Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Kamikaze Girls

I just finished reading the Japanese novel Kamikaze Girls by Novala Takemoto, English translation by Akemi Wegmüller (San Francisco: VIZ Media, 2006). I picked this book up because the cover blurb described a plot so silly I just could not resist. A Lolita and a Yanki on a road trip to find a legendary embroidery artist? What the tweet?

And this turned out to be one of the most enjoyable books I've read recently. For the first few chapters, I found Momoko, the Lolita, to be so misanthropic and, well, almost wicked that I didn't like her. However, everything she said was so incredibly outrageous that I had to keep reading, out of morbid fascination.

And then Ichigo made her appearance, and I loved her from the first sentence. A foul-mouthed, ignorant, hard-core biker chick, Ichigo was the absolutely perfect foil to Momoko's ruffles and Rococo lifestyle. And as their relationship grew, I came to like Momoko. It turns out she wasn't senselessly coldhearted. She just had never before encountered anyone who wasn't utterly worthy of contempt. The bizarre friendship between these two girls strengthens and transforms both of them. It's a dual coming-of-age story, as well as a wildly fun ride.

If you are bothered by profanity, be warned. Ichigo rarely utters a sentence without it. Otherwise, I can't say anything against this book. It's one of the rare, delightful stories that I can imagine reading again and again throughout my life.

Incidentally, and this really has nothing to do with anything, "Momoko" means "Peach Child" and "Ichigo" means "Strawberry." The last eight-pack of Activia yogurt I bought had alternating peach and strawberry cups. Coincidence? Well, yeah, probably so. But I digress.

There is apparently a Kamikaze Girls movie out, which why the book got translated into English in the first place. I'll be placing an Amazon.com order tonight for that. I must see it!

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