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Kiddy Grade volume 1 | volumes 2, 3, 4
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Kiddy Grade: volume five

director: Keiji Goto

75 minutes (12) 2003
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Alasdair Stuart
Picking up right where volume four left off, this disc sees a seismic change in the status quo as Éclair and Lumiere take the fight to their former employers at the GOTT. It's a brave move, turning the series on its head after 12 episodes and yet, as these stories show, it not only works but gives them the opportunity to tell stories that the previous setup wouldn't allow.

In fact, that's all the first two episodes on this disc are. Conflict / Destiny and Steel / Heart both spring entirely from the girls' newfound renegade status and are two of the series' best episodes. Conflict / Destiny sees them hiding on an orbital colony they visited decades previously and which also saw them cross swords with A-Ou and Un-Ou, who would later become GOTT operatives in their own right. With Lumiere seriously injured, the only chance they have is a clinic that a friendly doctor may or may not have left them. To make matters worse A-Ou and Un-Ou are hot on their trail.

This episode in particular packs so much into its running time that it's almost impossible to believe Kiddy Grade episodes barely cross the half-hour mark. From an excellent fight scene between the two teams to flashbacks, a running dogfight through a field of space debris and the subdued, altruistic ending this episode contains almost everything that makes Kiddy Grade work as well as reinforcing the new status quo - a status quo that is all but shattered by Steel / Heart. Hiding on a partially terraformed world, the girls plan to steal components from one of the vast robotic terraforming platforms moving through the atmosphere. However, when GOTT operatives Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee alter the programming of their ship and support mech, the results are heart-rending.

There's a point around five minutes before the end of this episode where most series would bring the situation neatly into land with little or no lasting consequences. Kiddy Grade doesn't. Instead, the entire episode sees Éclair and Lumiere wrong-footed and, finally, left with almost nothing but each other. It's horrifying to watch and manages to almost completely sidestep the cloying sentiment that at times threatens to overwhelm it.

Finally, Crash / Down looks and plays like a series finale. Little more than an extended action sequence, it sees Éclair and Lumiere declare outright war on the GOTT and, finally, demonstrates exactly how good they are at their job. There are direct references to the things �clair has chosen to forget from her past, Lumiere is transformed from a likeable and shy techie into a distant, cold and utterly efficient evasion specialist and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee pay for their actions in the previous episode. It's a relentless episode, hitting the ground running, reintroducing most of the characters from previous volumes and apparently tying up every plot thread from previous volumes. Whilst the sacrifice of plot for action leaves this falling a little flat compared to previous episodes, it's still a great finale to the GOTT plot. I have no idea how the story could continue from this point, but I can't wait to find out. This is a great addition to an already excellent series.

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