Kite is a gritty, cyberpunk anime written and directed by Yasuomi Umetsu. Released in 1998, it premiered in Japan as an original video animation (OVA/miniseries) and has a sordid history with censorship. Speaking of which, this review is based on the heavily edited 2000 English dub version.
Sawa (Charlie Watson) is an orphaned young girl whose parents were killed in a double murder. The police detective Akai (Dave Underwood) and his lackey Kanie (Charles Denson, Jr.) adopts her and trains her to be an assassin, killing men in power who are involved in human trafficking. She soon discovers that they have a second assassin Oburi (Shane Callahan). She develops feelings for him and he for her, seeing kindred spirits in one another. However, the two are betrayed after their next hits go wrong and told to kill the other.
The movie is brutal in its content. Even watching the “16 and up” cut that was first brought to the United States, it has some intense violence and shocking themes. According to the Anime News Network, original OVA showed disturbing scenes of human traffickers working the girls they kidnapped before they were brutally killed by Sawa. The censored version I watched cut out most of those scenes but kept in the brutal violence including stabbing, explosions, and headshots. That did not bother me as most of the most caught up in the violence were villains untouchable by the law due to their status.
In the version I saw, it highlights the hypocrisy of Akai. Though he pretends to be kind to Sawa, he takes advantage of her emotional state following the murder of her parents and uses her as a plaything, though he orders hits on men who do the same. In fact, this is not lost on Sawa, who struggles with this as her relationship with Oburi deepens. The human condition is not black and white sometimes and this is blatantly clear in this story.
I would like to praise the voice actors for the English dub. These 90s and early 2000s dubs usually are forceful and the performances are lackluster. Perhaps it was the content, but most of the actors and actresses, especially Watson, seemed very invested in their respective roles.
Bottom line, it is a brutal and hard tale to watch. It is not one of the most compelling animes I have seen, but I did enjoy some sequences. It is considered a classic of the genre and perhaps it is worth it for my fellow enthusiasts of the cyberpunk genre.
FAVORITE QUOTE: Do you know how long I’ve waited for this moment?
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong graphic violence, Foul language, Sexual content, Drug use
I wasn’t able to find a green label trailer in English, so here’s a clip of the soundtrack cut with a few scenes:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of the hit anime films Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F and Spirited Away. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.