Story by Tomihiko Morimi
Translated by Emily Balistrieri
To be young is to be adventurous. Whether its trying something new or exploring the complete unknown, there is an unyielding drive to seek it out. This serves as the underlying theme for Tomihiko Morimi’s novel The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl. With the success of the anime film adapted by prolific director Masaaki Yuasa and studio Science Saru back in 2017, Yen Press has finally brought over the original novel into English. It’s safe to say that if you loved the anime adaptation, you will be just as impressed with Morimi’s original work, if not more so.
The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl centers on an unnamed man and woman from the same university. As the girl explores Kyoto, the boy follows suit, attempting to win her affections. Structurally, The Night Is Short feels as though it is four separate stories. Each chapter has a completely different setting and narrative conflict, but our two main leads help keep the novel cohesive. The novel also continually changes perspective between the two leads, allowing the reader to see plotlines unfold from multiple angles. The result is an engrossing and multi-layered story that revels in its crazy adventures.
The driving force behind the novel being such an entertaining read is its great cast of characters. Our frantically nervous male lead and adventurous female lead both provide unique personalities as narrators, and it makes changing between them feel refreshing every time. Along their journeys, both protagonists encounter many different people who help further their endeavors. From the quirky Higuchi to the wealthy Rihaku, each character has their own unique mannerisms and objectives throughout the course of the novel. In fact, any of these characters could be the protagonist of their own story, and that makes their dynamism all the more interesting. These distinct personalities all interact with each other on a daily basis with none of them bound to one another. The Night Is Short’s colorful characters reflect the diversity that we have in our own lives, and it helps bring its world to life.
What makes Morimi’s writing so fascinating is his ability to blend realism with the imaginary in a distinct manner. While The Night Is Short’s story is meant to take place in reality, it occasionally bends into the realm of fiction as its plotlines escalate. While this could easily be jarring to the reader, Morimi executes it in a way that feels nearly seamless. This is helped by the delivery of the events by our two protagonists. There is a sense of absurdity throughout the novel, but since our lead characters accept these events as reality, it helps the reader view them in the same way. By the novel’s final chapter, it feels as though Morimi has strayed the story from reality altogether, but the progression of this doesn’t feel abnormal in the slightest. The Night Is Short treads on a delicate line with its storytelling, but it does so with such skill that readers can’t help but feel captivated.
The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl is a fantastic book that knows how to invest readers in its strange tale. Between Morimi’s masterful writing and the novel’s diverse cast, there’s enough here to keep you thoroughly entertained on every page. You really can’t go wrong with reading this story, and you’d be hard pressed to find much else like it.