When it comes to surrealism, color, and out-there storytelling, no one can really top Masaaki Yuasa, at least in the anime world. From his recent adaptation of Go Nagai's masterpiece with Devilman Crybaby to the excellent anime series The Tatami Galaxy, he's been just about everywhere. But his latest film may be one of his weirdest, most down to earth yet. It revels in its weirdness and leans into it like many of us could cling to a comfortable, soft blanket on a chilly day.
It may not be what mainstream audiences are looking for. Indeed, it may be too "weird" or unsettling with its bombastic mixture of bright colors, music, and sound. But for everyone else, it's a surreal masterwork that shouldn't be missed, especially if you found the demon rave scene in Devilman Crybaby was exemplary for the genre and your favorite part of the show.
At its core, The Night is Short, Walk On Girl is the tale of wandering around in the middle of a bustling city at night, with a world of possibilities waiting around every corner. At its center are two teenage characters: The Girl with the Black Hair and Senpai. Senpai is taken with the Girl, which is an important aspect of the story as a whole. Throughout the entirety of the film, Senpai is working to catch up with the Girl, though this doesn't always work out as planned. In fact, much of their time is spent apart.
Senpai is a typical character with a one-track mind: he wants to see The Girl, and somehow protect her. We don't learn much more about either character other than the fact that the Girl is looking for something of an entertaining night, while Senpai is looking for love. The Girl gets into some bizarre circumstances, one in which she meets a man who's decided he'll not change his underwear again until he meets up with one particular person. She then opts to go on the hunt for some fabled whiskey that no one's ever found before, brazenly getting drunk with the man who began spreading the rumors about its existence in the first place.
None of the events that occur during this strange night out appear as though they're connected to each other by more than the thinnest, most tangential thread, and yet it all feels cohesive in the same manner Yuasa's other projects have. This wild point in two young potential lovers' nights has all the chills of a Murakami novel or a Chuck Palahniuk adventure, viewed through the lens of Panos Cosmatos with a dash of David Lynch to top things off.
And yet, through all its madness, The Night is Short, Walk On Girl is quite simple to understand. This is a celebration of youth, the tumultuous and strange worlds that open up at night when it seems like no one is watching, and all the bizarre happenings that go on when you start mingling with the various personalities out there, going beyond your comfort zone. All of these elements can make anyone feel uncomfortable at first, but once you've gotten used to them, they can make for a satisfying experience, both in the real world and in anime.
If you only opt to see one anime film this year, take a chance on The Night is Short, Walk On Girl and try something new. Supporting the strange and wonderful like this will hopefully end up in even cooler experiments being made, which is what Yuasa excels at by far. If you're looking for something much meatier than the latest shonen epic or another sweeping, romantic story, you'll definitely want to give this flick a chance. Just prepare yourself by opening your mind. You're going to need to, that's for sure.