Controversy builds over Kite editing
FAns are growing increasingly agetated over Media Blasters' editing of the 2-part OAV "Kite", removing all sexual content from the film, without providing an uncut alternative. The footage was removed, according to Media Blasters, because the main character Sawa was very obviously underage in some scenes.
"We removed a few minutes of graphic sex," MB Sales and Press LIASON Edwin de la Cruz told ANN in a telephone conversation. "We don't see an uncut version becoming available, barring some major change in child pornography laws." A total of 7 minutes of footage was removed from Kite, some of it dramatically changing character development. Fans have been complaining that only thirty seconds of the 7 cut minutes featured sexual acts with Sawa as a minor, and accuse Media Blasters of pandering to Blockbuster Video's guidelines for allowable product. "I won't be seeing Kite now," wrote one fan. "I don't watch editied anime, period."
"One of our staff dealt with a similar situation when he worked at Kino Films," De La Cruz explains. One film from the independant film distributor featured only hinted references to a minor performing oral sex on a woman, and was subjected to much scrutiny in some Southern states, and even some copies being seized.
"It was important that we deleted not only the scenes that showed the sexual acts involving a minor, but the ones that hinted at it as well," he said.
However, not all of the cut scenes have to do with Sawa or her being abused before becoming of age. One scene involves only an anonymous couple having sex, while another involves one of the film's antagonists, Kanie, raping a woman. The sex scenes involving Sawa were important, fans feel, because they showed that Sawa was a total victim -- that she didn't have any choice other than to participate in the sexual activity. "They could have just zoomed in on her face during those 30 seconds," suggested one fan on AnimeOnDVD.com's message board. "That would retain the meaning as well as comply with child porn laws."
Media Blasters doesn't dispute this. "Yes, it affected it," said De La Cruz. "Nothing that can be done, though." Fans argue that recent mainstream entertainment, such as TV's Ally McBeal and the movies Sleepers and To Die For, involved sexual acts with underaged characters. However, Media Blasters, being a reletively small start-up, simply can't afford any controversy.
Fans also brought up one scene that was deleted from the subtitled version of Elf Princess Rane, which was deleted by accident and has been reinstated in all currently shipping copies. (Affected copies should be exchanged for new ones at the place they were purchased.) "They're getting a reputation as being scissors-happy," wrote one Media Blasters supporter.
Media Blasters' offices are in a state of chaos this week in preparation for the release of Magic Knights Rayearth, but were still closely monitoring the situation.