Kiddy Grade is an anime that, like so many before it, is in dire need of some editing.

As noted on the made-of-spoiler TV Tropes page, Kiddy Grade starts as a spiritual successor of sorts to Dirty Pair [1]. Overall the series breaks down into three distinct segments. Unusually it is the middle instalment which is the strongest.

The first six to eight episodes are basically just Dirty Pair style capers with more fan service, less humour, but hints of better things to come.

This part of the series should probably have been cut to 3 – 4 episodes, maybe two at a stretch.

Episodes 9 – 16 is the strongest storyline.

There are some real surprises, as well as attempts to deal with some serious character issues.

Many, if not most, of the characters are borderline superhumans but these episodes succeed in making them human , as well as making the lead Eclair face the demons of her (long) past.

It is this sequence that justifies the tagline of the superb trailer: “What happens when you question authority?”, and probably the episodes I am most likely to rewatch.

This sequence I would not cut: even the recap episode (16) feels relatively fresh and contains a couple of “What the…” moments that makes it worthwhile.

Unfortunately the remaining episodes feel… unfocussed in comparison. There’s some interesting stuff happening, but the fan service becomes a lot more noticeable [2].

Also jarring is the extended recap segments at the start of the later episodes – these create the feel that the writers were desperately padding to eke it out to the full run of 24 episodes. Compare this to the Vision of Escaflowne where the recaps got dropped entirely[3].

This isn’t the only problem with the ending.

Much of the rationale for the final episodes is a revolution, of sorts, against the evil (or at least bigoted) aristocrats. However the universe set up had these aristocrats priding themselves on not having the superhuman powers of the peons – their power was more linked to tradition, financial power, and political power.

However this means that any physical showdown between the heroines and the real bad guys would be a curb stomp with no real way to justify a challenge.

So another “villain” had to be contrived to present a suitable ending: massive space battle with monologuing and explosions [4]. Only the “villain” was actually after the same results as the heroes, only consumed by revenge and going about it the wrong way.

If it had been handled well this could have been a good commentary on the end not justifying the means. As it was though: too many characters, send in the clones, lots of stuff going boom, some stuff going moob [5], pleasant enough to watch, but not a lot of point to it all.

And, finally, the real bad guys are shown more-or-less getting away with it. Oh, there’s some power sharing, and maybe some democracy being introduced, but no real punishment for those who deserved a lot more than that.

The last episodes are pleasant enough to watch, but somehow unsatisfying. I don’t know how the ending could be salvaged, or even if it is possible.

Overall Kiddy Grade is a touch above average but it is the middle section that lifts it there.

[1] And although I didn’t mention it yesterday this was another reason I was reluctant to pick it up.
[2] To be honest the fan service never really goes away but the strong story in 9 – 16 overpowers it and makes it a lot less intrusive.
[3] I’ll grant that this is probably an unfair comparison. At least a little bit. 🙂
[4] Remember: spiritual successor the Dirty Pair plus powers. The only viable ending involved “BOOM” as soon as the premise was pitched.
[5] Or going “un-boom” if you prefer…