REVIEW: Night Is Short, Walk On Girl

And she never got a hangover…

A girl with an unflinching talent to hold her liquor embarks on a night of heavy drinking as she finds herself frequently shadowed by a young man yearning to earn her affection.

Finally… I think some of you know how long I have been waiting to see this film – and if you do not know how long I have been waiting, I’ll just say this: “BLOODY LONG”. Night Is Short, Walk On Girl is the new anime directed by Masaaki Yuasa of the very recent Lu Over the Wall and 2004’s Mind Game. Another wholly trippy and surreal mindf*ck of an experience from the talented filmmaker, Night Is Short, Walk On Girl was easily one of the most insane cinema experiences I have ever had… then again, I have never seen a David Lynch film on the big screen before (*quote Lynch* “hold my beer”). A film that can only be described as a ride similar only to a heavy night out on the town drinking, Night Is Short, Walk On Girl was an extremely transfixing absorbent take on the romcom genre – or at least that’s what it could be perceived as.

(MyBuzz 2017)

Yuasa’s Night Is Short, Walk On Girl was a bizarre mixing and configuring of classic genres, recycled storylines, fresh perspectives and just downright out-of-this-world illusionary cinema warping. Almost immediately did Night Is Short abandon Yuasa’s surreal but safer approach to animated storytelling in Lu Over the Wall to instead reposition itself with the madness of Yuasa’s classic Mind Game. Although Night Is Short never pushed the boundaries as far as Mind Game had, the film still refused to play by the nonexistent rules of animated cinema, completely tearing down graspable concepts of the mind’s eye to peer into a whole other dimension of whack.

The animation for Night Is Short was some of the most spell-binding I have ever seen – simultaneously offering humour, terror and romanticised thrills all from within its neat little package… well, I wouldn’t exactly say neat. Yuasa’s animation usually borders on the messy and the deranged with no exact rhythm or order to how elements visualise themselves; things just happen because things can happen. And there’s an obscure beauty to it all – the fact Yuasa’s oxymoronic frames never obey the social norms of a movie. For a film’s animation to be so free-willed and breathtaking, Night Is Short rather effortlessly painted a system of images that, eventually, departed the very system that built them in the first place. Colourful and zany, Night Is Short was one of the most creative uses of animation to tell a story I have ever seen.

Although, that’s kind of all I really have the need to say about Night Is Short. Yuasa’s most recent effort did not necessarily give me a lot to obsess over narratively or thematically. Sure there was a lot in this film to ponder as the visuals never hid Yuasa’s obvious hunger to divulge thematics of youth in the light of night life with elements of obsession and thirst, but after a while I personally did not have a lot to engage in when concerning this film. I really liked Night Is Short but I didn’t exactly love it. The film too occasionally slipped into the corny cliché humour of any old anime, losing some of its uniqueness. I would never shame this film for being “too weird” as art can never be “too weird”, but for me, personally, there was a point where I dropped off. And I have to say Night is Short is a film you need to commit to and watch multiple times to truly consume it for the cinema it is… but the hook and bait they cast before me never had me truly biting.

I admit I yearn to see Night Is Short again because I feel there were elements I missed, because honestly, there were moments where I almost convinced myself that what I was watching was a masterpiece. The best I can liken this film to would be 2018’s Suspiria remake; that was a truly weird and obscure film that, in the past few months, has grown on me exponentially, finally ushering me towards the idea that what I saw was quite possibly a crazy masterpiece in disguise. Night Is Short may have succumbed to some weird anime tropes I presumed this film was mature enough to gloss over, but it didn’t and so I’ll willing await for the film to marinate and convince me otherwise.

Additionally though, I loved the odyssey like feel of Night Is Short, Walk On Girl. Emphasis on the ‘night’ and ‘walk’, like an Eyes Wide Shut-type nightmarish ponder through the pitch black, illuminated only by street lights, torching weird and obscure city characters. Another emphasis on ‘girl’ and the film’s unrelenting push in on the idea of the youth losing their innocence, but not in depressing ways, but more the weird and wonderful. Night Is Short treated coming-of-age not as a disastrous trek into adulthood, but a fun, light and vibey relaxation into the pleasures of independence – I mean, we’ve all had that first night out on the town where we wonder off alone for a few hours, drunk and trying to experience independent adventure without the aid of our pals – that experience was this movie. Think what if David Lynch directed the second act of Eyes Wide Shut between Nicole Kidman’s monologue to that scene (the one with the masks… come on, you know). I loved the pleasure Yuasa indulged in to make light of the fun things in life – the childish things that adults do, that appear so weirdly colourful and vibrant when placed in the setting of a romcom.

Night Is Short was like an epic poem too hard to crack in themes and technique on first read, but through its layered and detailed language, shows signs of deconstruction. A film I would definitely like to revisit but currently cannot entirely defend in its weird output, Night Is Short, Walk On Girl was just as much an enigma to me as it may be to anyone who watches it. All you need is a keen eye and a hunger for anime to absorb the very essence of this visual splendour… or just get a few drinks in ya first… that’ll work.

Night Is Short, Walk On Girl is a bloody… CRUSADE!!


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