Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Japanese movie review- Kamikaze girls

Kamikaze girls is a 110+ minutes long movie based on a light novel by Novala Takemoto. It was translated into english, made into a movie and manga.

The story takes place in Shimotsuma, a rural town in Japan. The novel was originally titled 'Shimotsuma story'. It begins with a girl named Momoko (played by Kyoko Fukada), a gothic lolita on her way to Tokyo to buy gothic lolits clothes. She is realistic and doesn't believe inf riendship. She wishes that she was born in France in Rococo era. She is told by locals that the local supermarket sells cheap clothes but she considers those clothes inferior. She travels to Tokyo (which is a long way from Shimotsuma) just to buy gothic lolita clothes from her favourite designer- Baby, the stars shine bright. While waiting at the station, she tells the story of her strange childhood. She was born to a cowardly gang member and a flirtateous woman. Since her earliest days, she learned to accept life as it came and analyze human psychology. She realises that human beings deceive others because they seek happiness. When she was in middle school, her mother divorced her father. She discovered her fancy for gothic lolits clothing when she began high school. Her father ran a popular fake designer clothes business which collapsed due to legal issues. Now, he is penniless and she lives with her grandmother who was in a bike gang.

Gothic lolita clothes are expensive so, after her father's bankrupcy, she decides to sell his fake clothes secretly. She posts information about it on a site and a girl who is interested in those clothes immediately responds. On meeting her, Momoko realises that Ichiko (played by Anna Tsuchiya) is a delinquent in a popular bike gang in Shimotsuma. Momoko is comepletely different from Momoko who is polite and sophisticated. Momoko spits often, talks too much, uses inappropriate language, is simple minded, picks up fights easily but is naive and pure at heart. After buying a coat at a super low price, Ichiko starts coming to Momoko's house everyday. A series of events follows and Ichiko and Momoko become good friends despite their differences in attitude.
Momoko is good at all the things Ichigo wants to do like being cool, winning at pachinko, fighting etc. Ichigo tells Momoko about Akimi, the gang leader. Ichigo was a timid girl in junior high who was often bullied. One day while crying, she met Akimi who changed her life. She decided to join the motorcycle gang (although she reides a scooter). Akimi gets married to Ichigo;s first love and Momoko comes to console her. In the end, Momoko becomes a part time worker for her favourite saloon, Baby, the stars shine bright and Ichiko leaves the gang and becomes a sole biker. She also becomes a famous model for some time. They stay friends forever.

A nice movie about friendship. Anna Tsuchiya fits well into the role. Kyoko Fukada acts okay but the role didn't fit her too well. The character development is believable and the story manages to convince the viewer of the power of their friendship in just about two hours. Some movies go on for three hours and still never manage to convince the viewer of what is being depicted (especially romantic relationships). The costumes were nice. Kyoko Fukada could've used more make up. She looked plain. Anna Tsuchiya was looking good with that dark lipstick and coloured hair. Both acted fairly well. It depicts japanese pop culture and sub cultures like lolita, yanki and yakuza. Westerners might find all this difficult to understand.

The story is fictitious and very obviously so. Lots of things in the story are unrealistic. Some comical scenes, family stories, state of school are unrealistic and the viewer knows that they cannot be true. The backgrounds could've been better. Some scenes were grotesque. Asthetics was lacking. The costumes were good. They should've been complemented by good side characters and backdrops. The side characters were especially unrealistic. Comedy in the series was limited. It had more feelings of friendship, trust and emotions like that.

The ending unlike most tragic japanese movies (taiyou no uta, crying out love in the middle of the world, Ring series, yomigaeri and an endless list) was happy.  But it leaves me uncertain about their future. I liked the way the screenwriter gave Ichigo a lucrative job. Modelling fitted her well. But she quits and becomes a biker. Although that was what she always wanted to do, it leaves the viewer uncertain about her future. It is not a decent occupation. How long can she be a biker? There is some childishness and immaturity here. It perfectly fits into the category 'chick flick' animed at slightly younger audience.

Overall, an enjoyable movie. Not all that memorable and touching or comic but wonderful for light entertaiment. A good movie to enjoy when there's nothing to do or share with friends.

Acting- 4.1/5
Music- 3.4/5
Story- 4.5/5
Overall- 4.2/5

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