Kite -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 45
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kite


By Chris Beveridge     April 25, 2000
Release Date: April 25, 2000

© Media Blasters

What They Say
She may be cute. She may be young. She 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. After being orphaned at a young age, her parents victims of a brutal double murder, Sawa was taken in by the detective assigned to her case. Not content to just watch as the imperfect justice system let more and more criminals go loose every day, he's decided to train her to be his instrument of justice. After all, who'd suspect a pretty college student of being a deadly vigilante?

The Review!
Probably one of the more controversial titles to be released this year, at least to the net anime fans, is Kite. The two OVA's would like get an NC-17 rating if the MPAA were involved, but Media Blasters decided to take out some of the more explicit and "troublesome" sequences with an underage character, thereby producing a general audiences version of the show and giving it a 16+ rating.

For those who have seen the uncut region 2 releases, it's like watching an R movie that's been cut down to a prime time network cut. You know there's things missing and it just gnaws on you. If you never knew it was an R movie or that it was cut, you probably enjoyed it fairly well. This is pretty much the two camps that most anime fans have fallen into with this title.

The disc contains both language tracks in a Dolby Digital stereo format. Dialogue is clean and without distortion. There's no noticeably sound thrown to the rear speakers, but the front soundstage is pretty well used. There's some directionality but not a lot. One thing that make surprise first time viewers when watching the Japanese track is during the infamous bathroom sequence, several of the characters are speaking English. This is how it was done in Japan. What's disappointing with this segment is that the English isn't subtitled. I know, I know, it's in English, there's no need to subtitle it.

Wrong assumption to make. In this sites chat and forums alone there are several people who can't hear. They only have the subtitles to go by. This entire sequence must make absolutely no sense to them with the bad guys talking but nothing being translated. Something to consider when authoring the subtitle tracks, be it a full translation track or a hearing impaired track.

While watching the English dubbed version, I was surprised at just how much more vulgar it is than the Japanese track. Akai swears every other word it seems. It does seem like a fairly accurate translation for most of it, though there are a few areas where it deviates to something that apparently sounds better to English hearing ears.

On the video side, things are pretty good overall but there are a few minor things here and there. With some of the credits and words throughout the episodes there's a bit of color bleeding and ringing. A couple of sequences exhibit some very minor pixellation and look a little on the soft side when compared to the region 2 disc. The majority of the two episodes do look very good though with some very vibrant colors during some areas and some very fluid pieces of animation that look great. One thing I didn't care for, beyond the obvious cuts made to the show, is that the two OVA's were spliced together to create one long episode. The first OVA ends with Sawa taking the leap, and the second OVA picks up in her past. It's a very awkward jump.

One of the surprising things about this release is the packaging. Considering the trouble that they've had in marketing this show (I've heard that the VHS version went through several alterations with each replication in extending Sawa's skirt so as to not offend the sensibilities of the brick and mortar retailers), I'm surprised they went with as sexy looking of a cover as they did. The cover really does accentuate the Lolita complex that some may have. Hubba hubba. The back cover contains a pretty good synopsis of the series as well as some good selling points and a list of the special features. There's the warning about the content as well. The only thing missing from it is the region coding listing.

The menus are pretty basic but are functional and the selections are accessed quickly. There's really little to say here.

There's a decent number of extras on here that are worth noting. There are five sequences that compare the original storyboards to the actual animated sequences which is nicely put together. I believe it's a bit less than the region 2 release, but this version is much better laid out. The gallery contains a bunch of great looking pictures. The other bonus item is the Kite music video. No, this is not the now more famous bathroom sequence done by US alternative group No Doubt. This is the anime version with footage from the two OVA's set to music. It's pretty good and an easy way to show someone what the title is about.

With a total running time of 45 minutes, this disc goes by pretty fast. There's a great score to it, the pacing is really on target and the character designs for Sawa are just gorgeous. And it's pretty violent. There's some nudity and implied sexual encounters within it, but the actual sequences containing it are mostly what's cut.

There are similarities to other well known movies, the quickest to come to mind is Luc Besson's masterpiece, Leon. There's little I can really say about the storyline as to say too much will give away the surprises and twists that the characters live through.

Being a proponent of original presentations for shows, be they movies or TV, I cannot in good conscience actually recommend this title due to the cuts that were made to it. This has been discussed ad nauseum both in our forums and in countless other places. The purpose of this review isn't to go into that much, but to give you an idea of how the disc is technical wise. Most people had their own opinion formed the minute this title was announced and few minds are likely to change about it.

English Language,Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Storyboard & Original Animation Cels,Art Gallery,Music Video

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.


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