Kai, a young middle schooler, lives in Hinashi Town, a lonely fishing village, with his father and his grandfather, a sun-umbrella maker. He used to live in Tokyo, but after his parents divorced he moved back to his parent's home town. Kai has trouble telling his parents the complicated feelings he has for them, and he's lonely and pessimistic about his school life. One of his joys is uploading songs he writes to the internet.
One day, his classmates Kunio and Yuuho invite him to join their band, "SEIRÈN". As he reluctantly follows them to Merfolk Island, their practice spot, they meet Lu, the mermaid girl. Lu sings merrily and dances innocently. As Kai begins to spend time with her, he starts to be able to say what it is that he's really thinking.
But since ancient times, the people of Hinashi Town have thought that mermaids brought disaster. Something happens that puts a huge rift between Lu and the townspeople. And then, the town is in danger. Will Kai's cry for the heart be able to save the town?
I watched this film at Annecy Animation Festival, right after I'd seen two other anime films (In This Corner of the World and A Silent Voice) neither of which I will be reviewing or spoiling here but both of which were, while wonderful films, not particularly cheerful. Therefore, as the last anime film I was seeing in the programme I kind of expected that kind of tone to be present in Lu also.
I had also seen the trailer for it and it very much made the film seem to me like a bootleg Ponyo... yet I somehow really wanted to give it a chance.
am so, SO glad that I did. All my expectations were subverted and the trailer does the film no justice. The only way I can really describe Lu Over The Wall is by saying it simply feels like the feeling of sheer joy, in film form. I'll admit, when it started off, with the slightly sulky male protagonist and his musician friends right at the start I thought "oh no, what did I get myself into", but the moment Lu enters the scene that was all gone and the film was an absolute joyride. At points when I thought I couldn't be having more fun, it got more fun. I was grinning for a solid 60% of the film and the audience was laughing at multiple points and if that's not proof that this film is pure joy, I don't know what is.
Catch me buying this film on DVD and playing it if I'm ever down, and in the unlikely event I ever have children I promise you they will be raised on this stuff.