Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Starring: Kanon Tani, Shôta Shimoda, Shin’ichi Shinohara
Kai, a middle-school student from Tokyo, has just moved to the quiet fishing village of Hinashi Town to live with his father and grandfather. Kai finds solace and joy in arranging music with his laptop and posting it online. Soon, two of his classmates uncover his talent and ask him to join their band SEIRÉN. Through music, Kai discovers an unusual voice joining in on their rehearsals on Merfolk Island. A connection is formed between two music lovers that has ripple effects throughout the town. When knowledge of Kai’s shorter friend Yu gets around, the town is divided in two. There are those who wish to have Yu as the poster girl for the fishing village, and those who see her as trouble, a herald of an upcoming curse. Will Yu’s performance change the hearts of everyone and will she make friends with the townsfolk?
This is one quirky film, and the animation is fun and colourful. There is no consistent character design, and there are constant small changes in their appearances. You can see this clearly when it comes to the band’s performance at the lantern festival (which was filled with catchy music and energetic dance moves). The story was similar to others I have seen; Kai is from a broken home and has moved to his father’s hometown, living there with him and his grandfather. Kai has trouble expressing his feelings to his family, particularly his parents, and fitting in with his fellow classmates. Two of the aforementioned classmates actually reach out to him after discovering his music composition videos online. Kai has a fondness for music due to his parents interests in the medium, even though he refuses to admit it. The introduction of Lu and the merfolk brings great joy and character development for Kai, but unfortunately also causes great strife amongst the townsfolk; they still believe in old folktales and curses, which turn out to have a strong basis in reality.
Kai and Yu not only share a common love of music, but both come from broken families. Yu is adorable, although her sharp teeth are a bit off-putting. She definitely inherited them from her Papa! Her father is an imposing fellow, appearing in the film as a shark in a suit, one that just casually walks up from the sea of all things. Although he surprises two men, they quickly accept him as their instructor for the fish processing course. As the story unfolds, Kai acquires some friends, joins a band and has a good deal of character development. His two bandmates also deal with romantic feelings, problems with self-belief, career expectations from their parents and choosing where they wish to go to high school next.
Lu Over The Wall was produced by Science Saru, a Japanese animation studio that has also produced Night Is Short, and Walk On Girl. Both of these were directed by Masaaki Yuasa, who has also worked on the crazy 2014 show Space Dandy. The main scenes in this film were a combination of hand drawn frames and Adobe Flash. Not only does the film bring a touching script that is a reimagining of The Little Mermaid, it also has a catchy J-Pop inspired soundtrack. Lu Over The Wall also won the top prize at the 2017 Annecy Animation Film Festival.
I watched this film during the Japanese Film Festival in Japanese dub. However, if you didn’t get a chance to catch it in the cinema, Anime Limited will be releasing it across DVD and Blu-Ray during this summer. The current release date is the 25th of June.
Lu Over The Wall is unique, feel-good, loveable, and emotional film. It comes highly recommended.