Kiddy Grade-Volume 2: Pieces of the Past (2002)

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Released 23-Jun-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Gallery-Images (1:26)
Biographies-Character
Featurette-Promotional Slideshow (4:39)
TV Spots-0:47
Alternative Version-Textless Closing Theme
Easter Egg-Japanese anti-piracy warning
Trailer-Madman Propaganda (3)
DVD Credits
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 70:06 (Case: 75)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Keiji Goto
Studio
Distributor
FUNimation Ltd
Madman Entertainment
Starring Ryoko Nagata
Colleen Clinkenboard
Aya Hirano
Monica Rial
Tsuyoshi Aobu
Dameon Clarke
Mika Tsuchii
Scarlett McAlister
Kaori Mizuhashi
Gwendolyn Lau
Sumi Shimamoto
Lauren Goode
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Shiro Hamaguchi


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking Yes, rare
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, hints of next episode

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This is the second volume of Kiddy Grade. If you chanced to miss it, I recommend reading my review of the first volume, Peacekeepers, before proceeding to this one, because the first review includes a lot of background information about the series that it would be otiose to repeat here.

    The episodes on this disc are:

4 High / Speed Éclair goes undercover as a battlecyborg to locate cyborg parts that an arms merchant has stolen
5 Day / Off On their day off, Éclair and Lumiere find themselves involved in another case
6 Twin / Star Éclair finds herself backing up a GOTT operative who doesn't know she's an ES member

    Three more self-contained episodes, good ones.

    There are a few hints at something in the past, justifying the title of this volume as Pieces of the Past, but they don't form a coherent picture. Yet. I was fascinated when one of her opponents recognises Éclair, and she responds (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) that she knows nothing about her predecessor. Now I'll have to keep watching to discover what that is all about.

    The fan service continues at about the same level, with Éclair's knickers on view during most battle sequences, and the occasional scene that's probably unsuitable for children (shower scenes, for example). It's fairly harmless stuff, but you'd probably want to restrict this to teenagers or adults (and fair enough, given that it bears a PG rating).

    The humour in this show seems, at least in part, analogous to that in Buffy the Vampire Slayer; the absurdity of a little girl (or pair of little girls) taking on ridiculous challenges and defeating them, while making wisecracks. The last episode on this disc is particularly amusing, with a nervous GOTT operative, Mrs Padushka, reassuring Eclair (who she thinks is nothing but a receptionist) that all is well.

    We get to meet another ES pair in episode 6. They are called Dextera and Sinistra (distortions of the Latin terms for Right and Left).

    For all that they are "only" C grade ES agents, Éclair and Lumiere are awesomely effective. I think that's part of the charm. It's good to see that they have limits, though, as we find out in episode 5.

    Well, I'm convinced — I will be collecting the rest of this series, and looking forward to each volume. Fortunately, they will be released one a month (rather than every two months)

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. As far as I can ascertain, that is the original ratio.

    The image is clear and sharp — this is top quality animation that's been given a good transfer. There is no film grain, and no low-level noise.

    Colour is used beautifully. The palette includes some subtler shades, making this a pleasure to watch. The colour is well-saturated, and rendered very well. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts.

    There is quite a bit of aliasing, with every pan, and even some static shots, showing minor aliasing and dot crawl — it's slightly less than on the first disc, and doesn't distract from enjoying the show. There is no moiré, because this animation style doesn't involve patterns. There's minimal shimmer (although some of the aliasing looks a bit like shimmer). There are no MPEG artefacts.

    This disc has two subtitle tracks, but they are not the usual Madman type. Rather than have one set subtitling signs and songs only, and the other subtitling the Japanese dialogue, these two tracks are both full subtitles in English: one subtitling the English dialogue, and the other subtitling the Japanese. There are noticeable differences between the scripts, but they are both telling roughly the same story. It can be entertaining to watch the subtitles of the Japanese dialogue while listening to the English dialogue.

    The disc is single-sided, single layer. With just three episodes, and little in the way of extras, the single layer is ample.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in English and Japanese, as usual, but with a slight wrinkle. The Japanese soundtrack is provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224kbps. The English soundtrack is provided in both Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kbps) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224kbps). I watched all of the episodes in English 5.1, then Japanese, and then even in English 2.0 (call it being really thorough).

    The English dialogue is clear, idiomatic, and readily understood. The Japanese sounds equally clear. Neither soundtrack is perfectly matched to the mouth flaps, but the mismatch is generally small — I'm happy to tolerate some minor mismatching if it results in a better dub, but I have no evidence that this is the case.

    Shiro Hamaguchi has provided a score that's pretty much regulation — there's nothing special about it, but it does the job.

    The 2.0 soundtracks are pure stereo, with some stereo imaging, but nothing more — if you enable Pro-Logic decoding much of the dialogue moves into the centre channel, but that's about all that happens. The 5.1 soundtrack has occasional rear directional sound, but is mostly frontal — about what you'd expect for a stereo TV soundtrack that's been remastered to 5.1. There's some good use of the subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is animated with music, with an initial transition. It's easy to use, but the images used are somewhat low-resolution.

Gallery — Images (1:26)

    A montage of high quality images (they look higher resolution than the animation). These images are drawn from the episodes on this disc, which means that there are a couple of minor spoilers.

Character Profiles

    A single page profile for each of:

    This is a bit disappointing — these are exactly the same profiles as on the first disc. Alv and Dvergr don't even appear in the episodes on this disc, which makes this laziness less excusable. I would have expected to see profiles for Dextera and Sinistra instead.

Promotional Slideshow (4:39)

    This is promoted as a black-and-white slideshow. It's actually a sequence of line drawings / sketches. There's a background of electronica music which seems a little odd, but not offensive.

Original Commercials (0:47)

    Two commercials: one 30 second spot, one 15 second spot.

Textless Song (1:30)

    The closing sequence without credits (or subtitles) — the song is in Japanese with a few words of English.

Easter Egg

    There's a small Easter egg on the Extras menu. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) If you have Image Gallery highlighted, and press Right you will highlight Lumiere's eyes. Press Enter and you'll see a short Japanese copyright warning spoken by Lumiere (like the ones on the Full Metal Panic! discs).

Madman Propaganda

DVD Credits

    A single page of credits for the Madman team who assembled this DVD.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc is quite similar to this one, but it was released in February 2004. It has similar artwork and pretty much the same extras. The inside of the cover slick even has the same art.

    The Region 1 version uses alternate angles to provide different song subtitles and different credits on the opening and closing themes, which is a neat idea. The Region 4 disc doesn't get that. I think I'll survive that omission.

    The Region 1 version is reported to have an excellent transfer, perhaps a little better than the Region 4 disc, but I'd say the difference is likely to be quite small, especially given that they reduced the aliasing a little on this disc.

Summary

    Kiddy Grade is developing nicely. It's not for kids, though, but rather for teenagers and adults.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are decent, but limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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