There’s mean­ing in this mad­ness

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

THE NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL Di­rected by Masaaki Yuasa. Fea­tur­ing Kana Hanazawa, Gen Hoshino. Cert 15A, lim­ited re­lease, 93mins “I’m al­ways ab­sorbed in in­ter­est­ing things,” says Otome, the ad­ven­tur­ous spirit at the heart of this zippy, zany new film from an­i­ma­tor and screen­writer Masaaki Yuasa. The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl, set in the same uni­verse as the award-win­ning 2010 anime The Tatami Galaxy, is a riot of colours and ab­strac­tions. Swirling back­grounds and psy­che­delic cut­aways re­call such 1960s Bac­cha­na­lia as Ge­orge Dun­ning’s Yel­low Sub­ma­rine and Chuck Jones’s Os­car-win­ning The Dot and The Line, but with added cherry blos­soms and daruma dolls.

The fore­ground is equally re­lent­less as the hero­ine em­barks on an in­sanely long night of par­ty­ing and drink­ing.

This re­lent­less com­edy, set to a march­ing beat that matches its quick-step hero­ine’s, keeps fir­ing char­ac­ters and in­ci­dents from all di­rec­tions. Otome, who is of­ten sim­ply re­ferred to as The Girl With The Dark Hair, is guided en­tirely by no­tions. Her im­pulses will drag the viewer around bars, a guer­rilla the­atre per­for­mance, a wed­ding, an epic drink­ing con­test and a book fair.

No one can seem to keep up with her, es­pe­cially not Sen­pai, (as voiced by Saitama pop star Gen Hoshino), a guy with a near-patho­log­i­cal crush on the Girl. The film’s wacky brand of sex com­edy oc­ca­sion­ally re­calls Woody Allen’s Ev­ery­thing You Al­ways Wanted To Know About Sex. In this spirit, Sen­pai’s stalk­ing is mir­rored by the ir­ra­tional Don Un­der­pants, a

guerilla the­atre prac­ti­tioner who has vowed to never change his briefs un­til he finds the girl who en­chanted him on cam­pus months be­fore. An or­gan­i­sa­tion called the Bedroom In­ves­ti­ga­tion Com­mit­tee lurks in the mar­gins. Along the bar from Otome, Mr Todo, a sleaze who has lost his carp farm and is try­ing to pay off his debts by sell­ing an­tique erotic pic­tures, seeks sym­pa­thy and a grope.

It can feel as if the broad­est comic re­lief from other anime got to­gether to make their own crazy film. Char­ac­ter de­signer Yusuke Naka­mura brings hearts that beat out of chests and twisted philo­soph­i­cal so­ci­ety dances.

And yet, by the fi­nal act, all that strange ran­dom­ness co­a­lesces into some­thing deeper. Draw­ing on Tomi­hiko Morimi’s best­selling book of the same name, The Night is Short, Walk on Girl as­sures us that we are all in­ter­con­nected and that stay­ing in the mo­ment will al­low us to live richer lives (Otome’s watch tellingly, hardly moves, while oth­ers whirl).

Another shot­gun? Otome

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