Kiddy Grade Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £17.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kiddy Grade

Kiddy Grade Vol. #1

By Dani Moure     July 20, 2004
Release Date: July 05, 2004

Kiddy Grade Vol. #1
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
In Star Century Zero-One-Sixty-Five, the Global Union was born. To provide an impartial mediator to the various planetary governments of the G.U., the Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs, or G.O.T.T. was simultaneously formed to settle economic disputes amongst the member planets. Existing in the shadows of the G.O.T.T., the ES Force serves as the G.O.T.T.'s primary law enforcement organization. ES Force members Eclair and Lumiere are on the front line, pursuing all manner of criminals and bringing them to justice. This is their story!

Includes the three episodes: Depth/Space, Tight/Bind and Prisoner/Escort.

The Review!
Yet another GONZO show hits the UK, this time courtesy of FUNimation and MVM, and so far it's proving to be a lot of fun.

I listened to the Japanese track first, and found the actors did a bang up job. The stereo mix is pretty immersive, with the music in particular coming across nicely. I noticed no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

I also listened to the whole disc through in the English track. The dub is really good, as is often the case from FUNimation, with some great casting, especially Monica Rial as Lumiere (stepping away from her ADV home for this series) and Colleen Clinkenbeard as Éclair. The 5.1 mix is pretty nice, adding a bit of directionality, though it didn't seem that great a difference over the stereo track to me. I noticed no dropouts or distortions on either English track during regular playback.

As this is a FUNimation production, we also get dubbed openings and endings, and in the case of Kiddy Grade, they're very good. It's quite a feat with the opening song, too, since the original is quite nonsensical in its use of English. Dub songs really do add big brownie points in my book, especially since they're not cringe-worthy like some older dubbed themes.

With only three episodes on this disc, and coming from GONZO, you would expect it to look great, and you won't be disappointed here. The transfer is crisp and clean, and colours are extremely vibrant. This is another one of those digital looking "shiny" shows. There was also no artifacting that I noticed, and aliasing is kept to a minimum. In fact, it even seems slightly reduced over the US version of the disc.

As with most of their shows, FUNimation also went the extra length here, providing alternate angles for the openings, endings and next episode previews. This means that you can either watch the translated, English credits in the opening, or the original Japanese opening with kanji. Likewise for the ending, and the text on the next episode previews is replaced on the English angle but in kanji on the other.

Subtitles are in a nice yellow font, as opposed to the white font used on the US discs. They're generally good with only a couple of grammatical errors that I noticed.

No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

The menus are simple but functional, with the static opening menu featuring a shot of Éclair to the right of the screen with the logo above her. There are the four choices as static buttons, with some background music looping over the top. Sub-menus are similarly static with much the same use of text and buttons, as well as Éclair on the right side of the screen. The menus are far from the high-point of this disc, but they serve their purpose well-enough and look fairly attractive.

Several extras are included on this volume, the first being a promotional trailer that runs just under five minutes, which does a very nice job of selling the show. There's a series of three commercials on the disc, too, and while I am particularly fond of the presence of these on more anime discs, they don't really add much meat to the disc. We are also privy to a textless opening which thankfully includes both language tracks. Wrapping things up are an image gallery and set of character profiles. The gallery runs about one and a half minutes to some music, pausing a little on each photo. The profiles are, as you'd expect, quite short and so there's little much else they can offer. While it may not be the best set of extras around, you'd expect things to be spread thin on an eight disc release so it's not the end of the world.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It's difficult being an anime fan and trying not to listen to hype that surrounds a show. With so many vocal fans seeing things before they're licensed, and indeed in the case of those buying UK releases, so many seeing the US release, it's difficult to avoid the chatter that comes up. Kiddy Grade was always an interesting one, as it really seemed to split everyone. Some loved it, some hated it. Others said it got good once the plot started, but was terrible before. There were so many differing opinions that it was difficult not to think of them before I watched the show.

So I was pleased that having watched the opening three episodes, I wholeheartedly enjoyed it. It's not too intelligent and doesn't even take itself too seriously, at least at this point, but it is certainly good old-fashioned fun, with some great characters (and gorgeous designs) and eye-catching action.

