Starring: Kana Hanazawa, Gen Hoshino, Ryuji Akiyama
Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Running Time: 92 mins
The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl is a Japanese film about a young man who confesses his love about a younger classmate of his, and sets about going to tell her while she is on a wild night out, leaving him to chase her back and forth across the city on a bizarre and mysterious evening that seems to last for a whole year.
Vibrant, imaginative and funny, this film is a whole heap of fun to watch from start to finish, furthered by its delightfully bewildering and bizarre mysteries and quirks, and general light-hearted sense of humour. As a simple narrative, it may be a little hard to follow (which can be frustrating at times), but it’s more fun to just sit back and be consumed by the strangeness of it all, and with such wonderful visuals and fun humour throughout, it makes The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl a unique joy.
The film’s story generally centres on two people, ‘The Senpai’, who’s chasing his crush across the city, and ‘The Girl With Black Hair’, who’s on a wild night out and encountering some truly bizarre situations. In the end, the two end up on very different adventures, but it’s the pulsating energy and endless unpredictability of the seemingly endless night that really makes their adventure such fun to watch.
I have a real soft spot for this sort of film, taking place over one night that seems to turn into a bizarre and often even dreamlike evening. Think After Hours, Stretch, Collateral and others. However, while many films use the premise for a thriller story, I absolutely loved the way in which this movie used the one-night premise to create a world that’s so full of bizarre possibilities, to the point where I completely gave up trying to understand what was really going on in this film.
Now, that may sound like a negative, and some viewers may be frustrated by this film’s rather unconventional narrative, but I have to say that the film is so full of imagination, energy, unpredictability and pure weirdness that not having a watertight narrative doesn’t matter quite so much, as you become completely entranced in all of the madness that unfolds before you.
If you know the films of Studio Ghibli, then this is on a similar level of bizarre imagination, yet by transplanting all of that fantasy into a real modern-day setting, the contrasts are even more stark. As a result, while you at first think you’re in for a film that’s just about a wild, crazy night, the ever-increasing amount of strange and seemingly inexplicable events completely changes your outlook on the film, turning it into a powerfully hallucinogenic illusion that’s difficult to take your eyes away from.
But unlike Ghibli, this film is perfectly happy to laugh along with you at its most bizarre and ridiculous moments. As a comedy, there are some completely preposterous happenings that are just there to make you laugh. Along with the more illusive fantasy, there’s a completely jarring and random ten-minute singing sequence about halfway through the film. It makes absolutely no sense, and it seems to go on forever, but it’s an absolutely hilarious watch at every moment, and perfectly sums up the beauty of this film’s willingness to go all-out with free-thinking madness.
So, if you like totally unpredictable, random fantasy and humour, then this is the film for you. However, along with its vivid imagination, the film is also full of incredibly vibrant visuals, and a striking animation style that both matches its bizarre atmosphere, as well as makes for an incredibly pleasant watch.
Although clearly an anime style, this film is one of a growing number that take a somewhat more simplified approach to the animation, by reducing the detail in character’s faces and actions, thereby creating more cartoonish personas, all the while upping the spectrum to a beautiful array of bold colours, looking a little like a colour-by-numbers that’s not quite been finished.
Its more simplified look is gold dust in allowing you to not take it as seriously, and sit back and enjoy, however it also proves an even more delightful watch thanks to its wonderful picture book appearance, bringing the brightness and fun out in a story that sometimes doesn’t shy away from the darker elements of nightlife, something that I think worked perfectly to cement the film’s unique and striking atmosphere.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with this movie. I recognise it has quite a few narrative flaws, and doesn’t make for the most interesting watch, often proving frustrating due to its lack of coherent storytelling. However, it’s clear that it’s really all about the stranger, more striking aspects of a crazy night that will never seem to end, with a whole range of bizarre and seemingly inexplicable scenarios punctuated by great humour, as well as truly wonderful visuals that you won’t be able to take your eyes away from, and that’s why I’m giving The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl a 7.5.