This Week in Anime
The Night is Long is a 90 Minute Bender

by Nicholas Dupree & Steve Jones,

Let's take a trip down memory lane where bars are open, booze is flowing, and impromptu musical theater is the name of the game. Masaaki Yuasa returns to adapt another Tomihiko Morimi story after his work on Tatami Galaxy. Where will our heroine end up is her bar-hopping adventure?

This movie is streaming on HBO Max

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @mouse_inhouse @NickyEnchilada @vestenet


Steve
Nick, I'm sure you know as well as I do that it's not all that rare for the anime we watch here to drive me to drink. It is, however, unusual for those anime to do so on purpose.
Nick
Masaaki Yuasa is a director who does not have time for lightweights, Steve. So get ready to Chumbawumba your ass off.
Challenge accepted, buddy.

Night is Short, Walk On Girl might not be a new film, but it is debuting on HBO Max this week with a new English dub, so what better time to revisit the beerlight of this one deceptively extended night in Kyoto?
For me this is a first time viewing. I was never able to get into this show's spiritual predecessor, The Tatami Galaxy, and while I've heard good things about it, I've just never made the time before. So I had no idea it opened with 30 minutes of sheer, unadulterated brain pickling:
To call it a pub crawl would be like calling a tornado a stiff breeze. This was actually my third time watching it, and here I get to brag a bit about being one of the first people in the US to see it, way back at AnimeFest 2017. Yuasa himself was in the audience! It was pretty sweet!
The story, if you can even call it that, is that this lady right here is out on her first night as an adult after attending a friend's wedding, and is out to get absolutely slizzard, as you do. She does, and magical realism shenanigans ensue.
Based on a novel by Tomihiko Morimi and directed by Masaaki Yuasa, it's pretty much a Tatami Galaxy reunion. You've got the same weird writing, the same complementarily weird direction, and a lot of the same characters/character designs. Like you said, it's more of a spiritual sequel than a real one, so no knowledge of Tatami Galaxy is required. I would, however, encourage everyone to also check out Tatami Galaxy, both because it's very good, and so you can properly appreciate how cursed Baby Ozu is.
I don't care how cursed he is, he still can't be the worst anime baby I've seen this week.
Nick, please, I really don't want to be forced to drink THAT much right now. Let's wait a few weeks at least.
Alright fine, let's talk about an adult pervert instead:
The man isn't wrong.
Just a hell of a pickup line when you're trawling for a lay. Surprising nobody it doesn't work.
Yeah, once our main character (named only Black-Haired Girl, because Morimi has a thing about not giving his protagonists names) leaves the wedding, she encounters a steady stream of notorious boozehounds living it up and down throughout the many sights, scenes, and seasons of Kyoto. Todo there is one of the most lecherous, but also the most easily-disposed.
There's essentially 4 segments to this movie, each with their own distinct theme as The Girl With Black Hair travels through different waking dreams in an endless night. The booze one is easily my favorite, because even as somebody who doesn't drink much, I've had some at least remotely similar nights of crawling and crashing parties til sunrise. Plus this is where The Girl gets to really show her mettle.
Oh yeah, it's a hilarious, and sometimes even beautiful, evocation of some of the most memorable nights I spent drinking in college. I was even lucky enough to visit Kyoto and trawl some of these same streets at night, entering these small dingy bars perched several stories up past damp narrow stairwells, and walking home along the river feeling pleasantly fuzzy. The movie captures the abundance of life in that district in a really lovely way.
Though I imagine your night didn't involve having to drink a depressed wizard under the table to win back somebody's underwear
Hey, what happens in Kyoto, stays in Kyoto.
Oh right. Senpai. Or as I started internally calling him, Reply Guy.
Basically! He is That Guy to a tee, and he really never stops being That Guy. He has his own series of parallel adventures throughout the night, intersecting but rarely going as well as The Girl's libation-fueled exploits.
I can't say he isn't an accurate portrayal of The One Guy You Knew In College, for sure.
I also can't exactly plead to never having been That Guy myself, but that makes his many dunkings in the film all the sweeter.
I think many a dude has unfortunately been a Senpai in his life. Though most of us probably didn't use our friend's secret intelligence network to hunt down our crush's long lost children's book to try to get a date.

