Yasuomi Umetsu’s KITE
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Kite from 1998 has an infamous reputation.
As gritty anime goes it’s not necessarily the most bloody and violent. What sets it apart is the storytelling and the direction. The painting style is deceptively “standard” anime — sharp borders, big eyes on the female, street scenes with a minimum of moving characters — but the flow of action and editing is cinema like. You see this in conversations between two characters. As the viewpoint changes the faces of the speakers go in and out of focus. As I said, it’s very cinema-like which immediately sets us apart from standard high school focused Japanese animated series.
Cutting is crisp but not chaotic from one scene to another. Sometimes the camera lingers on a character or object for a moment longer than absolutely necessary for moving the action along. This imparts an almost “film noir” sensibility, despite the perverse nature of the story.
A rogue cop and his accomplice recruit a young man and woman to selectively assassinate perverts, scumbags, and lowlifes who prey on the weak but who because of their positions have escaped prosecution. Assassinations are elaborately choreographed and gloriously illustrated with slow-motion, violent explosions, and exploding guts as explosive bullets take their toll.
At the core of the story is the character of Sawa, a young woman who has witnessed the murder of her parents and has been adopted and raised to be an assassin by the rogue cop. That they have a sexual relationship is not immediately clear in the streaming Netflix version as apparently some hardcore sex segments have been edited out in this version. The occasional jumpiness of the story line may be due to the deletion of such scenes. But there’s still enough there to realize the underlying complexity of the story.
Amazingly, this film was only 45 minutes long. But Kite is certainly is not for everybody. You have been warned.
Review copyright (c) 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald