The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (2017) ☆☆☆(3/4): One phantasmagoric night

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Japanese animation feature film “The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl” is a phantasmagoric fantasy which literally goes wild with its style and imagination. Although I must point out that it could not wholly engage me as I became more aware of its deliberately warped reality and decidedly broad characterization, I enjoyed its numerous stylish scenes brimming with exuberance and humor, and I admire how willingly it goes further for more wild and crazy moments to impress its audiences.

The premise of its story is pretty simple. During one night in Kyoto, a young unnamed female college student is attending a drinking party for the wedding of one of her friends, and she decides to have more fun and drink after this drinking party. When the party is almost over, she goes outside and then comes into a nearby bar, and she promptly orders and then drinks a number of various cocktails. While watching this, I could not help but think of my similar drinking routine at bars; I also enjoy drinking those tasteful cocktails, and I always start with gin tonic and then end with Long Island Ice Tea.

After a rather unpleasant encounter with a creep who is obsessed with erotic pictures, our heroine comes across two eccentric characters who are quite ready for fun and drink just like her, and that is the beginning of a wild, spirited drinking time for them and several others who gladly join them. In the end, our heroine comes across a wealthy old man residing in his huge moving boat, and she and the wealthy old man come to have a high-stake drinking duel with some special liquor.

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Meanwhile, the film also focuses on the misadventure of a male senior who has carried a torch for our heroine. During the aforementioned drinking party, he cannot help but look at our heroine from the distance, but he still cannot find enough courage for approaching to her even though he is pretty much drunk just like many others at the party. After the party, he decides to go after her for another ‘accidental’ encounter between them, but, alas, he finds himself getting into a series of troubles instead, and he later finds himself in a very embarrassing situation when he finally come to be in front of her.

As the night goes on, the spring mood of the film is changed to hot summer atmosphere (don’t ask me why), and our two main characters come into another loony circumstance. While our hero spends some time with a dandy friend who happens to be in charge of monitoring college students, his friend suggests a way to win our heroine’s heart, and our hero is tempted by his friend’s suggestion. It turns out our heroine is looking for a certain old book which may be found somewhere at a local bazaar for old used books, and our hero’s friend knows how to get that book in question.

Of course, getting the book turns out to be pretty difficult for two reasons. There is an impish child who sneaks around here and there around the bazaar for his own small prank, and one of the funniest moments in the film comes from how our hero gets into another trouble thanks to this naughty kid. Furthermore, our hero later has no choice but to participate in a literally hot and hellish competition for obtaining the book, and that leads to a cheerfully exaggerated moment you should see for yourself.

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Not long after that, the film hops into its third act with another seasonal change in the background. Surrounded by autumn atmosphere, our two main characters suddenly find themselves in the middle of the fall college festival, and they soon come to be involved with a guerrilla stage performance which is intended as a public message from some lovesick male student yearning to reunite with a girl with whom he fell in love at first sight. That guy also swore that he will not change his underpants for clean ones until he finally meets her, and I was rather glad that the film did not go into details on that.

Anyway, this part eventually culminates to a loony musical climax equipped with several songs, and you may roll your eyes while also being tickled by a number of unabashedly absurd plot turns during this sequence. It looks quite silly indeed, but the main voice performers including Gen Hoshino and Kana Hanazawa bring lots of spirit into this sequence while maintaining some degrees of seriousness as required, and the result is another highlight in the film.

During the last act, the film shifts itself onto winter background as expected, and it initially seems to falter under stark wintry atmosphere, but, what do you know, it surprises us with another crazy moment to remember. Although I think director Masaaki Yuasa and his crew go a bit too far during this part, I will not deny that I was impressed by how they manage to pull out a sweet ending after all those wild and crazy moments shown on the screen.

Considering its wildly whimsical style and personality, “The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl”, which is based on the fantasy novel of the same name by Tomihiko Morimi, may not be for everyone, but you will not be disappointed if you are looking for something unique and different. Although I am less enthusiastic than some other critics, I appreciate its rambunctious spirit, and I will probably revisit it someday after drinking several glasses of cocktails.

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