Using the cinematic approach of a Grimes video, Japanese Girls Never Die presents a glossy and hyperactive aesthetic, but little in the way of substance. Following several groups of young hoodlums through the streets of Tokyo, director Daigo Matsui bluntly inserts behaviors of casual sexism that persist throughout Japanese culture, as well as aimless artists trying to “find themselves,” and the common willingness to break the “system”—all with no sense of what his film, overall, should really represent. Japanese Girls has a kind of identity crisis that results from a lack of focus in terms of narrative structure and a hesitation in terms of developing characters beyond a certain set of traits (the unmarried girl who wants to find love, the good guy who goes bad, etc.). There’s no sense of progression toward an end goal; scenes are seemingly edited at random to create a free-flowing effect, but instead only muddle an already lacking vision.
Previously published as part of New York Asian Film Festival | Dispatch 1.