Kite (1998): Nah

Did you ever watch a series that made you open up the R-18 ranking on an anime listing website to show that you’ve watched it? Yeah, Kite made me do that because there is some bad sexual content in this film. What about being confused about why something is considered a cult classic to a lot of people? Especially famous people like Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino. I think I understand why I don’t like Tarantino’s films at all, because indulging in violence in a tone deaf way while attempting to say something just doesn’t work for me at all. That is what the films that I have watched from Tarantino try to do and that is what Kite tries to do in an even worse way. I think I might be out of my depth, but I’m going to try writing about Kite anyway.

Kite starts out by trying to be somewhat cool and subversive. A tv star goes on a date with a girl named Sawa and tries to make some big moves on her in a hallway. Surprise! Sawa turns out to be an assassin that has a special gun with exploding bullets and the TV Star is one of her targets. Now, that intro is very cool and I like it a lot. It introduces the world of this show, gives us a cool female assassin lady with exploding bullets so we instantly know her job, and it breaks the usual narrative of what would happen quite a bit. It’s a very Joss Whedon kind of subversion that thinks just making that a gender subversion is enough to carry a story. Well, it would be fine for just a movie. Too bad it doesn’t do much with that.

This is movie with a horrible under current behind it. Kite is a story that has police corruption and sexual grooming in it. Sawa was an orphan girl taken in by corrupt police detectives by the name Akai and Kanie at a young age and has the blood of her parents in her earrings as keepsakes. Her job? Eliminating whatever targets Akai and Kanai want to get rid of to cull the world and police’s image. She has also been sexually abused by Akai since she was little and Sawa is a college student now. Now you can see why this is rated R-18 as a hentai. Don’t you think that subversive thing doesn’t mean anything anymore? This film gave her some agency in the opening moments and then decidedly took it away without a second thought with her getting some of it back before it doesn’t.

Now, this is a movie about Sawa escaping her sexual grooming and assassin job. (Or is it?) How? She meets an assassin boy named Oburi. Someone who is just as skilled as her, but is detached and wants out. In movie time, they form some kind of bond by working together once and meeting together a couple of times to talk afterwards. Of course, this is noticeable to the point where Akai and Kanai give the two assassin the other assassin as their next target and nothing goes into place for them. Oburi doesn’t make it out of his assassin life alive, yet Sawa is able to kill her groomer and walk away? Or does she? Considering that Sawa is supposedly held at gun point and Kite cuts to black after that, we don’t know and that destroys some points from Kite’s story for me and pushes it into the realm of this film being about nothing yet again. This film is so tone death and this romance has no chemistry at all.

I think Kite’s dedication to realism is another mark against it. Nothing is censored. Not the sexual violence that is just awful which means it’s obvious that the upskirt shots are going to happen because this isn’t like other anime that either dodges them through camera angles or obscures panty shots in innovated ways. Yet, this anime has the gull of giving assassins exploding bullets which don’t make sense in this environment or one of the most ridiculous and cartoony drop sequences in anime history. Falling from a building to a freeway below and then into a subway to where the vehicle Sawa and her target landed on explodes and Sawa only getting some small cuts and burns is really stupid. It’s fine on its own and I don’t mind the mixture of tones a lot of anime know how to have the goofy and the dark transitions through art and characters, but the tonal gulf is like the Grand Canyon here. It’s ridiculous and I hate it.

If I had one good thing to say about Kite, it’s that the art was nice. Otherwise, I don’t know why I watched this film. Ok, I do because it appeared on RetroCrush and I wanted to try it after hearing abaout it. Turns out that was a mistake and this is a new experience for me. I haven’t watched a lot of things that I’ve regretted beforehand because even bad anime series have things you can learn something or there is at least something that makes you think you haven’t wasted your time. I didn’t get that here. I really wish I could create a device solely to delete Kite from my brain so I can never think about it again. So yeah, this is the first bad that I’ve given a show in a long, long time. With my small internet presence, I feel somewhat vindicated in this decision.


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28 thoughts on “Kite (1998): Nah

  1. I skipped this one even though I’ve seen two other works from the creator (Megazone 23: Part II and Mezzo DSA). It’s also mind-blowing how this got an American live action remake. I’m not surprised that Tarantino would like this anime. Granted, I find a ton of his movies to be overrated though.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks. I never understood the appeal of some of his movies besides the ultraviolence. I’m not saying I won’t watch anything with graphic violence since I do like Battle Royale (AKA The original Hunger Games), Texhnolyze, and Perfect Blue, but certain works get too much or get tasteless for me.

