What a kooky and delightful film. I knew it would be different. The synopsis said it was about a 17-year-old Gothic-Lolita cosplaying model who twitcasts for her fans. This one is part of the Next Gen program, I’ve seen a few – Being 14, My Skinny Sister, Gayby Baby, Me Romantic Romani – not by design so much as being interested in adolescence and female identity. I have had a glimpse of life for teens in France, Sweden, Australia, Italy and now Japan. The thread that has run through just about all of them is that adolescence is hard and parents don’t listen.
So back to Wonderful World End. Shiori has an agent who helps her get modelling jobs. She dresses Gothic to emulate her hero, real-life singer Seiko Oomori who describes her own music as Disneyland in Hell (and appears in the film). Shiori twitcasts, which means she does live video online where people can ask her questions, mainly she just chats. Followers and comments are an important commodity and you can see her drive to be liked. She has a boyfriend who is a bit of a dill and her agent is interested in her only as something to sell. Then in to her life comes adoring fan Ami and the wheels fall off the apple cart.
You are never quite sure where this film is going. The front half of the cinema was full of school groups and they seemed younger than others who have attended, maybe year 7. It was fascinating to watch them all react to some of the more challenging and bizarre aspects of the film. They whispered and sniggered and giggled and gasped. The film becomes quite surreal toward the end but in a delightful, pop video, kawaii kind of way and just about the whole cinema joined in the laughter, happy to be taken along for the ride.
What I liked about this film was what it said about the emptiness of much social media community and the belief that you can become something by selling yourself in the right way. What I felt that Shiori needed was to love herself and, depending how you interpret the metaphor of this film, I think she got there.