Remember – the order to encounter any story with the maximum amount of enjoyment is: 1) visual media; 2) manga; 3) novel. Why this order? Because with every succeeding version, you get more detail, more richness of story and character and more of the original author’s intent. Go the other way, and you get annoyed at the loss of depth, character development and scenes that had to be cut for time and convenience.
Which brings us to the Kamikaze Girls manga. (Don’t be fooled by the god-awful indexing at Amazon, which lists this as the novel. It is not the novel. The novel does not have people on the cover.)
The movie, as you may remember from my glowing review, was brilliant. Surreal and funny and reasonably well-paced, the movie was a visual and mental treat. I have since encountered two other movies by the same team, one I mentioned in my Sakuracon report, Survival Style 5 one a drug-induced hallucination, Mayonaka no Yaji-san Kita-san, and there are some things that are common to all. But by far and away, Kamikaze Girls was the best of the bunch.
So, of course, I wanted to read the manga.
It was – different. For reasons known only to the manga artist, she made Ichiko, our crude, but honest, Yanki (gang girl) very boyish and added a gag about her being mistaken for a boy. Momoko is made to look even younger than she does in the movie, but overall the relationship between them is much the same – that is, they are almost destined to be friends, despite their lack of common ground. There is a word in Japanese, ironically used by Shinokita Reiko (Kita) in YajiKita Gakuen Douchuuki to describe her similar relationship with Yajima Junko (Yaji) – I can’t find it at the moment, but it means people who can’t, somehow, get rid of one another. ^_^
What was stranger to me than turning Ichiko into a bishounen-looking girl, was that the entire movie/novel, was only half the manga. The second half was a wholly new story made up by the manga artist detailing the trials and tribulations of Ichiko’s possible love for the twin brother of the guy she falls for in the first half. (In the movie, he is made into a parody of a gang type, in the novel, he’s just a cool guy.) The twin, whose name is silly, wants to be a ballet dancer. Ichiko ends up donning goth loli clothes once more to inspire him as he tries out for his dream role. It really isn’t a bad story, and is largely in keeping with the utter silliness of the movie, only it’s drawn and written as a straight shoujo manga complete with melodramatic angst. I’m not sure if it worked or not. If you read the novel first, it doesn’t. Remember, keep the order and keep your sanity. :-)
More importantly to us Yuri fans, the first half of the manga ends much as the movie does, with Momoko riding off on the back of Ichiko’s bike. As in the novel, Momoko lays her head on Ichiko’s back, “like a lover” and thinks that she does, indeed love Ichiko. (The second half of the manga sort of makes that moot, but screw it – that’s what we have good imaginations for. ^_^)
So, like the movie, this is a story of shinyuu, of friendship not of desire. As another retelling of a quirky and unique story – the manga comes in as interesting, but not captivating.
Art – 7
Characters – 7
Story – 6
Yuri – 1
Overall – 6
If you’ve read the novel – don’t bother with the manga. If you haven’t, then try it. The movie is better and the novel the best, but the manga isn’t bad.