Kiddy Grade Vol. #3 (of 8) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, May 04, 2004
What They Say
Eclair and Lumiere are sent to oversee the proper passage of power of the powerful Rosenfelt Financial Group to young Timothy Constance, the groups rightful heir. But they soon learn that something is amiss amongst those in power. As one page is turned, a new chapter begins.
With criminals coming out of the woodwork to secure the awesome planet destroying power of Geo Sort technology, Eclair and Lumiere must prepare to face the unthinkable and quell an uprising that threatens the freedom of the galaxy.
As the series moves along, the trio of episodes here start laying the groundwork for a larger story while still managing fairly standalone episodes.
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, we get a really nice shot of the brother/sister ES team of Tweedledee and Tweedledum striking a pose while the background has the usual array of facial images from characters that show up in these episodes. It's a good looking cover, similar to past ones in layout and style, so I'm pretty keen on it. 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 are the various production credits and a listing of the discs features. The reverse side of the clear keepcase has a very cute almost doujinshi like image of Tweedledee and Lumiere 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 the duo from the cover while also providing some good Lumiere fanservice shots. 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 past volumes. 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 ES dossier and the profiles are basically what we saw in the earlier volumes 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 hops along with another set of three episodes and continues to turn out stories and scenarios that while they're fairly formulaic, they're done with some very solid style and a lot of little hooks that keep us very interested. Between the characters themselves, their gadgets and the coolness factor that they exhibit, it's all a lot of fun to watch as it all plays along.
The three episodes on this volume are mostly standalone in nature but each of them slowly lays out some of the bigger elements that are at play in the galactic storyline that provide some ominous feelings. The opening story is the type that seems like a cut and dried story at first, where Éclair and Lumiere have to take a teenage boy that just found out that he's the successor to a powerful financial family but that he never knew about it or his father since his father left him and his mother long before he ever knew them. Those in the family are of the purebreed type, so much so that they hate interacting with others, are trying to ensure that he doesn't make it to sign into the register before his time is up and thereby losing his potential claim to the money and businesses.
So the potential heir, Timothy, ends up being challenged by the older and more experienced lads to a race on the mechanical horses of sorts and you get all sorts of fun on that chase as not only are the family members after him, but there's something bigger going on as well. But with a little help from Éclair as well as another pair of ES agents, Timothy is set to do what he wants with the fortunes. But even he has a few tricks up his sleeve that keeps expectations about how the show plays out up in the air. The episode is a lot of fun since it introduces some of the different levels of class among the galactic civilizations out there as well as reinforcing just how meaningless distance is when you have warp drives to get you around. The fact they flitted between three planets so far across the galaxy in less than two hours really emphasizes that point.
My favorite episode on this disc is the last where the duo is sent to a planet to investigate the disappearance of at least a dozen financial bureaucrats and whatnot over the past year. Éclair heads down to the planets surface posing as a GOTT staffer that's come to do a checkup on the offices that they have there. Since she's so young looking she doesn't get looked over all that much and ends up getting through what's considered customs fairly easily by dealing with a very friendly gentleman. Her time on the planet after that though takes on an eerie twist as most of the people seem in a daze. Though the cab driver is chatty, particularly since everyone only works three days a week, hardly anyone else talks about anything and they all seem terribly distracted. The two men who work at the GOTT branch are a bit better off and seem more human like in their interactions, but once she starts her investigations into the missing people, they also start going into a daze and the mystery depends rather nicely.
The way this episode feels, from the eerie music that's popular on the planet to the way you get these long visual shots of the fields and the floating spores, really works in being creepy but not overtly so. You know you're not supposed to feel at ease seeing it, but you can't be sure that it's related to anything that's going on or not. Éclair does a good job of being the one with clarity in an unclear situation as she tries to investigate what's going on while Lumiere works at it from the other direction in orbit. It's the little things in these kinds of episodes that I love.
This volume was a winner the minute we saw the mini-Lumiere's doing data retrieval and acting all cute as they dove into the virtual books. These episodes are building nicely upon what we've seen before and are fleshing out slowly some of the other ES members and the hierarchy that the GOTT works with, at least within this specific area. Add in more bits about the galaxy in general and start laying the groundwork for something bigger about to start and it's very interesting stuff. The show manages to have both substance and style with style to spare. Even my wife who normally doesn't care for the fanservice tricks is really enjoying this a lot for the way it has so many little details to it that just gives it more life. This show just continues to be a lot of fun and I'm very entertained by it.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Image Gallery,Textless Songs
ES Dossier Files,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