Lu Over the WallCultureCinemaMovie reviews
A literal fish out of water story, Masaaki Yuasa’s charming Lu Over the Wall sees middle school student and aspiring musician Kai (voiced by Shóta Shimoda) befriend a music-obsessed mermaid named Lu (Kanon Tani) after she hears him play. From herein, the pair form a strong bond as they attempt to show Kai’s village that the merpeople who inhabit the neighbouring waters mean them no harm.
In traditional anime style, the movie is an exercise in cuteness. It’s impossible to watch the initial interactions between Lu and Kai without being pulled in by their instantaneous connection; they’re relationship is key to the film and the director has ensured audiences will root for them throughout. As well as the pair’s friendship, music also plays a key role with a great many up-beat numbers that add an additional layer to the weirdly wonderful world that Yuasa has created.
Likewise, the animation reflects the picture’s unique style with beautiful backgrounds to pop art-inspired sequences, which effectively convey much of the film’s emotional weight. However, for every bold step forward Lu Over the Wall takes in its artistic creativity and storytelling, it trips over itself in another fashion. Whilst there is great care taken to form the relationship between Lu and Kai, the connections Kai shares with his family and bandmates are treated more like afterthoughts and as a means to serve the plot’s requirements. Likewise, whilst the backgrounds are animated beautifully, the character models in contrast resemble cheap Saturday morning cartoons and often possess nightmarish expressions – an aspect evident within the musical moments where characters’ limbs stretch and expand like rubber bands as their facial expressions contort in a fashion reminiscent of The Exorcist.
Perhaps Lu Over the Wall’s biggest misstep resides within the story’s pacing. There is no sign of a narrative arc based on cause and effect, but rather new elements and twists are added for the sake of getting the plot from A to B in as convoluted a way as possible. Consequently, this culminates in an uninspired climax devoid of much emotional impact.
Despite the awkward animation and the convoluted narrative, however, Lu Over the Wall possesses a uniquely irresistible charm that greatly outweighs its shortcomings. It may not be the most beautiful or graceful animated film ever, but it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable in its own weirdness.
Lu Over the Wall is released in selected cinemas on 6th November 2017
Watch the trailer for Lu Over the Wall here: