I finished watching all 24 episodes of this series last night.
I tried very hard to like Kiddy Grade because it held so much potential and promise. The characters were well-developed and interesting. The series storyline, once it became completely visible around episodes 8-9 was excellent. Animation was fantastic, video quality as good as it could be for streamed SD, the sound decent.
The dubbing voice actors were excellent too. They really carried the suspenseful and emotional scenes.
However, I give the series a failing grade of F (this would correspond to zero stars on that rating system. I decided to use a "grade" because of the title).
In order for me to explain why I failed this series given its outstanding qualities, I'd have to indulge in some spoilers, both general and detailed observations. I'll use the usual warning buttons for the detailed observations.
For the general observations/spoilers, I'll issue this warning right here. They don't reveal any specifics or endings or anything like that. I don't think they'd spoil the entire series for you if you read them. In fact some of these points might be controversial.
But it's your call. If you think you can handle the general observations/spoilers that give this series a failed grade of F, read the next few paragraphs. Detailed spoilers follow those.
OK, here we go. Last chance to bail before the general observations about why this series stunk.
The main reason: the two protagonists, Eclair and Lumiere, are bumbling incompetents at what they do as GOTT police officers. In the early episodes, they do manage to handily dispense with opponents of lesser strength and/or mental reserves. However, when they face opponents of equal or greater strengths starting around episodes 9-10, they lose big time, every time.
Yet they somehow prevail overall, or they'd never make it to 24 episodes. How do they do this, if they're so incompetent that they lose every battle? Simple. At the last possible second, they get rescued by someone else who happened to be in the area, or some miraculous Deus ex Machina appears to save them, or some nearby cataclysmic event interrupts the bad guys long enough for Eclair and Lumiere to recover from certain death. Eclair and Lumiere by themselves wouldn't have lasted. They just aren't that good.
This formula is repeated endlessly through the remaining episodes of the series, so much so that I almost gave up in frustration and disgust around episode 20. But that potential and promise I talked about at the beginning of this post was still there. I held out a slim hope that Eclair and Lumiere might actually accomplish something without being spoon-fed through their problems. Meanwhile, the two "super-heroines" go right on losing every dual and being rescued by someone or something else.
That's enough for the "F" grade right there.
You may disagree with me on this point, but I have good reasons for reaching this conclusion. I re-watched the important battle scenes with strong opponents. Eclair and Lumiere still lost each and every one, and survived only because someone else saved their skins. I'll go into details, particularly for the last few episodes, in the detailed observations/spoilers.
The second (and last) general observation is that one of the old anime standbys, the Deus ex Machina I mentioned earlier is overused to the point of utter inanity. Indeed it almost has to be invoked frequently in order to rescue Eclair and Lumiere from some of their failed battles.
Those two general observations identity the major reasons for giving this series a failing grade of F. It gets very tiresome watching these two, one of whom is described at one point as "the most powerful ES member", constantly being rescued, saved by some cataclysmic event nearby, or delivered safe and sound by a ridiculous Deus ex Machina.
Now for the details. This will include descriptions of some of the major battles (including the finale) and other plot points, and will re-enforce (I hope) my opinions about the major failures of this series.
Although I finished watching the series last night and re-watched some of the major battle scenes, I'm sure I'll err slightly in the details. I'll try to correct those as I notice them and/or anyone decides to point them out.
OK then. Here are some examples of the defeats of Eclair and Lumiere, and how they're saved from themselves. I'll deal with the "grand finale" battle first.
Then I'll talk about an earlier battle in which (remember, this is a spoiler) Eclair and Lumiere are actually killed by their opponents, then reincarnated by one of those Deus things. Those reincarnations are going to get special treatment.
Finally, I'll talk about 3 battles in which Eclair is beaten so badly that she begs for her life.
