Kamikaze Girls

Recently, I got into a conversation with a nice bloke from Third Window Films. I explained that, when it came to Japanese movies, I really only knew Ghibli movies. I felt like it was time for something new, but I had no idea where to begin. He recommended Kamikaze Girls.

(Amazon)

That was probably the best film recommendation I have ever had. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this crazy, cartoon-ish movie, and I would highly recommend it to other girls as a way in to Japanese films. (I’m not saying guys wouldn’t enjoy it, but I think it might be more of a girls’ movie.)

Kamikaze Girls is the story of a bizarre friendship between Lolita Momoko and Yanki Ichigo (see the official site’s culture page for more on the terms Lolita and Yanki). It’s a friendship that shouldn’t work but, perhaps because of their differences (or maybe because of their similarities), they discover they need each other.

One small detail which had me sold from the first few frames of the film was that it is mostly set in Ushiku in Ibaraki Prefecture. The Ushiku Daibutsu (which I’ve mentioned a number of times on this site) features prominently, and seeing it suddenly pop up in the movie only made me more determined to go and see it for myself someday.

If you’re interested in Harajuku/Tokyo fashion, in particular Lolita fashion, you’ll also love this movie. The character Momoko is crazy about the Lolita brand Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, and you get to see a lot of beautiful dresses and accessories.

Although Kamikaze Girls is crazy, off-beat, and sometimes very violent (although it’s only rated 12), it’s also very touching. It’s a story of independence and friendship – it’s a story of life.

Watch the trailer here, and see what you think:

Kamikaze Girls (下妻物語 / Shimotsuma Monogatari /Shimotsuma Story) was a 2002 light novel by Novala Takemoto, which was adapted into a manga and a film (directed by Tetsuya Nakashima, starring Anna Tsuchiya and Kyoko Fukada). The movie was premiered in 2004, and subsequently released in the UK and US. For more information, please check out the Third Window Films website or the official Kamikaze Girls website.

(Third Window Films)

6 thoughts on “Kamikaze Girls

  1. Another more recent film by the same director is ‘Confessions’ .. but be prepared for a far more darker, disturbing tale.

    Four other Japanese films I’d highly recommend are:

    Fine, Totally Fine

    Funuke

    Kakera

    and
    Instant Swamp.

    If you would like a good intro into modern ‘slice of life’ Japanese films, these are all great ones.

    There is one final film I’d recommend, it is based on a true story of some children being abandoned by their mother and left to fend for themselves, but it is also incredibly sad.. so be prepared for that.. and that film is:

    Nobody Knows.

    I hope you enjoy this selection! 🙂

    Like

  2. Confessions? Is that Kohaku? I heard about that. Not sure it’s for me…

    I have Instant Swamp to watch next. It looks great!!

    Thank you very much for the recommendations! 🙂

    Like

    • Yes, it’s ‘Kokuhaku’. I have to say I really enjoyed it, as the camera work is very beautifully done .. but, yes, it’s a disturbing insight into what can only be described as ‘childhood insanity’ Japanese style.

      Perhaps insanity might be too strong a word, but some very disturbed young people, indeed.

      I hope you like Instant Swamp as it is one of my faves, a charming tale and a few nods to Japanese mythical folklore, which I am fascinated by.

      Another few recommendations, if you don’t mind me doing, are:

      Memories of Matsuko (director Tetsuya Nakashima – Kamikaze Girls)

      Cyborg She – clever, charming film about love across time travel.

      and

      Time Traveller – the live action film adapted from the anime ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’.

      There’s so many more, but I hope these few are enough to keep you going for a while!

      … and of course, there is the late, great director Kurosawa Akira.. but he is one to explore a bit later perhaps. 🙂

      Like

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