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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl is a zany, subtitled Japanese animated comedy that was adapted from a popular novel about a young college woman's adventure-filled night. It's not age-appropriate for elementary and middle school-age audiences, but mature high schoolers who appreciate anime may well enjoy it. Many characters -- including both college students and adults -- drink a lot. Entire sequences take place in pubs or restaurants in which people engage in drinking contests and general drunkenness, sometimes to the point of sickness. There are also repeated references (and even glimpses of) old Japanese erotic art (including famous woodcut prints and paintings), as well as other sexual humor and a couple of moments when a woman's breasts are groped (she reacts by punching the man). A character is pursued after being accused of molestation. Language isn't frequent, but subtitled swear words include "f--k," "s--t," and more. The mature themes and material aside, the movie is amusingly bizarre, with messages about friendship, teamwork, and women standing up for and defending themselves.
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What's the story?
THE NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL is a Japanese animated comedy about an unnamed college-age character, the Girl with Black Hair (voiced by Kana Hanazawa). She's out for a night of grown-up partying that leads her through a bunch of bizarre adventures and encounters with other Kyoto night owls -- including a wedding party, a group of elderly school chums, erotic art collectors, and a reception of young philosophers. Following behind her is the Senior (an upperclassman) who's been in love with her all year at university. Every time Senior (also known as "Senpai" and voiced by Gen Hoshino) gets close to her, he has to overcome another obstacle -- from a group that steals young men's underwear to a young boy who makes a false accusation against him. Eventually, the Girl with Black Hair travels to a used book fair, where she searches for a beloved childhood book, and both she and Senior end up involved in a guerrilla student theater production that pops up in different parts of the city.
Is it any good?
Nearly impossible to sum up neatly, this Japanese animated comedy is a bizarre but strangely wonderful adventure. First, let's be perfectly clear that The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl is animation that's intended for young adults and up -- not kids. It's about a university student who's experimenting with being an adult, complete with drinking, cavorting, more drinking, and generally saying yes to every odd and exciting opportunity and offer that presents itself on a night that seems to never end. That magic, time-stretching quality will feel relatable to all adults who can remember their college years. Director Masaaki Yuasa expresses the night's epic quality in a vibrant, colorful, hilarious way. But it's odd and unlikely to appeal to anyone who will take offense at the random, often morally ambiguous characters.
While the Girl with Black Hair is vivacious and fierce, Senior/Senpai is the underdog whom audiences will consider either "adorkable" or pathetic, depending on their perspective (and what's going on in the film). The many supporting characters are all fascinating in different ways, from the romantic Don Underwear (Ryûji Akiyama), who refuses to change his long underwear until he's reunited with a woman he believes he's meant to be with, or the tyrannical "Director of School Festival Operations" (Hiroshi Kamiya), who's trying to crack down on the pop-up theater kids. There's also a Yoda-like millionaire who can procure nearly anything for anyone, including a mysterious, legendary drink. Even if the movie's plot sounds meandering, it's a wild ride that's easy to follow along on -- and the sort of adult-friendly animated film that will remind older viewers of carefree, slightly crazy days.
Talk to your kids about ...
Does the movie make you want to read the book it's based on? Is there anything you'd want to see more explained in the book?
- In theaters: August 21, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: January 29, 2019
- Cast: Gen Hoshino, Kana Hanazawa, Hiroshi Kamiya
- Director: Masaaki Yuasa
- Studio: GKIDS
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Adventures, Arts and Dance, Friendship
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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