Gunparade March is the kind of anime you watch because you have nothing better to do...it's mediocre eye candy with plot elements recycled from a dozen other series. Alien invasion, Earth unites against aliens who kick everybody's ass but Japan's, mecha piloted by high school kids, cute little kids with destructive psychic powers, yada yada. The art is nothing special and I've seen the reticent bitchy ass-kicking warrior chick/shy mediocre guy romance subplot enough times that it no longer interests me.
Escaflowne, on the other hand, got my attention and has a good solid grip on it. It's an odd mix of fantasy and science fiction, in that the world of Gaea is apparently a patchwork of feudal kingdoms and "pumpernickel principalities", with the major power being the Zaibach Empire. Heroine Hitomi falls into Gaea after Prince Van of Fanelia appears at her high school track just as she's about to run a sprint so that she can get her first kiss from departing track team captain Amano. Van is in the middle of fighting a dragon, which he narrowly defeats thanks to Hitomi's precognitive vision, after which he and Hitomi are zapped to Gaea. They arrive in Fanelia and are there just long enough for Van to be crowned King - and for somebody to attack Fanelia and burn the place to the ground. Van and Hitomi escape with the magically-driven mecha Escaflowne, but they're pursued by a Zaibach floating fort and the utterly sociopathic Prince Dilandau, who is under orders to capture Escaflowne. Looks very interesting, and I'm looking forward to the next eight episodes.
Also on the watch list this week: last two disks of Dual! and Spriggan, along with some more Tenchi Universe for comic relief.