First the big one, the grand finale battle. It gets pretty complicated, with magically appearing rescuers, miracles, and accidents saving them on every turn. Even though my description is a long one, it leaves out of lot of stuff that doesn't pertain directly to the topic.
Eclair and Lumiere battling their arch enemy Alv, a rogue ES member who killed Eclair the last time they met. On the ship she has captured, Alv herself is first disintegrated into her component atoms, which are then converted into pure energy.
However, Alv gets her own miraculous rescuer. Her special ES "gift" allows her personality to survive in the ship's computer. She takes over again, then eventually gets Eclair and Lumiere disintegrated the same way she was. Only they don't have Alv's special "gift" for surviving in those circumstances, so they're evidently dead for good. For the second time, Eclair is killed by her enemy.
Enter another Deus ex Machina. Alv needs more power for her ship, so she opens some kind of solar collector array. This thing is evidently so good at collecting huge amounts of solar energy that Eclair and Lumiere are somehow able to use all that energy to reconstitute themselves. What?
Well, here they are again, this time saved from the ultimate defeat by a really efficient solar array.
More complicated battling between Alv's ship and the ES forces/allies ensues. Alv starts winning easily. Then, with the ES/allied fleet facing certain doom from Alv's ship, Eclair and Lumiere come up with a way for Eclair to enhance the power of Lumiere's ES "gift". This would enable Lumiere to get remote control of Alv's computer.
The enhancement process will kill Eclair, because it will kill her, that's all. It's an arbitrary plot point. So they do it.
Outside the ship, Eclair makes a connection between the ship and Lumiere, creating a conduit for her own energy and the energy of the ship to flow into Lumiere.
As Lumiere extends her virtual probes towards Alv's ship, Alv fires back. Eclair's ship can't shield itself because the shield energy is being used to enhance Lumiere's power. This handy weakness places Eclair and Lumiere on the brink of death again, as if killing Eclair via the energy transfer wasn't enough.
Our "super-heroines" are helpless again, go enter the rescuers, just in time. One of their fellow ES agents moves her ship into the path of Alv's salvo, shielding Lumiere long enough to reach Alv's ship with the virtual probes. She then begins to assume control of the ship's computer. Ultimately, Alv's ship disintegrates as a result.
By themselves, the "powerful" Eclair and Lumiere lose again. Without the other ES ship to save their butt, they were incapable of beating Alv. Such power.
With Eclair effectively killed in the battle, it's time for another miracle to save our helpless protagonist. Alv's former ES partner is a prisoner, I think, Eclair's and Lumiere's ship. She announces that she has a ES "gift" that her fellow officers don't know about. She's been avoiding using it on people "until now". I wonder what that "gift" could be?
Seconds later Eclair is alive again, reincarnated after dying in battle against Alv for the third time (once described below, once disintegrated by Alv on the captured ship, finally sacrificed in the energy transfer to Lumiere).
In a previous battle, Eclair and Lumiere are utterly defeated, as in killed, by Alv and her partner Dvergr.
While still on their rogue hiatus, Eclair and Lumiere decide to attack the Gott headquarters. It's a giant tower, guarded of course by an army of soldiers and "gifted" ES members.
Things get complicated again. During their battles with the various ES teams, Eclair is described by one of her opponents as "the most powerful ES agent, now that she has her memories back" or something like that (seems Eclair has bad memories of former incarnations, such as being defeated and killed all the time).
Lumiere evades destruction by various ES agents until she eventually Lumiere confronts Alv and Dvergr. What happens next is a little confusing, but it seems that Alv defeats Lumiere by activating some kind of modified overhead sprinkler system that pins the latter to the floor. Lumiere manages to free one hand and uses her "gift" of infiltrating control systems to somehow cause an explosion.
In a later episode, we learn that Lumiere has been killed, her broken body lying beneath a huge block on the pavement many stories below. It's not clear exactly what killed her. During the confrontation, Dvergr has used her ES "gifts" to absorb Lumiere's special powers and shape-shift into a likeness of her.
