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Kiddy Grade - Case 1:|
directors: Keiju Goto, and Yasuhiro Kuroda
70 minutes (12) 2003
MVM DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by Paul Higson
In this first batch of Kiddy Grade, the Japanese anime series, there are the
three introductory episodes amounting in total to 70 minutes action. Surely, one more
episode would have qualified a decent package, particularly when you are three episodes
in before the settling in takes effect. Each episode title is made up of two collaborative
words, the first is Depth/Space, and don't ask me what it's about because all I
did was watch it. The story is too fast and bloated with sci-fi gobbledygook, a cataract
of skittishly familiar words, often re-enmeshed to the phoniest effect. Concurrent with
all this, the impatient edits result in failure for the usual fight ballet tricks. As
episodes two, Tight/Bind, and three, Prisoner/Escort, hurry by, there is
some ingestion and it can be derived that in this sci-fi scenario there is an intergalactic
peacekeeping and law-enforcing operation called E.S. Force operating under the approval
of the Global Union - why 'Global', I don't know apart from the fact that it makes no
sense; they're just throwing nice sounding words together, here).
Global Union employs children with fabulous talents. The stars of these
stories are a pair of ES Force 'nobles' Éclair, a 16-year-old with superhuman
strength and speed, and Lumiere, several years her junior and braced with talents more
devastating, the girl can act like an electromagnetic
bomb or dispel entire fleets of spacecraft to handy black holes. It is remarked, in one
episode, that these abilities are 'illegal enhancements'. I don't know, though, when I was
a wee child and short of a Rusk I once, apparently, punched the back off a chair. Above the
'nobles' are the S-Class members, reputedly more powerful, but only, really, in line with
experience, and weakened by having a spoilt nasty streak. The mean and deadly Alv has the
talent of absorption and copy, the talent that is shared by Lumiere. Alv's sidekick is the
easily influenced Dveger (pronounced 'diverger') and the pair is met in Tight/Bind.
The other series regulars are their boss Eclipse, and Mercredi, the unassuming but professional
secretary, who we are, in future episodes, promised will display some connection with the
mysterious Armblast. Armblast is the sole male regular, an Inspector and Auditor who behaves
like a 24/7 double agent but always appears to fall on the side of the good.
Tight/Bind involves a visit to a detention centre parked close
to a sun in an extreme gravity field that upon any sign of trouble could be released into
the furnace. As the team investigate they realise that nobody alive remains on the prison
satellite and that a planted gravity bomb is weakening and threatening them. It scurries
through the basic storyline unapologetically.
Prisoner/Escort has the clearest and most exciting plotline as
Éclair and Lumiere join a ship escorting a master villain Drake Han to a distant
planet for trial, on guard to a possible attack by the Insurers, criminals who specialise
in rescuing people from prison ships. It runs into high drama with the Inspector in charge
of the vessel a widower, who's daughter was also a murder victim, shy to any bonding with
the girls, though Éclair cannot help herself.
You warm to certain elements and details, like Lumiere's penchant for
reminding Éclair to be more ladylike and elegant following some brash action.
Éclair also has a wild weapon in the form of a lipstick that when written can
be peeled off and used as a powerful whip. All it takes are two girls and a flash of
lipstick and an illegal blockader realises immediately that he is on the way out: "Oh
my God, we're finished. All we've worked for... is finished."
There are other comic comments. When one villain appears at an arranged
warehouse location, Armblast asks, "Is that a hologram?"
"The secret to a long life is to be a coward," responds the
arch-yellow-belly. A familiar line, but still funny! In Depth/Space as their craft
enters space, Lumiere remarks:
"Not much traffic out there today, why can't it always be like
The duo have another comic trick. It is a peculiar approach to crime-fighting,
but tackling murderous villains is so two-a-penny to these fillies that they have to make
it more interesting, so they turn up at the arrest having adopted a theme, in episode one
they are pizza delivery girls. The animation is fine, but they seem so keen to continue
the story, whatever it might be, that scenes often appear half-finished. Your brows will
knit at the animated panty shots as the girls go into action, camel toe alluded to and
buttocks in careful rise and fall; the animators blatantly have paedophiles in their midst.
If this were a live-action film there would be arrests. It lends an uneasy question as to
how recurrent this is within the series and Japanese animation as a whole and in what direction
and to what nascent audience it is aimed. They might retort that it is done in all innocence
but at 25-frames-per-second I come back on the cel animators, the fuck it is! Though moderately
endearing and not without some imagination (the planet with a patchy radius of metal walls
hanging in space is new), even without the queasy and unwieldy details, I'm hardly enthused
by the notion of visiting further caseloads.
DVD extras include an Image Gallery, Character Studies, a
five-minute promotional video, original commercials, 'text-less' song (but oh, you want to
avoid the drippy tunes, particular as each episode opens with one excruciatingly sickening
ditty) and trailers.