Today I’m gonna try my hand at doing something that I have never done before in any of my blogs – write an anime review.
Most of you know me would know about my penchant for watching anime. A lot of people my age may frown at the fact that I watch anime, and quite a bit of it at that. While it is of course generally agreed upon that anime is a cartoon, not all anime is for children. Most Western cartoons are geared toward children, whereas anime often has content reserved in the realm of adults. I may or may not be doing much of a review, rather than just totally talking about it. I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers for my “Thoughts” entries, it’d be best if you see the show yourself.
The first anime I’ll make a review on would be one that I’d first watched a very long time ago. I’m a big fan of action oriented anime, and quite frankly girls with guns are high on my list. Show me a chic with a gun, I will most likely watch it. The photo below is one of my favorite chics with a gun, a very special one at that (more on it later) which will certainly blow you away.
Her name is Sawa, protagonist of a notoriously infamous anime OVA, Kite. The show was made in 1998, but I didn’t actually get to watch it until around 2004-05ish. It was made by Green Bunny Studios, under the direction of one Yasuomi Umetsu, who had worked on Megazone 23, Sol Bianca : The Legacy, Cool Devices and many others. Remember when I wrote about a band I formed for one of the Toycons back in the mid-00’s? This was the show that I took the name of the band from. Although the show isn’t quite as popular as more mainstream chics-with-guns shows like Gunslinger Girl or Ghost in the Shell, many enthusiasts have watched it. Quite a bit so that when we were introduced to the crowd, there were immediate shouts of “manyak!” directed at us, but probably me in particular.
The show is a 60 minute roller coaster of somber scenes, interspersed with edge-of-seat action, nudity and sex. You got that right – SEX, lots.
So this girl Sawa is some orphan girl who goes to school by day, and works as an assassin on the side. She lives alone, but receives her orders from her “guardian” Akai, and his best bruh Kanie.
Apparently, Sawa was orphaned due to the double murder of her parents seven years prior to the start of the story. It was Kanie who took her under his wing, and it didn’t take long before she was taking down target after target. Armed with a special gun loaded with double action bullets, she was also very thorough in her work, leaving close to no traces to her identity and leaving police baffled. This was of course aside from the fact that Akai worked as a detective, and helped cover up or remove what little traces may be found that can be used to find her. It isn’t all fun and games for Sawa, as she was almost stopped by the bodyguards of one of her targets. The pace is frantic, until Sawa arrives at the conclusion of who killed her parents, and her quest moved to that of vengeance, and ultimately, freedom from her violent lifestyle.
The series is notable among enthusiasts for the amount of violence in the show. The fights and killing scenes are very graphic, along with the amount of blood shown on screen. The action is also very intense, and the fight between Oburi and one of his targets destroys the train they were in, along with almost demolishing the station that they stopped at.
The show also made use of a lot of jazzy, almost cabaret style saxophone music. One would think that such an action packed show would have a rocking soundtrack, but the themes used served the series well, so well in fact that it’s hard to imagine, or re-imagine KITE set to a different style of music. It also highlights the often dark, and dystopian backgrounds.
But it wasn’t just the sheer amount of violence, and dark comedy that’s made it famous. There’s a lot of nudity, and even more sex scenes within the show, 95% of which is between Sawa and Akai.
If you’ve issues watching forced sex or rape scenes, this show may not be for you. It’s a very powerful plot device though, showing how much Sawa had been oppressed, how much she’d suffered at the hands of her “guardians”, and justifies her revenge in the end.
The show is a cult classic among anime fans, and it was popular enough to spawn a Western movie adaptation of the same title. I haven’t seen it yet, and I have yet to track down a DVD of it, which is pretty much a hard job to accomplish since I haven’t seen one for sale in Manila yet. There are officially licensed products (which is what I prefer) for sale in the US but Amazon nor eBay do not ship to the Philippines (fuck you hackers and internet thieves) due to security concerns.
There are different versions of the anime – the one I have is the uncut Japanese edition, there are ones that are cut to show the nudity only and not the sex scenes, and there are others that have nudity but censored, and no sex. I suggest you find a copy of the original since all the plot devices work together to bring the best out of the show.
Overall, it’s a very good show that action anime fans should give see to appreciate. The amount of violence and nudity squeezed into a 60 minute feature is quire insane, and can easily give Elfenlied a run for its money on the violence alone. Some people may prefer it to be re-made into a series, but if you ask me, it’s cool as it is. Turning it into a series will only dilute the awesomeness of the show, but if any, you may also be interested in watching the sequel to the original KITE, 2008’s KITE LIBERATOR.
This one has a less dark setting, and has no sex scenes, and features a different set of characters altogether, only making references to the original show through some similar plot devices, and Sawa’s (or at least something like it) gun. I’ll see about reviewing the sequel at a later time.