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Asian cinema: Japanese films

Night Is Short, Walk on Girl film review: cool, crazy Japanese anime a postmodern trip into the future

Reminiscent of Takashi Miike’s outlandish live action works, Night Is Short, Walk on Girl from director Masaaki Yuasa piles one mad scene on top of another at breathless speed but maintains an involving story

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 12:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 12:03pm

4/5 stars

Odd even by Japanese standards, Masaaki Yuasa’s cool and crazy animated feature Night Is Short, Walk on Girl is difficult to classify. Although the narrative does dovetail together – it is freestyle rather than anarchic – the film is a wacky mix of romantic drama, detection, philosophy, fantasy and unbridled nuttiness. The way it hops through genres and situations at breathless speed is reminiscent of Takashi Miike’s outlandish live action works, such as Yatterman.

The story, based on a novel by Tomihiko Morimi, focuses on one long drunken night. Otome (voiced by Kana Hanazawa) is a young girl who begins her night with a drinking competition. As the night goes on endlessly, four seasons pass, and she has many adventures. These include happening upon a weird rare book club, an erotic arts foundation, a demonic feast and a philosophical cult who perform a crab dance.

Senpai (Gen Hoshino), a thoughtful schoolboy who has a crush on Otome, has finally decided to talk to her, even though he has lost his underwear. But to get close to her, Senpai has to involve himself in Otome’s outlandish adventures.

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Things happen very fast indeed, and Night Is Short piles one mad scene on top of another. It is a film of big set pieces and ceaseless shouting, but there is still room for an involving story, and a bit of hyperactive philosophising.

The whole thing is a postmodern trip, with animation styles varying greatly to fit the mood: bright pop art colours, dark Rembrandt tones and everything in between. This could be what all films will be like in the future.

Night Is Short, Walk on Girl opens on March 22

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