Kite revolves around a schoolgirl named Sawa (さわ) who is orphaned in her early teens. Her parents are the victims of a gory double murder. The detectives investigating the crime, Akai あかい ("red") and Kanie, take her in as guardians. Akai begins a sexual relationship with Sawa, forcing her to become his sex slave for the duration of his guardianship. Akai also gives her a pair of crystal earrings, each one containing the blood of one of her parents.
Sawa becomes an assassin after the corrupt detectives make her kill an alleged rapist of young girls. Subsequently over the years, she kills whoever she is ordered to, including corrupt police officers and corporate fat cats. Sawa's assassinations are famous among the police for her use of special bullets that explode inside the body after piercing the skin.
Eventually, Sawa meets a fellow assassin named Oburi, who is of a similar age, and a bond quickly forms between them. Due to their relationship, Sawa slowly gains the emotional strength to escape from her guardians to set out on her own. Oburi is leaving Akai and Kanie's service after killing three more targets, but Akai orders Sawa to kill Oburi instead of letting him go. Realizing that Sawa has the drop on him, Oburi tells her that Akai and Kanie were the ones who murdered her parents, but Sawa reveals that she has known that for years. She lets Oburi live and goes to take out her next target, a movie star whose bodyguards nearly kill her. In the struggle, she loses one of her earrings and sustains several minor injuries. When Oburi shows up alive, Kanie sends him after a corrupt district attorney, but the man is actually a SWAT officer, who nearly kills Oburi before Sawa arrives and saves him. Oburi confronts Akai and tells him that he and Sawa are both leaving, but Akai overpowers and savagely beats him. Sawa comes to Oburi's rescue again but is captured by Akai and Kanie. Akai appears to decide that just killing Oburi isn't enough, and he and Kanie force Oburi to watch Akai rape Sawa. When Kanie drags Oburi off afterward, Akai tells Sawa he's impressed with the depth of her plan to kill Oburi, saying that he almost believed her act. He tells her where Kanie is going to kill Oburi and that he is looking forward to finding Oburi's body. Sawa then leaves, saying she has an exam the next day.
The next morning, Akai arrives at a murder scene. He draws back the covering over the body and flinches when he sees it's Kanie. One of the crime scene investigators reminds him that the body's location is where a double murder occurred several years prior, when the parents of a teenage girl were killed. Akai then goes to where Kanie had been taking Oburi to confront him, but instead finds Sawa, who shoots him in the right hand and groin before emptying the magazines of both her and Oburi's guns into the rest of his body. She tosses both guns into the sewer, then removes her remaining earring and discards it as well.
Before Oburi and Sawa can reunite, Oburi is shot by another presumed child assassin - perhaps coincidentally a girl whose basketball he had destroyed near the beginning of the movie in response to an insult - and most likely the assassin Akai was talking about after raping Sawa for the last time. The scene changes to Sawa at Oburi's loft in an abandoned building, waiting patiently for his return. There is the sound of a footstep and a creaking floorboard, and Sawa turns her head to look at the source of the noise before the screen goes black.
|Character||Japanese version||English version|
|Sawa||Konami Yoshida||Charlie Watson|
|Akai||Goro Shibusawa||Dave Underwood|
|Oburi||Shingo Oyamada||Shane Callahan|
|Kanie||Tatsuo Matoba||Charles Denson, Jr.|
Kite is controversial in its depiction of extreme gory violence and explicit sex and nudity, including graphic rape scenes involving a very young Sawa. The DVD description states: "College student by day, vigilante by night, Sawa protects the innocent and mercilessly kills criminals in this intense Japanese anime." Subsequently the OVA has been released three times in the United States, each with less censorship than the last (with the most recent release being reputedly uncensored). Kite was also banned in many countries. Kite has sometimes been called ultra violent child pornography, with elements of the lolicon genre.[who?] However, it is considered an anime cult classic by some fans.
A live action adaptation of Kite has been reported to be in various stages of pre-production for a number of years now, with American film director Rob Cohen attached as either director or producer. The content of the live action film is expected to be toned down from the original OVA.
Two versions were initially released: a "General Release" version (rated 16-Up) and a "Director's Cut" version (rated 18-Up), which contains nearly 10 minutes of explicit footage. This Director's Cut version, however, is missing some scenes found in the original Japanese release. A third release, labeled "Special Edition", contains Kite in its original, uncut form. All contain all of the violent aspects of the movie, but the general release only contains a scene featuring a mature Sawa naked. The other two contain sex scenes.
- USA: (ratings issued by the distributor, Media Blasters)
- General Release: 16-up
- Director's Cut and Special Edition: 18-up
- Japan R-18
- South Korea 18 (censored version)
- Australia R18+ (censored version)
- Norway 18 (censored version)
- France 18 (cut)
- released as Domination NaKite
- Germany 18 (uncut/uncensored)
- New Zealand R16 (censored version)
Countries where Kite has been banned
A sequel entitled Kite Liberator (カイト リベレイター Kaito Ribereitaa) features a new character named Noguchi Monaka. It was released on March 21, 2008 in the United States. The film is licensed by Media Blasters.
In popular culture
- Mezzo Forte, Umetsu's unofficial follow up to Kite, which also concerns a young woman working as an assassin, and a cameo by Sawa.
- Mezzo DSA - television series based on Mezzo Forte.
- Cool Devices: Yellow Star, previously directed by Umetsu, features "prototype" character designs and similar subject matter.
- Clandestin, Marché.Anime on the big screen: Upcoming live-action anime adaptations. Retrieved on 27 June 2007
- Press Release. Distant Horizon and Rob Cohen partner on live action remake Of anime hit “Kite” Retrieved 2009 May 21
- Kite (1998) (V) at the Internet Movie Database
- AnimeNation News
- Kite Information at Arms Company Website (Japanese)
- Official website for Kite Liberator (Japanese)
- Kite at the Internet Movie Database
- Comparison of the three U.S. releases of Kite
- Animerica review