The title of this anime is a weird thing. In-story it has absolutely nothing to do with kids or grades. Yet aesthetically, it couldn’t be more spot-on because the plot is indeed kiddy grade level. Wonder why? Well what did you expect from something GONZO made? Oh, and I see Kyoto Animation gave a hand too. Combine these two and you get the only possible outcome: Shallow fan service crap. Even if you manage to switch off your critical thought while watching it, it is still bad because it ain’t even bold at what it’s going for. Thus it is bad no matter how you try to view it.
The first part of the show is episodic, meant to be used as an introduction to the various superhuman investigators and agents of the organization the protagonists work for. Which means it is a complete waste of time since there is no story, the villains are weak and are defeated in the same episode they appear in, and the introduced secondary characters are just defined by superficial personality quirks (like drinking grapefruit and only whispering instead of talking) and their superpower. There is also fan service but unless you are still 10 years old without access to the internet, it will feel like nothing other than zooming in to boobs and legs for lulz.
The second part is actually trying to flesh out the basic story by now showing the backdrops of most agents, as well as the history of the galaxy the series takes place in. It definitely improved in terms of action and character interaction and even tried to delve with heavy subjects like immortality and the gap of social classes, totalitarianism, terrorism, exploit of ideals, and some more. It also finds the main heroines becoming fugitives and hunted by their own colleagues, a thing which leads to even more character interactions. There are a lot of openings for something good to be made from all this.
But this is GONZO we are talking about here and they have taken an oath of screwing up all their good ideas. It again feels very basic and immature since it is just scratching the surface of all these issues before it returns in the third arc to more fan service and kiddy grade level of storytelling. Nothing makes sense and all resolutions are simply ass-pulling stuff in a most far-fetched way possible. The finale is disappointing in the least since it is a cop-out that leaves you apathetic towards all that preceded it. The good guys are ridiculously overpowered. Nothing in the galaxy has the means to stomp them and thus no threat feels deadly enough to make you question if they find a way to win. So in effect a black hole can threaten to swallow the universe and you will not really feel any tension from it, since the story is a joke and the characters take their powers from Chuck Norris.
Two things that were done rather right were the production values and the battle funkiness. They poured a lot of money into making the planets and the spaceships to look gorgeous. As well as all the characters as charismatic or sexy or cute as possible, and equipped them with some of the weirdest superpowers that turn all battles to brain dead enjoyment. The lipstick whip is one of my favourites. The soundtrack is also not bad if you like mainstream jpop nonsense.
What makes Kiddy Grade even worse than it already is, is how it keeps pretending to be a mature show with substance.
- All the names of the characters and their ships for example have a secret meaning behind them, and you are made to thing there is this hidden depth behind the shallow exterior. In reality there is none; they are at best just a tribute to some other work of fiction.
- They also use a lot of foreign languages (other than Japanese that is) like English and French in an attempt to make the setting a lot more mature and intelligent. And again they fail since most of these languages are misspelled and mispronounced to the point of Europeans facepalming at the sight of them.
- They also shoehorned a lot of hard science fiction elements, such as nanobots and cloning in order to fool you they really did their homework and have lots of serious stuff in store for later. Too bad, because the way they handled them was like watching a 5 year old describing nuclear physics.
In all, this anime is a joke. A bad one too. The story never makes use of its potential, the characters are shallow, the convenient plot devices are flying all over the place, and the fan service ain’t that great either. There are several sequels and prequels to the core series and even those are equally bad, with even less context and even more fan service. That clearly shows how the whole franchise is treating its viewers as nothing but easily pleased idiots and I happen to dislike that. Not recommended.
You want something similar with chicks and action and fan service but faaaar better? Try Panty & Stocking. It is equally brainless but at least goes full throttle into its premise, offers a lot of tributes and symbolisms, it is bold, artistic, unorthodox, and generally something GONZO couldn’t even comprehend even you were giving it a 100 page explanation. Because they would be too stupid to get what true talent is all about.
You want something with science fiction and space and action but faaaar better? Try Terra E. Now this is how you make use of the potential your setting offers.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 9/10
General Artwork 2/2 (nice looking)
Character Figures 2/2 (cool looking)
Backgrounds 2/2 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (lots of special attacks)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (very loose)
Complexity 2/2 (rich context)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (silly)
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (vauge but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (messy)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 2/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (no reason to rewatch)
Memorability 2/4 (it has some crazy ideas but overall it is not something too memorable)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10
Art 1/1 (looks nice)
Sound 1/2 (I liked the songs)
Story 1/3 (nice ideas but retarded plot)
Characters 2/4 (they are interesting but are handled poorly)