Kamikaze Girls

Just to get it over with: the movie's title comes from the long coats that yankis, or Japanese  motorcycle-riding hooligans, wear (known as kamikaze coats), rather than it having to do with any sort of sacrificial suicide. 

Now that that's out of the way, the film revolves around two young teenaged Japanese girls who meet and against all odds become friends. Our viewpoint character is  Momoko, a lolita (a fashion culture of young girls who wear old fashioned frilly dresses), a bit of a loner and more than a little bit of a jerk despite her sweet demeanor, who wishes she could have been born in 18th-century France. She hates living in rural Japan, where her father and her moved after he was chased out of the big city for drawing too much attention to his selling of clumsily counterfeited Versace wares. Trying to make a little money, she puts an ad in a newspaper to sell some of the leftover counterfeit wares, and attractsa our second main character. Ichiko, a tough yanki girl who soon starts hanging around Momoko, even though Momoko herself seems to spend most of her time ignoring the crude, rude Ichiko.

The film as a whole is essentially a collection of vignettes, as the two girls begin to befriend each other, search for a legendary embroiderer to work on Ichiko's kamikaze jacket, consider what jobs they want, and deal with a coming incorporation of all the biker gangs in the province. It's very fast-paced and funny, and I found the whole story very enjoyable.

Kyoko Fukuda and Anna Tschuchiya as Momoko and Ichiko respectively are very well played. Fukuda is able to act so sweet and mild that it's only after a scene with her is over that you realize that she was a huge jerk in the scene. Tschuchiya is the exact opposite, seeming to be rough and rude but exposing  a wonderful tenderness as the story goes on.

The film, like most Japanese live action comedies I have seen, is unafraid to suddenly delve into the absurd. There are brief random interludes of animation (quite different from your typical anime as well), in one scene characters start acting like they're in a commercial, and more than once Momoko will rise in the air for no other reason than she's imagining she can fly. It all manages to stay within the tone of the movie, and rarely does it make the film into a Weird Japanese Thing.

All in all a very weird but very fun movie, and while Americans might not be able to understand all the cultural jokes, I would recommend this film to anyone interested at all in Japan or anyone who just wants to have a fun time. It's a great movie .    

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