Kamikaze Girls: Special Edition (UK - DVD R2)
Our Marcus checked out a movie about embroidery and thought it was fun??!
Momoko Ryugasaki (Kyôko Fukada) fantasises of a better time, specifically 8th century Rococo France. After discovering her Lolita fashion look, a ray of light shines on her bleak world that consists of selling her father’s bootleg clothing and listening to her batty grandmother. Upon meeting biker girl Ichiko Shirayuri (Anna Tsuchiya), a friendship soon blossoms and Momoko’s life begins to take more adventurous steps.
Well this DVD release just supplied some of the most movie fun I’ve had so far this year. Kamikaze Girls probably shouldn’t work with its over the top nature, bright colours and delicate embroidery but as with many Japanese movies of this style, Kamikaze Girls somehow transcends all its zany constraints and provides a tale that just put a smile on my face and a spring in my step.
A large part of the movie's success is down to the two cool-beans leads. The visuals of Kyôko Fukada’s Momoko, in her frilly dress, high socks and crazy ass platforms is immediately cute and her little innocent faced reactions and smiles to camera just make her adorable. Anna Tsuchiya’s Ichiko is a great tonal opposite to Momoko, with her snarls, spitting and shirt and tie punky schoolgirl attitude, but as is the way of things, this somehow strengthens the belief in the friendship and makes for great interactions between the two.
Now, I’m not saying the story is much to write home about and once it gets going it’s predictable as hell but the storytelling style, with its voiceovers, flash cuts and even animated cutaways just make it all play out with a grin and an infectious charm that makes it very easy to go along with. In fact I watched this with my daughter, and even though it wasn’t her first step into Japanese cinema it was her first fully subtitled movie and she had a whale of time with it, rounding up her feelings on the whole zany adventure by simply saying ‘those girls were well cool’ (trust me that’s one hell of a seal of approval).
For such a colourful and generally visually playful movie it's a damn shame that the transfer isn’t strong enough to celebrate it. There’s a fairly pleasing rusty glow to most shots but with the grain, compression issues and overall softness to the image it’s just thoroughly underwhelming and even a little bit of a disaster.
Some of Momoko’s brightly coloured dresses and the purple and reds of the biker gang’s jackets can look okay, especially when bathed in natural sunlight but skin tones and scene lighting can look unnatural or washed out and many of the interior scenes fairly drab, showing off the limitations of the film's budget.
Where music and dialogue are working independently they are actually presented quite well in the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but where they arrive together the music can really feel restrained and really struggles to have an effective presence.
There’s occasional noticeable ambience to the scenes, especially when in city streets but everything really comes down to strong dialogue in the front speakers and punky/rocky/wacky/surfer tune/sickly sweet music in the rears and not much else.
All the extras sitting on disc two, with the main feature being forty minute making of. This is playful and is made up of on-set footage and cast and director interviews (all of which were pretty interesting). It has a lot of insight into the origins of the story and the choices made but really isn’t that far from the norm with these sorts of things.
The ‘Japanese Trailer’ (01:58) sits separately from the sixteen other Third Window release trailers and the ‘Anna Tsuchiya Music Video’ (03:19) is typical bat shit crazy as is the ‘Unicorn: Ryuji Short Film' (11:01) featuring the dude with the mental Elvis style haircut.
Rounding up, there’s a few alternative takes in the ‘Work Print Footage’ (04:51) and a batch of other interview reels with director Tetsuya Makeshima (3:52) and our leads Fukada and Tsuchiya (07:00)
Fun, fun, fun and more fun all wrapped up in a pretty dress. The Kamikaze Girls story, which revolves around friendship, biker gangs and embroidery, may not be for everyone but it put a grin on my face and I would happily watch some more adventures with the two lead characters.
The two disc special edition ain’t that special on the audio front and less so in the video department, but there’s a good batch of extras and they feature some more fun times with the cast and crew.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 8th February 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 Japense, Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese
Extras: Making of, Trailers, Interviews, Music Video, Short Film, Work Print Footage
Easter Egg: No
Director: Tetsuya Nakashima
Cast: Kyoko Fukada, Anna Tsuchiya, Hiroyuki Miyasako
Genre: Adventure, Comedy and Drama
Length: 102 minutes
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