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.
Let's take a different approach about this movie....from a child's perspective this movie is very attractive and he feels vey connected to the story ,art and characters and will have a great blast watching it. One thing for sure this movie was made to be viewed together with all family members on a Sunday afternoon . It's has a simple and catching formula with a little fantasy and magic added to spice up things.The visuals are appealing and the ost is catchy.
What's remarkable about this movie is how it handles the bond between humans and mermaids and how it influenced
the lives of the human characters and their choices. It doesn't try to go deep or portray a dark side of it, it stays the same innocent , simple and magical story from a book that your mother would have read for you when you were a child before going to bed.
From my point of view this movie didn't feel so appealing for my taste or left something memorable especially the characters. Some characters didn't have enough screen time and they could have shown us more about their past (for example Kai's dad band) to leave that emotional impact and connect us to them. Although i gotta admit that the last 10 minutes did a great job of that but despite all of that it seemed rushed and the attachement was lost. The story seem akward in some parts but hey that's just my own impression and how i felt you can judge it with your own mind after watching it.
To end my review if you want to have a reminiscence about your childhood and you don't mind the eccentric and childish style of storytelling then this is your perfect choice otherwise if you don't like this genre you may avoid wasting 2 h.
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 one of Yuasa "Yuusa" Masaaki's three anime titles that were produced under his new animation studio he himself founded after Ping Pong the animation in 2014 in purpose of "inventing anime again", but for some reason not even his loyal fans watched Lu.
If we say Devilman Crybaby (2018) was what he wanted to achieve with Auers Blu AKA Kemenozume already in 2006, we are not far from truth. On the other hand, if we look into Yoru wa Mijikashi Aruke yo Otome (2017) AKA The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl AKA The Maiden Galaxy, it is just a tribute
to Tatami Galaxy like the last name suggests. What is Lu Over the Wall then? Well, for one thing, it is the closest of "inventing anime again."
By inventing anime again, Yuusa decided take a look into Europe. More specifically to the country which has created the most original animation movies for over a decade now: France. This was of course not even a new idea. Ghibli had alredy expanded its production to French studios, creating movies such as "The Red Turtle" which is not considered an anime unlike "Da Yu Hai Tang" because reasons. If we think the less anime reminds anime equals inventing anime again, then Yuusa has clearly succeed.
Basically a mermaid who can controll water meets people who hate mermaids and then they make music together. Music and dance moves can apparently turn mermaids into humans, but people don't like this very much because fuck mermaids regardless. The story is less generic and quite a bit more mature than in most children adventure movies. The main focus is in the animation directing, details of art and in the audiovisual execution. The music plays a big part in the work, but unlike with the Hollywood garbage movie Coco (2017) -which won the animated feature oscar over Lu because people are fucking idiots- Lu's music is not out of the place. Instead, the whole animation of the movie relies on the music presented during the music sequences.
Yuusa did some avant-garde experiments with his ideas this time around. These vary from anti-gravity water physics to obstacles blocking sunlight. I wouldn't say that I am impressed, but some of these scenes really burned in my mind, remaining memorable to say the least. All of this is quite irrelevant to those who watch anime for the sole purpose of being entertained.. From Lu's core, it, above all else, aims to be entertaining movie to watch, and it does its job. I can recommend this to pretty much everyone just for the scene where guy goes to save his computer whilst yelling "muh PC."