Kamikaze Girls

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Kamikaze Girls
Kamikaze Girls Novel.jpg
Cover of the English paperback version of the Kamikaze Girls novel
(Shimotsuma Monogatari)
GenreComedy, drama[1]
Light novel
Written byNovala Takemoto
Published byShogakukan
English publisherViz Media
PublishedSeptember 2002 (2002-09)[2]
Live-action film
Directed byTetsuya Nakashima
Written byTetsuya Nakashima
Music byYoko Kanno
  • May 13, 2004 (2004-05-13) (Cannes)
  • May 29, 2004 (2004-05-29) (Japan)
Runtime102 minutes
Written by
Published byShogakukan
English publisherViz Media
ImprintFlower Comics
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and manga portal

Kamikaze Girls, originally released in Japan as Shimotsuma Monogatari: Yankī-chan to Rorīta-chan (下妻物語 ヤンキーちゃんとロリータちゃん, "Shimotsuma Story: Yankī Girl and Lolita Girl"),[3][4] is a 2002 Japanese light novel written by Novala Takemoto. The story centers on the friendship between two students, Momoko Ryugasaki and Ichigo "Ichiko" Shirayuri, who are from completely different backgrounds: one is a Lolita-fashioned girl and the other, her antithesis, is a yankī (juvenile delinquent). Viz Media licensed the novel for an English-language release in North America in 2006.[5][6]

A live-action film adaptation of the novel directed by Tetsuya Nakashima premiered in Japan in May 2004. It starred Kyoko Fukada as Momoko and Anna Tsuchiya as Ichigo.[7] It was filmed in the town of Shimotsuma in Ibaraki Prefecture in eastern Japan. Viz Media screened the film in select theaters in the United States in late 2005 under the title Kamikaze Girls.[8] They released it on DVD with hardcoded English subtitles in January 2006.[9] The DVD extras include the original Japanese movie trailers, an interview with the lead actors, and a music video featuring Anna Tsuchiya. Third Window Films released Kamikaze Girls on Blu-ray in the United Kingdom in February 2010. The Blu-ray contains optional English subtitles, the same extras as the DVD, and the short film Birth of Unicorn Ryuji.[10]

A manga series based on the novel was illustrated by Yukio Kanesada and serialized in Shogakukan's Betsucomi magazine in 2004. The chapters were later collected into a single tankōbon (bound volume) published under Shogakukan's Flower Comics imprint. Viz Media licensed the manga for an English-language release in North America in 2006.


The book begins with Momoko talking about her life as a lolita living in a small town in the Japanese countryside. She is the only lolita in her town and has no friends, but she doesn't care and believes that her lolita clothes are all she needs to make her happy. When she runs out of money though she becomes obsessed with getting clothes from Baby, The Stars Shine Bright, her favourite clothing boutique. She decides to sell some of her father's old bootleg clothes. When Ichigo, a member of an all-girl biker gang finds out about the bootleg apparel, she decides to take a look and is easily impressed with them. She soon shows up at Momoko's house almost daily to buy stuff for the members of her gang. They become closer friends and embark on a journey to Baby, The Stars Shine Bright, where Momoko meets the brand's designer. Because of her skill with embroidery, she is recruited to embroider a dress. At a pachinko parlour, Ichigo meets a gangster with a pompadour and falls in love. However, she soon discovers that he is the fiancée of her gang leader.

Heartbroken by the loss of her first love and inspired by Momoko's independence, Ichigo plans to leave her gang. In order to do this, she accepts their "challenge" which involves a ritualistic beating. Momoko finds out about the challenge and goes to Ichigo's aid. After scaring the gang by pretending to be the daughter of a famous gangster, Momoko is considered the winner and the two girls ride off laughing.

When it comes time for Momoko to show the designer her embroidery, she arrives on time and everyone loves her work. Ultimately, she decides she is happier wearing the clothing than making it. As for Ichigo, she is offered to work as a model for Baby, The Stars Shine Bright after she impresses a cameraman. On her first day of work, she leaves bruises on five of the crew members but nonetheless becomes sought after by other brands. The movie ends with an image of Momoko and Ichigo riding along the road and laughing.


Like most films, much film interpretation focuses on editing, sound, and mise-en-scene elements characteristic of Nakashima's Japanese film style, with special focus on the clothing.[11]


The entire movie, the two main characters are framed on opposite sides of the shot, with the majority having Momo on the right side and Ichigo on the left—there is usually some visual barrier between them. When Momo offers to embroider Ichigo's jacket, it is the first such scene where Momo is the one to go through the barrier separating these two (in this scene: the doorframe). In the final battle scene, Momo for the first time crosses over the boundary separating the two, symbolizing their evolved relationship and having picked up part of Ichigo's aggressive personality for the first time.


Throughout Kamikaze Girls, Nakishima uses different sonic techniques to foreshadow and mirror how Ichigo and Momoko's personalities develop due to one another's influences. Timbre and energy in voice highlight how their personalities morph over the movie, discordance in sound highlights different personal catalysts for change in the girls’ lives, and the emotional effect of specifically silenced acoustic elements like sound or music add to the emotional impact of the girls’ respective transformations. There are three scenes in the movie that are good examples of this: the restaurant scene and Ichigo's backstories, the first pachinko visit's conclusion, and the final contrastive moment when Momo saves Ichigo.

