December 31, 2004 on 10:44 pm | In Kite | Comments Off on Kite

When the price of creative control is that you have to incorporate “X rated material”, you come up with something like Kite.

Kite (named for the flying devices controlled by strings) is about Sawa, a young girl of indeterminate age (she goes to college, but that may be a symptom of this anime featuring sex). When Sawa was
younger still, she arrived home to find her parents dead. Akai, a crooked policeman, takes Sawa in and trains her to become a killer. He also promises to find the murderers. It doesn’t take very long for Sawa to figure out that it was actually Akai who killed her parents, and so she plans her revenge over many years. Meeting Oburi, a fellow assassin, she sees her chance to avenge her parents and the sexual abuse that she has endured.

From that description, it’s quite clear that Akai is not a nice person. Nor, for that matter, is his partner Kanie. Sawa’s only real
personality trait is that burning desire for revenge, but she can have a couple of jokes at the expense of Oburi. Oburi has not had terrible things happen to him, short of being trained as a killer, but he is a directionless squatter. Apparently he lives only to do jobs for Akai, and to work in a convenience store. Unsurprisingly, he too would like to break free to a life of something more than squatting with cats. The two of them bond quite effectively, making for some of this two part OVA’s nicer, warmer moments.

The ending of Kite is a little confusing as it sends extremely mixed messages; the final minute could be read two ways, and director Umetsu Yasuomi’s interview suggests that something good happens but it is hard to see. Whatever the actual outcome, it is certainly abrupt.

The action in Kite, for this was produced as “ultra-violent pornography” (great for the image of anime, although Kite is never cited as a bad example), is hyper to the point of ridiculousness. The weapons that Sawa and Oburi use are not the sort that would be found on the police force. These guns boast delayed explosive shells that simply penetrate. Give them a few seconds and bam, they explode from the inside. What this amounts to is an excuse for a lot of blood. The violence does not feel particularly realistic, as skin probably should not move the way it does here. That said, a
lot of it is wince-inducing, such as a double stab to the foot. Some of the sequences are hilarious, probably intentionally, with the best falling pile-up ever animated on offer here. Certainly, Umetsu should be commended for the beginning of the second episode.

Umetsu has an interesting visual style; bleak, and dark. The violence is nowhere near believable, but his world has that special dull, real sheen about it that draws a viewer in. There are some nice touches, like the best ever fast food outlet name: Make Fat. Also of note is the fact that Oburi works at the convenience store “8”. Not 7-11, just 8.
But the scenery is nothing compared to the character design. Sawa looks dead-eyed when she’s killing, but there’s something about her smile that infuses her with warmth. Similarly, Oburi looks like there’s still some hope in his life. Unsurprisingly, Kanie and Akai look exactly like the evil bastards that they are. Kanie’s eyes are literally dead, bugged out like a chameleon’s. His facial features do not move at all.
In what is perhaps the most offensive aspect of Kite, even if unintentionally, Akai has the most sacrilegious character design ever (well, probably not ever, this is anime). The stretchy skin in the violence may be off-putting, but there’s something right on about the character design that matches the characterisation right down to the ground.

The uncensored version of Kite may be released through Kitty Media, Media Blasters’ hentai label but, despite its Green Bunny production, it is not hentai. There is some near-explicit sex, but these scenes total less than two minutes of the fifty minute running time. Also, while it may be true that some people get off on bad, depraved things (not that I’m editorialising, oh no), the sex is not in the slightest erotic to most sensible tastes. The sex is definitely unpleasant, but it is difficult to imagine Kite without it. That would be rather like missing the point. Without the harsh realities of Sawa’s world, Kite falls apart into generic, silly action anime. The history of abuse is really what grounds this and makes all of the characters’ actions more believable. Obviously this is with the exception of Akai and Kanie, but people who commit such horrible crimes are pretty well beyond explanation anyway.

Kite is good to watch, but it’s about as sexy as Futurama‘s Zapp Brannigan. The fact that the promotional material shouts “EROTIC!” is about as accurate as that captain’s claim. With the exception of the second episode’s set piece, Kite is not enjoyable – it’s a very human piece, with the few joys and all of the depravity that entails.

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