In 2018 alone, Masaaki Yuasa has gone from an obscure cult film director to a daring visionary powerhouse. Yuasa has showed American audiences what Anime is capable of with the release of Devilman Crybaby, Lu Over The Wall, and now his latest film The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl.
Based on the book by Tomihiko Morimi, The Night is Short, Walk On Girl, is the second time Yuasa has adapted one of Morimi’s novels into animation, the first being the critically successful Tatami Galaxy. The same animation crew from Tatami Galaxy has reunited to create The Night is Short, Walk On Girl. Yuasa considers the film and the TV show to be in separate but parallel universes with overlapping themes and character archetypes.
The Night is Short, Walk On Girl, is about a college first-year named Otome and the upperclassman boy who is try to win her heart by “coincidentally” bumping into her again and again. The film takes place over the course of one night and much like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, there are cases of mistaken identify and a hint of magic to keep the lovers apart.
While the film is undoubtedly pretty from start to finish, there aren’t any jaw-dropping animated set-pieces and the soundtrack is quite forgettable. Don’t expect Yuasa to top the final running-sequence from Mind Game anytime soon.
In Yuasa’s earlier works, the character designs and environments were more experimental and in many cases quite ugly. Much like the drinks Otome consumes, The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl is a refined elixir created from years of experimentation. The bold, flat colors and cartoony humor juxtaposed with adult subject matter has a level of aesthetic beauty that surpasses Yuasa’s previous films.
The plot is also the most focused, keeping the action centered around and propelled by the quirky characters. The story is divided into several acts with Otome traveling from bars, to books fairs, and student festivals with the bumbling upperclassman hot on her tail.
The film is a surreal love story and the art reflects the subject matter. This is a world where gods and mortals co-exist and no one bats an eye. The fantastic elements are treated as normal, so I would classify the genre as magical realism or heightened reality as opposed to a supernatural fantasy.
The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl is unique from any other anime movie and it even stands apart from Yuasa’s long line of work. If you’re an animation student or an anime fan, I’m sure you’ll dig this movie.
However, my biggest takeaway was how this movie dealt with the concept of love. It wasn’t just a story of a guy who gets the girl, even though that’s ultimately what happens. The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl explored the emotionally chaotic aspects of idealized romance, how time moves differently depending on one’s outlook, and how to cope with feelings of isolation.
Watching the film in a theater packed with anime-loving Americans, I felt a sense of genuine connection. Ultimately, we’re not alone when we share an experience with others.
So go tell your stories, because someone is waiting to listen.