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October 2017

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curiosity

"Kamikaze Girls" (2005)

I watched this Japanese movie (with English subtitles) on the recommendation of gordon92151).

Momoko Ryugasaki (Kyoko Fukada) is a "Sweet Lolita". That is she likes to dress up like a Victorian baby doll. I near as I can tell this is the cultural equivalent of being an teenage Furry in the US. She makes friends with Ichigo Shirayuri (Anna Tschiya) a member of a girl biker gang. It's more like "Freaks and Geeks" than the typical US Good Girl/Bad Girl movie. They are both outsiders seeking comfort in subcultures.

It reminds me of "Tank Girl" meets "Amelie". Quick cuts, animation, surrealism. It's a strange movie. From the title I expected something a bit more depressing and nihilistic. The opening scene also gave that impression, but it's really an uplifting story about an unlikely friendship.

It is interesting that Momoko associates the baby-doll dresses with 18th century French Rococo and hedonistic excess but is completely chaste. In the US that sort of dress is associated with childlike purity, and mostly worn by male cross dressers. (OK, maybe my sample is biased)

Comments

I'm glad you liked it. It really is charming. Other Japanese movies I really like are Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald, Ping Pong
and Shall We Dance . There is an American version of Shall We Dance was made but it isn't very good. It really didn’t translate well. One of the main plot points of the movie was that ball room dancing was not generally socially acceptable so the man had a reason to keep it private. That’s just not true in America. I highly recommend all of these and if you’re in the mood for something really weird, there’s Tampopo, a surrealistic cult classic. Not violent, just very, very strange.
Thanks for the list. My queue is full right now so I will have to wait to add these. I was looking for another strange Japanese movie about a family that runs a hotel. But all I can remember is that it is surreal, people die, and it has song and dance numbers.