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.
This is long, but informative. If you care to, read on my compulsive samurai kin:
Let me preface by stating how important it is to this review that Yuasa is my favorite director, so I am naturally biased. I don't know the future, but this is likely the hardest review I will ever do.
Lu Over the Wall is essentially a lighthearted youth film charged by Yuasa's gift of creativity. However, given Yuasa's streak as a director, the movie could have been better. Knowing him, much better. There were some Yuasa-esque moments, but those moments didn't show why
Yuasa is such a great director. With Kaiba, Tatami Galaxi, Ping Pong the Animation, Mind Game, etc. under his belt, as a fan you come to expect his odd-ball style, interwoven with underlying existentialism that Yuasa is noted for. Further, immersive world building, confident and self-contained story lines, as well as eccentric, visceral art styles are things you can come to expect from Yuasa. This is not that.
Seeing the trailer months ago, I was hoping against what I had the sneaking suspicion of-a Yuasa piece for the masses that by being 'pop' dilutes his creativity as a director. A Yuasa piece for the masses doesn't compute. Most people wouldn't typically like Yuasa's eccentric themes and art. At least not the demographic this film was aimed for. So, essentially, instead of the manic and irreverent tone Yuasa fans love, fans of Ponyo and Miyazaki are more likely to find this film appealing. Maybe, I wouldn't know.
I don't enjoy family movies in general. So, perhaps I'm being far too critical because I expect more from Yuasa. But, let's pretend I'm not a babbling idiot for a second, and attempt to put aside the fact that he is my favorite director.
What does this movie have going for it. Well, it does have a semblance of style. The direction (in terms of cinematics) is spectacular. The angling-where Yuasa chose to point the camera, but for the later portions of the film, was effective in its establishing the setting. It's obvious the production was better funded than usual. Additionally, character development was quite well done as well.
What Lu Over the Wall doen't get right is the storytelling and pacing of the plot. At first it was quite immersive, because the setting was established perfectly. As the movie continues however, it meanders, to the point where you wonder if there could have been a better alternate storyboard. Further problematic, I guess common with the genre, is that there was no depth to the story. This review is not objective so I feel comfortable saying that I found fault with that aspect. Truly, imagination flourishes from the beginning to about halfway, when the antics become stagnant.
Overall, this film comes across as being this: a misguided but heartfelt attempt of Yuasa to step outside of his comfort zone, only to have it end up being somewhat generic. But there is good news. Dear God almighty, Devilman Crybaby will be the best thing since the Sengoku Period. Honestly, I'm not worthy.
Lu over the wall is an enjoyable watch with great visuals, a good score, a really "generic" story, and a very likable cast.
The story is nothing new, I am pretty sure you would be able to make out what will happen later on in the first 20 mins or so(Not saying it's a bad thing)
It's really lighthearted and I had grin throughout the movie.
It's quit vibrant and lively, and matches the upbeat tone of the movie.
Again really well done, gave a warm feeling whenever there was a musical piece.
A Really likable bunch, specially Lu and the
The character design is also done really well. Lu and the other mermaids look really great.
I found it to be really good, the movie achieves what it wanted to be.
It makes up for a good lighthearted watch and Is sure to lift up your mood
Thing I didn't like :
The first encounter with lu could have been done better and it seemed quite forced.
The grandpa character Could have been explored more, to give the ending a greater impact.
I will give this somewhere around 7.5 on a bad day.
But my day went well today so:
U N D E R R A T E D, is what I would describe Yu Over the Wall.
In an industry saturated with a consumer culture bent up on their attachment to overused cliches, character archetypes, and meta-humor, it becomes more and more difficult to find something that truly stands out from the crowd and expand the appeal of the anime medium. Yu Over the Wall (YOtW) is one of the debut works of the new studio, Science SARU, formed by the renowned director, Masaaki Yuasa (directed works such as Ping Pong the Animation and the Tatami Galaxy), and producer Choi Eunyoung. I personally found
YOtW to be a brilliant piece of creative work lead by a group of very passionate, and talented people. The film touches upon themes of youth, community, and the generational gap in Japan in a very subtle, yet meaningful way, and is a great film for both anime newcomers and veterans alike.
Story (8): The story of LOtW may seem conventional at first: a mysterious, yet adorable creature brings joy to the life of a gloomy adolescent, and together they try to gain the acceptance from their community that opposes the existence of such creatures. It's a time-tested formula that is sure to bring about a lot of feels, yet LOtW manages to give a fresh new take on this genre of storytelling with its clever integration of its modern setting, Hinashi Town, a rural Japanese fishing town built on a history with certain "mermaids." With spoiling anything, I felt like lore of the setting was very original and really gave the plot some backbone to deliver its narrative.
Art (9): A lot of people might disagree with on this, but I find that the unconventional style of Yuasa's works to be brilliant and helps progress anime a more diverse art form. Even though the animation of LOtW isn't as avant-garde as the Tatami Galaxy or even Ping Pong the Animation, the influence is definitely there. LOtW sports an expressive and bombastic style, embodied within the main character of the show, Lu, who was a sheer joy to watch splash and dance around the screen. The beautiful renderings of Hinashi Town and the fluidity of the water and character animations is truly something to behold.
Sound (9): The soundtrack of LOtW is simply put, incredible. Very rarely does the music of an anime give it so much personality, and possibly even define its identity as a whole, with the only other example I can think of being FLCL. Each and every song performed in this film is both memorable and amazingly executed within the given scene as to not feel ham-fisted. I will without a doubt get the OST for this anime as soon as it gets released, and hearing every track never fails to bring a huge grin on to my face.
Character (7): While the main protagonist and his friends of LOtW: Kai, Kunio, and Yuuho, appear at first to be a trio of cliche cardboard-cutout archetypes, it will later be revealed that are actually more deep and intricate than they initially appear. This is thanks to Yuasa's incredible attention to detail when presenting these character's mannerisms, conversations, and backstories. Lu, without a doubt, is the highlight of this animated feature. Her energy and pure charm is infectious, and it is always a joy whenever she is in the spotlight. Much of my surprise, many of the background characters and townspeople of Hinashi Town were also given unexpected characterization and development. My only complaint is that Kai's development towards the end of the film was a little rushed as the plot started to take center stage, but I won't complain too much since this is a film and things like this is inevitable with only a 2-hour runtime.
Enjoyment (9): Lu Over the Wall was a blast for me to watch. I love shows and movies that have a distinct and consistent atmosphere and tone, so LOtW immediately immersed me into its world of child-like wonder and spectacle, with occasional tints of melancholy. I couldn't help but feel a sense of nostalgia whenever each song plays paired with a stunning shot of Hinashi Town or the vast sea with the sunset in the distance. This feeling especially takes on when the main song, Utautai No Ballad, plays, reminding of my own childhood days that have long passed.
Even though I know that not everyone will enjoy the same appreciation that I have for this anime film, I still believe that more people should at least know that this anime exists, and give it chance. You might even be pleasantly surprised, or blown away like I did :)