Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Media Blasters
- MSRP: 24.99/29.99
- Running time: 120
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Kite
Kite/Mezzo Forte Double Pack (Cut or Uncut)
By Mark Thomas
May 23, 2008
Release Date: March 04, 2008
What They Say
This double pack contains both Kite and Mezzo Forte!
After her parents' brutal murder, young Sawa is orphaned. Now under the control of her detective guardians, Sawa becomes an assassin whose targets range from alleged rapists to corporate fat cats. Sawa eventually meets another assassin, a boy named Oburi, and they quickly become friends. They provide each other with emotional support, helping Sawa regain control of her own life. When Sawa's guardians learn of her new friend, revenge is sought and Sawa must fight to break free from the cycle of violence.
Momokichi Momoi is a brutal baseball owner with mob connections. A mysterious old man hires Mikura and the Danger Service Agency to kidnap Momokichi. But the DSA has bigger problems standing in their way, namely Momokichi's daughter Momomi, a young girl with a twisted mind and a loaded gun. Momomi has a reputation as a cold-blooded killer who strikes fear in her adversaries. Now the DSA must find a way to accomplish their mission without getting slaughtered in the process.The Review!
Whether you prefer the edited or unedited versions of these movies, two classic OVAs for the price of one is a bargain you will not want to miss.Audio:
While watching both movies, I listened to the English dub. Oddly, both the English and Japanese tracks are listed on the packaging as being available in both 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround, however there were no 5.1 tracks to be found for either movie. Neither the setup menu, nor scrolling through the audio channels with my remote, had any option for 5.1. This was a little disappointing because as both feature a great deal of action, good use of surround channels could have really helped the atmosphere.
Despite this, the 2.0 tracks sound pretty good, though I detected very little directionality. The sound effects and dialogue were separate and clear, with no dropout, and the music score in each movie fit perfectly. Overall, both Kite
and Mezzo Forte
sound nice, but the lack of the advertised 5.1 tracks was a shame.Video:
For the most part, both shows looked good, with most of the colors coming through boldly and distinctly. In both cases, shading was used for maximum effect, especially in the grittier scenes, and those effects transferred fairly nicely as well. Kite
(1998) is a few years older than Mezzo Forte
(2001), and as such, Mezzo Forte
looks a little bit crisper. There were a few instances of pixelization, and these seemed more on display in the earlier title. Kite
tends to use a much darker palette than its counterpart, and there were just a couple times where the dark colors seemed to blend together, but that may have been a design of the show; if not, I still found that it added to the dark nature well.Packaging:
The case for this set looks fine, but is pretty barebones. The DVDs come in a standard amaray case, with a single DVD fixed on each side. The covers of the two versions are pretty similar, just with a different arrangement. Both have a picture of Mikura and another of Sawa. Mikura is in her trademark orange jacket holding an umbrella and her gun. Interestingly, her hair is pulled up in pigtails, which is her look in the later Mezzo DSA
TV series and which only makes a brief appearance at the end of Mezzo Forte
. The picture of Sawa has her standing in a three quarter pose looking back at you over her shoulder. She is in her typical sailor suit and is carrying both of her guns. The edited version features Mikura's picture more prominently, while the uncut version focuses more on Sawa. Both girls are in extremely short skirts, which just happen to be blowing in the wind, giving us a panty shot right off the bat and playing up the sexed up nature of both titles. I find it interesting that Media Blasters did not disassociate the covers a bit more like they did with the singles.
The back of the box has summaries of both shows with a few screen shots, a list of special features, and the technical information for each. I have a few qualms with the information on the back, as it would have been nice if they sectioned the special features list out by title, as there were some different extras for each, and as stated above, the technical details list 5.1 tracks for both languages in a couple different areas, but there was no 5.1 option on the actual discs.Menu:
There's a bit of a separation with the menus of the two shows. Kite
has a very plain menu. The main menu has a fairly sexy picture of Sawa bending over in an alley to grab her guns, while again looking back at the camera, giving us a pretty good look at her rear end. The setup submenu uses the same picture of Sawa from the front cover. The problem I have with these menus is that the background is a somewhat unpleasant shade of pink, and the highlighted menu option is the same color, making it blend in. Despite the rather nice picture of Sawa on the main menu, I found that the color choice for the motif hurt my eyes.Mezzo Forte
, on the other hand, has a rather amusing main menu. The background motif is a bold red, with the title and selections placed horizontally through the middle. Along the top and bottom of the screen are multiple still images of Mikura and Momomi moving across the screen as if targets at a firing range, and at seemingly random moments, gunshots ring out, taking out parts of the targets. While the rest of the menus are pretty plain, just options set against the red backing, I found the main menu to be highly amusing. But then, I am easily entertained.Extras:
There are some decent extras on these releases, but nothing that will blow anybody away. Both discs have three sets of storyboards to view, and while viewing, the scene depicted on that storyboard plays on the right. Both discs also have some AnimeWorks trailers. Extras exclusive to Kite
are a small art gallery and a music video featuring scenes from the show. The only exclusive extra on Mezzo Forte
is a brief Q&A interview with creator Yasuomi Umetsu. Most of the questions in this interview are focused on Mezzo Forte
, though some deal with both movies.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)Kite
and Mezzo Forte
are the first two works from director/creator Yasuomi Umetsu, and though there is no direct link between the two, the distinct art and storytelling styles cause them to be considered as somewhat sister shows. Both feature fairly gritty storylines, explicit sexual content (in the uncut forms), and plenty of graphic violence. As such, after close to a decade of selling them individually, Media Blasters has decided to pair them up into one release. Like the original releases, there are two versions available: an edited version with the hentai scenes removed (though still rated 16+) and the uncut version (18+) with everything intact.Kite
is the story of Sawa, a young woman who was orphaned at a young age when her parents were brutally murdered for unknown reasons. After the massacre, Sawa is adopted by Akai, a detective from the police force assigned to investigate the murder of her parents. Under Akai's direction, Sawa becomes a world class assassin, yet while she is always assigned to kill sexual predators, over time it becomes increasingly obvious that Akai is only using Sawa for his own sick thrills, both sexual and not.
