Kamikaze Girls by Novala Takemoto
Most girls within the lolita community are at least familiar with the title, if not the story, as it seems to be a sort of lolita bible. I've seen more than one list that has included viewing the film as a right of passage into true lolita-hood. I don't agree that everyone has to see the film or even read this book to be considered a lolita, or even that all the things the book and movie say about lolita are true fro everyone. And I hardly feel like this is a title I have to point out to any lolita out there. But having waited so long and enjoying it so much, I had to write a review for it for my sake. So please bear with me as I indulge.
The story opens with our narrator, a lolita named Momoko. She is her own ideal of the perfect lolita and dedicates her life to living a beautiful lifestyle. Early on in the book she sets out to sell some of her father's fake merchandise to make money for her shopping trips to Baby the Stars Shine Bright. The ad is answered by a yanki on a pink tricked out scooter named Ichiko (Also, Ichigo). Telling much more, I think, is a little pointless as it's the growth from this point that makes the book special.
Before I start in on the themes within the book I would like to say a few words about the writing itself. I wasn't expecting the arrangement of words to be anything special, given that it was originally a Japanese novel. I was pleasantly surprised by the voice that flowed up from the pages, however. It was purely beautiful and Momoko was very much alive as a narrator. I was disappointed only by one count - the use of curse words throughout the book. Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all sensitive to cursing and I believe that it's a very effective tool in writing when used properly. Who can forget Mrs. Weasley screaming what is one of the most effective bits of dialogue in the Harry Potter series? But when not used sparingly repetition renders it utterly pointless and turns it into nothing more than an unpleasant factor to consider when recommending the book to others. Given the writing in all other aspects I'm given to thinking this is simply a miss handling in translation and difference in culture and language. Or at least that's the thought that makes me happiest. Other than the foul word here and there, however, the book is very beautifully written.
On to talking about Momoko. Her ideas of being a lolita are what form the framework of the story. I have to say that I don't agree with many of them. In the first bit of actual story her attitude annoyed me. Up until the point when Ichigo comes in and I realized something that changed how I viewed her entirely. Momoko has a very strict idea of what it means to be a lolita, some of it ridiculous and most of the rest improbable, inconvenient or both. The reason I dislike her ideas in the beginning is that it is so ridiculous to expect people to live that way. But the thing is, as much as she holds herself to these standards, she actually never expects them from others. It is only within herself that she is firm in her ideals. Yes, she may mock others for bad taste, but reading the book you notice that it is only in her head and that when she does point out flaws out loud it is only to Ichigo, between the two of them and after they have known each other for quite a while.
No, Momoko is not a good person. She is in no way someone I want to be and her ideas of debt, friendship, work and what is and isn't ok for lolita are not things I want to incorporate into my own beliefs. But how lovely would it be if everyone could hold so firmly to whatever belief they have and expect exactly none of it from others? While I realize that statement is in itself asking others to adopt a belief and thus proves I don't yet have this virtue myself, I think it's still a lovely thought. Think of how much better we would get along, not just within the lolita community but in the world as a whole.
I think the words that best sum up how I feel at the end of reading this book are those written in the afterword. "Let's all get along while following our own paths and doing whatever the hell we want!"
It just looks like much more fun!
I may also have been inspired to start a debate with my husband over the safety of owning and driving a glittery cotton candy pink scooter.
Don't forget to enter the contest! I'll be selecting a winner tomorrow afternoon, so put your name in while you can.