Kamikaze Girls

Japan, 2004
Original title: Shimotsuma monogatari
Director: Tetsuya Nakashima
Starring: Kyoko Fukada, Anna Tsuchiya, Eiko Koike
IMDB: 7.5

Kamikaze Girls Stars actress, model and singer Kyoko Fukada (Ringu 2, Dolls) as Momoko, an irrepressibly cute loner who dresses in the French Rococo style (albeit with platform boots) and only eats sweet foods so she can be sweet through and through.

She lives with her father who makes his living selling popular 'Versach' ripoff clothing.


While helping him with the family business, she meets Ichigo played by singer, model and actress Anna Tsuchiya (The Taste of Tea, Memories of Matsuko, Dororo). Ichigo is a member of a local bike gang, and rides around on her highly customised scooter wearing sunglasses and a major attitude.

Despite being polar opposites, the two girls gradually become friends as Ichigo comes to realise that being truly rebellious does not involve joining a gang, but in having the courage to be yourself.


This film is visually spectacular ... I can't wait to see director Tetsuya Nakashima's latest effort, Memories of Matsuko (now reviewed here). Lead character Momoko is quirky and adorable, and is joined by a cast of similarly interesting characters - giving the film a similar feel to Amelie. The cinematography is top notch - with a highly stylised colour palette, unusual camera angles, and moments of surrealism completing the Amelie metaphor.


There are moments of laugh-out loud humour, and the characters are all likeable - making this a movie you should definitely check out. The only downside was the somewhat trite ending which knocks my rating down from an 8.5 to a 7.5. Still, Kamikaze Girls was thoroughly enjoyable and a must-see for fans of quirky Japanese cinema.


Story: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10
Weirdness: 7/10

Overall: 7.5/10. A finely made film, beautiful to look at, and laugh-out-loud funny in parts. Also Kyoko Fukada is very, very cute.


Lanza said...

Well written article.

Systematicer said...

Oh, you actually posted a review for this. Aw, what's so wrong with the ending that the film deserves to have a whole point removed off the score?

I didn't realize that Anna Tsuchiya was in 'Memories of Matsuko' but as "Prisoner C" her role couldn't have been too substantial so i probably don't have to feel ashamed that I didn't spot her.

I really liked her performance/character in this. It's an interesting version of the tough girl. Dimwitted, energetic and overly defensive, always ready to deliver a headbutt whenever somebody says something about her that she doesn't like hearing. And never without a chewing gum to make her look like she don't care 'bout nothin'. She's maybe the most likable poser since Ali G.


Yeah this was one of my earliest reviews actually, written a number of years ago - but from memory I didnt particularly like the final fight scene. I felt it was a little too cliche and ham-fisted in getting its feel-good message across. Plus the supposed 'bad girls' in the bike gang were not at all convincing.

I guess I just prefer things a bit more offbeat and surreal, like much of the rest of the movie.

Systematicer said...

The gang not being convincing WAS the offbeat part ;) All the rebellious, supposedly badass characters were ridiculous, I guess that was kind of the point, to show that all those "tough" chicks identified themselves just as much through their fashion - whether they liked to admit it or not - but that ultimately it's nothing but an exterior and an image that doesn't necessarily reflect who you are at all. And so they all get beat up by a girl in a Rococo dress and perfectly manicured fingernails. Feel-good ending? Yes. But I also find it plenty offbeat.


Yeah the ridiculous characters were intentional of course, absolutely. But the other caricatures in the movie worked for me, while that scene just didn't so much. Still, a great movie - and the director's work since has been consistently impressive.

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