Well, this is a tricky one to review as it's something that most people will have mixed feelings about as the original Kite was a very interesting work in its own right. But as you can see from the ratings I'm part of the contingent that liked it.
Story: First off I'll start by saying that I thought it was very interesting that they made a non-hentai sequel to a hentai-pigeonholed movie. Whilst the original focused on a gritty underworld story of corruption and violence (which featured nudity), Kite Liberator takes a completely different tact and focuses more on a kind of action-based sci-fi plot. Some
might say that the absence of sex scenes makes the anime not seem like a true sequel and I would have to agree to some extent, but I feel that to do a sequel too similar to the original would have inevitably not have been as good. Now, back to what's at hand. The OVA in general is quite well paced. Even though it is only an hour long in length, the way the plot is constructed makes it feel like a full-length movie. In it's own right, the sci-fi plot is quite entertaining but I was disappointed with massive leap in terms of content from the gritty original to something completely fictional. At least with Kite you could imagine the events happening in real life.
The story element is something that most people will have differing views on but I think 7 is a fair score for this component.
Art: Well, I have to say that this was one of the standout features of the OVA. It was excellent, to put it simply. The combination of computer graphics as well as more traditional constructions made it very pleasing on the eye. Everything was well-rendered or accurately drawn and this component stood out justifyably, fully deserving the 10.
Sound: Another case of "doing what it says on the tin". The themes worked well with the scenes throughout and the sound effects and timing were spot on. The stereo effects were really accurate and made listening to the movie through headphones much more enjoyable than through standard speakers.
Characters: I felt you could empathise with the characters in the story quite well in a similar way as you could for the first movie albeit for different reasons. The main character really kind of reminds you in a lot of ways of Sawa from the first film. The only problem I had was that story didn't fully explain some of the character details and I was sometimes left wondering about a particular part of certain characters' backgrounds.
Overall, I would have to say that whether or not you've seen the first film, this is something interesting in its own right and it something well worth watching even with some of the issues that exist within it. 8/10
You call this a sequel to Kite? How does this have anything to do with Sawa or the group of assassins she was associated with from her original 1998 series? Regardless, the plot to this movie is a bit of a mess tossing in random elements in a vain attempt to create any sense of imaginable substance such as the poorly addressed "space food and radiation mutates astronauts" side-plot, Monaka using her tasteless maid cafe job as a front for her job as an assassin and failed drama coming from what we learn of Monaka and her father. While the original Kite had a sense
of mood and plot covering the cruel, tragic and merciless developments Sawa faced as an assassin, Liberator doesn't keep things as grounded as it seemingly goes for a more gritty, over-the-top feel and doesn't seem sure what kind of series it wanted to be with its elements of sci-fi thriller, crime action and heart-wrenching drama. All three of these don't mesh too well as the sci-fi element is way out of place with what we seen of the original series and because Monaka doesn't have any tragic developments like Sawa had from the original Kite, I couldn't find myself connecting with her as I did with Sawa from the original series.
Liberator does deliver well on the action element through its high quality presentation as it makes great use of CG and cel-shaded animation to render both the environments of Tokyo and the space station in which the show is mainly set in. Settings and characters have a great amount of detail applied to them with the color shading seemingly being brighter compared to the original series. Action scenes with characters are fluid and intense as you get to see regular gun-action and later on the enemy that emerges from said sci-fi plot.
Unless you are watching Kite Liberator purely for the action, I would recommend avoiding it or only peeking at it only once as the plotting is a mess with the elements it tries to mix around.
How do you follow what is quite arguably one of the worst anime ever made? With a sequel that is even worse! This is one of those anime that is not only bad, but has absolutely no reason to exist in the first place!
Before we talk about Kite 2, we unfortunately have to talk about Kite. The anime Kite was a 1990s hentai/ action exploitation anime that somehow gained a cult following in the US for its over the top use of sex and violence. Younger fans that haven't seen Kite would be forgiven for thinking Kite is like the early 2000s anime Gantz and
Elfen Lied. Unfortunately, Kite is an entirely different caliber of schlock. I feel I need to explain what I mean by this, so let's rank gore and tits exploitation anime as if they were the Medieval European societal hierarchy. At the top of the Hierarchy is the Pope, which would be Elfen Lied. It overuses nudity and gore, but actually the majority of the nudity was not intended as fanservice. At least some of the gore was justified by its artistic intention of tackling humanity's darkness and eternal struggle with the redeeming aspects of the human soul. It has very obvious flaws, but also has areas where it is rather objectively excellent. It is FAR from the perfect anime, but more than good enough to qualify as the top of this dung heap sub-genre of anime. Below the Pope is the King, which would be an anime like Tokyo Ghoul. It is clearly cheap, exploitation schlock, but it knows exactly what it wants to be and has good animation along with other technical aspects that qualify it as competent at the very least. Below the King is the Noble, which would be Gantz. It is not technically as well made as Tokyo Ghoul and clearly wasn't trying to be anything but garbage, but at least a few people enjoy it. Below the Nobel is the Knight, which would be Violence Jack. It is pretty hard to defend an anime of this low quality, but at least the gore is relatively realistic and well drawn at times. Below the Knight is the Merchant, which would be Genocyber. This was an absolute MESS of an anime, but at least there were brief instances where the director was trying to do something that could have been effective if handled more skillfully. Below the Merchant is the Peasant, which would MD Geist. This is the point where you have reached absolute SHIT tier anime, but at least it had a decent soundtrack and was tonally consistent. Below even the Peasant is the Serf. Medieval Serfs were literally owned by wealthier citizens and legally counted as property rather than human beings. They could be beaten or even murdered by their masters with zero legal repercussions. Kite is the Serf.
