KITE/KITE:THE DIRECTOR’S CUT (1998)

 

Format: 45-minute featurette (regular), 60-minute featurette (DC)

 

Rating: R (N, AC, AL, GV, EG) for regular, Hentai (add SSC) for Director’s Cut

 

American Production:  AnimeWorks (regular, Kitty Media (DC)

 

Japanese Production:  Green Bunny

Kite DC Cover

 
 


Grading

(regular/DC)

Premise:

B

Story:

C+/B

Writing:

B-

Character Design:

B

Animation:

A-

Artistic Merits:

B+

English Dub:

B

Musical Score:

B+

Closer:

B

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

Action Content:

A

Drama Content:

B

 

 

DVD Present (DC):

C

DVD Extras (DC):

D

 

 

OVERALL:

B+


Synopsis

Sawa is a cute, pig-tailed college coed, seemingly innocent and carefree. She has another persona, however, that of a tough, cold-blooded vigilante. Four years earlier, in the wake of the brutal murder of her parents, she was “adopted” and trained by Akai, a jaded homicide detective, to be his angel of justice. Given a special gun that shoots exploding bullets, Sawa was tasked by Akai with killing men who had not suffered for their crimes. She agreed to do it provided that Akai and his partner Kanie track down the killers of her parents. Along the way she became Akai’s lover as well.

Things change, though, when Sawa learns of Oburi, a young man who also serves Akai as an “angel of justice.” She is immediately attracted to him, enough so that she is tempted to go with him when Oburi declares that he wants to get out of the business. For Akai this is a threat both to his operation and to his relationship with Sawa, so he arranges for Oburi to be eliminated. Oburi won’t go quietly, though, and Sawa finds herself caught in the middle. In the end they all resolve things the only way they know how: with guns and lots of blood.

 

The Long View     

Kite is jam-packed with action and violence. It is a thrilling ride to watch, provided that you can handle the extremely graphic content: people vomit, limbs are blown off, body parts are blown up when the bullets explode after impact, and so forth. Also present is nudity, distinct sexual content, and a lot of foul language, so the rating for the regular version is well-deserved. This is not entertainment for the squeamish.

The artistry, animation, and soundtrack are all very good, although the characters could have been portrayed with a bit more expression. The symbolism-laden writing is more erratic, with some holes in the storyline and some details left unexplained that probably shouldn’t be, but the main characters are more complex than your typical anime stereotypes, and that makes up for deficiencies elsewhere. The Director’s Cut gets a higher rating on the story because the reintroduction of scenes that were cut from the original fills out a story that is choppy and lacking in crucial points of motivation without them. Although this additional material primarily consists of the explicit sex scenes that earn the Director’s Cut the hentai designation, little of it is truly gratuitous. The story is, IMO, incomplete without the sex scenes, which clarify just how ugly and exploitive the characters of Akai and Kanie are. I have heard that even the Director’s Cut isn’t the full version of Kite but I doubt if a more complete version will ever be released; filling in the remaining gaps would involve showing content that not even Japanese standards would tolerate, much less American ones. As it is, the Director’s Cut pushes the envelope.

In either version Kite is best enjoyed as mindless entertainment, because the more you think about it the more profoundly disturbing it becomes. The ease with which Sawa compartmentalizes her life borders on the pathological; at least Oburi has the sense to be bothered by what he does. Also, the way Akai uses and manipulates Sawa is no less sick than the actions of the people he sends Sawa and Oburi out to kill. (A point the director was trying to make, perhaps?) There are strong suggestions that, regardless of what intentions Akai might have had at first, the power to order someone killed has gone to his head and loins. Kite shows the very darkest side of human nature; it’s the kind of thing that makes you want to go and watch something fluffy afterwards just to cleanse your mind. But it’s still great entertainment for your more base and earthy side.

 

DVD Extras

The Director’s Cut is very clearly differentiated from the regular version by different cover artwork, the “Director’s Cut” label on the front and side, and more explicit artwork on the back. Those seeking to get one particular version or another, when ordering online, can also double-check the name of the American production company. Pictures of the front covers of each version are given above to further assist in making sure you get the right one.

The only extra in the Director’s Cut version are some hentai trailers. The regular version DVD has not been reviewed.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Sawa

Charlie Watson

Oburi

Shane Callahan

Akai

David Underwood

Kanie

Charles Denson Jr.

 

 

 

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