Kamikazi Girls (Shimotsuma Monogaturi) (3 stars)

Kamikazi Girls (Shimotsuma Monogaturi)

(12) 103 min
(Third Window Films)

Kawaii-cute Momoto (Kyôko Fukada) lives in a beruffled fantasy world, more at home in 18th century Rococo France than the small Japanese farm town of Shimotsuma, until tough teen biker-girl Ichiko (Anna Tsuchiya) revs into her life and forces her into an unwilling friendship.

This 2004 film from Japanese cultist Tetsuya Memories of Matsuko Nakashima, now finding a new lease of life on a two disc DVD and single disc Blu-ray release, feels more like live-action anime (in fact, it is adapted from Novala Takemoto’s manga novella Shimotsuma Monogatari), with hyper-exaggerated performances, fantasy sequences and lightening-fast jump cuts. Occasional cartoon insets and the climactic, (PG-rated) bloody all-girl biker fight clearly pay homage to the same ancestors as Kill Bill Part 1, and the whole film has a shiny, knowing surface which can feel a little distancing. But amid all the Technicolor-saturated action there’s a real heart to this little story, and it should find favour with lonely teenagers and Amelie fans everywhere. Kitschy-cool DVD extras, too.

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