Funimation recently started an “Anime Classics” line, claiming to contain stand out series from every genre. In actuality it’s a line of best selling titles, and doesn’t necessarily mean the shows in the line are going to be good. Not to say the line is all crap though. Yu Yu Hakusho is being re-released under this line, and it’s a great shonen fighting series. Gunslinger Girl was re-released under this line as well, and at least the first season of that is really good. Some titles in the line are genuinely good series that sold well, and then there are series like Kiddy Grade.
Eclair and Lumiere are members of the Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs’ ES Force. Members of this force are individuals with special abilities who are sent out to settle trade disputes between member planets of the Galactic Union, and see that the Galactic Union’s rules are enforced. After an incident during one of their assignments, the two girls become targets of the GOTT, and are forced to go on the run or be eliminated.
The first stretch of episodes in Kiddy Grade don’t accurately portray what the series is really like. It starts out as the silly adventures of Eclair and Lumiere as they travel around the galaxy solving a bunch of unrelated crimes for the GOTT, while showing off as many panty shots as possible. After these episodes the series is about random inexplicable plot twists and reveals that make next to no sense, while showing off as many panty shots as possible.
It’s not all bad though. I honestly liked the story arc where Eclair and Lumiere were on the run from the other GOTT members. They were genuinely entertaining episodes. There were some good action scenes, and things got a little emotional as the girls had to square off against people who used to be their allies. It doesn’t really last though. The point where everything starts to go downhill is around the point where the two decide they’re going to fight back in earnest. At this point the writers mistakenly believe that being obfuscating is good storytelling. You’re constantly bombarded with hints about things from the characters’ past, but one is never focused on long enough to be explained, and it just gets distracting to the point where you don’t even care anymore.
The series can be divided into about four story arcs, which seems like a bit too much for a 24 episode series. This is clear in the last two arcs, where almost every episode contains some not-at-all-hinted at plot twist or reveal. People aren’t who they appear to be, people who were thought dead turn out to be alive, relationships between characters are revealed, and people pull new powers completely out of their ass which can solve the predicament they’re currently in. The last arc has two, “she’s actually your mother,” reveals in the same episode. By this point in the series it becomes apparent that everyone involved in making this show was getting tired of it and just started throwing crap at it until it went away.
Animation wise, this certainly isn’t Gonzo’s worst. Gonzo’s worst is Gantz and everything else they produce looks like a god damn masterpiece by comparison. Anyway. There are a few instances of character models looking a bit wonky, and one scene where someones arm bends in a way that would likely require two elbow joints to accomplish. There are all the questionable costume designs one would expect to find in a series that’s labelled as fan service right on the back of the case. There are some questionable locales however. More than one scene involves characters running or flying down a never ending hallway that seems out of place in the buildings it’s supposed to be in. There’s nothing particularly outstanding about the visuals, in either a good or bad sense. It’s really just the bare necessities for a throwaway action/ fan service series like this.
Funimation’s dub for the series clearly isn’t their best work, which isn’t surprising given that it’s one of their older ones. There are a few really poor performances, with the most obvious being Tweedledum, who can never emote or sound like he’s not obviously reading from a script. Even characters played by Funimation’s more well-known actors give fairly stilted performances. The script is also very heavily re-written, with the tone and intent of some lines being the opposite of what they originally were, and at least one instance where something said contradicts what we see on screen.
The biggest issue, and a glaring continuity error, comes from Chris Sabat’s role of Chevalier D’Autrich, who is given a french accent for the dub. The problem is later on we see parts of the character’s past, and he didn’t grow up in a house of French speakers. The person who took care of him spoke clear English, and had been taking care of him since before he could talk, yet we see him speaking with this accent even as a child. Accents aren’t genetic, and even if they were D’Autrich is the name of the family that ended up adopting him later on in his life anyway. There’s simply no reason the character should have a French accent, and it was most likely an error that was caught too late for it to be worth going back and fixing. Top things off with all the nameless extras being voiced by a handful of actors, and you have a dub that really isn’t worth watching. If you’re going to watch this show, I’d recommend watching it subtitled instead.
Extras on this set include textless opening and closings, trailers, and some promo videos. There are also Japanese anti-piracy messages from several of the characters. Nothing really worth talking about.
This series may wear the label of classic, but I assure you it is no such thing. While it does have one really well done story arc, this is weighed down by the poorly done later parts. It becomes a mash up of poorly thought out plot twists, and surprise reveals that make little sense. Unless a copy of this series lands in your lap and you have ten hours you really need to kill and don’t care how it gets done, I really don’t recommend watching this one.
Pros: Middle story arc is really well done, some decent action
Cons: Random plot twists and reveals litter last story arc, English dub isn’t so great