To say that the novel Kamikaze Girls was sheer brilliance would be a dreadful understatement, but given the limitations of my beloved English, it’s the best I can do. This book is *brilliant*. Like, shiny brilliance. And genius brilliance, and any other possible meaning we can squeeze out of those 10 letters.
The book begins with a long, detailed and shockingly objective discussion of the true heart of the baroque – and of the gothic lolita. It was so good that not only was I hysterical laughing plenty of times, but I’m pretty sure it completely changed my opinion of Goth-Loli forever.
The surreal tale of the meeting of yanki gang girl Ichiko, and hardcore Goth-Loli Momoko is not radically different than the portrayal in the movie, but several of the stranger, sillier touches added in the movie are not in the novel. Once again I am reminded that the correct order for me is to first watch the visual version, movie, TV, anime, what have you, then manga, THEN read the original literature. It means that with every new version you have a richer, more detailed experience with new layers. If I go the other way around…I’ll be unhappy at the things that were cut or changed. (And let me tell you how worried I am, that having read the next few Maria-sama ga Miteru novels means that I won’t enjoy the third season of anime as much.)
I honestly can’t express how good this book is. The translator did such an amazing job, switching back and forth with levels of politeness – not only from character to character, but also just within Momoko’s narration….it was breathtaking.
Also stunningly brilliant was the fact that none of the Japanese puns or concepts were translated – they were explained, or simply left as is, with a Glossary in the back. Perfect! Viz scores a perfect 10 in this.
In fact, the ONLY downside I can think of, is that one very rude word – which is presented as a very rude word – isn’t defined in the glossary and I’d really like to know what it meant. ^_^
Yuri? No. But plenty of shinyuu, right in that space where two women are emotionally, karmically connected and yes, love one another, without being “in love.” In the end, Momoko rides off on the back of Ichiko’s bike, her head against the yanki‘s back, “like a lover’s”. So, okay – maybe not Yuri…yet. ^_^
Just read it.