Today and yesterday mark the two-day only release of Misaaki Yuasa’s new film The Night is Short, Walk on Girl in US theaters. I almost didn’t get tickets, as the ones at the theater closest to me were selling out rather quickly, even a two weeks before the release. Now, I’m so glad I decided to buy those tickets when I did because this movie is definitely worth watching. Coming from the director of the Tatami Galaxy, Lu Over the Wall, and, most recently, the new Devilman Crybaby series, you can definitely see Yuasa’s free-form and expressive style throughout the film. I’m a sucker for unique and artistically expressive animation, and this film has it in spades. It’s honestly a feast for the eyes and wound up warming my heart in the process.
If you haven’t had a chance to look into the film, it follows the plot of the novel of the same name written by Tomihiko Morimi of a young college-age girl (Otome as she’s referred to, since she doesn’t have a name) who is enjoying a night out on the town in Tokyo, a night that doesn’t seem to end. It’s full of drinking, festivals, and the magic of used book markets. It’s also full of love, longing, and the search for romance as Otome’s senior in college (called just Sempai) searches for a way to get her to notice him and earn her love.
It’s really an interesting set-up in terms of plot. After the credits there was a short interview shown with Yuasa and he mentions how the original novel was structured as a collection of stories that didn’t really come together in the end. So in creating this film, he decided to connect these stories all together and make them happen all in one night. It creates this sense of fluidity as one plot melts into the next one, which goes well with the amount of drinking and hijinks that Otome gets herself involved with. I think there’s about four different plots within the movie, but they share many if not most of the same characters and you’ll see things connect to each other and characters popping in and out with their own progressions.
The first story is her adventures trying to find a rare form of sake by drinking her way through Tokyo and challenging someone to a drinking contest. Another is her journey through a used book market to find a lost childhood picture book and her subsequent meeting with the god of used book markets. The next is her school’s culture festival where the festival committee battles with a rogue theater group who’s just trying to find love. The last is Otome’s quest to cure all of her friends of a very contagious cold. Throughout these plots, Yuasa and his studio Science Saru inject a healthy dose of whimsy and craziness that really allows all of these plots to flow together and stay visually interesting.
And the animation is one of the best parts of this film. The character designs were done by Yusuke Nakamura who also worked on Tatami Galaxy, and you can really tell the Yuasa and his team went all out on designing everything and making sure the characters stayed as expressive as possible. Just the act of drinking in the film is a full-bodied expression as the act of swallowing is made almost into a visual hyperbole. Not only that, the colors are vibrant and the backgrounds and settings are really creatively designed.
I wish I could have written this earlier to give me a chance to encourage you all to go see it tonight, but I’m guessing it’ll be back around again once a dub version is made. Or I hope so. I would honestly jump at the chance to see this again, maybe bring a friend with me next time. If you’re a fan of Yuasa or like strange films about Manic-Pixie-esque girls in the same vein as the French movie Amelie, I would highly consider checking this film out if it comes around to theaters again or whenever a streaming site or home video licensor picks it up.
That’s all I have for tonight. I wanted to keep it short and sweet and not spoil too much of the movie. Though The Night is Short, Walk on Girl is more of an experience, so I’m not too worried that talking about the plot will spoil the whole thing for you. If you had a chance to check this out, let me know what you thought in the comments, and I’ll hopefully see you back here this weekend for more manga reviews from my backlog.
~~Thanks for Reading!~~
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