I commend the gutsy animation style on display in Night is Short, Walk on Girl. Expression is maximized from stem to stern, with emotions and physical movements taking on eye-popping (and hilarious) modes. Over-exaggerating affect and spatial boundaries works in this context, because this is a film about those awkward in-between years of adolescence and adulthood—between reckless abandon and newfound maturity. When you’re still finding your own place in this world, and the sky’s still the limit, you’re liable to view your surroundings in heightened ways. You’re ready to soar and be your own person, as the titular girl wishes to be during her extraordinarily busy evening. Nothing—not even the most potent of alcohols—can dim her spirit. In contrast, the bespectacled boy who chases after her is riddled with insecurities. Can he win her heart? Can he prove himself to an indifferent universe? Can he matter? He is ready to leave these uncertain years behind, and he knows that he can with this girl by his side. So he persists, no matter the odds or the embarrassing scenarios that plague him (including, but not limited to, a period of time in which he’s forced to walk around without any pants).
I admire the carefree way this film pursues its themes. You can never predict what’s around the corner, whether it be a used book fair or a gigantic hot pot filled with spicy edibles. The music and dialogue is lively; the main characters are heartwarming creations, especially the selfless heroine. I ought to have loved this, but I ended up merely admiring it. It’s difficult to pin down why. I expect part of the reason is that I simply need to watch more anime, which I haven’t done in a long time. Anime has its own unique rhythms that relative outsiders need to get accustomed to. The other reason is that the whole package is rather fussy, zipping through various situations at breakneck speed without affording the viewer a breather. In a way, it’s like the antithesis of a Studio Ghibli feature, which is usually a serene and delicate affair. I suppose I’m biased in preferring serene and delicate affairs. I’m already leery of hyperactive animation franchises like the Lego films, so I was never going to be all in for something that moves from plot point to plot point in the span of mere minutes.
Lovers of anime are going to love this, and they have every reason to do so. This one packs a chockful of laughs in many places, and it’s one of the more inventive animated films of the year. Don’t let me stop you from seeking it out, because there’s a good chance you’ll walk away gratified.