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This past week at the Tokyo International Film Festival, we were able to sit down with acclaimed director Masaaki Yuasa and talk about his film, The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl, and it’s connection to his 2010 TV anime, The Tatami Galaxy.

We Saw Surreal Romantic Comedy Film Night Is Short, Walk on Girl

The Tatami Galaxy and The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl are both written by the same author, Tomihiko Morimi. Both of these stories (along with a third novel, Tower of the Sun), form a trilogy of novels surrounding students at Kyoto University and are loosely based on Morimi’s own time attending that university.  

But when exactly do The Tatami Galaxy and The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl anime take place in regards to each other?

“Morimi-san wrote it to be vague on this point,” Director Yuasa began. “It was originally written in such a way that The Tatami Galaxy and The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl take place in the same world but the protagonists are different people. And I always thought it was the same way in the anime. So if we go in order, I think it’s Tower of the Sun, The Tatami Galaxy, and then The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl,” Yuasa summed up.

But setting is not the only place that the two stories connect. Central to both stories is the aspect of time—be that the time loops of The Tatami Galaxy or the four season-long night of The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl.

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“Time is something that everyone thinks about. Fun time passes very quickly. And, you know when you are young time passes slower and when you get older [it moves faster because] you have less time,” Yuasa mused.

“[The idea of time] is also connected to what’s ‘worthless’ and ‘pointless.’” Yuasa continued. “If you really think about it, there really aren’t worthless things. They’re part of something much larger—they’re what makes our lives fun. And also there is another idea that those who give their time to others have their own time enriched—their time becomes longer. So we kept that idea in mind as we made this film.”

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The protagonists learn this lesson about the meaning of life experiences over the course of their respective stories. “The protagonists [of both anime] are not plainspoken. They are both incredibly prideful. They also can’t be bothered to do “worthless things.” In essence, “worthless things,” “having a good college life,” and “living enjoyably” are all one in the same [in their minds].

This likely comes from their pre-college lifestyles. “In high school you have to seriously give your all to studying. But in college you enter into a wider world of freedom. And during that time, I myself remember doing all kinds of ‘pointless’ things.”   

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Outside of the protagonists, both The Tatami Galaxy and The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl contain colorful supporting casts. Some of these supporting characters, namely dental-assistant Ryoko and seemingly eternal student Higuchi, even feature prominently in both works.

Yuasa had a few comments on their romantic relationship. “Higuchi is a bit heartless. He shows up when she’s recovering from getting sick [in The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl] but it’s like she doesn’t even cross his mind when they’re out drinking. So I feel bad for Ryoko. Higuchi is such a cold person.”

Image Source: 『夜は短し歩けよ乙女』BD発売中! on Twitter

But between both works, neither of those two is his favorite character. “[My favorite is] Ozu or ‘The God of Used Books.’ Though when it comes down to who I most identify with, it’s the Head of the Festival Committee. He wants to play around but he can’t and that causes his dark side to come out.”

It’s safe to say that Yuasa enjoyed his time adapting Morimi’s novels into anime. When asked if he wished to adapt another of these novels, Yuasa responded, “If the chance came about, I’d certainly think about it. And if I did decide I wanted to do it, I’d try and do it. But, in general, people want to do the things they can’t do,” he joked. “However, if I could make it interesting, that’d be great.”  

The Tatami Galaxy can be seen with English subtitles on Crunchyroll and FUNimation. The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl is currently showing at various film festivals across the globe.

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