The story centres around two members of an organisation called GOTT (Galactic Organisation of Trade and Tariffs) - Lumiere and Éclair. Originally based on Earth but now moved to the planet Aineias, its role was to settle agreements between governments. It's also home to the special "E-Shift" division, which recruits people with special abilities to work essentially as special agents. Amongst the ES members, there's a distinct aura of supremacy with the more experienced members looking down on the younger ones, though Lumiere and Éclair try not to let it get to them.

In the first mission on the disc, the pair are ordered to deliver Auditor Armbrust (who has something of an attraction to Éclair) to the planet Medeia to mediate negotiations between two opposing planets in his granted role as the representative of one of the Presidents. As you might expect, it's not quite as simple as you'd expect, as the pair are forced to use some well-timed attacks and special powers on corrupt military officials who are more than keen to work against their leader's ideals if it furthers their own agendas.

The second mission is less simple, and indeed includes a whole lot of friction, as Lumiere and Éclair come face to face with a gravity bomb while aiding snobby, experienced ES members Alv and Dvegr, who make no bones about thinking the younger ones are far below them. The final episode sees the duo on a mission to safely escort a prisoner, while avoiding a group of raiders (with of course Armbrust along for the ride again).

While it's rarely the best idea to fully judge a show on the opening volume, it's even more difficult when you only get three episodes. Usually by the fifth or sixth episode you can get a good idea of where a show is going, but with the first three, as is the case with Kiddy Grade, I couldn't help but feel I was only scratching the surface. But what I did see I quite liked, and as I will keep reiterating throughout the review, enjoyed a lot. The episodes even managed to keep me entertained throughout multiple viewings, which counts for a lot in my book.

The plot so far isn't exactly epic, in fact it's fairly peripheral at this stage in the series. The three stories here are relatively episodic in their focus, allowing the creators to introduce us to the characters and the setting of the universe they inhabit. But it's all in good fun, as watching Lumiere and Éclair getting into mischief and stumbling through their missions with style is hugely entertaining. There are a few small hints throughout of the characters powers though, such as flashes from Lumiere, as well as throwaway lines like the one just before the eye-catch in the first episode, that provide some intrigue and questions that will hopefully be answered as the series moves on.

Part of the enticing quality of the show is the characters, who are all pretty cocky and self-absorbed, but make for good viewing when they're at odds. Lumiere and Éclair work nicely together, and it'd be very interesting to see how their relationship formed (I'm assuming that it's more than just through working together on reception). They have a nice rapport, for once being a good anime team that are working together on similar wavelengths rather than arguing the whole time (instead they just argue with the other pairs). It's also hard to say anything bad about a character that uses lipstick as a weapon.

Alv and Dvergr make another interesting double, and I really enjoyed their addition in episode two. It was a lot of fun to see how they essentially treated Lumiere and Éclair as lower class and a bit worthless, only to be somewhat humbled (though not showing it) when the rookies assisted in the capture of the criminal. Auditor Armbrust is also highly amusing, particularly given how well he plays off of Éclair given their apparent past.

But it's not only that the characters are fun, the designs are gorgeous. Megumi Kadonosono has done a fantastic job here with making everyone look attractive and yet quite different at the same time. The show just looks great, with gorgeous characters and some good backdrop design, and the animation looks nice and fluid to me at this point, on par with a relatively high budget TV series. Add to that some nice music (and nice opening and ending themes) and you have a nice introductory package. In fact the biggest gripe that could be pointed at this release (and it was sadly out of MVM's hands) is the disc count. With only three episodes on a volume, they fly by and in the case of this volume left me wanting a lot more; but this can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on a person's attention span. If they're not completely hooked after these opening episodes, there's not much incentive to pick up more.

In Summary:
While the opening volume of Kiddy Grade suffers somewhat in the plot department, it makes up for it with enjoyable characters and entertaining action. At the moment there's not much else to say about the show other than it's full of quite a lot of potential if it's realised (which is sadly something that is sometimes a downfall of GONZO). With a nice look and feel to the show it could potentially be a winner, and it's well treated in this release with the exception of episode count. If you can overlook the lower number of episodes per disc (which is still a large factor even with a slight RRP reduction compared to current standards) and are looking for some light entertainment that doesn't take itself too seriously (it's essentially good fluff at this point), I'd definitely give Kiddy Grade a nod - it has potential.

Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1 & 2.0),English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Japanese Promotional Video,Original Japanese Commercials,Image Gallery

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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