In time, Sawa meets Oburi, a young man about her age who finds himself in a similar situation with Akai's friend, Kanie. Between them, Sawa and Oburi realize how much they are being used and resolve to help each other escape from the control of their sick guardians and leave the world of professional killing behind.Mezzo Forte
is the OVA that precedes the Mezzo DSA
TV series, and it also follows the violent exploits of a young woman. Mikura is the muscle of a three-person mercenary group known as the Danger Service Agency. The DSA take on all jobs, no matter how dangerous, as long as the price is right. Kurokawa, a former detective, formed the DSA with funds from a tell-all book he wrote exposing corruption in the police force as revenge for being unfairly fired. Harada, a computer and robotics expert, and Mikura were former criminals who owed favors to Kurokawa and agreed to join his operation.
The DSA have been hired to kidnap Momokichi Momoi, a mob boss and the owner of the perpetually bottom feeding baseball team, the Peach Twisters. However, the kidnapping goes wrong, and the DSA find themselves as targets of Momoi's daughter, the sociopathic Momomi. Momomi will stop at nothing to torture and kill the three mercenaries, and the DSA quickly finds themselves in over their heads.
Both titles feature fairly dark and gritty storylines, though their tones a quite different. Kite
starts very dark, and spends its time delving deep into the depths of depravity that humans can sink into; Mezzo Forte
, on the other hand, balances the grit with plenty of comic relief. The difference in effect is quite extreme: the comic relief in Mezzo Forte
makes the darker scenes that much more jarring, while the increasingly creepy atmosphere in Kite
has a tendency to make one physically ill. That's not to say Kite
is bad, it is just not a show to watch when looking for a pick-me-up.
As stated before, there are two versions of these movies available. The uncut versions include hardcore hentai sex scenes, while the edited versions remove the more offending parts, though some scenes get the axe altogether. On this particular viewing, I took in the edited versions of these titles. However, I have seen the uncut versions in the past, and the removed scenes have differing effects on the two. I found that the removal of the sex scenes on Mezzo Forte
did nothing to the overall feel of the show. In fact, on previous viewing, I found the hardcore sex scenes to be a bit extraneous. The hint of what happens in both scenes are still present, and to me, that hint is enough for the effect needed in the story.
However, I do find that Kite
suffers from the removal of its sex scenes. Much of the distaste that Kite
causes is due to the sexual perversions of both Sawa's victims, and of Akai and Kanie themselves. As odd as it sounds, there is a tremendous amount of character development during the sex scenes that is lost in the edited version, and that character and plot development really hammers home and intensifies the overall feeling and idea of the show. Without those scenes, Kite
loses much of its effect.
Yet, even with the sex scenes, I cannot help but shake the feeling that Kite
feels like a rough draft. There are a lot of really good ideas and plot arcs that are put forth in Kite
, but it almost tries to do too much in its limited runtime. At a shade over 50 minutes in the edited form, and not that much longer in the uncut form, Kite
could probably have used double that to really develop the story and characters more. What is here is really good, but given more time, it could have been so much better.Mezzo Forte
does not suffer from this. It runs just on both sides of the hour mark for each version, and that is plenty of time to get across what is needed to fully enjoy the movie. While some exposition about sundry details such as exactly how Mikura and Harada ended up in Kurokawa's employ, or what exactly was happening at the police station that was so scandalous, would have been nice, none of that is particularly important to the plot at hand. While Kite
has more potential than Mezzo Forte
, the latter is better written and paced, and it ultimately is a better show.
But as good as these titles are, Kite
and Mezzo Forte
are not for everybody. Kite
, even edited, is an extremely disturbing show, with no real sense of joy or good will to be found; and even though it has plenty of comic relief, Mezzo Forte
also has a pretty dark story line, and both titles are filled with an abundance of graphic violence. While the ability to purchase non-hentai of these titles will expand the potential fan-base, even the edited versions are more intense than many people will be interested in. In Summary:
This double pack brings together two classic OVAs into one, pretty cheap package, making it almost an automatic recommendation for anybody who has yet to pick up the titles. However, these titles are not for everybody. These stark, harsh stories of sexual perversions and graphic murders can be disturbing on a number of levels. People who know that these attributes bother them really need to go watch something else. For those who are interested, and are of age, I would recommend the uncut versions over the edited forms as the effect and feeling of Kite
are much more dramatic with everything intact. That said, if hentai is a bother, then you really cannot go wrong with the edited version either. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Creator, Storyboards, Gallery
Magnavox 37MF337B 37" LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS (Component Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System