Title: Kamikaze Girls
Author: Novala Takemoto
Series: Kamikaze Girls #1
Published: English, 2006 by Viz Media
Other info: There is apparently a sequel, which isn’t out in English, and also a manga, which is. Kamikaze Girls has also been made into a film rated 12 which is popular with people like me.
Summary : Life in the boondocks of rural Ibaraki prefecture is anything but glamorous, and so Momoko, a Lolita, daydreams about the Rococo period, Versailles, and dresses in the finest and frilliest of 18th century haute couture from an expensive Tokyo speciality store. Her dreams of an idyllic existence are rudely interrupted by the appearance of Ichiko/Ichigo, a tough talking Yanki motorcycle chick on a worn out moped. Together, this unlikely duo strikes out to find a legendary embroiderer, pachinko parlours, chic boutiques, and epic bike punk battles. This is more than a quirky coming of age tale, its a new way of life.
Review: Before we go any further, you all need to understand a little terminology. In this book, "lolita" is a style of fashion in which the wearer dresses in frills and dresses inspired by France, the 18th century and everything that is cute. A "yanki" is harder to explain, but its garish fashion, sloppy and the general opposite of Lolita. For more information, go here for lolita and here for yanki. And the Tokyo Specialty Store mentioned in the summary really exists. Look up Baby the Stars Shine Bright and you will find a real shop. Actually, don’t. The clothes are 1)expensive, 2)impractical and 3)only somewhat pretty.
Momoko is a Lolita obsessed with Baby the Stars Shine Bright and embroidery and Ichiko(born Ichigo, changed name because a tough yanki girl shouldn't have a name meaning strawberry) is a Yanki obsessed with her highly customised scooter and her girl biker gang. Through various chains of events that stem from Momoko's birth, they meet. They have adventures, they fall in love (Ichigo only, with the guy who'll be getting married to the ex-leader of the gang and her idol) they gamble(underage) at pachinko places and win a lot of money(Momoko only-Ichigo, despite being self-proclaimed "pro", never gets anything out the machines). Through various events, Momoko and Ichigo develop a lasting friendship, despite the fact they have completely different fashion and logic.
The entire thing is told from Momoko's point of view, which gives us a good insight into her character. As for Ichigo, you can get a good enough idea of her character as a)She talks enough and b)Momoko is repeatedly making remarks as to her opinion on Ichigo's outlandish fashion and attitude.
Both of the girls have very strong characters fixed in their beliefs as yankis and lolitas. They also undergo serious character development, with Momoko deciding on how she's going to live her life without *spoiler, so can't tell. It's not that she'll live without Lolita though* and deciding she may just be a little more outgoing, and Ichigo getting enough courage to leave the gang(which isn't easy, considering the ways these gangs make you "draw the line") and ride on her own.
You get a lot of insight to Lolita and Yanki lives, and rural Japan in general. Some things were new, such as pachinko, but it was easy to guess what was happening (it helped that I saw the film before too).
The ending is great. I'd love to tell you what exactly happened, but that would spoil it for you. It's kind of tied into what's been happening throughout, but it's so unpredictable and is generally great.
I love the tight friendship that eventually forms between Ichigo and Momoko. The fact they are completely different in all respects just makes it better and proves that you don't have to be alike to form a great friendship.
Overall: Strength 5 tea to a great book of laughs, friendship, frills.