Two strangers have a separate, but equally long, strange night where they meet an increasingly eccentric group of people. In the end, they meet, not so coincidentally, and fall in love. The Night is Short, Walk On Girl is Masaaki Yuasa’s psychedelic, dream-like animated romantic, comedic, adventure film brought to the U.S. by way of GKIDS and Shout! Factory.
The girl is known as Kohai (which translates to “junior” in English) or The Girl with Black Hair (Kana Hanazawa). She is of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl variety, beautiful and quirky. She wants to spend her night partying and drinking (mostly drinking, which she’s really good at) and being led by fate across the city of Kyoto.
He is Senpai (which translated to “senior”), a bookish, shy young man who fell in love with Kohai some time ago and has spent his time since concocting elaborate ways to accidentally bump into by “chance”. On this night, he finally summons the nerve to tell her how he feels but is perpetually led off this track by varying circumstances.
The pacing is relentless; the animation is in turn beautiful, kaleidoscopic, and surreal. The story is funny, whimsical, frantic, and bizarre. Through the night, they meet an increasingly eccentric and mad group of people. This includes a man who refuses to change his underwear until he reconnects with a girl he believes he is fated to be with because they shared a brief moment after falling apples conked their heads simultaneously. Also a group of erotic art collectors, and the God of The Old Books Market who keeps smashing ice cream cones into his crotch.
She is challenged by and bests a supernatural creature at a drinking game. He has his underpants stolen. He wins a spicy-food-eating contest and scores a children’s book once owned by her. They both participate in a rogue theatrical troupe that sets up each new scene in a different part of the city. She visits the sick after the supernatural old man gives half the city a killer cold when he loses the drinking game.
On and on it goes, moving from one crazed adventure to another hardly pausing to let you take any of it in and never stopping for a breath. It is delightful to watch and exhausting. Its conclusion isn’t quite as satisfying as you’d like because the film never stops long enough to truly develop the two main characters and so it's hard to care that they finally get together. In the end, it's an imaginative and gorgeous-looking film that ultimately seems slight of story.
The 1080p encoded transfer comes with an aspect ratio of 1.77:1 and it looks gorgeous. The animation is vibrant and full of color, and it all comes through beautifully. Audio sounds great as well with the variety of music and noises coming in loud and full. There is only a Japanese-language track, which is disappointing (especially to my daughter who is not yet old enough to really be able to read fast-paced subtitles). The only real extra is an interview with director Masaaki Yuasa. The rest are the usual trailers and TV spots.
The Night is Short, Walk On Girl is an imaginative, richly animated, romantic comedy that delivers with the visuals even if it doesn’t exactly plumb the depths of the human soul. It is well worth watching, Shout! Factory gives it a good transfer but minimal extras.