Mezzo Forte: Director’s Cut
Directed by Yasuomi Umetsu
One of the more acclaimed and controversial anime of recent years is Yasuomi Umetsu’s Kite. The graphic sex and wildly over the top violence in a thinly disguised clone of La Femme Nikita helped make Kite quite popular. Basically the same elements are at work again in Umetsu’s new work, Mezzo Forte.
On the surface, Mikura seems quite a bit like Kite’s anti-heroine, Sawa. She is part of a small hit squad headed by an ex-cop, who gets into much more than she bargained for when they kidnap the owner of a baseball team. They didn’t count on his homicidal maniac daughter. Lots of bullets fly, blood flows, people get hands jabbed through their hands all done in Umetsu’s incomparable style. His character design, to my taste, is on par with Yoshitoshi Abe (Lain). It’s a far cry from the stereotype of the huge-eyed, tiny mouth look of so much anime. Although by Western standards, the animation is somewhat limited, the look is so striking that it more than makes up for the occasional lapses in movement.
Even though in movies like this story is somewhat secondary, the lack of story is rather disappointing here. There are hints at bigger things such as possible double crosses, ESP, and repressed sexual desires, as well as the history of the main characters. These are hinted at but never explored, and tend to make the overall experience a little disappointing. Also, the sex scenes in this unedited version seem strangely out of place. The violence is graphic and somewhat absurd, but the two sex scenes are both rapes and both very graphic. If you are the least bit squeamish about this sort of thing, stay far away from Mezzo Forte. One almost wishes that they had been cut and a little more plot and character history added; it could have made Mezzo Forte much more memorable. But even these complaints aside, Mezzo Forte is industrial strength eye candy you can’t turn away from.