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      2. I feel the same, if there’s non-stop gore splattering across the screen or graphic sexual violence, the film probably won’t be for me. If there’s disturbing content, I usually like for it to be more subtle. I preferred the novelization of Battle Royale to the film, because there was more character development.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, the movie had a limited time to explore the cast, but the novel and manga series take more time to go into each of the character’s backstories. The manga is very edgy, and somewhat pornographic, though. So, if you don’t want to see that, I would stick to the novel. 😅

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That is where I am as well. I don’t mind darkness and violence most of the time as long as it doesn’t over take any of the messages the show is trying to say. But sometimes it just does and it sucks. Just edge for edge’s sake is really the worst thing ever.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Sure thing and I’m the same way. I’m sure I mentioned that statement in some of my reviews. If there’s a point and legit commentary for the darkness and graphic violence, then that’s fine. When it’s just used to look cool or be edgy, then I find it way too tasteless and shallow.

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  2. I was able to avoid this one because when I was younger, I thought about watching it because I used see it a lot in video rental stores… but, some good people in my life were like, “No, no, no! That’s glorified rape porn!”

    Speaking of Q. Tarentino, I re-watched “Audition” recently and was deeply disturbed upon revisiting it and then after doing research the film, I learned that it was one of Tarentino’s favorite films and I was like, “Oh, of course it is!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tarantino WOULD like Audition! I’ve only seen two of Takashi Miike’s works so far (Ichi the Killer and Osake Tough Guys), and I didn’t like them at all. Sure, I know he’s made tamer movies like Zebraman and the Ace Attorney live action movie, but a lot of his stuff is ultraviolence trash.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really like Miike’s adaptation of “One Missed Call” but that’s the only movie of his that’s really stuck with me. The point of “Audition” is resonant, but there’s graphic violence and sexuality that seems to exist just for shock value. I still haven’t seen “Ichi the Killer”!

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Ah, I can see. I wish I had more peopled interested in otaku material in my life because I stumble around the dark a lot with what I watch.

      Oh jeez, from what I’ve heard about Audition, that wouldn’t surprise me that much.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I totally get that, sometimes I don’t like looking into something before I watch it, so I have stumbled into some bad things. 😅 But, if you read too much into something, it kind of loses its magic.

        Audition is worth watching, at least once, I think. It has a very strong message about men who exploit women in the entertainment industry, and it is a psychological (slow burn) film. But, in the last twenty or thirty minutes of the film, it gets very messed up.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Don’t worry. I have that issue around where I’m from in my offline life, too.

        I haven’t seen it, but I know what it’s about and after watching those two other Miike films, I really wasn’t interested in watching Audition.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Not to be the grammar Nazi here, but, “tone deaf.”

    Never seen this one, though I recall hearing about it. I recall my moment, where I realized that anime wasn’t a for-kids kind of thing was when I watched Akira. This one sounds fairly similar in tone and content, with all the violence, R-rated material, and somehow trying to say something more and not working at all.

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    1. No, there is such a huge difference between what happens in Akira with all its body horror and psychic kids and this crap. I know that Akira is a little messed up too, but it doesn’t do this.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. (Whistles!) Wow. I was recalling the violence and that one scene where they rip a girl’s shirt off as they’re intending to have their way with her, that sort of thing, but I take it Kite dwarfs that? I shudder to think of it. (…and I say that even after GoT, Black Sails, Deadpool, Kingsman, etc.)

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  4. Couldn’t agree more. So disappointing too because I saw clips of this director’s work in Mezzo Forte and thought it looked awesome. This film was just kinda gross and it’s almost a joke by the end that almost every adult male character ended up being a pedophile.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I didn’t hate this one as much as you did as the story had potential in demonising sexual grooming and women fighting back against exploitation and abuse is always something I’ll endorse but I did hate the porn aspect which is why I’ve never been able to bring myself to rewatch it.

    It was completely unnecessary, utterly gratuitous and vile, taking away from the viewing experience. Had it been more about the story and less about trying to shock the audience I think it may have been better received, but some people just like to push boundaries and sensationalise exploitation themes because they can.

    Because this is all people talk about regarding this film, it is mostly what I can recall about it which is never a good thing – with the exception of the ending which has always stuck with me, tragic and chilling at the same time.

    Glad I’m not the only one who isn’t a fan of Tarantino – not because of the violence but his dialogue is literally all “F” words and it becomes tiresome hearing it used unnecessarily 45 times in one sentence. I have the two Kill Bill films on DVD because of their Asian cinema homage but yet to watch them. :-/

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s like somebody thought “Let’s make something with sex and violence. Making sense? Nah, people will watch it anyway.”
    By the way, there’s a sequel called Kite Liberator. It makes even less sense (if that’s possible, though it’s not that hard when you include random monsters from space).

    Liked by 1 person

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