The Night is Short, Walk on Girl adapts Japanese novelist Morimi Tomihiko’s work into an animated film where magic, fantasy, and reality blend together seamlessly into a pleasant yet frenetic experience. Directed by Yuasa Masaaki, whose credits include Devilman Crybaby, Ping Pong and The Tatami Galaxy (also based on a Morimi novel), the work fits Yuasa’s strengths to a tee.
The Night is Short, Walk On Girl follows two unnamed characters: a Japanese college girl referred to as “the black-haired girl” (kurokami no otome) and her upperclassman/senpai. The senpai has nursed a crush on the girl for ages, and has engineered a life where he “coincidentally” keeps running into her in the hopes of sparking something more. Unfortunately for him, it has yet to work. The girl, for her part, is more focused on enjoying life at night, which involves a lot of drinking and looking for the next adventure.
The story progresses in various unpredictable directions, touching on the supernatural in ways that make it difficult to tell who’s more bizarre: the humans or the gods. Following the girl’s exploration of the night, her pursuit of the next interesting drink, and the senpai’s continued attempts to get her to notice him feels like being on a winding path whose seeming meandering is actually welcomed rather than shunned. Yuasa’s signature style allows the nebulous mix of the real and fantastic to shine through.
The film was distributed in the US for two nights by GKIDS, and the showing included a recorded interview with Yuasa, where he discusses the on-again, off-again nature of a heavily delayed production. Another notable thing mentioned is that the film takes what is essentially a story told via vignettes over all four seasons and combines them into a single dramatic evening. Thus, the film and the novel provide substantially different experiences, making it more worthwhile to experience both. Fortunately, the novel itself is coming out in English courtesy of Yen Press.