Nakashima Tetsuya's wonderful "Shimotsuma Monogatari" (Shimotsuma Story) is quite a unique and charming film. I had my doubts at first but the film turned out to be a refreshing surprise. Mixing anime, quirky narrative, inventive storytelling, outrageous comedy and Japanese Pop Culture charm this movie is a really endearing movie. Stylistically, as others have noted, it does recall movies like "Trainspotting" and "Run, Lola, Run" but I think "Shimotsuma Monogatari" is much closer in style to Yaguchi Shinobu's "Swing Girls" and "Waterboys", both of which are also really wonderful. J-Pop singer/actress Fukuda Kyoko is infectiously cute as Momoko, the "Lolita" fashion obsessed girl with a naive yet surprising take on life. Her French 17th Century (Rocco) styled fashions are at times oddball and avant-garde and yet surprisingly cool looking that it's little wonder why American Pop Singer Gwen Stefani has drawn inspiration from this fashion trend for her L.A.M.B. fashion line and to dress her Harajuku Girls. Anna Tsuchiya is also a wonderful surprise as Ichiko/Ichigo, the tough talking "Yanki" Sukeban with a heart of gold. She has most of the best lines in the movie and is also quite a cutie (behind the Sukeban makeup). The only criticism I have for the film is the stupid American title "Kamikaze Girls". It really doesn't do justice to the film at all and is a real turnoff as it brings to mind a "Yakuza" film or perhaps a war picture in a stereotyping tongue-and-cheek way. Why not just call it simply "Momoko and Ichigo" (i.e. Peaches and Strawberry) or some other title that is a bit more relevant. Other than that this film is a pure joy and delight and a welcomed change to Japanese cinema.
Momoko, a strange and seemingly emotionless girl obsessed with 18th century France, befriends a Yanki biker and the two experience the ups and downs of their unusual lives in a rural Japanese town.
May 11, 2020