Kiddy Grade Vol. #2 (of 8) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, March 23, 2004
What They Say
As ES Force Members, Eclair and Lumiere are used to tracking and arresting the intergalactic criminal element. Their latest assignments are no exception. A high speed reactor capable of turning an ordinary human into a super being has been stolen! And to make matters worse, the two heroes get caught up in a terrible battle for supremacy between rival gangs that threaten the lives of innocent children.
The only chance for survival may be through help of their greatest rivals... and fellow ES Force comrades.
With the basic setting now out of the way, Kiddy Grade goes to provide some more fun standalone episodes that expand on this varied science fiction galaxy.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a rather good stereo mix with a good flair for forward soundstage directionality both in the dialogue and action departments. We also sampled the show in the English 5.1 mix that was done and noted some really good moments where particular effects come across much more distinctly. Dialogue is nice and clear in both tracks and we had no issues with dropouts or other distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2002, the transfer for the first three episodes of this twenty-four episode series looks great. The transfer brings the vivid color palette used to life both in the characters and their backgrounds. The space background shots look fantastic as well with the blacks holding solid very nicely. Like other Gonzo series, there's no noticeable cross coloration throughout the program and aliasing is very little, resulting in a nice clean print. FUNimation continues their use of alternate angles for the opening and ending sequence, with one angle providing the original Japanese credits text (i.e. untranslated) while the second angle provides the translated bilingual credits.
Presented in a clear keepcase, the front cover uses a shot of Lumiere in her standard outfit that places the faces of other characters behind her, as well as transitioning the logo to the bottom. This shot doesn't look to be from the Japanese DVD releases, at least from the front covers, but it looks good and continues the style of the first volume well. The back cover has a number small character shot bubbles all over it and lists the three episodes and their episode numbers. The summary is pretty basic, but along the bottom is a mishmash of information. Placed into a small space is the various production credits and a listing of the discs features. The reverse side of the clear keepcase has a cute almost doujinshi like image of the two leads in a relaxed setting while the other panel has action and character shots from the show itself. The insert replicates the front cover and opens to a two panel shot where one side has summaries for the three episodes and the other has a large number of animation bubbles floating around it. The back of the insert has an advert for the next volume.
The menu layout is pretty standard with a static series of images, such as the main menu having shots of both Éclair and Lumiere set to some music from the show. Selections are quick and easy to access though I don't like how in the language menu, when you make a selection, there's nothing to indicate that it took or what it's actually going to play.
The extras for this round a pretty similar to the first volume. The image gallery has various pieces from the episodes on this disc and the songs section is essentially the bilingual textless opening and ending sequences with the added bonus of subtitles to sing along should you want them. The promo slideshow has various stills similar to the image gallery but these are all full color pieces from these episodes. The commercials section has a couple of brief advertisements for the Japanese DVD release and the profiles are basically what we saw in the first volume with a few new ones mixed in that are relevant to this episode.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kiddy Grade's first volume was a pleasant science fiction romp that provided in the three episodes a glimpse into the larger storytelling universe that these characters are running around in. Many allusions were made both in the show and in my mind via the review that there's a similarity to Dirty Pair that can't be avoided. Much like that classic series, Kiddy Grade also seems to be made up of mostly episodic pieces, though there's apparently an arc coming soon. This volume, bringing three more episodes to the plate, is like the first in that they're all standalone and are fun little romps that help slowly widen the picture of what things are like out there.
The opening episode is an interesting one in that it takes a look at the enhancements that the ES members have that allow them to pull off the kinds of feats that they do. Éclair is sent to a cube satellite where there's a wrestling/fighting match competition going on where the toughest in the galaxy come to prove their worth. Éclair's mission is to find out who has been upgraded with the top secret ES member enhancements and bring them in while also bringing in the person who stole them and implanted them. That brings us to Foxy, an athletic blonde woman who has a dark past and is trying to win the big prize money here with the new enhancements so that she can try to fix things she's done. While she's got that ulterior goal of good, she's following the ends justify the means mentality and taking down anyone who gets in her way. So when Éclair comes to take her in, the two aren't exactly friendly right from the start, though they both quickly become the same kind of target and are forced to work together. This episode is worth it for Éclair in her Beautiful Aphrodia costume, which is basically a black catgirl skinsuit.
Yes, catgirls. You can practically hear the sales rising just from mentioning that.
The best episode on this disc though is the Day Off one, where Éclair obviously gets the day off so we get to follow her on her fun. Amusingly, it kicks off with her realizing that the beautiful sunrise she's seeing is actually the sunset and she's slept the bulk of the day away, so she opts for dinner and drinks with a friend of hers at one of the local restaurants. Of course, her luck being what it is, this multi-floored restaurant is also where a meeting of two criminal organizations are meeting to make sure that they're not going to go after each other and just focus on the business of crime. Ideally, they'd keep the entire place closed but they figure having people around gives them more cover, particularly cute girls like Éclair and her friend. Éclair's friend tries to get her to loosen up as they talk and hang out, but before she knows it, she's swiped Éclair's lipstick container and applied it to Éclair's lips.
This is what activates her enhancements and they're still something she has a hard time controlling in normal situations. Figuring that it's the best time to get out of there, she ends up getting picked up by one of the guys in the restaurant to go dance with him and her dance moves practically cause earthquakes in the building. Now, for the criminal folks, this is like a bomb attack and a series of events cause them all to go ballistic, including their android guards with the massive machine guns and missiles. All while this is going on, it ties into another plot of children being abducted and used for psychological purposes and Lumiere finds herself falling into their trap since they try kidnapping her for their plots. The two plots actually converge at an amusing point. Lumiere doesn't get as much screentime here as Éclair, but she pulls off some really fun scenes and brings that more quite and restrained feel to the action that complements Éclair's loud and almost brash way of doing things.
Kiddy Grade's definitely fun little romp and it appeals to the girls/action/science fiction crowd nicely. There's some interesting ideas used in the science fiction aspect, the action side is covered nicely and the girls are definitely attractive throughout. But the show suffers from the problem of by the moment you're really grooving into it and enjoying the flow, the disc is over. I'm enjoying the show but even with the six week schedule it still feels like the show doesn't get a chance to really feel complete with each volume with only the three episodes.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Image Gallery,Textless Songs,Promo Slidesehow,Commercials,Profiles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Kiddy Grade