Watching a Masaaki Yuasa film is the anime equivalent of a drug trip. It’s nothing you’ve ever seen before, it’s so crazy people think you’re making it up, you have vague recollections about what happened, and it does eventually make some kind of sense. This is going to be one of those reviews.
The Night is Short, Walk on Girl is the latest film from Yuasa, the man behind Ping Pong: The Animation, Mind Game, and Devilman: Crybaby. His filmography is known for unique visuals, a lightning pace, and baffling stories. The Night is Short, is no exception.
Plot Summary & Analysis
Here’s a plot synopsis which I attempted to extract from the haziness of the film itself.
So, there’s this free-spirited girl who discovers she’s great at drinking, and this hapless male lead (named Senpai) who can’t spit it out he loves her. Through a series of events I’m still confused over, she meets two tengu (Or Higushi and Hanuki, could just be very drunk) after being harassed by a drunk, who is a smut peddler, and part of a secret underground organization of smut peddlers. This drunk, gets involved in Senpai’s life, because of a mix up involving someone stealing his underwear. Meanwhile, there is this other fellow, Otome meets named Don Underwear, who is friends with Senpai, and believes in love so much, he wears the same pair of underwear, every day, without washing them. Ew. All this time, Senpai gets caught in these insane misunderstandings, with his other friend, an all powerful student council president (voiced by Izaya’s Japanese seiyuu: Hiroshi Kamiya, whom I recognized the voice relatively early), the smut peddling society, and other wacky hijinks, which defy the laws of logic, time, and space.
The entire previous paragraph, happened in the first 10-20 minutes, yet it gets more insane. I’m not going to even get into the drinking contest between a god of the common cold and Otome, a bratty kid revealing himself to be the god of used books (because of course), a black market used book seller who weeds out the weak with insanely spicy food, or the impromptu play: “The Lush of Monte Cristo” (naturally) where Don Underwear falls in love with an apple lady (not someone who works at Apple, someone who dressed as a cross between an apple and a daruma doll). This play combined the over-the-top musical ludicrousness of Andrew Lloyd Webber (with Jim Steinman, as lyricist), with drama straight out of a CW teen drama. Somehow, my description sounds better than what we got.
Every time I try describing this material, it gets increasingly more insane. So, let me tell you what I thought of while watching this film. At first, it seemed like a “wacky road trip of doom” (thanks, Red Letter Media) movie. As the film went along, there was one obvious comparison, and one not so obvious comparison.
I know there’s not a lot of overlap between the film section and the anime section, however, this plot should sound familiar if any of my readers saw the underrated Martin Scorsese film After Hours. The movie was about a man encountering the insanity of 1980s New York City, after a nighttime date. Night is Short, feels like a spiritual successor to After Hours. If the film ended with Senpai stuck as a plaster sculpture, it would have fit perfectly. Another film I was thinking of, particularly during the musical sequences, was The Apple, bizarrely enough. Maybe it was the ridiculousness of the songs and the lyrics: like how Don Underwear sings about the fact, he hasn’t changed his underwear. Ew. Still, if there was a song about speed (the drug, not the concept), it wouldn’t have been unexpected. Or it could be the fact, both films involved apples, that too.
By the time the musical sequences had occurred, I began to “get” the film. Nothing is supposed to make sense, let scenes play out how they may. Then something unusual happened, they started to try and tell a story. Remember the god of the common cold I mentioned in the first paragraph, well apparently he’s caused almost all of Kyoto to catch the common cold. This is bad for Senpai, whose brain has turned into little versions of himself (and cowboys, for some reason), and there’s this battle between the weather and Otome. This plot gets resolved when Otome tends to Senpai when he’s sick.
Well, this description was long. Let’s talk about the good: For starters, the animation: Yuasa’s work has never been visually boring, it’s insane, yet never boring and the same holds true here. Everything is seemingly vibrant in this world, and it’s shows a unique directorial touch, even if Yuasa still has problems with telling a story.
The music is also fine. My thoughts on a good soundtrack are simple, if you’re complaining about it, it’s probably bad.
So where does this leave The Night is Short, Walk on Girl? Well, the film defies description, so it’s fitting for a film where I had no idea it was going. It shall receive a score for which I didn’t know where it would go.
The Night is Short, Walk on Girl was presented by Fathom Events.