Did Lumiere have to be alive for that to happen? Was she killed by the explosion, thrown from the building, or by Dvergr after absorbing her powers and likeness?
Whatever, Alv and Dvergr survive with her abilities and she's defeated and dead.
Eclair in the meantime fights Tweedledum and Tweedledee to a standstill. She's standing next to what appears to be Lumiere, but who may in fact already be Dvergr. Eclair, worried, says "Lumiere?". Then Alv appears behind her and says "I wouldn't worry about her." There's a bright light and the sound of an explosion.
Once again, we later learn the details. Alv has killed Eclair, who now also lies dead on the pavement. In the shape-shifted guises of Eclair and Lumiere, Alv and Dvergr break into the office of the GOTT chief, Eclipse. "Eclair" shoots Eclipse multiple times. In this episode, Eclipse is shown flying backwards out the window and down to her doom.
Our heroines are dead, defeated again. They just can't win, can they? In the same later episode that explained how they died, we learn that Eclipse's "gift" is some kind of "quantum shifting". Not only does it enable her to "shift" out of her fatal fall - it also cures multiple bullet wounds!
It turns out that as Chief of Gott, Eclipse has the ability and/or resources to reincarnate/regenerate dead ES agents so they can be reassigned. This is why Eclair and Lumiere have lived multiple lifetimes. Some of those lives start with a clean memory slate, some don't.
Enough of that. The point is that once Eclipse resolves her own predicament, she reincarnates/regenerates Eclair and Lumiere. Yet again, the defeated agents are saved from themselves.
The reincarnated Eclair and Lumiere do battle with the shape-shifted "Eclair" and "Lumiere" (Alv and Dvergr) to regain control of GOTT. This battle is complicated too occurring on many fronts and including the presence of multiple Eclair and Lumiere clones who obey Alv and Dvergr. What a mess.
At first things look promising for the real Eclair and Lumiere. They're winning against their own clones at least, and some ES agents are now lending them a hand.
But when Alv gets involved, they gradually start losing again and are forced into a showdown at the edge of a cliff. They acknowledge that they can't withstand another attack from Alv, who is preparing to gun them down.
Alv does the B movie villain act long enough for Lumiere to summon their new ship, a replacement for the old one that self-destructed in a previous battle (see below). With the new ship and others that appear for use by the now emancipated clones, Alv is apparently destroyed.
What did Eclair and Lumiere do for themselves and their friends? Nothing. They were beaten cold, they acknowledged it. The only reason Lumiere had time to summon rescuers was because Alv engaged in B movie conversation. Eclair and Lumiere owe their lives to the rescuers. The rescuers own the victory against Alv.
There are at least three other battles in which Eclair is beaten so badly that she begs for her life. She does nothing to escape her own death - she can't. Rescuers, interference, and accidents saver her instead.
One of them occurs after she and Lumiere have gone rogue from GOTT and are hiding out on some kind of artificial colony. Fellow ES members tasked with liquidating them easily follow them to the colony (another weakness of Eclair and Lumiere - they can't hide themselves for squat from anyone because they're too naive to expect inside betrayals, or too stupid to adequately cover their tracks).
Lumiere has been gravely injured in a battle (another one that they lost and had to flee from, naturally) just prior to their arrival at the colony. Eclair is searching for a surviving medical facility that might save Lumiere's life.
The bad guys find her, battle her, and beat her to the point of execution by pistol twice. Both times she's in kneeling position with a bad guy's pistol to her head. He does what bad guys do in the B movies, that is, talk for a while instead of killing her. It doesn't matter from Eclair's standpoint, really, because she's beaten and broken. on her knees, begging not to be killed.
Then the ground conveniently blows up from underneath them, saving Eclair for the time being. She sure didn't save herself.
The "explosion" turns out to be the bad guy's partner, butting in because he wants a chance to punch out her lights and kill her himself.
