I didn’t realize until recently that Mister Rococo, a Japanese short film I had been anticipating, had already hit the Internet with English subs – I was so excited to finally watch it! Late as I am to see it, I really enjoyed the film and found it very inspirational, as well as a great view into one of the Japanese lolita-featuring movies since Kamikaze Girls. I bought the app, but you can watch it for free on Youtube below – great if you don’t have any kind of Apple product!
Warning! Complete spoilers ahead! I really recommend you watch the video first!
As for aesthetics, I was thoroughly pleased with the look and feel of the film. It did remind me of Kamikaze Girls in style, making it feel a little like an unofficial sequel, but being such as Kamikaze Girls fan I enjoyed that. The shopgirl chasing her through the Japanese countryside at a wide angle particularly reminded me of days in Shimotsuma. The mix of girly anime “episode titles” and random shoujo art was also intruiging, making me yearn for a graphic novel rendition. Another note is that all of the clothing and the boutique provided in this movie was Baby the Stars Shine Bright, giving a much more fairytale feel than the pop-cute style of Deka Wanko, which was sponsored by Angelic Pretty. This also contributed to the Kamikaze Girls homage sense – the fashion and story of that film was also based around Baby the Stars Shine Bright.
Added to this, the song was inspired by and featured a song of Anna Tsuchiya’s, Brave Vibration. You may know her by a different name – she’s also the actress to play Ichiko/Ichigo in Kamikaze Girls. The song’s lyrics, I felt, were very key to understanding the main theme of the movie – changing your life and not giving up.
I’ve heard that people were disappointed with the film because the heroine ‘changes for a man’, which we all know is feminist cardinal sin, and it’s considered practically a mortal one to give up lolita for your partner (How many times has we seen lolita decry girls who give up the fashion to please their partner?). While one could argue that, I think what was more overwhelming was that Neko Hiroshi was only the catalyst for change. Their relationship isn’t really stressed as very loving, and we don’t really see them being affectionate as a couple. In the end, it’s just not about him.
Yuri says at the end, “I am no longer just cute.” She explains in the prologue that her whole life, she’s been focused on cute and not cute, starting with her parents onward. While being cute and enjoying cute things has made her happy, it seems that she’s never really felt a drive or passion to be anything more. This movie was about her realization that she can be something more. The metaphor she references, “I wanted to become a French doll”, was particularly telling. It’s pretty, sure, but dolls do nothing.
Her dumbbell covered in pink crystals, like her soft pink workout clothes and raw eggs drunk from a champagne glass, were particularly amusing – a little farcical stab at the lifestyle lolita, but accurate none the less – making her daily life, however “un-lolita”, cute and lolita-like. One reason I love this movie alone is that when else will you get to see a sweet lolita do a Rocky montage? I’m only sad they couldn’t run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
It also fits in with my current theme that I mentioned I love about Sailor Moon, that being cute does not make you weak. Being feminine doesn’t make you fragile. The juxtaposition of masked wrestling, one of the most ‘un-lolita’ things, mixed with her absurdly feminine and princess-style fighting outfit, really connected the two for me. As she says, “I might have been delicate, but I have never been a wimp.”
The other topic hinted at, if not by the film makers, but by the lolita watchers was body image. In the lolita community, I see us open to many things other groups wouldn’t accept, like genderbending and a wide range of sexual orientation and expression – but one of the few roadblocks we still have in lolita is body image. Perhaps this is because lolita fashion is so oriented on being that cute, dolly girl, body-shaming and body inferiority is not an area we do well in. Several of my friends have had the misfortune of anonymous hate lately and I was shocked at how easily lolitas bandied about body-shaming for any part of the body, from “boob loaf” to fat knees to wide “cankles”. I think this is why girls seemed dissatisfied with the film – it struck one our sensitive nerves.
In Mister Rococo, not only does she dedicate herself to something un-lolita-like, it even changes her body from her previous lolita ideal – i.e., brand-sized and delicate. One girl even commented she was appalled to see what Yuri had become after all her training left her looking bulky. (As a side note, you’ll notice that her female opponent isn’t nearly as bulky and musclebound. The reasons? Girls don’t usually bulk up even with rigorous muscle training. “Mister Rococo” is obviously played by a hulking Japanese man for the body shots, and only the face in the mask is actually the actress, Aimi Satsukawa.) But you know, if that’s how she was happy, that should be okay. For another, we only see her in her wrestling costume – who’s to say her new bod wouldn’t look cute in lolita still? Better yet, why do we have an “ideal lolita body” at all?
The last thing I want to mention is a little Easter egg – the tough-looking bald white guy in the film she originally sees pumping weights becomes her trainer or workout buddy, encouraging her. I’d liked to see more about their relationship! If you watch closely, you can see him carrying her teddy bear purse on the beach during their sunrise run. How hilarious is that?!
So, what did you think? Was it what you expected, better, or worse? Are you going to start a lolita cage wrestling club?! Leave a note (and where we can meet for lolita fight clu – DON’T TALK ABOUT LOLITA FIGHT CLUB) in the comments!