Manga Review – Kamikaze Girls

Kamikaze Girls

Kamikaze Girls
下妻物語―ヤンキーちゃんとロリータちゃん (Shimotsuma Monogatari – Yankee-chan to Lolita-chan)
TAKEMOTO Novala (story), KANESADA Yukio (art)
Shoujo – Slice-of-life
1 Volume (complete)
Viz Media

Summary:

Momoko loves the Rococo style. She spends her days alone while parading around in frilly outfits. One day, a scary-looking delinquent suddenly asks for Momoko’s help in locating a shop in Daikanyama, the famous fashion district. The lolita and the yankee set off to find the shop and perhaps form a friendship along the way.

Review:

Kamikaze Girls‘ manga adaptation is, by far, the weakest version of the story.

Lots of manga have been adapted from light novels: The Earl and the Fairy, The Devil is a Part-Timer!, All You Need is Kill, and a lot more. However, most of the manga versions usually take more than one volume to cover a single light novel volume. For the manga adaptations that are complete in a single volume, they usually do something, I don’t know crazy. Yes, that’s right: they use pretty much the WHOLE VOLUME.

Well, Kanesada somehow turned over 200 pages of text into 80 pages of manga. Then she decided to make her own sequel to the story. Whoops, there’s still pages left, so let’s add her early one-shots and its 10 page sequel. Then Viz Media included a small sample of the light novel. All in about 200 pages.

I choose you, Chiyo!

Chiyo is not impressed.

Yeah, I could end it right here.

Let’s get the bonus one-shot out of the way. A man with a ring keeps taking wives of his company’s executives to Ririka’s mom’s jewelry store. Ririka doesn’t want to be treated like a child anymore, so she forces Kashiwagi to take her out in exchange for his ring. Yeah, this is a pretty average older male x younger female story. This one-shot is pretty much the reason the manga gets its rating, as sex is a significant part of the plot. (Although there is violence in Kamikaze Girls as well.)  It’s an early work of Kanesada’s, and I probably would have just rolled my eyes if this manga had been included as a bonus in an actual series. A little lame, but no harm, no foul. However, in this case, Ririka’s tale takes up a big portion of the page count, and the plot is just an unsatisfying way to end this book.

I bought the Kamikaze Girls manga for Kamikaze Girls, so I was incredibly disappointed that neither the original story nor the manga sequel fill up this volume. The manga covers the main plot points (Momoko and Ichigo’s meeting, the modeling scene, crushes, and Ichigo’s expulsion), but it’s rushed. The ending suffers most of all. It’s full of impact in the original, but not so here in the manga. Even the irony is mostly lost. Some characters are not in the manga, but cuts are often made when adapting a story into another format. The original title of Kamikaze Girls can be translated as A Shimotsuma Story, but the story part is just too condensed for a manga.

As for the bonus story, it’s basically a typical shoujo one-shot starring Ichigo. Plot-wise, Kanesada really didn’t need to use Ichigo and Momoko. She could have easily written the same manga with new characters without changing many details. While the original Kamikaze Girls concentrates on friendship, the sequel is pure romance. (And for you yuri fans, you’ll be disappointed it’s not an Ichigo x Momoko tale.) Ichigo’s love interest is connected to the original story through an eye-rolling twist. The girls are interesting, but it feels like Kanesada borrowed them to avoid actually developing new characters for a one-shot. The sequel just screams bad fanfiction.

The art is also on the weak side. It feels like most of the attention went into designing Momoko’s outfits rather than drawing the characters. Characters are drawn at weird angles and sometimes look just plain ugly. Mouths and eyebrows tend too look off-center. One image of Ichigo punching a guy has her (long) neck stretched to the left, but her head is facing front. All the hands in the same panel are oversized, and the overall shot just looks goofy instead of dramatic. I also don’t like Ichigo’s male-looking design. It does not do any favors for a later plot point. There’s even a time that, although his index finger is the one extended, a guy looks as if he’s giving readers the finger. (FU for giving this manga a bad review maybe?) Kanesada’s art has its shining moments though, like Momoko’s emotional struggle in deciding what to do about Ichigo. I probably would be able to tolerate it more if the story was better, but the art is just another why this manga isn’t good.

Translation:

This is a somewhat strange adaptation. No honorifics are used, as was generally the standard at the time (and pretty much still the standard for Viz Media releases). “Mr.”,  “Ms.”, and the like are used instead. However, certain Japanese terms are kept, and no translation notes are provided. Some of terms are loosely explained (“nijikai… much more casual than a wedding reception”), but the “yoroshiku” pun is not explained. References to the Shinsengumi are not important, but I still feel like the jokes should have been explained. Momoko and Ichigo have some differences in speech patterns, but obviously it’s not as noticeable as the original Japanese. Translation notes would really have been nice here. I mean, I know the terms and stuff, but not everyone does.

Final Comments:

I don’t know why you would take a full-length novel and have it take up less than half of a graphic novel. The bonus story is not worth even borrowing the manga version of Kamikaze Girls for, and the one-shot is just not good. Don’t waste your time or your money like I did.

Viz Media also released the Kamikaze Girls light novel and DVD in the U.S. The sequel novel has not been translated. Fun fact: the actress who plays Ichigo in the movie does the singing voice of Nana in NANA.

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2 Comments

  1. The Otaku Judge

    Reminds me of the Disgaea manga. They condensed a lengthy video game into one volume. Needless to say it was very rushed too and by the end was making up its own story.

    Reply
    1. Krystallina

      I remember seeing it in stores. They did all of an RPG in one volume? Yeah, I can imagine it didn’t turn out well…

      Reply

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