Review for Night is Short Walk On Girl - Collectors Combi
One thing that boutique labels can do is they can champion talent, showcase the work of auteurs, and bring unique titles to wider audiences. That’s one thing that really appeals to me with companies like Third Window Films, who have become the UK home of directors like Shinya Tsukamoto, Eiji Uchida, Satoshi Miki and Sion Sono. When it comes to anime, Studiocanal are the UK gateway for all things Studio Ghibli, while there was a time when it seemed that all of Mamoru Hosoda’s work had a Manga Entertainment logo on it. All the Anime in recent months and years have been devoting a chunk of their output to the works of Masaaki Yuasa, re-releasing The Tatami Galaxy, as well as giving UK debuts to titles such as Mind Game, Genius Party, and Ping Pong, while later this year, they’ll be releasing Lu Over the Wall. Of course it helps if you’re a fan of directors that labels choose to showcase. And if you’re a fan of Tatami Galaxy, you will really have been looking forward to this, Night is Short, Walk on Girl feature film.
This university student is smitten with his junior, and he decides that tonight will be the night that he’ll confess his feelings to her. Only this is one busy night for her, as what starts as a simple pub crawl develops into a fantastic adventure in the Kyoto night life, and as he continues to follow her, trying to engineer a coincidental meeting, he gets sucked into ever weirder trouble.
The film gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc, and it’s a really decent presentation, clear and sharp throughout, with strong, consistent colours, and no visible compression or banding. If you’ve seen Tatami Galaxy, from the same author as Night is Short, and animated by the same team, then you’ll be familiar with the very stylised and singular animation, especially when it comes to character designs and the backgrounds and settings. The feature film increases the production values though. The sole audio track on the disc is DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Japanese, and you have the choice between English and French subtitles, locked during playback. It’s a pretty decent surround track, with the speakers put to good used conveying the effects and music, while dialogue remains mostly centralised. The subtitles get a thin white font that doesn’t react well to busy backgrounds, although they are accurately timed and free of typos, except for one, trademark busting ‘mistranslation’, the characters order ‘Baileys’ at a bar, but the subtitles say ‘Birely’s’.
The images in this review were kindly supplied by All the Anime.
The disc boots to an animated menu. You get five trailers for the film, and a short interview with the director Masaaki Yuasa, running to 6:31.
I haven’t seen the packaging or the physical extras to comment.
I need to watch this film again. Sometimes I just don’t have the luxury of watching a film for review when I’m in the mood to, and I have to get the review written. And following my positive experience with The Tatami Galaxy, I was really looking forward to watching Night is Short, Walk on Girl. It also seems to slot into one of my favourite sub-genres, the late night rite of passage movie, movies like Vamp, After Hours, The Warriors, Escape From New York, movies which take familiar surroundings and make them alien once the sun goes down, and where the protagonists have a life-changing experience. The synopsis for Night is Short certainly promised as much.
But as I said, I picked the wrong day to watch it. It took me three hours to get through a 90 minute film, as a result of nodding off repeatedly, waking up, and having to skip back and re-watch what I had just missed. That’s no way to watch a film, although I have to consider the fact that Night is Short, Walk on Girl just failed to hold my attention, and ask myself just why that is.
From the creators of The Tatami Galaxy, it certainly kicks off with the same kind of visual and narrative style, although thankfully it’s nowhere near as dense in dialogue. It has the same sort of frivolous unreality to it that I so appreciated in The Eccentric Family, although it doesn’t really work in the same way in Night is Short. It also plays with perception of time, though not in the repetitive Groundhog Day way that Tatami did. Here it’s the rate of time flowing, exhibited by the speed of watches, the older the person, the faster they tick, which somehow allows for all four seasons to affect the protagonists over the course of one night. The evening starts off with a pub crawl that travels via a philosophers’ dance to a drinking contest. This then leads to a hunt for a certain book in a used book fair. There’s a school festival being plagued by guerrilla theatrical performers, and there’s a cold epidemic to deal with as well.
There’s plenty going on for several of the characters in the film, and there are plenty of cameos and more from the Tatami Galaxy. And none of them clicked with me. I just couldn’t get invested in any of the characters, not least of who were the Senior and his object of affection. I felt at a distance from the film, unable to care about what happened, and I suspect that it was this distance that kept sending me to the land of Nod. Visually, Night is Short, Walk on Girl is a singular feature film, worth watching for the fascinating animation, and the fact that I’m determined to watch it again, suitably fortified by caffeine and at a time when I can devote every iota of attention to its story and characters, might be recommendation enough. But my first exposure to this film was a damp squib, as it failed to live up to my expectations. Oh, and a public health warning, a friendly punch is a good way to break your thumb.