September 08, 2005


'Kamikaze Girls' plays the New York Asian Film Festival, Fantasia and the Los Angeles Film FestivalYou wouldn't know it, but Viz's live action flick KAMIKAZE GIRLS opens today in select theaters.

This is a big deal: up until now, most US distributors have only picked up Asian genre movies for theatrical release. Horror, action, and highbrow exotica gets snatched right up while superior comedies and romances are left to gather dust. For the past two years at the New York Asian Film Festival I've watched the horror movies (in particular) and the action movies attract a smaller and smaller audience while the comedies and romances do big business. Our audience awards for the past three years have gone to comedies and romances exclusively: PING PONG from Japan, PLEASE TEACH ME ENGLISH from Korea and THE TASTE OF TEA from Japan. (None of which have US distribution)

Every year all of us at Subway think: man! Some savvy distributor is going to snag an Asian comedy one day and the first one to do it will probably clean up.

Manga/Anime company Viz snagged KAMIKAZE GIRLS (a flick we showed at the festival this year and that was the runner-up for the Audience Award - playing to two packed, and very happy, houses) and vowed to give it a theatrical release. With tie-ins to the anime and manga fan community, this movie seemed like a shoo-in for a long roll-out with plenty of teenage kids and diehard fans flocking to see it.

Doesn't look like it's going to happen. Critics are already harshing on the movie ("saccharine", "too long", "fluff", and most incomprehensibly "could find an audience in the West as a latenight attraction at gay fests.").

But don't blame the critics, Viz doesn't even mention the movie on its website, either on the front page or on their "New Releases" page (although there is this four week old press release buried in their newsroom - which I guess matches the fact that the official site for the movie hasn't been updated in 4 weeks either), I couldn't find a mention on the Anime News Network except for this press release from back in June.

It doesn't instill a lot of confidence in the quality of the movie that almost every quote Viz has pulled for the movie comes from a website, either.

Let's hope that the fans turn out in force and do what Viz hasn't been able to so far: stir up interest and generate support for this worthy flick.

September 8, 2005 at 09:07 AM in News | Permalink


Okay, any critic bashing this film as saccharine fluff is officially an idiot. Not only is this film a hell of a lot of fun but there is actually a good amount of depth to the main characters.

I've heard the producers of Taste of Tea are asking a fair bit for the US reights, which is why it hasn't come over but it's just way too good a film to remain neglected. Same with Ping Pong. I love that movie ...

Posted by: Todd | Sep 8, 2005 5:06:11 PM

I recently ordered the Kamikaze Girls R3 HK disc. Can't wait until I see it.

Posted by: Brian Propp | Sep 8, 2005 8:51:04 PM

I agree. KAMIKAZE GIRLS is a bizarre mixture of slapstick humor, dark humor, manga-ish over-the-top humor, but saccharine isn't even close. Yes, it's plot-less and somewhat pointless, but the characterizations are highly interesting and very much compelling. It deserves a big screen release and if it comes here (Phoenix), i'll be first in line.

This may be clue number 1 that VIZ shouldn't be dealing with live action movies.

FWIW, I don't see PINGPONG as a romance nor a comedy. I thought PLEASE TEACH ME ENGLISH was one of the worst Korean movies I've seen since MERRY EROS CHRISTMAS. I think TASTE OF TEA is an absolutely brilliant movie that would do quite poorly in the US.


Posted by: Goro | Sep 9, 2005 7:16:21 AM

Post a comment