The restaurant scene establishes sonic dissonance as a motif symbolizing change of personality (33:30). When Ichigo realizes she has had enough of the domestic piano and bullied independence as a child, she smashes the piano keys in a discordant way—continuing grating sobbing till Akimi picks her up, and establishes Ichigo's sense of identity. When Momo says how she really feels about the embroiderer's existence, Ichigo headbutts her into a disconcerting crash of silverware, creating a sense of discontinuity that hints to the non-existence of Himiko and inconsistency in Ichigo's stories. Jarring and disconcerting tones thus come to be associated with change, and recur later with the gong.

The scene after Pachinko (43:23) continues to demonstrate Momoko's independent-mindedness and Ichigo's usual sense of justice through sound. From the start of the movie, Momoko's feminine squeals are overlaid with playful piano sounds, and Ichigo's gruff yelling is punctuated by motorcycle roaring and rock music blasting, setting the stage for sound driven contrasts throughout the movie. In front of the pachinko parlor the first time, these qualities are exaggerated: Momo makes her voice even shriller and more mocking as she calls “Ichigo-san!”, and Ichigo takes a gruffer tone and becomes more violent with her, eventually leading to a comedic Foley kick and thud on the concrete.

Having defined these as the extremes of their personalities, it is a jarring shift when it swaps (1:28:01). In the late scene where Momo saves Ichigo, Momoko screams across three cuts when Ichigo's blood splatters on her, each time changing pitch as the camera cuts to a different distance, to emphasize the jarringness. Soon, her style and inner feelings are confirmed through the constant Roccoco-style piano in the background, while her exterior persona morphs to swing and scream at the gang. Loud gongs emphasize shocks in both the audience and the gang, and create dissonance to doubly underscore the massive strength and selflessness that Momoko has finally picked up from Ichigo.

Through the film, sonic tools underpin audience realization of personality changes of Momo and Ichigo. Dissonance is used as a tool to symbolize personality change, especially Ichigo becoming more independent during the restaurant. Voice timbres and pitches emphasize certain personality traits of the two girls, and both dissonance and timbres combine in the final battle to herald Momo's first major change in her act of support for Ichigo.



Live-action film[edit]




The manga adaptation of Kamikaze Girls was illustrated by Yukio Kanesada and serialized in Shogakukan's Betsucomi magazine in 2004.[12] Shogakukan collected the chapters into a single tankōbon (bound volume) published in June of that year.[13] The manga's storyline is a condensed version of the original novel and only takes up about half of the volume; the latter half contains a bonus story in which Ichigo falls in love with the twin brother of the boy she loved in the novel. Viz Media licensed the manga for an English-language release in North America.[9] A preview first appeared in the November 2005 issue of their Shojo Beat magazine.[citation needed] Viz published the full volume on February 7, 2006.[9][14]


Critical response[edit]

Kamikaze Girls was awarded Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, and two other awards at the 26th Yokohama Film Festival.[8] It also won Best Film and Best Director at the 14th Japan Film Professional Awards.[15] For her performance in the film, Anna Tsuchiya was named Best New Actress at the Awards of the Japanese Academy, the Blue Ribbon Awards, and the Hochi Film Awards.[16][17][18]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives Kamikaze Girls an approval rating of 62%, based on 29 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10.[19] The film also has a 56/100 average ("mixed or average reviews") on the review aggregator Metacritic.[20]

Box office[edit]

Released on May 29, 2004, Kamikaze Girls debuted at No. 4 on its opening weekend (behind Crimson Rivers II, Troy, and Crying Out Love in the Center of the World).[21]


  1. ^ "The Official Website for Kamikaze Girls". Viz Media. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  2. ^ 下妻物語―ヤンキーちゃんとロリータちゃん: 嶽本 野ばら: 本. ASIN 4093861129.
  3. ^ "Shimotsuma Story". novala2.quilala.jp (in Japanese). Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  4. ^ "Novala". novala2.quilala.jp (in Japanese). Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  5. ^ Macdonald, Christopher (June 4, 2005). "Viz to Publish Novels". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  6. ^ "Kamikaze Girls Novel". Viz Media. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  7. ^ 下妻物語. Kotobank (in Japanese). The Asahi Shimbun Company. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  8. ^ a b "VIZ Media to Release Kamikaze Girls Theatrically" (Press release). Anime News Network. August 5, 2005. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c "VIZ Media to Debut Live Action Film Kamikaze Girls" (Press release). Anime News Network. June 7, 2005. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Kamikaze Girls". Third Window Films. Retrieved May 14, 2010.
  11. ^ "'Kamikaze' pilots into teen emotions". Los Angeles Times. September 16, 2005. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  12. ^ [かねさだ雪緒]まんが家Web Talk. Betsucomi (in Japanese). April 13, 2004. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019.
  13. ^ 下妻物語 (フラワーコミックス) (in Japanese). ASIN 409130009X.
  14. ^ "Kamikaze Girls Manga". Viz Media. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  15. ^ "第14回日本映画プロフェッショナル大賞". nichi-pro.filmcity.jp. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  16. ^ "第28回日本アカデミー賞".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ allcinema. "2004年 第47回 ブルーリボン賞 受賞結果 映画データベース". allcinema (in Japanese). Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  18. ^ "過去の受賞一覧 | 表彰-報知映画賞". 報知新聞社 (in Japanese). Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  19. ^ "Kamikaze Girls". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  20. ^ "Kamikaze Girls Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  21. ^ "国内映画ランキング(2004年5月29日~2004年5月30日)". 映画.com (in Japanese). Retrieved June 7, 2021.

External links[edit]