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By Greg Bellavia | June 20, 2005

Fluff. The cinematic equivalent of too much cotton candy Tetsuya Nanashima’s “Kamikaze Girls” is a hyperkinetic fun house ride that is about forty five minutes too long. Based upon a best selling cult novel that was previously spun off into a comic book, “Kamikaze Girls” deals with the exploits of Momoko, an amoral young girl obsessed with 18th century Versailles and dressing up Lolita style (a popular trend in Japan of wearing frilly and extravagant dress up clothes) who forms an unlikely friendship with biker chick Ichigo (Anna Tsuchiya).

The leader of Ichigo’s gang is stepping down causing Ichigo to enlist Momoko’s help in tracking down a legendary embroiderer to help decorate her jacket for the special occasion. Along the way Ichigo discovers feelings for a local punk and Momoko discovers a natural gift for embroidery she never knew she had. For a while, “Kamikaze Girls” is an entertaining distraction. From Momoko’s father (Hiroyuki Miyasako) selling knockoff designer brands such as his Versace Universal Studios t-shirts to Momoko’s delight in being a loner, dreaming in an animated sequence of being discovered dead in a hotel room by a robotic janitor, there is a certain zaniness to the proceedings that really seems to work. However as the film drags on and no true plot develops from the film’s multiple asides, these stylistic touches change from somewhat endearing to annoying.

Despite all the visual flare there simply is not that much going on. The movie telegraphs plot twists miles in advance, negating any suspense regarding the fate of our heroines. The subplot involving the quest for the legendary embroiderer is rendered moot seeing Momoko’s own natural abilities and the resolution to the quest is lamely handled in a “twist ending”. This formula has been seen a thousand times before with the two seemingly opposite girls finding admirable qualities in the other. Will Momoko discover that she really does need friendship after all? Will Ichigo find inner strength and be able to stand on her own? If I need to answer these questions for you then you may in fact find “Kamikaze Girls” riveting.

With so many hyperstylized violent films out there, it is nice to see a film such as “Kamikaze Girls” with its heart in the right place. When compared to most American teen films, “Kamikaze Girls” is miles above based upon sheer visual audacity alone. However, being a cut above really crappy movies is faint praise and “Kamikaze Girls” could have been a lot better if these wild characters had been given more to do. In the end, “Kamikaze Girls” is packed so densely with style there is not enough room left for substance.

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