Back when I reviewed The Tatami Galaxy, I gave it a solid 5/5 score. Night is Short, Walk on Girl is by the same director, Masaaki Yuasa, and author, Tomihiko Morimi, and it features some of the same characters, but just because you enjoy one doesn’t mean you’ll like both anime.
Maybe it’s because this is a movie whereas The Tatami Galaxy was a 12-episode series, but it lacks the engaging characters and interesting narrative of its same-world brethren. The nameless male protagonist is chasing after the nameless female protagonist on a night which takes the pair on a colourful journey throughout Kyoto, with Girl looking to drink loads of alcohol (which hardly affects her) and Senior hoping to profess his love to her. It’s far from simple though as the two find themselves in odd situations with eccentric people, but their paths are destined to cross as they’re searching for the same childhood book.
The leads are thrust from strange situation to strange situation with little breathing room but the lack of clear direction in the story – I forgot what the leads were supposed to be doing several times – and several characters who exhibit selfishness and greed as primary traits for the majority of the movie failed to keep my attention for most of the movie.
As a Yuasa fan who appreciates the director’s ability to balance wild, colourful visuals alongside a more tame and relatable narrative, I missed that contrast in Night is Short, Walk on Girl which decides to forgo a strong narrative in favour of consistently ramping up its craziness. It ends on a lovely, warm note but the journey getting there lacks the same heart and, even in hindsight. I wish we had more of the movie be like the final 5 minutes or so.
Whilst the story and characters failed to connect with me in any meaningful way, I can’t rightly fault Yuasa’s directing and Science Saru’s brilliant art. I’d still argue that The Tatami Galaxy does this better thanks to the story it tells, in that it’s more grounded and thus brings beauty to things that others may deem normal or boring, but the beautiful visuals and unique directing approach served to keep me going where the narrative could not. This form of art and directing is unique to Yuasa’s works, and the level of detail and clear passion for his work is evident in each frame.
As is standard with Yuasa’s works, the dialogue moves along at a speedy pace and it’s easy to miss it if you look away for a split second. Hana Kawazawa performs fabulously as Girl, especially during the singing parts as she has a beautiful voice, and the same applies to the rest of the cast. I may not have cared too much for the content and the lyrics of the songs, but they were catchy and passionately performed to the point that I enjoyed listening to them.
Night is Short, Walk on Girl isn’t something that gripped me or greatly entertained me, but I appreciate its unique flair and amazing visuals. It lacks the narrative to be an engaging movie although, by the end, I warmed to the characters, but much of the development feels unearned. It’s worth checking out but just because you enjoyed The Tatami Galaxy doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to enjoy Night is Short, Walk on Girl. I truly wish that I enjoyed this movie more than I did, especially as I was upset to have missed the theatrical run, but it’s simply not what I wanted and that’s okay.
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