Another older anime and one that does so much well and then trips over its own two feet in the rush to appease its audience *sigh*. This was an anime I found in the bottom of a bin, where all the other anime that weren’t good enough to make it main stream are doomed to live. Now that’s not to say Kiddy Grade is a bad anime, it just falls into a few traps that stop it from being the sci-fi epic it could be T^T However I am willing to give it a fair review despite this as the things it does well should be talked about.
So as this is sci-fi of course we’re in the future and out of the two common flavours of future we’ve gone for the humanity is thriving all over the galaxy instead of humanity screwed up and everything is ruined. As there is so many colonised planets, we decided to set up a universal trade organisation known as GOTT (cause answering to one gigantic power has always worked well in the past ¬_¬) and within that organisation is its own police force to enforce its omnipotence. Within this is an even more special force called the ES Force (yes I know this is getting more and more Russian doll-like but hang on) made up of fabulous youths with super powers… Shocking I know. Here’s where our main characters come in; Eclair and Lumiere, these two are at the bottom of the ES pile at C class and also seem to act as receptionists when they aren’t sent out on incredibly dangerous political missions. The series follows their exploits as they unravel the truth behind GOTT and themselves.
Now there are like a load of characters so I won’t bore you to death by analysing them all so I’ll cover a few main and sum up the rest.
Eclair is the bubbly, loud and eccentric part of the duo always rushing into things without thinking, however she does have a very sweet caring side especially towards children and the oppressed which puts her in direct opposition with GOTT and the Nouvlesse (the highest of human society, the elite, the rich assholes basically). Her super power is literally power, she is crazy strong and has an um… lipstick whip LOL. Actually it is pretty cool as it turns into a rubbery substance once drawn on a wall of something. She is very protective of her partner Lumiere and they are nearly always together. They have a ship called La Muse and a guard robot named Donnerschlag (which sounds hilarious) Eclair being particularly close to the robot and Lumiere being close to Wirbelwind (the ships AI).
Lumiere is the intellect meaning she’s physically weak and has to rely on computers because that’s the name of the cliché! She is very lady like and believes in manners and all that jazz. Her powers include manipulating anything electronic by using her mind or nanites so yeah as long as she’s away from the fighting she’s pretty powerful. Too bad this means that she has to rely on the idiots around her xD She is also very protective of Eclair and takes on a lot more than is originally apparent.
Armbrust is a random guy who follows our leading ladies around, claiming to be an auditor but yeah you’d have to be an idiot if you didn’t think something else was going on. He’s alright and pretty easy-going as well as a ladies man and Eclair hates him xD Lumiere will defend him though as he generally means well.
Eclipse is the GOTT’s Chief and so the head honcho, no one can defy her or I’m guessing she’ll kick their ass, sorry I meant to say she’ll ‘purge’ them, which sounds pretty painful. She is calm and elegant, which makes Lumiere admire her and also very intelligent but does make some dubious choices. She is top ranked ES so you know her power is crazy.
Now there are multiple other pairs in the ES, all based on something; Tweedle Dee & Dum (from Alice in Wonderland), Viola and Cesario (from Twelfth night), Alv and Dvergr (Nordic for Giant and Dwarf), Un-ou and A-ou (Buddhist Deva Kings) and finally Sinistra and Dextera (Latin for left and right). Each pair have their own special powers that work together and a spaceship with guard robot. Of course they all have their own politics with each other, some are friends, rivals and others are downright antagonistic.
I’ll get the downsides out the way first so you can decide whether they already doom Kiddy Grade to oblivion in your eyes xD First off is the pace, the first half is just so slow to get going, there is a lot of set up to go through and you’re kinda wondering when the main plot will burst through the door, for myself it wasn’t too bad because I like to be introduced to things and not rushed, however, then the second half is super fast paced! Which again isn’t too bad but it means that all this subtle nuance they had built up is obliterated and I’m left with questions that could have been answered if they paced it better.
Secondly is the fan service, now this is unashamed fan service right in your face. Eclair at least looks like 20 although listed as being supposedly 16 ¬_¬ but Lumiere despite having the mind of an adult definitely has the body of a child and it’s creepy as hell sometimes. Now it didn’t totally ruin the experience for me even with my hatred of fan service but it was infuriating at times, might as well have someone walk in and hit you right in the face. It is, as most fan service, completely unnecessary to the plot and actually undermines it at points. Some scenes I let slide like just general nudity but yeah Kiddy Grade is definitely catering to some weirdness.
Now for the good parts 😀 it actually has an interesting plot hooray! Which is why I’m not going to spoil it, of course there is the big organisation/the wealthy against poor, weak, peasant people going on but that’s just the surface! The main interest is actually in Eclair and Lumiere and their past. I would at least recommend getting to the half way point as that’s when everything is flipped and suddenly everything starts happening at once. Changing Eclair and Lumiere from naive child soldiers to something else and in some ways more tragic.
I also liked the set up, they did a good job of capturing the large organisation with well-meaning people being manipulated while trying to also manipulate back. They could have done a better job on the Nouvlesse as they tend to be like “look these guys are rich… what assholes!” Rather than looking at the complications of wealth and power. Also some of the ES members didn’t get much screen time like Cesario and Viola so really what was the point of including them.
The drama and fight scenes are also pretty damn good and actually raise the stakes very quickly, there are people’s lives at stake and characters you want to see succeed, and if everyone just sat down with a cup of tea we could all understand each other T^T even the antagonists are sympathetic (not revealing who for spoiler reasons) but yeah I liked them a lot.
Kiddy Grade is a tricky anime to recommend because everything it does well is then slapped with something it does just horribly. If you like sci-fi with action and a twisting plot then you might be able to get through it like me. However if excessive fan service and slow starts put you off I’m afraid Kiddy Grade is just going to enrage you.