There’s meaning in this madness
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