Kamikaze Girls

Fruity and frankly forgettable, this colorful slice of contemporary Japanese pop culture is nevertheless a good introduction for anyone curious about the wilder side of Japanese street fashion. Momoko Ryugasaki (Kyoko Fukada) is infatuated with the rococo sensuality of 18th-century Versailles, espouses an amoral, unabashedly hedonistic worldview and favors...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Fruity and frankly forgettable, this colorful slice of contemporary Japanese pop culture is nevertheless a good introduction for anyone curious about the wilder side of Japanese street fashion. Momoko Ryugasaki (Kyoko Fukada) is infatuated with the rococo sensuality of 18th-century Versailles, espouses an amoral, unabashedly hedonistic worldview and favors the strange, "Lolita" style of dress that's become increasingly popular on the streets of Tokyo: smocked Alice in Wonderland jumpers, puffy crinolines, lacy bonnets, delicate parasols, chunky platform Mary Janes — ensembles that would make Holly Hobby look like a whore. Tragically, Momoko lives far from her favorite Lolita boutique, Tokyo's nutty Baby, the Stars Shine Bright (a real-life fashion house founded by designer Akinori Isobe). Momoko refuses to shop at the JUSCO superstore like everyone else in provincial Shimotusuma, where she lives with her flatulent father (Hiroyuki Miyasako), a low-level yakuza whose wife (Ryoko Shinohara) left him for the doctor who delivered Momoko, and her dotty grandmother (Kirin Kiki). Momoko instead travels all the way to Tokyo by bus and train to swoon over designer Isobe's latest creations. Unsurprisingly, Momoko's eccentric style isolates her from the rest of Shimotusuma, and that's just the way she likes it. When Ichigo (Anna Tsuchiya), a spitting, tough-talking member of the Pony Tails, an all-girl high-school biker gang, who styles herself according to the "yanki" code (dyed hair, penciled-on eyebrows, lavishly embroidered "kamikaze coats" and a live-fast, die-young thug attitude), comes crashing into Momoko's quiet life on a hot-pink scooter, Momoko wants no part of her. She does, however, agree to embroider Ichigo's coat for the wedding of the Pony Tails' leader, Akimi (Eiko Koike), and by offering Ichigo a huge discount Momoko makes a friend for life. Through their unlikely friendship Momoko learns to connect with others, while Ichigo overcomes the yanki clan mentality to become her own person. But true to the film's stylistic roots in shogo comics, the characters are so cartoonish — and in Momoko's case, less than likable — that it's hard to invest too much emotion in whether or not Momoko decides to put her impressive embroidery skills to work for Ichigo or to remain a happy consumer who lives to shop. But it's all done with such high style and whizzes along at such an exhausting pace that you probably won't have enough time to notice how little you care. (In Japanese, with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Fruity and frankly forgettable, this colorful slice of contemporary Japanese pop culture is nevertheless a good introduction for anyone curious about the wilder side of Japanese street fashion. Momoko Ryugasaki (Kyoko Fukada) is infatuated with the rococo… (more)

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