Kiddy Grade (Japan 2004)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 2/15/09

Divided into 24 installments

First of all, what the hell does "kiddy grade" even mean? No one knows, and it's never even mentioned in the series. In the future, the Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs (GOTT) is formed to deal with political and economical disputes throughout the unified galaxy. Their law enforcement branch is known as the ES Force, which consists entirely of highly trained teenage girls with super powers and cutting edge high tech equipment. This is the story of two such girls, Éclair and Lumiere, and the various criminals they go up against. Naturally, the pilot episode is overly silly and lighthearted as we get introduced to the girls, but the series quickly turns to darker, sinister, and more violent themes. Then about halfway through, the show takes a radical turn as the heroes become the villains and the GOTT falls apart. Or does it? Just what the hell is going on? Things become very confusing, and the climax builds up to a giant robot attempting to destroy Earth.

More than anything, "Kiddy Grade" reminds me of "The Dirty Pair." GOTT is clearly analogous to the Dirty Pair's WWWA organization, and their structure and methods are very similar (not to mention their propensity for overly skimpy uniforms). While Éclair and Lumiere don't exactly fit the Kei and Yuri mold, they have a similar "calm serious girl versus violent exuberant girl" dynamic. Éclair is totally adorable, and possibly the cutest anime girl I've seen in the last five years. As her name suggests, she's positively yummy. At 16 years old, she's a tad naive, overly cheerful, eager to please, and has an inappropriately large chest. The animators never lose sight of this, and the series is chock full of breast jiggling fan service. She also wears a very skimpy (and physically impossible) outfit that gives rise to plenty of panty shots. But that aside, she's also a kick-ass warrior with super human strength, and seeing her in battle is sheer joy. She also has a very curious weapon at her disposal, which is a lipstick case that turns into a whip of some kind. Very silly and cumbersome to invoke, but pretty awesome in action. She also comments that when she wears lipstick she loses control of herself, which serves as a convenient plot device but is never explained.

As is often the case with anime shows, this one lures you in with sexy girls and fan service, then hooks you with a convoluted science fiction story. The first few episodes have absolutely nothing in common with the majority of the show, and the last few episodes are too dramatically overwrought and cliché to take seriously. The stuff in the middle is consistently good, though. Overall, an attractive and enjoyable series that ultimately makes no sense if you start thinking about it too hard.