The Movie Buffer

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Kamikaze Girls


May contain trace amounts of spoilers


Kamikaze Girls is a story about the two girls with big dreams and their struggles to succeed. Momoko, the one that dresses up in gothic "Lolita" style clothes, wants to live like the French did in the Baroque age. She spends her time eating only the sweetest sweets and practicing the fine art of needlepoint. Ichigo, the punk-rock school girl, wants to live a life free from the oppression of other people's expectations. These two unlikely characters meet up in a small town called, Shimotsuma, and their saga begins. Throughout the film the unlikely pair run into situations that are unlike anything they would have thought possible and as a tag team they break down the walls they had erected to protect themselves from the outside world.

The first thing I noticed about this movie is the title. I don't know why Viz chose this one. It's flawed in several ways: There are no planes involved, No divine winds, and there are no suicides. Furthermore, they left the original japanese title in the credits and it is much better, "The Legend of Shimotsuma". Also, kamikaze girls as translated by the average guy may end up as "Suicide girls" and that whole can of worms is opened. Bad form Viz.

Though the Engligh title may lead you to believe that this is a drama, don't be fooled. This is a comedy through and through. There are scenes with some slapstick, others with wordplay and other with just funny japanese in jokes. I watched the film with two friend who aren't japanese and they seemed relatively please with the funniness of the film. Lots of jokes at the expense of the consumerism and the classes in Japanese society.

The film's director, Tetsuya Nakashima, uses several different styles troughout the film to capture the eclectic content of the film. There are all kinds of different techniques such as anime sequence, overexposed/underexposed shots, and flashbacks. If you are easily annoyed by these techiques then this movie is not for you because they happen throughout and without warning.

The two lead actresses, Kyoko Fukada(momoko) and Anna Tsuchiya(Ichigo) are great at portraying their characters though they are relatively new to the acting scene. Though, most of their conversations end in a shouting match, which at a high pitched Japanese squeal can grate at some nerves, or drop kicks to the back, the dialogue is great.

The musical score was excellent. Since both of the girls are considered "idols" in japan, this means that they act, sing and dance, many of the songs that are played are their own. Sort of a cross promotional kind of thing. But it wasn't intrusive at all.

The only flaws in the film were minor. A couple of the secondary characters seemed tacked on for cheap laughs and the feverish pace sometimes lead to contradictions. But this movie is easy to forgive because is just hilarious to watch.

As a whole the movie was quite impressive, but from a guy that has spent extended periods of time in Japan and watching japanese films it was pretty typical. I'm going to give this film a 7.5 out of 10 or 3.5 stars. It was fun to watch but there was nothing too outstanding.

Constantly moving plot line, doesn't get bogged down
Comedy is great for a Japanese flick
Visual style is nothing like a hollywood or american movie

When cute Japanese girls scream their voices become really annoying
Secondary characters are lost because everything changes throughout the film
Title is utter garbage


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