Most probably, it's because I was hypnotized by all the frills on the Baby dresses, but I love the manga. So when I stumbled upon the video, despite not liking female-bonding stories (Thelma & Louis scarred me for life), I unhesitatingly watched it.
Ami's Rating: 3/5 stars
One thing I love about japanese dramas and movies, they don't hesitate to use any kind of visuals to put their messages across. I find it refreshing that they simply ignore all thoughts of the discomfort they may cause their viewers with their unconventional method of story-telling and, in so doing, skip all the beating about the bush and convey every detail with clarity. At one point, I was wondering whether they'll combine some animated characters with live action. You know.. like, making Himiko come into the frame and talk to her followers... or something.
Suspend all disbelief and delve into the world of Momoko & Ichiko.
Kamikaze Girls is a self-indulgent story that tracks the not-quite-friends-but-definitely-something-special relationship of two girls from very different worlds. Momoko Ryugasaki (Kyoko Fukada), a Lolita girl, and Ichigo "Ichiko" Shirayuri (Anna Tsuchiya), a Yanki, met in very bizarre circumstances that can be tracked back to Momoko's father's life before he even knew her mother. Strangely, it was the Yanki who keeps coming back to the Lolita at first, a gesture that exposes us to Ichiko's (or Ichigo as Momoko prefers to call her) warm and generous nature.
Or probably it's Momoko's seeming indifference to her surrounding, which seems to Ichiko as an act of defiance and courage, is the magnet that pulls the rebellious Ichiko closer and closer to her. In her absolute determination and pride to live as she wants, be as solitary as she wants, dresses as she wants... Momoko represents the spirit of freedom that Ichiko has never been able to capture in all the years she is in the biker gang, Pony Tail. This is made obvious in the admiration she expresses towards Momoko during an argument with her gang members:
Momoko always relied upon herself, believed in rules she made by herself, compared with you (Pony Tail members) who can't do a thing without a group, you're not even in the same ball park, idiots!
The departure of the leader whom Ichogo idolized is the turning point for her as Pony Tail changes into an organization that craves for structure and regulations, the very things that Ichigo has always tried to step away from. Her speech about it during the punishment scene hits the nail on the head:
We gather from all over, wasn't it to get away from the so-called "face value" and "common sense"? Now, saying things like "it's decided and you'll do what you're told", "it's the rule and therefore must be obeyed" etc., how is this different from the world we escaped from?
Momoko, on the other hand, is made to look like such a facile character that she would call the dressmaker of her favourite brand (Baby, The Stars Shine Bright) her God, may seem to be an uncomplicated and simple-minded girl to the viewers if not for some of her uncommon insights that she dispenses liberally, namely to her mother and Ichigo, whenever she feels like it. When you hear her version of 'the truth as Momoko sees it', you'll realize that within the world everyone knows and lives in, Momoko has built her own world that only she can see and understand.
I don't think she's built it out of her desire to protect herself from pain or to run away from reality, though. It's just that, to Momoko, her world makes more sense and therefore more livable, that's all. Which is why, before Ichiko forces her to venture out of it by literally dragging her all over the place searching for the legendary embroiderer who doesn't exist, she has always talked to people around her as if she's an outsider looking in.
I find nothing pitiable in the way both girls have lived their lives before their encounter, nor afterwards with Momoko still undecided about her stint at Baby and Ichiko aimlessly riding her moped up and down the Shimotsuma road. On the contrary, it made me think.. ah, so we can live like this too and still have value(?). I always call that kind of vagabond lifestyle: 'lounging around waiting to die'.. but I guess I've been conditioned by the society to accept 'our way or the highway' lifestyle for far too long.
In another lifetime, I would have felt depressed at the ending of this movie. It's the kind of story I've always avoided in the past... open-ended, conclusion-less, and anticlimactic. But in my present frame of mind, I rather welcome the uncertainty and the question marks Kamikaze Girls throw at me at the end.
About the main leads:
Kyoko Fukada - my most enduring onscreen memories of her are when she gave Gackt that puppy bag for his birthday on Domoto Kyoudai and the topless tomboy princess trembling in Mansai Nomura's arms during a scene in Onmyouji II. Her kawaii image belies the fact that she is a very hard-working actress, as can be seen from her wiki.
Anna Tsuchiya - I encountered her magnetic onscreen presence in Sakuran. If you haven't watched that movie, you're missing out a lot on japanese culture *cough*. She's also a singer, and reading her wiki made me think that this girl has lived 10 times my lifetime at her age.