3 Episode Taste Test: Kiddy Girl-and

Kiddy Grade has had a troubled upbringing: originally aired in 2002 by a still vaguely respectable Gonzo, it was an unremarkable series until past the half-way point when it briefly became excellent then dipped back down to a simmering mediocre. Notable only insofar that it was directed by Keiji Gotoh who also did the superb Martian Successor Nadesico, apart from the enduring appeal of its numerous racy promo images it sank without a trace. Four years later a sequel was announced and a teaser released shortly afterwards; the full product failed to materialise until almost two years after that with Kiddy Girl-and. The wait hasn't been particularly unbearable, it has however been long enough to forget the minutiae of the first series.

A plot strapped to this ship will only expedite its sinking

All semblance of plot, characters and sense are thrown out the window leaving a colourful, high-pitched husk of a series. The lead character is nauseatingly upbeat and with a voice that sounds like a cat attacking a chalkboard, a sonic assault that is worsened by the insipid plot lines of the first three episodes. From breaking into a "high security" area to secure some dessert to a tedious argument between partners, it feels like a regression to a neolithic phase of storytelling: all cudgels and grunts with a total lack of subtlety. That it features an underwear plot in the first episode (something the seminal My-HiME waited for the fourth episode for) and a bath scene in the opening minutes of the second demonstrates just how keen this series is to attract viewers.

With the lead characters bereft of endearment, it is up to secondary characters such as the delectable Tweedledee or the burly transvestite voiced by the instantly recognisable Minoru Shiraishi to provide relief from the screeching torment of watching the main plot. The first episode - while resolutely terrible - did provide a measure of hope for the remainder of the series, hearkening back to the "visit planets, solve problems" M.O. of the original, the subsequent episodes obliterate any hope of this however and further plumb the depths of inept writing. When compared with its closet recent relative, Sora o Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Space) which itself was unwatchably mediocre, Kiddy Girl-and comes out worse with little to nothing to recommend it upon.

The only good thought one can have about the series is that, given such a dire start, things could only get better. A plot strapped to this ship will only expedite its sinking, neither the setting or first season storyline are crafted well enough to support any kind of development. Individual scenes at times can seem almost self-knowingly bad, sly nudges towards parody but it quickly becomes obvious though that they are just ill-thought out attempts at humour. Mayhaps further episodes will hit a more welcoming stride or, more likely, neither improve nor worsen and remain stagnant.

Just as the opening is simply scenes from the current and previous episodes, the series is ultimately lazy: animation is conspicuously reused, storylines are soulless rehashes of any number of other shows and characters are beyond even cursory titilation. Kiddy Girl-and isn't even a wasted opportunity but a terrible idea from the outset, even the abjectly bored would be better off staring at a wall than watching this and it would take naivete or masochism beyond the ken of mortals to endure past the first three episodes.