Kiddy Grade: Pastry women, Space Bigots and Juvenile Alcoholics change the spy game
Kiddy Grade may sound like some hentai grading system for child molesters, but it’s actually the title of an anime series that follows the exploits of a pair of special agents in an anti-terrorist organization in the far future where mankind has left earth and now occupies many terraformed planets out in distant space. Eclair acts the series primary protagonist working in tandem with her hacker partner Lumière as her singular grounding element and buzzkill as the pair take n tasks for the GOTT’s elite “Shadow Unit” that conducts everything from bodyguard missions, to investigations to assassinations. They’re also receptionists for the organization’s lobby.
… what the fuck?
Let’s talk more about space childbirth, space adoption, why Earth sucks, space breast augmentation, space clones, space jailbait, Space European Cuisine, Space Wine, why lipstick isn’t the best method of activating super powers…
After the cut!
More diverse anime enthusiasts may look at the show and immediately brand it a bland ripoff of the legendary Dirty Pair, the super-sexy, super secret agents whose infamy brought woe and shame to their galactic police organization: The 3WA (or WWWA). It’s not JUST a poor man’s Dirty Pair, it’s also pretentious and stupid to boot!
This anime trips over tropes like it was running some sort of anime stereotype marathon for the charity benefiting those suffering from anime scriptwriter’s block. It also likes skirting lines of ludicrously unnecessary perversion, not unusual in anime, but it’s all tease and in a way that just seems pathetically perverted. The panty shots alone would made this an ideal choice as a drinking game platform and gives you the puerile perspective from which the story, action and outfit design were birthed.
And the age thing…
These two are, for lack of a better term, treated as spy interns or something. Nevermind that people in the show wonder why Lumiere is out of elementary school, Eclair looks barely old enough to drive making the pair of them in their revealing outfits a sting operation on the go! They come packing another Dirty Pair nod with a weirdly German named ship and a German-named onboard assistant; in their case: A massive combat android.
Eclair, the primary protagonist with plot convenient amnesia, is the muscle of the team sporting super speed and strength released by an… An application of lipstick? Oh for fuck’s sake… Eclair also wields some weird lipstick ribbon whip that slices, dices and makes julian fries with ease. Keeping in mind that this is the SAME tube of lipstick that she literally just used to press and apply on her lips as well as whatever solid surface she doodles on to peel off and use as a weapon.
Lumiere hacks electronic stuff through little lines that slither out of her fingers bringing laser pistols, robots and even fleets of battleships under her control. This makes her the belle of the ball at computer camp, but not so much at band camp, or so I would assume. More importantly, it needs to be addressed that Lumiere is always hiding large wine bottles on her person that are either full of what she claims is “grape juice” or spray a fog of nanomachines to do… something to attacking forces, she’s not really that good in a fight, but she’s practically fucking Houdini because I can’t think of where she much be hiding those bottles in her frilly leotard.
To make an appropriate anime, the partners need to be some kind of Odd Couple equivalent to generate conflict that our plucky heroines must resolve with lipstick, outfits and alcohol. You see where this could start to sound weird? Anyway, Eclair is the well-meaning ditz with her breasts practically falling out of her eccentric dress held together by prayer when she’s not changing in and out of costumes, making her a better person and entirely more likeable than her partner. Sorry, it’s true. Lumiere is the uptight lush that nags Eclair with unyielding brutality about her unladylike behavior while also blathering about elegance. It’s also creepy and worth re-addressing that Lumiere looks like she’s under ten years of age.
These two set to work jumping into missions that eventually convey the simple societal fact that humans born on earth are better than humans born out in space. That’s their fancy distinction for establish a noble class that, in defiance of convention, are refered to as the “Noblesse” and they rule over Spaceborn peoples with iron fists using the GOTT as their primary spear for breaking the backs of blossoming revolutions. They grow to resent and refuse this kind of work, which leads the girls into a series of increasingly dark situations where the friends the pair built up grow thin as they are framed, pursued and left for dead.
Before things grind to an uneasy halt you’ll see gaggles of clones, the results of cosmetic surgery changing… hairstyles, eyecolor and breast sizes, a surprise adoption someone forgot, the revelation that a child-like woman gave birth to a daughter twice her size and a possessed macross super dimensional fortress knockoff on a rampage to destroy earth. The pseudo-seriousness the series portrays is pretty laughable given the detachment their sugary interpretation of the spy business. Speaking of which, the ES agent pairings are probably the worst and creepiest element of the show with siblings paired up, cool dudes that act like a gay couple, a tiny little girl with a creepy grown man that barely talk and even a woman paired up with her own mother.
What isn’t cliched is just half-assed and eyeroll inducing garbage. Worse, the characters can’t seem to get past being “cute” making it a matter meeting a fetish rather than really unraveling any one character with anything more than bullshit backstory trotted out for fucking convenience. I’m aware that this was released in 2002, but this shit was old before then and at best Kiddy Grade comes off as a cascade of great anime ideas that were driven into the ground almost a decade before it came out.
It’s something that they were acutely aware of, hence assigning the ES agents some kind of fetish rather than characterization that they desperately need and instead of added to the characters, they increased the cast to widen the creepy fetish gap. This explains all the constantly flipping skirts, sideboobs and boob jiggles to “accentuate” the action scenes.
I will note that at least the visuals are excellent, which comes as no surprise because it’s a Gonzo series. The work on people’s… well, WOMEN’S massively wide eyes in the series is hypnotizing. I found myself frequently getting distracted by the way their eyes just stand out all watery, shiny and stuff. It’s beautiful, a bit creepy and mostly unnecessary, but beautiful all the same.
Ultimately, the first half Kiddy Grade makes me feel like I should be looking over my shoulder for prying federal eyes, but the second half that “explains” things clears the air making it abundantly clear that it’s just a bad show. The revelations are shit that borders on a character realizing that they are their own grandfather because they are that conducive to the story overall. Clones, Adopted politicians, bad parenting and drunken jailbait don’t make for an enticing show unless you’re drawing another season of Torchwood because at least THEN it would have some fucking writing behind it rather than another disappointing Gonzo series whose visuals outshine any other element of the series.
This thing has been sitting around on Netflix for awhile, but I wouldn’t rush to check it out anytime soon. You can make a permanent smear across your collection for under $10 HERE, but aside from a consistently good visual appearance I’d advise testing the waters first.