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Kite (1998)

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[Movie Reviews]


-Yasuomi Umetsu


Sawa is a young schoolgirl who works as a professional assassin for a shady police detective. She was taken in by the detective after her parents were murdered. She hopes that one day, with his help, she will be able to find her parents' killer and bring him to justice.


One of the most controversial animes to ever come out, Kite seems to rely on nothing more than the sensationalism that earned it its reputation. While competent in the art and story departments, it doesn't particularly excel in either and will have viewers feeling like the only thing that is memorable about the show is its gratuitousness.

Story-wise, the film is more than passable. Not particularly groundbreaking, we have a schoolgirl (<sarcasm>in an anime.... no way</sarcasm>) who works as an assassin for a crooked cop. The part that makes the premise interesting is her tragic past. As her parents were mysteriously murdered, she carries memories of them with her and hopes to bring the killers to justice one day. Her "employer"/"guardian" also seems to just use her more than anything.

For the first half of this two-part OAV, there is not much development of this. We are introduced to some characters, we seem some assassinations, etc. The second half is where the twists and turns start coming. Unfortunately, these are fairly predictable and won't leave a lasting impression on viewers, and the end seems to mess with viewers just for the sake of doing so. It also seems that 45 minutes was not nearly enough time to really develop the characters well, and thus they come off feeling fairly empty - despite the constant references to their dark pasts.

One of the most distracting things, though, is the gratuitous sex in the film. Yes, the film takes time to stop the narrative to have gratuitous, graphic, animated schoolgirl sex. I am not exactly a prude... I have no problem with sex and nudity in films. But, here it feels so gratuitous and unnecessary - as if it was there just to give people with schoolgirl hentai fetishes something to enjoy. It may be excused as showing the detective's "usage" of our main character, but such graphic detail was unnecessary for that and only serves to interrupt the flow of the story.

Action-wise, this anime is quite solid. There are a couple of completely insane, but enjoyable action scenes. Like the sex, the action gets gratuitous at times, but it is not nearly as distracting nor out of place. In fact, it fits fine with the over-the-top style of the action scenes. The action is well paced and quite exciting. Leave your brain at the door for a while, as you'll have to swallow people surviving multiple shots and falling hundreds of feet only to catch themselves and survive. But, if you are willing to swallow that kind of thing, you'll find some excitement here that is worthwhile.

Kite may be an adequate single viewing, but its suffers from its generic plot and underdeveloped characters. It's most unfortunate problem, though, is that it seems to get too caught up in its own sensationalism and feels too gimmicky as such. Nonetheless, its entirely watchable at least one time and the action scenes are quite enjoyable. Leave this as a one-time rental, though.


-Original Japanese language.
-Uncut version