The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (2017)
Starring Hoshino Gen, Kana Hanazawa
Based on the namesake novel by Tomihiko Morimi
Directed by Masaaki Yuasa
Produced by Science Saru
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%
Set in Kyoto, Japan, the story follows the adventures of two university students on a night around town. A young man, scheming to earn the attentions of the girl he loves, plans for this night to be the one where he confesses his love. However, ‘the girl with black hair’ as she is known is on an adventure of her own, fuelled by a carefree spirit she’s had ever since she read a children’s book when she was little. What follows is a night that appears to last forever, full of wild characters and a search for love – and a long-lost book.
Walk On Girl is a spin-off of the anime series The Tatami Galaxy, whose source novel was also written by Tomihiko Morimi. Tatami Galaxy was a series critically acclaimed (domestically, if not internationally) for its off-the-cuff direction and eclectic animation, but its story had a much more melancholic feel. Walk On Girl, on the other hand, has a story fuelled by a joyous, youthful energy, full of positivity but not to the point that it begins to feel corny. This continuous feel-good vibe gives this movie such incredible colour and, more importantly, watch-ability.
Similar to The Tatami Galaxy, Walk On Girl’s story is one that is easy to lose track of. Much like the best nights out, it can sometimes feel like a mess of intertwining stories that don’t make much sense individually, let alone as a collective. However, over the course of the film the overriding story seems to take on less importance. Perhaps that’s because of its lack of execution – there’s certainly a decent story of love and searching here – but it felt more so as if the individual moments were so imaginatively curated that you can simply lose yourself in the charm of a conversation or a moment.
Much of the attention on this film will be on its animation, and rightly so. Walk On Girl has an incredibly distinctive style that reminds you of what is possible through animation when blessed with a creative mind. The drawings themselves, when seen in still frames, are incredibly simple and lacking. However, its the beautiful use of colours and the fluidity of movement beyond the natural borders of the world that makes this such an incredible piece of art. Walk On Girl’s visuals have an almost psychedelic quality, sparked by the joy of a simple story, imaginatively told.
With films like this, it’s often easy to get bogged down in comparisons with its predecessor – we saw a similar thing with our recent review of Shinkai’s Weathering With You. However, this is a great example of a film that breaks free of the shackles of its predecessor without shedding any of its best qualities. Walk On Girl builds on the acclaimed style of The Tatami Galaxy and delivers a feel-good tale that appeals on so many levels.
It’s hard to compare a film and a TV series, but I would say that Walk On Girl is a better piece than The Tatami Galaxy. Not only will this film appeal to fans of the series, but it has an incredible accessibility that makes it an enjoyable watch for anyone who enjoys animated stories!