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.