Monthly Archives: December 2012

Lab Notes #4 – Kiddy Grade

Kiddy Grade Cover 2Target: Kiddy Grade
Studio: Gonzo
Genre: Science Fiction, Action
Notable Themes: Politics, Mecha, Superpowers, Fanservice
Episodes: 24
Fanservice Level: Heavy

Reasons to Watch:
Strong primary story arc
Surprising political and economic commentary

Reasons to Not:
Slow to get to the main story
Female cast is heavily sexualized

Similar to: MADLAX, Vandread, Mai-Otome

Review:
I’m probably going to take some flak for this one.  Kiddy Grade is the frequent target of some heavy criticism, both from inside and outside the anime fanbase.  There’s an unusually high level of fanservice for a show from the first half of the Aughts and the series takes a while to really hit its stride.  In spite of these flaws, the show has a lot of redeeming features for those who can stick with it past the first few, admittedly vapid, early episodes.

Kiddy Grade is set in a far-flung future where humanity has expanded out to colonize the galaxy.  The use of terraforming and genetic manipulation has enabled the human race to occupy a vast variety of planets.  This human diaspora is overseen by twin organizations: the Galactic Union (GU), a political body similar in role to our UN, and the Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs (GOTT), an enforcement organization used to police interplanetary economics.  The protagonists, Éclair and Lumière, are special agents of the GOTT.   Gifted with superhuman abilities, they work to ensure that the galactic economy is preserved from greedy governments, criminals and warmongers.

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LAB Notes Update 003

Just taking a moment to explain the lack of LAB Notes posts.  Aside from having to crush through the last couple of books in this year’s Cannonball, there isn’t really a good excuse.  I had intended the next series to be Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad, but after working my way through the first half of the series, I found that it hadn’t aged well at all.

The animation, which wasn’t top quality to begin with, looks jittery and cheap and the flow of the story is lackluster.  Large sections of individual episodes are either blank scenes with SFX or voice-overs, or three or four key frames on a randomized loop.  There are literally minutes that go by without plot advancement of any kind, either episode internal or series story arcs, and even the ‘budget-busting’ musical numbers don’t hold up to the production values of contemporary shows, like Nodame Cantabile.

There’s certainly a worthwhile story here, but it’s aimed at a niche market of independent rock enthusiasts, so there isn’t a lot to bring other viewers to the table.  Combine that with the lackluster production and you have a show that borders on unwatchable.

I might  flesh this update out into a full review, but for the moment, I can’t see myself getting through the series.

Thanks for your patience.

#CBR4 Maneuver #45-54 – The Great Book of Amber

Amber

Target: Roger Zelazny’s The Great Book of Amber (Amber Chronicles #1-10)

Profile: Epic Fantasy, Modern Fantasy

Summary: Taken from the back cover, “Roger Zelazny’s chronicles of Amber have earned their place as all-time classics of imaginative literature.  Now, here are all ten novels, together in one omnibus volume.  Witness the titanic battle for supremacy waged on Earth, in the Courts of Chaos, and on a magical world of mystery, adventure and romance. ”

After Action Report:

Where have you been hiding you ask?  No posts for two weeks?  Nothing to report?  Well here’s your answer.  I was reading all 7000+ pages of Homestuck.  Well, that was one week.  The other week was spent devouring the 1200+ page omnibus of the Chronicles of Amber.  It was actually the webcomic that prompted reading Amber top to bottom again.  The two projects have a lot in common: an expansive multiverse, complex time travel shenanigans, protagonists tied to classic fortunetelling tropes.  And they’re both more than a little confusing in the end.

The Chronicles of Amber span ten books in five book sets.  The first five books deal with Corwin, exiled prince of Amber, and the second five tell the story of Merlin, Corwin’s son and scion of the combined houses of Amber and Chaos.  I am going to segment the review a bit because the two stories are very different from one another.  Corwin’s books feel like a classical fantasy, with some interesting modern elements added for shenanigans sake.  Merlin’s is much more a coming of age story combined with some deep metaphysical conflicts.

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