“I want to fill myself only with sweet things"—so says Momoko, one of the two heroines of the Japanese film Kamikaze Girls. The film centres around the developing friendship of two very different teenage girls. Momoko is a seemingly self-obsessed girl who lives for the Lolita lifestyle, whilst Ichigo is a tough Yanki biker—a member of an all girl gang called The Ponytails—who doesn't show her emotions.
The film is a chick flick, filled with frills. It is also an action movie, with fast bikes and violence. Yet to describe it in either of these ways is wrong – it isn't as simple as either of those, just like Momoko and Ichigo are much more complicated than the heroines of each of those films, each of those lives.
There is drama and comedy, slapstick and fashion. These differing styles mingle just like the girls lives do.
They are both teenage girls who are struggling to find out what kind of lives they want to lead. Shaped by their difficult and lonely pasts, they face uncertain futures. In many ways, they are outsiders living on the margins of society, like the subcultures that mean so much to them.
As the film progresses, they realize that a singular vision doesn't need to be a limiting one, just like girl culture is made up of all different things, everything. Ichigo can ride bikes and be tough and also pose as a part time model in a white frilly dress – even if she knocks out several cameramen. Momoko can live a life worthy of the Regency period and still hold her own against the toughest girl gang and create her own legend.
The two girls are storytellers—Ichigo creates a myth about Himiko—a girl biker who saved all the girl gangs from ruin. Momoko further embroiders the story to cast herself as Himiko's daughter. She embroiders Ichigo's jacket—a gesture of friendship, but as Ichigo says, they are not even friends—instead they ride alone, together.
Momoko and Ichigo are solo travellers in the world, but they get a lot from each other.
The film shows that girls can be frilly and tough, abrasive and sweet, self sufficient and the best friends ever.
“Humans are cowards in the face of happiness,” the younger Momoko of the film tells her mother. The film shows how bravery and letting your world intermingle with other people's worlds is exciting, rebellious, exhilarating.Andrea Quinlan is a poet based in New Zealand. Her chapbook, We Speak Girl, is available from dancing girl press. A second chapbook, The Mysteries of Laura, is forthcoming in 2013 from Birds of Lace. Her blog is here and her tumblr is here.