The first Kite film is an anime that starts out trying to be a psuedo film noir/ girls with guns movie as if someone was trying HARD to rip off Luc Besson. Then it slaps the audience in the face by borrowing physics straight out of Looney Toons! Then it becomes a laughably horrid hentai in which a loli takes off a T-shirt with no bra and magically transforms from an A cup to a DD cup, so she can literally balance off the ground on the villian's 3 foot cock. Then it turns serious again and expects the audience to be on board still. It finishes by rapidly cycling between Z grade exploitation porn and a pathetic attempt at artistic ambiguity. Kite looks like it was directed by 5 horrible directors who couldn't agree on anything and each filmed their own segments and sloppily pasted the film reels together into one head exploding mess of an anime! Kite is literally TERRIBLE in every aspect. Even the art that looks like it could receive a passing grade in some scenes looks like an utter FAIL in other scenes. Kite is one of few films that was SO bad that it physically hurt me to watch it. I consider Kite on par with Pocket Ninjas, Video Brinquedo productions, or a movie by Coleman Francis or James Nguyen.
The ONLY reason that ANYONE liked Kite was because of the extreme gore and explicit hentai scenes. What did Kite 2: Liberator decide to do? Cut out all the explicit sex and tone the gore way down. Once they ripped away the only thing Kite sort of had going for it, we are left with pure, undiluted septic sludge. Surprisingly, Kite actually isn't the only example of this happening. If you look at most of the notoriously seedy "cult" exploitation films with LOTS of sex and violence, you will find that most of them had terrible sequels that ALL made the same mistake of removing the sole successful ingredient. This puts Kite in the same category with: Caligula, Ilsa She Wolf SS, Hostel, I Spit on Your Grave, and countless others. Kite 2 is a tame, vanilla version of a complete piece of shit, which makes it "bland shit" instead of even being amusing shit! The really odd thing is that Kite 2 doesn't even have the same characters as the original Kite or continue the story of the original. Kite Liberator instead becomes a campy science fiction about a "meganekko" type girl fighting bulletproof aliens from Mars that resemble Golems. The writing and characters are as shitty as the first Kite, but the action that at least before was eye catching is now boring as watching paint dry. This is one of those movies that isn't even fun to watch with friends and laugh at how bad it is!
TLDR: The story, characters, writing, and music are all still crap. The hentai scenes and extreme gore that made the original a "cult" hit have been removed, leaving an empty shell of a terrible anime. It's too boring and bland to even have that MST3K quality of being amusingly terrible. If Kite 1 was painfully stupid and bad, then Kite 2 is painfully stupid and bad+ boring as shit!
I'm torn on Kite Liberator. On one hand, it's got the name Kite, and with that comes expectations of what made the original a cult classic: the sexuality, the extreme violence, and lots of gore. It was a great formula- it didn't need a really cohesive plot or really in depth, believable characters; it just did what it did, and did it right. It was plenty enjoyable, and right fun to watch.
Kite Liberator, on the other hand, loses some of what made the original Kite so good."Liberated" from the stigma of being billed as "hentai" (which made the original more gritty and dark in
addition to street cred) Kite 2 takes a Sci-Fi action approach, versus the true crime/street feel of the first. Neither as gratuitously graphic nor shocking, the focus is more on the action and visuals (a 10 year difference in animation is readily apparent), Liberator could have gone by another name and been yet another short, generic action flick.
However, Liberator does retain several elements of the original Kite's feel, and that's why it makes a lesser, but ultimately watchable sequel.
Artwork and Animation: 8
There was an impressive difference that 10 years gave to Kite in terms of animation. The normal character design and backgrounds are on par with what was standard in 2008, but the CGI is on another level. In the beginning, we're treated to Star Wars Industrial Light and Magic level (on a budget) quality of space ships and the International Space Station visuals. It's 100% CGI, and has no 'anime' feel at all, but it does look great.
Sound and Voice Acting: 5
Lacking the muzak that was kinda groovy in Kite 1, Liberator's music is forgettable. The voice acting is fine, nothing special.
It's been 10 years since the close of Kite 1, Sawa has disappeared, and in her absence, a new young woman has taken up the mantle of Angel of Death. Her calling card? - Vigilante justice by the gun, and an explosion of white feathers before disappearing. Monaka is our new heroine's name. Like Sawa before her, Monaka is a student by day, killer at night. Much of her "look" and methodology are instantly reflective of Sawa, though it's not particularly expounded upon as to "why" she does it.
Again, Liberator diverges strongly from the original with a Sci-Fi setting and the introduction of a monster that looks like a cross of Summoned Skull and Obelisk the Tormentor straight out of Yugioh. (If you don't believe me, google "Kite liberator monster" and click the second image result.) Some dubious exposition about "mutated space food" and "solar radiation" give birth to this beast on the space station, and it manages to escape to earth. Monaka, the most skilled assassin in Japan, is tasked with bringing the monster down. There's a little bit of exposition here and there, but it's mostly very straightforward. The ending leaves a lot to be desired though, as it ends on a very ambiguous note.
Well, Sawa's signature move, the "Super Nut Buster" is still intact, and put to good use. Liberator has some of the gruesome shootings and general brutality elements of the original, and uses them in a couple of places, but is overall less gratuitous, and suffers from it. It's still decent to watch, though.
Kite is my new guilty pleasure. I want to like it, because it's not afraid to do something different, but at the same time, it's more of the same (in places). I think the score of "mediocre" is a good fit here. The gorehound in me loves Kite 1, but I'm okay with Kite Liberator having taken a different path.
If you liked Kite, Liberator is worth a watch. On it's own, probably not.