In the ensuing battle, Eclair is again beaten, again at the end of the pistol barrel held by the same bad guy who nailed her the first time. She begs again, this time for a few more hours to get Lumiere to the health care facility. He responds that there can't be surviving a facility on the war ravaged colony. Besides, he and his partner have been sent to terminate them, not capture them.
He does the B movie villain act again, talking for a while before he blows her head off. This gives the protagonists' battle-robot, "Donnerschlag", time to intercede and rescue Eclair out of her second round of helpless defeat.
This robot wasn't around to rescue her from the first execution because, well, he just wasn't, that's all.
What follows the rescue is the entrance of a handy Deus ex Machina to save Lumiere's life. It's the magical health care facility, fully automated and left just for them on this artificial colony in the middle of nowhere. Seems that Eclair and Lumiere were somehow involved in the war that wrecked the colony decades earlier (more about their lifespans later). A doctor serving the the facility them promised he'd leave the place for them.
Even for a Deus ex Machina, that's a long stretch. But it saves Lumiere from the grace injuries she received when they were defeated on their approach to the colony.
The third time Eclair is beaten to the point of begging occurs in the next episode, after they seek refuge on a planet that's also a terraforming colony. A second pair of ES agents has arrived - "Tweedledum" and "Tweedledee". These agents sneak aboard the protagonists' ship and reprogram it to attack and kill them. This includes the robot Donnerschlag, who is linked to the ship's computer.
Eclair and Lumiere are attacked by the robot and ship while they're hiding out in some kind of abandoned, hovering warehouse. First the two of them outrun the faster robot (oops!), which is suddenly unable to shoot straight (later they decide that the robot and ship were fighting the altered programming. Fine, I guess, but it doesn't explain what the robot does to Eclair later).
Lumiere then takes on the ship while Eclair fights the robot, saying once again that she can defeat it. Instead it winds up beating her to a pulp. He holds her up in one of his grapplers/claws and is about to either crush her, cut her in half, throw her to her death, whatever. She begs AGAIN.
"Please, Donnerschlag, please, don't".
Enter the rescuer. While Eclair was losing the battle with the robot, Lumiere was losing the battle with the ship. It defeats her shield and smashes into the warehouse. The bow of the ship conveniently breaks into the room where Donnerschlag is about to kill Eclair, making him drop her. She escapes into a smaller room where she can set a trap.. The robot recovers from the collision and follows her into the booby-trap, one of her "lipstick cable" snares. She declares victory over him, except it wasn't. She lost and Donnerschlag was going to kill her. The colliding ship saved her butt by making him drop her, giving her time to set the trap. Left to her own "powers", she'd be dead.
BTW Donnerschlag the blows himself up as she approaches him. The massive explosion doesn't kill her, of course, even though she's only about 10 ft away. She decides that he finally got control over the altered programming and destroyed himself to keep from killing her. OK, fine, fine. He could have been trying to kill her with the blast too, but..
Meanwhile the ship backs away from the station and prepares for.. something. Lumiere' realizes that it's gained enough control over the altered programming to self-destruct. She tries to stop it with her "gift", virtual probes that can penetrate and re-program control systems.
She can't stop it. Her "gift" isn't powerful enough, as in weak. The ship turns and flies out of the atmosphere and self-detonates. That one did seem like a sacrifice to save them.
Whatever - without the ship's collision, Eclair would be dead, and now the ship is gone because Lumiere was too weak to control it. They can't even win fights against their own equipment.
Phew! That was a long one. This doesn't seem like a very active forum, so I'm not sure if I've accomplished anything beyond letting off a little steam over my disappointment in the series.
Still, I would think that any fan who likes the series might not agree with my negative assessment of Eclair and Lumiere.
Believe me, if you can convince me that Eclair and Lumiere are first-rate GOTT agents and heroines, I'd love it.
But they're not. They're losers who need to be coddled through every battle.