Heck these days I think That Guys just send SuperChats.
Times sure have changed! Honestly the romance angle of the film is imo the weakest one. There are some nice sentiments expressed and animated towards the end, but for the most part it's too farcical to take seriously. It's also not really the focus of the story, even though it does run through its spine.
Personally I think the whole film gets weaker as it goes along. Like the first 2 segments are quaint and quirky in their own way, and there's some definite charm, but stuff like the weird side characters wears thin once the drinking slows down. Like, by god, you better think this guy being named Underpants is funny because that's a combined 5 minutes of this film:
Look, if Morimi is going to write a character, that character is going to have a signature quirk and you are going to KNOW it, damn it.
Congrats for that dude becoming King of Crotch Rot but also please get a second punchline, buddy.
At least he's a courteous enough degenerate to keep his grundle funk under wraps.
Anyway he's mostly in the 2nd segment as setup for later, while The Girl and Senpai have a whimsical adventure at a used book fair. And by whimsical adventure I mean the depressed wizard tortures everyone with hot sauce.
Yuasa really shines here in the way he exaggerates the already-fantastical tone of the segment via his visuals. Like, I absolutely love how The Girl's description of the used book market as an ocean dunks the entire scene into a literal one.
or the extended monologue about how all literature is connected, where it eventually spirals into an Escher painting of books.
Abstract and metaphorical visual flourishes generously pepper the entire film, and, in short, that's what makes me love it so much. It's so consistently fun to look at, and Yuasa's and Morimi's senses of humor dovetail ridiculously well.
I'm not quite as enamored with it. Mostly because Morimi's sense of fancifulness can get a little too repetitive for me. The general structure of the bar crawl and book fair make it work, but then we get the Guerrilla Theater portion of the movie and...look man I can only handle so much bad musical theater.
Ah, I was in our high school pit orchestra for all of our productions, so I guess I built enough of a tolerance up. The guerilla performances <>i>are also bad on purpose, but if it's not a joke you find funny, you're definitely not going to find it funnier during the 10th musical number.
Boy did I not.
Lucky for you, the School Festival Director agrees.
I don't care for this dude as a person, but I respect his Anti-Don-Underwear policies.

Maybe if he gets re-elected we can get him to stop Tom Hooper from ruining more musicals too.
Now that's the kind of strong leadership the world needs at this moment in history.
Sadly his friend is far less scrupulous. And an even worse singer.
The whole guerilla theater segment turns into a confusing cross-stitch of conflicting threads of unrequited love that very nearly ends with Don Underwear and the School Festival Director admitting to their mutual love. Before the film turns into a coward.

By that time I was so tired of the singing I was barely taking in anything that happened, so I was mostly confused as to why the Director was pink now.
I just remember my entire row of friends being audibly disappointed during the premiere, lol. Also he's pink because of that nasty cold going around, duh. You know, the one that definitely isn't a metaphor for anything?
Dammit Depression Wizard. Stop harshing everyone's buzz.
In retrospect, reinforcing and depicting the invisible connections that bind us via a highly-contagious virus hasn't exactly aged gracefully. Still true, tho.
Rihaku-san with that Quarantine Mood.
Boy, it is true that Night Is Short hits different after a nearly-whole year of being unable to go out and have fun with my friends in person. Kicks the nostalgia (and mono no aware) factor of the film up several gargantuan notches.
It says something that every time they went to a new place my first thought was "woah that's too many people" before remembering this was from The Before Times.
Lol same. Not to mention the climax involves the Black-Haired Girl visiting all of her sick friends one by one at their homes, which is about as antithetical to social distancing as a single person can get.
To be fair the movie isn't The Night Is Short, Stay Home Girl. It's:

Wait, shit.
Looks like those darn amateur fansubbers strike aga—hold on, I've just been reminded, by myself, that these are the official subs via Amazon. Hopefully the dub is a little more, uh, translated.
Will the dub also explain the parade of cowboy puppets in the last 10 minutes too? Because that'd be nice.
Oh that's just Johnny. We all know Johnny.
Please take Woody's demented cousin away.
We're gonna have to reconfigure human biology pretty darn thoroughly to excise him entirely. But speaking of my fondness for the film's wild and freeform aesthetic, its libidinous and metaphysical climax is a bizarre animation delight. Stills simply don't do its kineticism justice.

It's a LOT and I imagine I'd get more out of it if I watched it on its own. In truth by the time I got to this segment the 40 minutes of bad singing had worn me down, and I mostly just wanted the film to be done so I could stop hearing Senpai talk to himself.
But even Senpai at his internal chattiest can't hold a candle to Tatami Galaxy's protagonist in a normal episode. You gotta count your blessings.
Or stick to The Eccentric Family for my Morimi intake. Pretty sure that doesn't have any horny Shadow Senpai in it.
Night Is Short's lack of cute tanuki is also a pretty big blow against it, I have to admit.
Also it ends with The Girl and Senpai getting together and like, good for them but I give it maybe two months. That's how it usually goes with That Guys.
Even so, I adore this film, warts and all—a bawdy, booze-soaked shaggy dog story that crams four seasons' worth of antics and reflection into the lamplit libations of a single night. There's really very little else like it. I recommend it at every possible opportunity, and I hope it reaches some new people with its dub. Whether you come away thinking it's a literary masterpiece, or thinking it's lowbrow and masturbatory, it's an Experience.
I certainly respect it, and it's definitely a unique experience! Just one that doesn't gel with me too much, personally. Though I'm sure I'm inviting a fight in the comments regardless.
Eh, who cares about (wrong) opinions when there's more booze to be had. That just makes arguments all the sweeter. Here's to drinking with friends again in 2021! Optimistically!

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