Reviewby Theron Martin,
Sub.Blu-Ray + DVD - The Complete Series
50 years after the Deucalion incident, the Nouvlesse are gone from power and the GTO (Galactic Trade Organization) has replaced the GOTT. Pairs of ES Members still do the dirty work, though some of the faces have changed. Two waitresses at the GTO HQ's café, chipper Ascoeur and more serious-minded Q-Feuille, are also secretly ES Member trainees, which occasionally gets them involved in some hairy incidents – some of their own making, some not. It also leads to them becoming the babysitters for Di-Air, a young girl with some unusual abilities herself who eventually joins them on missions. When an organization of former Nouvlesse called the G Society arises to directly challenge the GTO, the trio gradually finds themselves involved in more complicated and dangerous tasks, some of which even involve a secret incident 25 years ago on which the fate of the galaxy still rides.
This 2009 series was a direct sequel to the now 15-year-old anime Kiddy Grade, with most of the events taking place 50 years after that one. While understanding and following this series without having first seen Kiddy Grade is possible, it does have extensive character references to its predecessor and lacks explanation of some critical concepts – especially how certain characters don't seem to physically age over the decades – which were partly or completely explained in the first series. On the flip side, this series provides some concepts either not present or not fully developed in the first series, especially the notion of power resonance between partners. Between that and the exact nature of some characters' powers, there may be a bit of retconning in play.
Piecing together all of the connections to Kiddy Grade is definitely not a straightforward process. Viewers may have to pause and astutely study a lot of visual clues to get a more complete picture of what has transpired over the last few decades, since a lot of important details aren't clearly laid-out until late in the series. While the first series was also quite obtuse about its deeper storyline, often forcing viewers to piece together clues themselves, the payoff here isn't anywhere near as rich. Some of the messages and underlying themes are the same as the original – i.e., the importance of loyalty to one's partner, the presence of terrible and exploitative people in any era – but the more potent underlying themes are absent, which makes for a lesser effort overall.
The biggest problem is that Ascoeur and Q-feuille are nowhere near as compelling a central duo as Éclair and Lumiere. In particular, Ascouer is not Éclair. They're both suffering from amnesia, but whereas Éclair was delightfully bold and brassy, Ascoeur is a flighty, childish annoyance whose chipper attitude can grate on the nerves. Her background lacks the depth and unique sense of despair of Éclair's, instead opting for a lighter version of a more typical exploitation scenario. For most of the series, Q-fuielle doesn't come off as poorly by comparison to Lumiere, as she adequately fills her stern and serious-minded role up until a certain point in the series, and her simpler situation is actually a little more compelling. The presence of young Di-Air helps a little, as her adorable unflappability in even the most dangerous situations is charming, but it isn't enough to correct fundamental deficiencies like the shaky chemistry between the main duo for much of the series.
Fortunately the series fares much better with its supporting cast. Three ES teams from the first series have prominent recurring roles in this one (though the identity of the third team may not be obvious at first), and new team Trixie and Troisienne form a likable duo. The G Society super-powered teams are also surprisingly sympathetic, perhaps because the series puts a lot of effort into establishing that most of them are not villainous at heart. On the downside, main antagonist Gaecht'er, while suitably menacing, becomes uninteresting once his true motives become apparent, as they are so blandly nihilistic as to be irritating.
The plot, pacing, and structure of the series resemble the original in many ways, which shouldn't be surprising given that it retains the same director/head writer combo. Like the original, it spends several early episodes on smaller vignettes that can be silly and provide only vague inklings about the overall plot. The more serious part of the story kicks in about a third of the way through, in this case with the episode focusing on the G Society. Like the original, forgotten memories and shifting loyalties are a major factor, though this one puts a different twist on formula by also mixing in some brainwashing. Some plot points in later stages are also very similar. The nature of the powers possessed by ES members and the G Society pairs seem to have undergone significant revisions and no longer have special names, which is a slight disappointment, but the familiar mecha and ship styles are still around.
On the artistic front, this series retains the original character designer and thus largely the same style. The distinctive facial designs of the original are back in most cases, though Éclair and Lumiere naturally have updated appearances similar to their look at the end of the first series. Costume designs are also in the same mold, with Ascoeur's outfit looking rather plain compared to the eye-catching design of Q-Feuille's mission wear. Though several of the top production personnel carry over, the animation effort for this series shifted to Satelight from Gonzo Digimation, which results in some subtle differences, mostly in the more muted uses of color. The animation effort is sufficient but nothing special; this one will impress more with its drama than its action scenes, especially the space battles. Graphic content is significant in intensity but not frequent, as is the fanservice limited to a handful of scattered scenes. Also watch for a series of rough chibi eyecatches used for every episode.
Despite a new music director, the series reuses a few themes from the original. The rest of the musical effort is largely unimpressive. The same can be said for the opening theme “Baby universe day,” though a couple of insert songs are a little more fun. The ending themes primarily rotate between “Sun and Moon” (featuring Ascoeur for her focus episodes) and “Moon and Sun” (ditto for Q-Feuille), with special closing themes for episodes 3 and 6.
Funimation acquired this series earlier this year after it had oddly drifted in limbo for several years, opting to release it on Blu-ray but without a dub. At least the Japanese dub brings back all the seiyuu whose roles carry over from the original series. (In some cases, this can be a clue to who certain characters actually are.) The only extras are clean theme songs.
Overall, Kiddy Girl-AND isn't a bad series; it just fails to do much to distinguish itself, and as a result stands as a pale follow-up to the original. Astute viewers might catch numerous references to other anime titles if they watch closely, which can help sustain the series through its weakest parts, but on the whole the series doesn't have anywhere near as much rewatch value as its predecessor.
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C+
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B-
+ Lots of subtle references to the first series, continues a franchise that left a lot of room for further adventures
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