Kite: Director's Cut

Warning: For those who haven't seen Kite before, this review contains spoilers. When Kite was originally released by Anime Works back in 1999, it received both acclaim and a fair amount of controversy. Fans quickly discovered that the Japanese version of Kite contained several scenes which were edited out of the North American release. Rumors ranged from a few minutes of deleted footage to fifteen and beyond (I even saw one person claim over forty minutes of cuts!). The reason for the cuts quickly became apparent. It turned out the original Kite contained several sexual scenes, which Media Blasters edited out. One of the scenes happened to involve a very young Sawa being molested by Akai, and it was rumored that Media Blasters chose to remove this scene and others rather than face potential child pornography issues. Fans didn't relent, and in addition to decrying Media Blasters, there was even an online petition for an uncut version. Well, an almost uncut version has arrived. Almost? That's right; even this version contains some minor edits from the original Japanese release. Still, fans upset over the editing in Kite should be able to sleep easier at night with this version on the shelves. Now some fans who are unfamiliar with the deleted scenes might wonder what the big deal about a few sex scenes is. After all, Hollywood has churned out a fair amount of smutty stuff over the years (Showgirls, anyone?). But the scenes in Kite went far beyond your typical softcore sex. These are full-blown triple X-rated scenes, elevating Kite into the much maligned hentai genre. Rather than recapping any plot or character details, I suggest you just read my original review of Kite for that. I will, instead, make commentary on the "new" scenes, and also should warn that this review will contain some spoilers in order to properly discuss them. Therefore, if you haven't seen Kite before, I recommend skipping the next two paragraphs. There were a total of four sexual scenes cut from the first release of Kite. The first sexual scene occurs shortly after Sawa has offed the celebrity and is in Akai's abode. In both versions, Sawa informs Akai she's "not in the mood". In this version, however, we see that Akai has his way with Sawa. The second sex scene takes place during Sawa's flashback, when she is remembering her parents' deaths and her first meetings with Akai. This was the most controversial scene, as it depicts an underage Sawa being molested by Akai. Even in this version, there are still minor edits to remove some of the racier moments. The third scene, and the one I found the most gratuitous, occurs with Kanie having sex with some girl, who then goes on to give Akai a blow job. Aside from the fact that it shows Kanie has a schlong the size of a baseball bat, I didn't really understand why this scene had to be there. And finally, there is one more sex scene, which occurs just after Oburi threatens Akai. This scene is probably the most poignant, as not only does Akai force himself on Sawa against her wishes, but Oburi is forced to watch with a gun to his head. Again, there were a few edits in this scene, to remove flashbacks of a younger Sawa and Akai engaged in sex. There is also one more brief scene which barely merits mention. It happens when Sawa is plunging from the building, and we a treated to a brief shot of a manager having sex with a woman in an office. The real question is, does the uncut version have more of an impact than the cut version and do the added scenes make a difference? In my eyes, they do and they don't. I personally thought the first scene was fairly gratuitous, and while some will insist it's a demonstration of Akai's control over Sawa, having her committing hideous murders is proof enough for me. I mixed feelings about the flashback, given that it does make Akai's dominance of Sawa have more impact, but at the same time, I felt the message was quite clear in the edited version. As I noted, the scene with Kanie seemed quite unnecessary and pointless. Truthfully, the only addition I felt actually added anything to the experience was the final sex scene, when Oburi is forced to watch. The look of regret on Sawa's face before Akai forces himself on her is heartbreaking. And the determination etched in Oburi's eyes as he watches Akai and Sawa easily raises the dramatic bar for the rest of the series. I did enjoy watching the "director's cut" of Kite and would recommend it to anyone disappointed by Media Blaster's editing of their first release. But that aside, I still prefer the edited version over the uncut version. The edited version is more accessible as an R-rated rather than X-rated anime title, and I personally feel more comfortable showing people the version without pornographic scenes. At least now, fans have some choice in the matter. 

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