We are back after a short weekend break continuing our look through the works of the great Masaaki Yuasa. In continuing with the order in roughly how much I like the work we are taking a look at The Night is Short, Walk on Girl. I actually was not aware of this work coming out until I read a review of it on Kotaku. I also managed to miss the Fathom Events playing it in theaters as I would have loved to see this movie in theaters. Unlike the previous two shows looked at you can feel the budget and the talent being flexed in this movie.
[Spoilers for The Night is Short, Walk on Girl throughout]
This movie is a breath of fresh air that can help brighten the moods of anyone who have had their hearts told to stone due to too much of the same edgy stuff common in todays anime. The way this movie uses color and music to help the viewer feel what the characters are feeling is fantastic. This movie makes you feel like all is right in the world and you can do anything. In stuff like The Tatami Galaxy and Ping Pong the lack of color seemed like a deliberate choice to show the sense of desperation and sadness that some of the characters felt, like they were being crushed. This movie has no pretense of that instead opting to just go straight into the beautiful colors.
A big reason for this change compared to the two previous Yuasa works we looked at is because of the change in the two protagonists. Unlike Ping Pong or Tatami, both protagonists are determined to get what they want, and one is in a perpetual state of happiness. This helps make the change from those to this having a more light airy feeling like a natural progression. This movie is based off a novel by the same author as The Tatami Galaxy and it actually is a spiritual successor to that novel. This also explains the similar art style to the show and of course a similar setting and characters shared between both stories.
The story of the movie is relatively simple, one woman wants to have the best night out ever, and one man wants to try and woo said woman. However, the amount of things that happens in this movie is on another level insane. Multiple times characters will bring up the fact that the night has seemed to last a whole year. This sense of frenetic pace throughout helps keep the viewer engaged throughout the entire film. For such a short movie it is incredibly how many different stories and plot-lines are packed in. Basically every ten or fifteen minutes the entire movie will completely shift focus on to an entirely different scene and plot-line with seemingly no relation to the last. Although keen viewers will quickly find that is not the case as connections run deep.
Unlike the last two things covered in the Yuasa chronicles I do not want to go much more in depth about the plot as the movie is so short and 100000% worth the watch (note: I will still be spoiling stuff so don’t continue if you want to go in blind). So instead lets jump right into the themes.
Yuasa continues his theme of the importance of human connections that he emphasized in The Tatami Galaxy. Throughout the night people are getting sick and eventually everyone in the town ends up getting sick, and the worse the sickness the worse the storm ravaging the area is. Every one gets better through the human connections that they have, getting help with their sickness as the female protagonist checks up on them one at a time. Without going into detail she eventually hears tell of the Senpai who is always around (the male protagonist) is sick and has no one who has visited him. So she decides to visit him, and long story short she does make it. Helping cure him of his disease that ravaged him all the worse because of his lack of human connection and lack of help from others.
This movie overall, is great. It may not have as much depth or characterization as The Tatami Galaxy or Ping Pong, but it is trying to cram similar themes into a much tighter runtime. Along with themes of finding happiness wherever you can in life and always trying to have a good time. There are however problems with the movie to me. First off I would say that personally I don’t love the glorification of alcohol as the main female protagonist drinks incessantly and it is portrayed as a magical experience. There are of course sloppy drunk sorts of characters which show the other side of alcohol, but the glorification of it in this gets a bit over the top for me at times.
My other main complaint of the movie is about the romance aspect of it. The movie despite starring a strong female protagonist often views that same protagonist as an object when viewed through the main protagonists eyes. I do wish it went a different route than him trying to win her over by always being around her or buying her something he learned about from a spy network. The movie never really does enough to convince me why she would have feelings for him other than it is supposed to be a romance movie. I wish we could have seen him getting to know her throughout the night and that is how he ends up winning her over as that would be a much better romance to me.
Overall, this is a great movie despite my couple of nitpicks. The romance story despite feeling slightly off has a fantastic ending and scene leading up to it. The final scene of them meeting for their date and both being embarrassed is incredibly cute and a great end to the overarching story.