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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 #1 – Xam’d: Lost Memories

Target: Xam’d: Lost Memories – Bounen no Zamned
Studio: BONES
Genre: Action, Adventure
Notable Themes: Mecha, War, Religious Persecution
Episodes: 26
Fanservice Level: Mild

Reasons to Watch:
Top quality animation from Studio BONES.
Strong, original story that doesn’t feel like a retread.
Great characters and very strong character development.

Reasons to Not:
Lots of obscure terminology that is never explained.
Very random ‘final-boss’ ending with little real resolution

Similar to: RahXephon, Eureka Seven, Laputa: Castle in the Sky

Review:
There isn’t a good reason for why I started this new anime review series with Xam’d: Lost Memories.  It isn’t my favorite series, though it probably sits in the top twenty-five.  It is a rather good exemplar of the kind of things I like in shows, anime or otherwise: strong main character development, good storytelling over the entire arc and fun action sequences that don’t dominate the rest of the show.  Xam’d doesn’t feel as polished as some of the real classics in its genre, but still manages to stand above the crowd as a show that provokes thought and emotion.

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