Kiddy Grade Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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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. #6

    September 06, 2004
Release Date: September 07, 2004



What They Say
After an unceremonious dispatching of GOTT Director Ecliose, Eclair and Lumiere complete their successful raid on GOTT Headquarters. Eclair now assumes the title of Proxy Director. With her new power, she begins to rewrite many GOTT policies and builds her own personal vigilante army out of clones of herself and Lumiere!

But just as she begins to exert her new authority, two masked strangers crash the party. Who are the strangers? And what does their appearance mean for Proxy Director Eclair?

The Review!
After all the action and excitement of the last volume, it's not surprising that this one starts in a completely different place and basically leaves you confused for a lot of it.

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, two of the lesser ES members get some good cover time since they're key in this volume and both Sinistra and Dextera look really good here in their uniforms and the colors used. 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)
Kiddy Grade continues to be an enjoyable series but this volume simply managed to frustrate me unlike past ones yet at the same time was very exciting to watch. Maybe it's just due to the number of shows I'm watching at any given time between releases that some details are lost, but this one threw us for a curve when we got into it, even past the opening episode which did make sense.

A lot of what's been going on during Kiddy Grade is part of some larger picture and we figured that out pretty early on. With the past revelations about the long lives that the Éclair and Lumiere have lived and the various flashbacks, it wasn't too surprising that we'd get an episode like the one that starts off this volume. It takes us back to when Éclair "awoke" in her current incarnation for the first time and Lumiere got her up and running and familiar with the galaxy as it stands. It's interesting to see how she goes from knowing nothing to being one of the more interesting GOTT members and then realizing that the entire series has spawned forth from there. Armbrust himself plays a role in both her early days as we see him watching her and then as he documents the missions she's been on since and pieces together the things that link them all, along with the wonder whether the Chief was playing Éclair like a fiddle for her own designs.

It's an interesting recap portion since it runs almost half an episode but it ties things together in a way that you couldn't see too easily at first and had to put together as you went along. Seeing it all strung out in a line with some commentary by those in the know really gives it some new perspective and even takes a few pieces of the puzzle out of the picture since they don't belong. It's a tad confusing if you don't remember exactly how the last volume ended but once past that you're golden.

When the present day plot really picks up again, it's throwing all sorts of things against the wall that don't really feel like it meshed up with how the previous volume ended. The changes made to GOTT in its rebuilding as made by the overseeing group are confusing, particularly considering what has just happened and why they'd go that route. The characters that are running around in these two segments are familiar yet not since their personalities have gone in a radical change ? but at the same time it's believable just because of everything that has gone on. A good chunk of the time is given over to the only two remaining ES members, Sinistra and Dextera, and their material is really good. From the way they challenge the new authority to realizing just as quickly how lowly ranked they are in the new scheme of things. And it's a new scheme that doesn't go with how the GOTT has operated in the past either.

There's plenty of action in this volume as well and some really excellent fight sequences that normally you wouldn't think of happening just due to the characters involved. Though it's confusing at times and you're unsure of where everything is going, it continues to be a visual treat in that regard. The animation quality hasn't dropped at all and while there's certainly a few shortcuts used here and there, the style of these episodes continues to look really good.

In Summary:
Kiddy Grade is quickly shaping up to be a series that will make a heck of a lot more sense in marathon fashion but is still quite enjoyable albeit confusing as we get into the later stages of the game here. This set of episodes has a huge number of changes and gives some lesser characters a great spotlight in which to shine. Nobody is like they were at the start of the series and everything continues to change, which makes the show both a challenge and a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

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, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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