Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $39.98 US
Running Time: 600 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/ Action
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
A lady should be elegant … but also powerful.
I have to admit a rather geeky fondness for sci-fi anime action shows because – let’s face it – nobody does sci-fi as uniquely as the Japanese do. Whether it’s following a group of bounty hunters in Cowboy Bebop, a squad of pilots going up against alien invaders in Robotech or the cybernetically enhanced leader of a counter-terrorist group in Ghost in the Shell, anime does the genre justice. So it was good news that FUNimation has released The Complete Series of Kiddy Grade in their new Anime Classics collection because there’s much to like about this series, sci-fi fans.
The story takes place in the distant future when Earth-born citizens have become akin to nobility and the galaxy is protected by an organization known as the G.O.T.T. that helps enforce the law. Two of these agents of the G.O.T.T. are Éclair and Lumiere who work the information desk of the main headquarters when things are calm but secretly take on missions as part of the ES Force – a shadow unit made up of agents with special abilities. One is a skillful fighter who is rather impulsive at times while the other is a more youthful-looking powerhouse who thinks ladies should be elegant.
With Éclair’s fighting prowess and Lumiere’s power to control machines, the pair is sent on missions by the G.O.T.T.’s Chief Eclipse as the girls are first sent on a mission to escort a smooth-talking (and mysteriously shady) Auditor named Armbrust who becomes their traveling companion in just about every mission they take on. Speaking of their missions, the girls accept some interesting but difficult assignments such as one mission that has them tracking down an illegal anti-gravity material or another where they attempt to transport a crime lord as his goons try to rescue him.
In yet another mission, Éclair poses as a cyborg in a fighting competition in search of a female fighter who has entered the tournament with cybernetic enhancements that are experimental in nature. Then, on another mission, they help a boy reclaim his inheritance from a group of Earth-born Nouvlesse who won’t accept the boy as the new head of their clan.
The girls aren’t the only ES Force members as we meet other pairs such as the brother-sister team of Tweedledee and Tweedledum or the sultry pair of Alv and Dvergr who don’t seem to like Éclair or Lumiere. They do have friends in the cute mismatched pairing of Viola and Cesario but the real fun is in getting to know Éclair and Lumiere whose history is slowly revealed by way of Éclair who doesn’t remember her past. However, while on a mission, an event opens up a flood of memories for Éclair as we learn what led her to the G.O.T.T. and why everyone keeps saying she’s a lot older than she looks.
Things get serious when Éclair and Lumiere accept a mission on the planet Aure for the Nouvlesse who treat their workers like slaves. When she finds herself on the wrong side of a revolt, Éclair decides to defy the G.O.T.T. and back the slaver laborers … an act that forces Chief Eclipse to revoke their ES Force status and consider them wanted criminals. Soon, the Chief sends other ES Force members to hunt them down so once good friends are now enemies.
While their life on the run is interesting, the real drama occurs when two powerful figures that resemble Éclair and her partner destroy the G.O.T.T. headquarters and put a bullet into the Chief. In a surprising twist, Éclair becomes new acting Chief but when two mysterious figures arrive to cause the new Chief trouble the mystery pair uncovers a plot to murder all Nouvlesse for the pain and suffering they endured thanks to the Earth-born clan’s prejudice.
I won’t spoil the details of what happens next but the story gets nail-bitingly intense as the two girls find themselves in a major battle to save the elite as well as the planet they protect. The series doesn’t have any shortage of battles but the final fight is one of the highlights of the story. There are fun moments in the series such as a day off that turns sour for both girls or the episode where they look into a mystery where major robberies are taking place mid-flight with the victim actually holding the item.
As I mentioned earlier, though, it’s Éclair and Lumiere who are deep characters who – at first – come off as clichés but turn out to be fascinating. Lumiere is a redefined lady despite her child-like appearance and the fact that she sips grape juice as if it were a fine wine is hilarious. Meanwhile, Éclair’s complicated past just keeps getting more intriguing the more the series reveals. Sure, Éclair is the fan service-y character but there’s a secret past that connects her to a major character in the most unexpected way.
The Complete Series of Kiddy Grade is a fantastic sci-fi action series that starts off good enough and just gets better with each episode thanks to a number of twists and turns. The 24-episodes that make up this collection are wonderfully written and animated just right to make for a fun and fascinating series that will certainly please fans of the genre.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Éclair and Lumiere might seem like just two young girls manning the information desk of the G.O.T.T. but they are specialized ES Force agents who are sent out to carry out law enforcement missions. While performing their duties, though, a plot to rid the world of its elite is uncovered and both girls find themselves caught in the middle of a new battle.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The visual style isn’t anything new but there are plenty of exciting action scenes that look really good. There’s some fan service for those who care about it but it never gets too excessive. The series is definitely worth watching on DVD.
AUDIO QUALITY: A-
The Japanese voice cast is top notch and will not disappoint in the very least when it comes to the performances but if you prefer the English dub both Colleen Clinkenbeard (as Éclair) and Monica Rial (as Lumiere) really stand out. The score is magnificent while the opening and closing theme songs aren’t too shabby.
This Anime Classics collection includes the original Japanese promotional videos, commercials as well as all eleven Piracy Warnings featuring the original Japanese voice cast that is worth a glance. Then there are trailers for other FUNimation releases as well as the textless opening and closing theme songs.
A highly entertaining sci-fi action romp from beginning to end, Kiddy Grade is one of those series that doesn’t fail to keep you cheering for its two main protagonists. Sure, the ending could have been a bit better but it’s hard to complain when you’re having this much fun watching girls kick butt. The Complete Series collection is a Must Have for sci-fi action fans.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment