søndag den 11. maj 2014

Book Review of "Kamikaze Girls", and the independent Lolita.

"This cabbage shall be your friend!"
This quote has become a staple joke in Lolita fashion ever since the movie "Kamikaze Girls" came out back in 2004. This movie was, of course, based on the book of the same name. If anything can be considered the Lolita Bible (apart from, of course, the actual "Lolita Bibles"), it would be this book.
The main character, Momoko Ryugasaki, is the embodiment of the perfect Lifestyle Lolita.
Both in work, school and life, she is everything most Lolitas dream to be! Even so, she is not a very well-liked character in the Lolita community. Why not?
And how does the movie compare to the book?
(if you do not like spoilers, I suggest you turn back now!)

I tend to watch the movie before I read the book. It gives me the opportunity to form an opinion of the movie as an experience of it's own because, and I know most of you'll agree with me out there, the movie is rarely as good. The movie just doesn't give us the same amount of detail. It doesn't get emotion across quite as well, and it doesn't let us get acquainted with the thoughts and intentions of our characters.
The same goes for Kamikaze Girls.

The movie was quite a strange experience for me, to be honest. It was one of the first things I watched when I was researching Lolita, back in the day, and honestly, it made me doubt whether Lolita was for me at all! Because if you don't like "Kamikaze Girls", how can you be a "True Lolita", Am I right!?
Of course that's a load of nonsense.
But "Kamikaze Girls", the movie, grows on you, with it's random cartoon clips, sound effects and wacky humor.
The book has a bit of the same lighthearted feel to it, and you can see why the movie made the decision to exaggerate the aspects it did (like the Unicorn Guy's hair that's got a bit of a life of it's own!)
However, the book is not quite as silly, in the cartoon-ish way. 

Whereas the movie seems to be of a "Real Life Animé"-genre, I'd say the book is kind of like a long chat over a cup of tea with a good friend. You know, when your best friend spends half an hour telling you this really good anecdote from their life? It resembles the diary or biography genre, but with a faster pace, more surprising twists and turns and little thoughts thrown in at random parts of the book.
 You don't get bored reading "Kamikaze Girls"!

One of the most interesting aspects of the book, is the development in the relationship between Momoko and Ichigo. It grows on a steady pace, and Novala Takemoto does a great job letting it slowly build, and sometimes he throws little notes in there that makes you go "Oh! Look, she gets her!"
In the movie, you don't get to look into Momoko's head and see how she starts comparing aspects of what Ichigo says to what she herself thinks, and how it begins to make sense to her, that they're not quite as different as she thought.
There's major character development going on in the book, on both ends, and you get to know Ichigo a lot more! Not just how she is, and her past, but how she thinks. 
She's actually not just a free spirit, but a woman with strong values that she's willing to take with her to the grave!

The story of Emma and Himiko actually get's some development as well. Just a side-note. 
They suddenly make a lot more sense to me, after reading the book.

So, how does it actually feel, as a Lolita, to listen to Momoko tell her story? 
Do I wanna strangle her or do I wanna hang out with her?
Well, None of the above. But that's not the point.

Momoko has a lot of bad character traits. Just like in the movie, she lies to her dad, she doesn't wanna hang out with anyone and criticizes other people. These are what people seem to dislike her the most for. 
Apart from me just thinking that they're all very creative traits that adds depth to her character, I would actually respect her if she was a real person, too.

The main problem people seem to have with Momoko is that she's a loner. 
(Yes, even though she lies and cheats her dad for money.)
She doesn't want to make friends. Period. 

I think this has to do with  the stigmatizing of introverts in our society. You have to be social. Momoko is not, at all, and that makes her seem un-likable. 
What I think is really cool, however, is that she has plenty of selfconfidence. She's a loner, but she's not lonely. She simply doesn't care what other people think about her. 
She rejects society's norms completely, and does whatever she want. Obviously, she does it to the extreme, so much that it might actually cause her harm at some point (she doesn't care about what she's gonna do when she finishes highschool, for instance), but I think that a healthy amount of this might be really good for most people to learn, including Lolitas.
How is not wanting to be around other people bad? Momoko is comfortable in her own company. 
Too many people these days aren't.

Another good thing Momoko stands for, is persistently pursuing living life the way you want to.
She insists on living what she views as the Rococo lifestyle, because that is what makes her happy, and she goes into great detail in doing so. That kind of devotion is inspiring!
Momoko stands for living life to the fullest. That means fighting for it, and sometimes succumbing to life's little joys. 
When life gives you lemons, or a mouse-eaten bonnet, make beautiful embroidery!

Last but not least, about that "cheating her dad" thing:
Let me play devil's advocate first. Her dad was selling counterfeit goods, which means that his hard earned cash was earned by cheating other people. In this case, karma is coming back to get him. 
Even so, cheating people is wrong.
One of the lessons Momoko teaches Ichigo in the book is that if you want something, make it yours! Momoko lives by this rule, and knows that it applies to herself. She takes good care of her stuff to prevent other people from claiming it, because she cares about it. In real life this should of course not be applied to stealing other people´s stuff or scamming innocent Lolitas, but it could be applied to other things.
Take care of the things you value. Do what you can to claim what you desire.
It means having enough confidence in yourself, and gathering enough spirit, to reaching out and grabbing that thing, because you deserve it! 
You deserve it just because you had the desire and the guts to claim it for your own. 
You earned it by claiming it.

So, to sum it up:
Yes, the book is better than the movie. 
Yes, Momoko has plenty to teach us, even if she isn't a nice person. 
She does, however, get better. 
She opens up to another person, and learns to accept that there are other strong people out there who can add something to her already strong and independent personality, and some spice to her life. 

Introverts like having friends sometimes, too. It just needs to be the right one.

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