Natsuko KuwataniHirotaka SuzuokiMika DoiAya Hirano
Kiddy Grade
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2002
Director: Keiji Gotoh
Writer: Hidefumi Kimura
Actor: Aya Hirano, Ryoko Nagata, Ai Tokunaga, Akira Ishida, Gou Aoba, Hirotaka Suzuoki, Ikue Kimura, Jun Fukuyama, Kaori Mizuhashi, Kikuko Inoue, Mami Kosuge, Mika Doi, Natsuko Kuwatani, Nobuo Tobita, Omi Minami, Tetsu Inada, Toshiyuki Morikawa
Keywords: anime, SF
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 24 episodes
Website category: Anime early 00s
Review date: 30 January 2018
I'd been vaguely intending to watch this show for a while. It was in my queue. At last I finally succumbed and put on the first episode... only to see that it was by Studio Gonzo. I hesitated. I still wanted to watch it. I might still find good things in it. Eventually I took the plunge. Well, I'll know better next time.
It's an SF series, set in the Star Century year 0165. The human race has spread all over the galaxy, bringing with it terraforming, crime and law enforcement. Our heroines (Eclair and Lumiere) belong to GOTT, the Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs. That probably sounds a bit dull, but the galaxy seems to have a surprisingly broad definition of the term "trade dispute". What's more, Eclair and Lumiere have superpowers and belong to GOTT's shadow branch. (Eclair seems to be about as strong as Spider-Man, while Lumiere can take mental control of any computer.)
So far, so good. What's more, the show's called "Kiddy Grade" and Lumiere looks about ten. (People often call Eclair a child too, but it's not clear what they mean by that since she has an adult body and big boobs.)
I wasn't expecting the show I got.
Nearly half the show is mission-of-the-week episodes. They're throwaway. Eclair and Lumiere do cop stuff. Ep.7 has idiot plotting and made me sleepy. There's nothing memorable in these plots, but even the regular cast are fairly dull too. Eclair hits things and is cheerful. Meanwhile Lumiere isn't remotely childlike, which would have worked better had there been anything interesting about her adult personality. She talks like a duchess at a tea party and keeps telling Eclair to be elegant. In fairness it shouldn't have been hard to do something fun or funny with that duo, but the show seems incapable of thinking on that level. The writing feels two-dimensional. It lacks a sense of humour.
There's also unwanted fanservice. I'd have been happier without Eclair's panty shots, while Lumiere's outfit is borderline.
Halfway through, the show gets darker and a lot less shallow. GOTT isn't exactly good. They might look that way most of the time, but their job is to preserve the economic order. (There's an elite of pure-bred Earth families, called "Nobles".) There are some fairly extreme plot developments, although I'd have been more impressed if they hadn't mostly been unwound later. Theoretically this is good stuff... but personally I couldn't really get past the dull cast and the way they're not driving the plot. Eclair is generic, although admittedly the show does dump some emotional bombs on her. Lumiere remained a disappointment. The most emotionally involving character ended up being the (two-dimensional) finale villain, actually, partly thanks to taking surprising, plot-changing actions that come from deep-rooted motivations.
The show was quite successful, though, perhaps due to lavish production values. It got three compilation movies in 2007 and a sequel series "Kiddy Girl-and" (2009). It's set fifty years later, it kills its parent show's protagonists in the first five minutes (yay!) and apparently it's full of silly parody. It's widely seen as a step down. Personally I suspect I'd prefer it, but right now what I'm looking for is absolutely not more Kiddy Grade.
In short: don't watch this. The show has its fans, but why bother? There's so much genuinely good stuff out there that I see little reason to hunt down this.