along with this, was the establishment of the G.O.T.T, Galactic Organisation of Trade and Tariffs, as with the growth of wealth and trade in the galaxy, the inevitable juxtaposition of crime rears its ugly head.
Amongst the ranks of the G.O.T.T. lie our two protagonists, Eclair and Lumiere. Two C-class ES members; a division of special service members, that we see, as time unfolds, have their own set of enhanced super abilities, from super speed to mechanical manipulation. Eclair and Lumiere are a loveable little duo, which compliment each other nicely, with Lumiere being young and reserved, with an ability to control the operating systems of practically any machine. Eclair, fiery and forward, using lipstick as a conduit for her powers, which systematically doubles as a super strong never ending whip-like weapon. The girls actions are followed by an intriguing auditor, Armbrust, who, from the outset has his own agendas and becomes a supporting character you can’t seem to trust, but never really gets his hands dirty enough for you to dislike or disregard him. The girls check in for arrest permits with Chief Eclipse, a strong and unwavering female lead. In addition to the team are Donnerschlag (thunderclap from German translation) and a space shuttle, La Muse (the muse from French translation) which, cleverly, become characters that the audience really gel with and add a nice emotional context in the way the girls revere them as best friends.
The first nine episodes can make Kiddy Grade a difficult watch; littered with fan service, which isn’t too distasteful, but with certain parts showing Lumiere in provocative camera positions and one particular scene, which did make me want to pull away, knowing that she is in the body of a ten year old. The standard pantie shots aren’t over done and I suppose to a younger audience, could be seen as a little ‘ bonus for the boys’.The first collection of missions the girls are sent on grow in responsibility and scale, but seem lost in terms of a full series as there is no established large arc to the story until episode nine & ten, and these episodes are only trying to create a plateau for the two girls to become more familiar to the audience, which with patience, can really help when the story picks up.
If you can bypass these few annoyances and wait until the middle episodes you are definitely rewarded with the full story coming open; lovely twists and conclusions, but the confusion levels get very high, making you lose the flow that was absent in the first third of the series.
All I can say is wait for the ending episodes. These were really great and varnished over the first portion to leave you with an enjoyable experience in which Kiddy Grade delivers its mix of large fight scenes, cutesie dialogue and good character development up until the end where the heart strings get tugged, but never enough to make you running to the local store for more tissues.
The first few episodes demonstrate a clean and pretty animation, with the jewel of this series coming from the fight scenes which gradually become more enveloping and intense. From one on one battles to full scale galactic dog fights. However, some of the animations of the ships and weapons can seem just under par when put next to the pretty detail of characters, space and the many planets & landscapes our team visit. A big note of this was seen with the manufacturers name of Eclair’s gun looking like it was drawn in a rush.
However I love animations which use the colour palette and this is widely used and lifts the piece wonderfully; lush greens, vibrant reds and deep blues make Kiddy Grade a very pretty animation and helps glaze over small flaws I probably would not have noticed if I wasn’t offering a deeper view of the series.
Overall, if you can stick with it, Kiddy Grade is enjoyable, unserious and makes a nice change to some more emotionally heavy animations that have recently been hitting the shelves. If you’re looking for a futuristic anime which has more depth and a bit more attention to detail I’d suggest X’amd et al. What this series offers is a light dashing of everything that makes a great futuristic anime with a story that becomes compelling, although begins slow. MVM have re-released a good title to add to their current lineup. It’s worth the watch, especially for the end where director Keiji Gotoh shows his links to the 1980’s Transformers series and Neon Genesis Evangelion in great style!