is a 24 episode science fiction anime series produced in 2002 and created by gímik and Gonzo Digimation and directed by Keiji Gotoh. The series is licensed and distributed in North America by FUNimation Entertainment. The series currently airs on the FUNimation Channel in both its "syndicated block" and its 24-hour channel. In 2007, the series was re-released as three movies (each 80-90 minutes in length) to specific Japanese theatres. The individual titles for these films are
In October 2006 news of a Kiddy Grade sequel was announced, under the working title of "K-G.2", to be animated by asread (Shuffle! anime). A DVD containing a 7-minute preview of the new series was released on 2007-05-25.
Most of the central characters in the series are ES members of GOTT "Shadow Unit". The Shadow Unit is a group of superpowered individuals that acts as the elite enforcement division of GOTT and hence, of the Galactic Union. Their powers are ranked by "class", of which three are named in the series: C class is the lowest, S is high, and G is the highest. At the beginning of the series, it is believed that no ES member possesses G class abilities but it is later revealed to be false. ES members are organized in pairs of the same class and each is issued a customized and very advanced spaceship and a guard robot.
The protagonists of the series are Éclair and Lumière, a C class pair of ES agents, who have a long back-story together from before joining GOTT. Their past is gradually revealed throughout the series as they come to realize and accept it. Their spaceship is called La Muse (The Muse) and their guard robot is Donnerschlag (Thunderclap); both are also part of their back-story. As ES members, Éclair and Lumière report directly to the chief of GOTT, Eclipse, a strict and collected woman whose orders they cannot disobey. Often accompanying them in the early episodes is the Galactic Union auditor Armbrust (Crossbow) who appears to have multiple hidden agendas.
Other ES members are: Alv and Dvergr (S class), an arrogant pair who eventually become Éclair and Lumière's antagonists; Tweedledee and Tweedledum (S class), fraternal twins with a complicated relationship towards the protagonists; Viola and Cesario (C class) who are generally on good terms with Éclair and Lumière; Un-ou and A-ou (S class), former mercenaries with a long-standing rivalry with them; and Sinistra and Dextera (S class), a bishōnen pair held in high regard by all their colleagues for their professionalism. Also of note are Mercredi, Eclipse's personal assistant with a hidden agenda, and Chevalier d'Autriche, the Secretary General of GOTT whose past is intertwined with Éclair's.
The first few episodes chronicle their various missions. These include negotiating trade between two rival corporation planets; transporting an Earth (Nouvlesse) criminal; finding a stolen cybernetic implant by entering a wrestling tournament; and helping a young heir make it to an inheritance. They routinely team up with fellow ES members to stop various threats.
One later mission involves terrorists using Geo-Sort Technology, which is capable of destroying entire planets. However, GOTT seems to have mysterious connections with the Geo-Sort distribution, causing Éclair to question what GOTT is really up to. The results of the last missions seem to reveal much darker ambitions of the GOTT. Another mission places Éclair in the middle of a mysterious brain-washing scheme on the Planet Dardanos and unravels a government conspiracy. However, the brain-washing signal paralyzes Éclair and awakens strange and violent flashbacks to events she had no prior memory of.
As a result the GOTT brands Éclair and Lumière as criminals. Afterwards, the GOTT dispatches Section Thirteen agents and C-Force soldiers to capture them. After a standoff in a colony, Section Thirteen nearly cripples them using a program called D-Command which causes the nanomachines inside ES members to multiply rapidly and kill the host. However, Armbrust reveals his ES Power to save Éclair and Lumière and aid them in their escape. Not too soon afterwards, GOTT starts sending their former ES comrades to hunt them down. A-ou and Un-ou (longtime rivals of Éclair and Lumière) are hired to track them down and eventually chase them to an abandoned colony. After coming to an uneasy truce where A-ou and Un-ou leave the GOTT, Tweedledee and Tweedledum are next sent to capture Éclair and Lumière. Tweedledee infects their robot Donnerschlag and their ship La Muse with a virus, causing them to turn against their owners. After trying in vain to stop the virus, the two former ES members plan one final strike on GOTT Headquarters. However, Alv and Dvergr seem to have their own mysterious agenda involving the two former members. After battling the other ES members in their attack, Éclair confronts Eclipse and shoots her. The GOTT Headquarters is eventually destroyed, leaving the fate of Eclipse and the future of GOTT unknown.
In a surprise twist, the mysterious girls turn out to be the original Éclair and Lumière in new bodies. Alv and Dvergr are revealed as the true villains, having absorbed Éclair and Lumière's powers and appearance during the GOTT attack. With the help of Eclipse (who survived using her Quandt ability) and the clones, they are able to defeat Alv and Dvergr.
After the victory, Lumière has a difficult time adjusting to her new body and has difficulty using her powers. Like Éclair, she also has to come to terms with her dark past, in particular her role in setting off a Geo-Sort bomb on an inhabited planet.
In the climactic finish to the series, Chevalier D'Autrich, the head of GOTT and GU's economic government inexplicably hijacks the gigantic terraforming spaceship known as the "Deucalion". Alv and Dvergr confront Chevalier and he traps Alv in the Reception System Chamber and converts her to energy. Éclair and Lumière confront Chevalier and he reveals the Nouvlesse plan to use the Deucalion as an ark to flee the galaxy, leaving financial chaos in their wake. At this point, Alv returns having merged with Deucalion using her Absorb ability. She shoots Chevalier and reduces Éclair and Lumière to energy in the Reception System Chamber.
Alv sets her sights on her true target, Earth. Desiring revenge against the Nouvlesse, she uses the Deucalion's weapons to bombard the planet from orbit. Meanwhile, Éclair and Lumière reform in the Reception Chamber thanks to Lumière's true power, Particle, which allows her to control particles of all kinds. Dvergr unveils Alv's weakness and the final battle begins. As all of the ES Members (and the remaining Éclair/Lumière clones) join in the fight, they successfully destroy the ship's main weapon and trap Alv within the husk of the engine in the process. Leaving Dvergr to stay and look after Alv (her daughter), the duo then comforted a dying Chevalier. After the victory over Alv and the Deucalion, Éclair and Lumière continue their lives as GOTT members in yet new bodies.
ReviewsReviews for Kiddy Grade are often mixed. As the main plot does not become apparent until mid-series (Episode 9), it has been criticized as being too slow, particularly when reviews are based on the first few episodes. Negative comments are also made about excessive fanservice, particularly in the case of Lumière. Despite her actual mental age, she has the appearance of a 10-year old, and is often shown in a sexualized fashion. Fanservice is an ongoing quality of Kiddy Grade, but does occur less frequently as the series progresses.
Nevertheless, as a series it is usually given credit for high-quality animation and the strengths of the story in the later episodes.