Kite: Special Edition Uncut -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Kitty Media
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kite

Kite: Special Edition Uncut

    October 18, 2004
Release Date: September 28, 2004

Kite: Special Edition Uncut
© Kitty Media

What They Say
Sawa may seem innocent and naive, but don't be fooled. She's a cold-blooded killer, and if you're on the wrong side of the law, you may be her next target. Not content to just watch the imperfect justice system free more criminals each day, a detective trains Sawa to be his instrument of justice. Now she will go to any length to execute her targets.

Now for the first time in any release, completely uncut with all-new interviews and extras!

The Review!
Four years after the original controversy, the final uncut version of the show has been released. Can we all get lives now?

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Included in this mix is a Japanese 5.1 track which we used as our primary one and it's a pretty decent track overall. It sounds a bit sharper and clearer than the original stereo mix but we didn't notice all that much in terms of directionality to the rear speakers, but we weren't expecting a lot either. There is some nice directionality with the front speakers at times in this mix during the gunplay sequences, but otherwise it feels pretty center channel based and average for what you'd expect from an OVA release.

The original release of Kite by Media Blasters was early on when they were learning the DVD ropes. The second release two years later showed a good deal of improvement in the video quality and it was a much more solid look endeavor with regards to backgrounds colors, especially blacks. This new version looks much like the directors cut version from 2002 but avoids the main problem that plagued that one by presenting the episodes as they originally were with the Japanese end credits, not spliced together into one mini movie. Basically, this video looks identical to what we got with the original Japanese releases. The colors look good, though not quite as vibrant as memory would once suggest, and there aren't any real problems such as aliasing or cross coloration. Other than some blockiness during upconversion with some of the blacks in the title sequences, this is probably as good as it's going to get.

This edition uses a different piece of artwork than the original and directors cut, this time using a shot of Sawa leaping off of a rooftop in her schoolgirl outfit while some of the villains in the background shoot at her. It's a good looking piece in general and lets Sawa show off her legs and panties while also indicating that there's some story to be found inside as well. The back cover background is done as a red filtered collage of images from the show with a few full color pieces around the center box that has the summary and lists the discs features. The technical and production information is all very easy to find and read. The insert provides the chapter listings while using parts of the back cover as the background.

The menu layout is a simple piece with the artwork from the cover next to the selections while some of the music plays along. It's pretty basic in style and easy to navigate with fast access times and quick loading menus. The disc played our language presets fine though we adjusted them on the fly to get to the 5.1 language track.

The extras for this release are the real make or break feature I think for some folks. The best extra is a fairly lengthy video interview session with Umetsu, someone who in general just isn't seen nor heard from directly over the course of his career which is close to twenty years now. Seeing him talk about the shows origins and his experiences on it and the way he drove the crew over it is interesting and a nice new light on the production in general. Complementing that is another video interview with one of the producers who talks about how they came about on the project and how it was working with Umetsu and the way his force of vision worked on those under him. Rounding out the extras we get a production gallery and a storyboards section.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Over the course of four years since this first came out in the US, I've watched five new releases of it. The original US edition in 2000, the directors cut in 2002, this new version in 2004 and in between those releases I picked up the original Japanese uncut release and their international version. I've seen a lot of Kite in the last four years.

Can we stop now? Please? Over the course of that time there's been plenty of back and forth between fandom, studios and everyone in between about this release. It's all thankfully come to a close now and all that I can see after the four years from the overly cut version to the final uncut version is that nobody really cares anymore. With the usual attention span of gnats, anime fans have moved on to other things and this completely uncut release is going to appeal only to the few hardcore few that remain. For them, this release is most definitely for you.

The premise is pretty simple. One corrupt cop has an attractive girl act as his assassin for some of the scum of the earth that they get hired to take out. Said corrupt cop has a friend who he works with as well who has a similarly aged male as the attractive girl. The two team up for the first time to take down a trio of child molesters.

This all occurs after we see the attractive girl assassin, named Sawa, take down a TV celebrity punk who has a penchant for young girls himself. The opening sequence takes place with her in her schoolgirl outfit riding up the elevator to one of his secret lairs where he takes those special fans of his. While he's harassing an elderly woman whose riding the elevator with them, she takes the opportunity to retrieve her hidden weapon, a gun that discharges special ammunition, and fill him up with it. The bullets act with a time delay and explode violently several seconds after impact. Sawa is quiet, quick and very efficient.

When Sawa is eventually brought together with Oburi, the young male assassin, the two end up striking up an odd friendly relationship that's definitely more philosophical than you'd expect for their age, but actually makes a lot of sense. The way these young assassins play out is very similar in tone and style to Luc Besson's "Leon" where he takes on a young apprentice assassin. Things go fairly well for the two until Sawa takes on their latest contract, which is a Hollywood man known as P. Willis, someone who looks quite a lot like a certain other Mr. Willis. This encounter takes place in a bathroom with one of the more violent anime shoot-outs I've seen that was later mainstreamed in a No Doubt music video.

The show definitely has some deviant aspects to it, especially with the origin of Sawa and how she came under the control of her corrupt cop and his friend Kanie. There's a number of sex scenes as well that give the show a really different feel, a feel some say is out of place while others think bring something more exciting to it. Though it's only two episodes long, the show provides quite a bit of story and a lot of action.

While we're glad that the show is no longer spliced together, something we've complained about in both previous versions is still a problem in this release and it continues to show a lack of thought in my opinion about a part of the audience. In regards to the Hollywood actor and his bodyguards, their dialogue was recorded in English when it was released in Japan and they provided Japanese subtitles. The Japanese subtitles are removed here but no English subtitles are provided in their place. Why provide subtitles? Well, there are a fair number of people who watch anime who are hard of hearing and rely on subtitles to enjoy shows. I myself am already hard of hearing from a work related experience, so having no subtitles for an English piece is a problem.

In Summary:
While I've always enjoyed the Kite show itself, its release here and the resulting issues from fans have created a show that I've been unable to enjoy at times because of all the controversy surrounding it. Now that it's all over and only the smallest minority of minorities care about this release anymore, hopefully it can go back to being an enjoyable title and the entire sordid past about it can just be forgotten. The industry as a whole has come a long way in those four years and it's amusing that the only way to get the completely uncut version in any country is through this new release. How's that for irony?

Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Umetsu Interview,Producers Interview,Storyboards,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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