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Light Novel / Kamikaze Girls

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A Japanese novella by Novala Takemoto, Kamikaze Girls (Shimotsuma Monogatari) is the odd tale of sweet lolita Momoko Ryugasaki. When her father, a small-time gangster, gets in trouble for bootlegging counterfeit Versace with the Universal Studios Japan logo, the two are forced to move to rural Shimotsuma, Ibaraki... which, to Momoko's considerable chagrin, doesn't have a single Lolita brand store.

Unable to find her Rococo zen, Momoko tries to sell some of her father's Versace products for cash and ends up friends with yanki girl Ichigo "Ichiko" Shirayuri, who's a bit slow, a bit rough, and has a taste for tacky bootleg Versace. Despite Momoko's initial dismay, the two become an inseparable pair, and soon embark on a quest to find the legendary embroiderer Emma.

Charming and filled with pop culture references, it's told from Momoko's frequently selfish and straightforward first-person voice. There's an excellent English translation by Masumi Washington, a comedy movie adaptation featuring Kyoko Fukada as Momoko (for which she won best actress at the Yokohama Film Festival) and Anna Tsuchiya as Ichiko, as well as a manga adaptation being published by Viz. Recommended for anyone with an interest in Slice of Life, Japanese pop culture, and stories about friendship.


Kamikaze Girls provides examples of:

  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Western viewers unfamiliar with modern Japanese pop-culture would be surprised that Lolita fashion is not only a well-established trend long before the novel came out, but also that Baby The Stars Shine Bright is an actual, successful store popular within the fashion community, making it shocking that Momoko declined a job offer as a designer there at the end.
  • Amazon Brigade: Ichiko's gang, the Ponytails.
  • Badass Longcoat: The Ponytails' kamikaze coats reach down to their ankles.
  • Ballet Episode: An original manga story features Ichiko, now a solo biker, having a fling with a ballet dancer.
  • Bifauxnen: Manga!Ichiko looks like quite the pretty boy.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The ending. In the book, when Ichiko is about to be punished by her gang for modeling in a fashion magazine, Momoko shows up in the nick of time, flings her scooter at them, then threatens them with water balloons, which the bikers believed were bombs. She succeeds in rescuing Ichiko. In the movie, she snaps when she is thrown in a puddle, and stands up and screams "Now you bitches have really PISSED ME OFF!" She then manages to completely scare them all shitless, and rescue Ichiko.
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  • Bishōnen: Just about every man under 40 in the manga. The movie, on the other hand, averts this entirely.
  • Book Dumb: Momoko's 1st impressions of Ichiko was this, mangliing proper speech and couldn't even write or read grade school kanji.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Just about every person in the movie. Even the main characters are more subdued versions.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Ichiko's typical manner of speech.
  • Delinquent: Ichiko is the archetypal Japanese delinquent (bike included).
  • Does Not Like Men:
    Momoko: The guy from Ibaraki wrote that he wanted a detailed description of the things I had, so could I give him a call? This letter, too, I decided to ignore...I cannot speak on the phone with an unfamiliar male. I even have trouble being friendly with familiar males. I think I have a slight case of androphobia. Or perhaps it's male aversion? I mean, guys are so dirty. And smelly. And crude. And just plain yucky.
    • Similiarly, Ichiko panics any time a male even so much as accidentally touches her.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Ichigo purposefully mispronounces her name as "Ichiko", and doesn't like to be called by her real name.
  • Dragged by the Collar: Momoko, by Ichiko and to the pachinko.
  • Dumb Blonde: Ichiko in the movie had bleached dyed hair, and not only cannot write at a high school level, but in her intro scene, spoke messed up Keigo so badly Momoko though she came from a period drama. Averted for Momoko, who also has bleached hair but is far more educated.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Ichiko considers her real name to be one.
  • Gainax Ending: It is unclear as to whether or not Momoko takes on the job offered by Baby The Stars Shine Bright. The movie makes it explicit that she doesn't.
  • Grammar Nazi: Momoko, especially around Ichiko.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Momoko, a relatively rare example of a very understated one.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: "Unicorn" Ryuji's pompadour in the live-action film.
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: Ichiko's gang, as stated in the movie.
  • Nonindicative Name: Okay, sit down for this. Ichiko is a tough biker chick; however, her full, real name, Ichigo Shirayuri, is incredibly sugary sweet, since in Japanese, "Ichigo" means "strawberry" and "Shirayuri" means "white lily." Momoko, on the other hand, has the more badass-sounding surname "Ryugasaki," roughly meaning "dragon peninsula," but the real clincher is her given name, "Momoko," which happens to be the name of the main character from a manga popular with bikers.
  • Jerkass: Momoko (a snotty priss who only cares about expensive clothes) and Ichiko (a rough Japanese delinquent), though after Character Development they're both Jerks With Hearts of Gold.
  • Kansai Regional Accent: Momoko's dad in the manga. Momoko flatly refuses to speak like her father because it "doesn't suit Lolitas."
  • Missing Mom: In the film, Momoko's mother divorced her dad and ran off with the male OBGYN who birthed her. An unusual version, in that Momoko more or less encouraged this, since she wanted to live with her dad, despite them both knowing she would be better off with the mother.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: A matching one for Momoko's Pimped-Out Dress
  • Pimped-Out Dress: All of Momoko's clothing is like this.
  • Running Gag: Ichiko's constant head-butting of Momoko as a retort to usually innocent questions.
  • Sarashi: Ichiko wears one under her biker jacket.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: In the novel, Ichiko, normally a rough-and-tumble sort who favors baggy pants and long coats, starts modeling for Baby, The Stars Shine Bright, the clothing label that Momoko buys all of her Pimped Out Dresses from. In the novel she's indifferent but in the movie she looks uncomfortable and out of place. She even ended up beating up half the camera crew on her first shot after a perverted cameraman came onto her.
  • Shrouded in Myth: A major theme.
  • Theme Naming: Momoko=peach, Ichigo=strawberry, and the manga gives us Raichi.
  • This Is Reality: This exchange from the novel, where Ichiko confronts her gang over her modeling gigs, which the gang disapproved of.
    Ichiko: Modeling messes with team discipline? Miki of the Skeletons in High-Teen Boogie was a biker, and she modeled on the side.
    Miko: Well that's a fucking manga and this is real life, okay?
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: We have a Lolita fashion fan and a deliquent.
  • Yakuza: Momoko's dad got into trouble with them, which forced them to move in with his mother.