Kiddy Grade Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • 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.
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kiddy Grade

Kiddy Grade Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     July 27, 2004
Release Date: July 27, 2004



What They Say
Bouncing from one ruinous colony to another, Eclair and Lumiere have so far managed to stay one step ahead of the assassins sent to end their lives. The burden of knowing their assassins were formerly comrades begins to weigh heavily on the hearts of the girls.

But when two former allies plant a virus on the La Muse and Donnerschlag, Eclair springs into action not concerned with her own safety. If they can buy themselves enough time, Eclair and Lumiere can set their ultimate plan into motion... a direct assault on GOTT Headquarters!

The Review!
Space battles, hand to hand combat, life, death and panties. Kiddy Grade provides it all with style and beauty.

Audio:
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.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, the transfer for these 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.

Packaging:
Presented in a clear keepcase, one set of those who are sent to hunt down the leads get the full color treatment here while other members of the cast are done up in various shades of green in the background. 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 new illustrated piece of Lumiere and Éclair on each side, both of them very stylized illustrations that show a very different concept of their designs. 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.

Menu:
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 Éclair imagery. 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.

Extras:
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 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)
Moving past the halfway mark of the show, the series only continues to pick up the pace and spiral faster along its plot path as it goes. The frustration of only three episodes really sinks in as it gets into the thick of things as the three episodes really just fly by with the fast pacing and action sequences that keep it going. While I've enjoyed the episodic nature of the series at its start, the way it's playing out right now is quite engaging.

Now that they're the hunted and GOTT is seemingly sending anyone and everyone they can to track them down, Éclair and Lumiere opt to hide out and figure out their plans going forward. With more of who they really are being obvious to them, the hide out in a remote system that's fallen to ruin where a colony has been left completely destroyed and devoid of life. Neither has been there for decades and are surprised at just how bad it is there. Through a series of flashbacks, we get to see the time they were there before and the medical related issues they were dealing with. It's interesting in this episode to see the changes in both of the characters since they look similar but different back then, but more so when it comes to Lumiere. He present day look is interesting with the way she carries her hair but her previous look is akin to something out of Gall Force. Even more interesting to me is how she looks in the present after she gets wounded and her hair comes down completely. Her voice seems to change along with it, giving her a much older and more experienced feel than she usual emits. The visual evolution of both of the characters is done well here, though Éclair doesn't make out quite as good as Lumiere does.

The hunt that goes on for the duo proves to be interesting for the way it's rippling through the hunters themselves. As each episode brings us someone new trying to find them and deal with them, they all present their own motivations for hunting them as well as their own issues with the way GOTT is handling the entire thing. The cast has been large in general but it's kept the focus on the leads. These episodes let us get to know more of just who these other operatives are as they come into contact with the pair, especially if they had contact with them from their previous lifetime that they've only just now remembered. The most interesting comes from the Tweedledee interactions since she not only dislikes doing what she has to do to the women but she absolutely abhors the actions she has to take on the ships that the pair have. Changing their makeup and settings to go after their former masters isn't something she does easily and the way it pains her really adds something to the character.

The action level on this disc is almost non-stop, particularly in the third episode where the conflicts reach a truly great state and characters are pushed to their limits and surprising things happen. The show does a good job of mixing styles as well; the opening episode provided some good starship battles and chases across a ruined colony and then shifted to dealing with their mecha fighting and finally down to the individuals going at it with weapons and hand to hand. What's a real plus is that it's not all quick cuts but rather some good length shots of the action happening so you can see the moves and follow the action well. Since some of the shots are designed purely for panty shots, there's plenty of lingering moments as well which work in the shows favor.

In Summary:
While this series has worked well and we've enjoyed it for some time now, this is the volume where all those who disliked the first half of the series are chiming in with their praise. I'd rather the show as it is, plenty of time to get to know the characters and then change their world and go forward rather than start outright with their world changing. There's plenty of payoff in this volume and it's a solid piece of action and content with just the right amount of fanservice. This is the volume that you watched repeatedly to catch all the little bits you missed the first time around that get revealed in discussions about it. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Songs,Image Gallery,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
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.

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